The Dominican Republic is a colourful tapestry of Spanish, French, Haitian, and African influences woven by a rich and storied history.
Christopher Columbus described this lush land as “a beautiful island paradise with high forested mountains and large river valleys”. This statement is still as true today as it was in 1492.
In addition to the comforts of sun, sea, and sand, the Dominican Republic offers an exciting and unique cultural experience that will captivate your senses.
Setting aside 20 percent of the country’s land for preservation has resulted in 83 areas:
Protected parcels of islands
The Dominican Republic’s beaches are widely celebrated as being among the world’s best, and for good reason. Here, more than 1,000 miles of sugar-coloured sand is gently lapped by warm waters so clear and blue one has to see to believe. Depending on location, the beaches offer a gentle lullaby for an Oceanside nap or enough wind to keep a Technicolor kiteboard adrift.
The Dominican Republic has an exeptional underwater world full of coral reefs for diving and snorkeling with an incredible crystalline waters and a great variety of marine life full of colors. In fact, the country is constantly cataloged as one of the first places for diving in the Caribbean. Visitors can explore remnant of the past centuries on the north coast of the country or take advantage of the warm and sheltered waters of the south. Althought DR is a paradise for experiences divers, most hotels offer lessons and certifications for those interested in learning more about this activity.
The principal highlights of this 178 square mile marine park are its more than 200 caves and Isla Saona where endangered West Indian manatee and bottlenose dolphins can be seen from time to time.
There are no rivers or streams in the park and the mainland is heavily wooded with subtropical humid forest to dry forest. This clustering of trees creates a safe habitat for 112 species of birds including the endemic ashy-faced owl and Hispaniola lizard-cuckoo.
The majority of the park takes up the Dominican Republic’s south-eastern peninsula near Bayahibe whose coastline is well known for coral formations and internationally renowned dive sites. The southernmost tip is Calderas Bay where saltwater lagoons and mangrove swamps are found. Opposite of the bay is Isla Saona, a 15-mile-long island with two small settlements: Mano Juan and Punta Gorda with a total population of 300 people. To the west is the smaller, uninhabited Isla Catalina.
Located within the Parque Nacional Cotubanamá, Isla Saona is one of the southeast coast’s most popular tourist destinations. In fact, this small island was recently named one of the Caribbean’s Eight Dream Beaches by Caribbean Travel & Life magazine. Powder sugar beaches, towering palms, azure water and the occasional sand bar at low tide make this one of the DR’s most romantic destinations. It is in fact the most visited tourist attraction of the country.
Only six square miles in size and located just off the shore from Bayahibe, Isla Catalina features the best coral reef in the area, a mangrove swamp and sand dunes. Crowds of tourists come for a day of scuba diving and relaxation.