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Language: Spanish | Currency: Peso (DOP) | Local time: UTC -4:00 | Avg. Flight time: 9 hours
Punta Cana and Bávaro make up the dreamy Coconut Coast. This 32-kilometre (20 mile) stretch of pearly white beach has become a tropical playground for tourists, with swanky mega-resorts and a huge choice of activities.
From water sports and top-notch restaurants to golf courses, casinos and star-studded cabarets, holidays are big business round here, so forget about your bank balance and get stuck in. You’ll find a cluster of the Dominican Republic’s five-star hotels among these beaches too, making it the place for a holiday splurge.
Hoping to mix culture with hedonism? Less hectic than Punta Cana but offering plenty to keep you occupied, the beaches surrounding Puerto Plata are brilliant if you’re looking for a bit of everything. Playa Dorada and Playa Sosua, just east of Puerto Plata, are dreamy bays with bright blue waters, while hip Cabarete is windsurfing central.
Home to some of the Dominican Republic’s best all-inclusive hotels and five-star resorts, this coastline is a wonderful area to explore. The city of Puerto Plata itself is also a delight, with heaps of history, gorgeous botanical gardens and a scenic cable car.
A smattering of secluded coves backed by thick rainforest, Barahona is somewhere to retreat from the real world. Wild and romantic, it’s the ultimate place to get away from it all. Here, you’ll find a bunch of the Dominican Republic’s best-hidden hotels, complete with sweeping ocean panoramas.
Stretch out on Playa San Rafael, a stunning beach with mountain views, or ride the swells just off the pebbly beach Playa Bahoruco. Situated in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, Barahona gets killer sunsets, so all you need for early evening fun is a cocktail and a hammock.
If you’re after a dose of the real Dominican Republic, stick to the capital Santo Domingo. Christopher Columbus arrived on these shores in 1492, making Santo Domingo one of the oldest cities in the New World. In terms of atmosphere, it’s right up there with Havana.
The Zona Colonial is a treasure trove of cobbles, crumbling buildings and pirate history. You’ll also find a heady mixture of classic Dominican Republic hotels, salsa clubs, rum bars and friendly locals, all ready to show you a good time.
Perfect for independent travellers and wildlife lovers, the Dominican Republic’s Samanà Peninsula is a laidback region sandwiched between sandy shores and forested mountains. Far from the bright lights of Bàvaro and Punta Cana, it’s a dreamy spot to escape the masses.
Even better, thousands of humpback whales glide into these waters over the winter, so you’re almost guaranteed to see them breaching in the waves. Some of the Dominican Republic’s best luxury, all-inclusive hotels are tucked between these beaches, so pack your binoculars and pitch up now before the secret gets out.