1. SANTO DOMINGO
Colonial Santo Domingo will charm anyone. Small cobbled streets where the smell of Creole cuisine and Caribbean coffee. Ancient churches, monasteries, and palaces, built in the Spanish navigator’s era, in which even today you can shoot the next series of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Santo Domingo was founded during Columbus’s time and became the first European city in the New World. At the beginning of the 16th century, the first cathedral, the first monastery, the first hospital, and the first university in America were built here.
Thanks to the son of America Diego Columbus’s discoverer, the first street appeared in the city. According to legend, Diego’s wife was a rare beauty; she loved to dress luxuriously and ordered outfits from Paris. But she had nowhere to “walk” the French new clothes, which, in fact, she told her husband, who was the governor of Santo Domingo. So, in came a paved street, which was called “street Dame.” Tourists today can walk on it, imagining how from one church to the other under the scorching tropical sun on the stone pavement in the XVI century, slowly walking magnificently dressed ladies.
By inheritance, Columbus applied Alcazar de Colon. The palace, which the same Diego built, consists of 22 rooms and many original objects. From the historical sites, the Osama Fortress with the inner tower Torre del Omenaje, which was once a prison, has been preserved. Now available to tour, so we can look into the tower if desired if needed.
It is worth visiting the ruins of the monastery of St. Francis (San Francisco Ruins). The first monastery of the New World today serves as a gathering place for city residents and tourists. Every Sunday, people gather in the square near the monastery to listen to performances by national groups and dance to the fiery Dominican rhythms. In 1990, Ciudad Colonial was added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ list in recognition of its cultural and historical significance.
2. COLUMBUS LIGHTHOUSE
Columbus Lighthouse – a large museum complex, which is located inside the mausoleum where lies the great explorer Christopher Columbus. Dominicans firmly believe that the remains of Columbus, which is the official version that died in 1506 in the Spanish Valladolid, are found on their land. To defend the “right to Columbus”, the mausoleum was erected on the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America in 1992.
Columbus Lighthouse (Faro a Colón) contains many artifacts and documents that tell about the first years of Spanish influence on the continent and the great navigator’s life.
The height of the structure is 33 m, width – 44 m, and length – 310 m.
The building is not accidentally named a lighthouse: 157 searchlights are installed on its roof, which shines into the sky. Powerful pillars of light visible in the many tens of kilometers. They say it can be seen even from Puerto Rico, which is more than 400 km.
3. BASILICA OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF ALTAGRACIA
The unusual architecture does not issue in this futuristic facility, called the “eye of a needle,” one of the most important pilgrimage centers in all Latin America.
This Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia, which is considered the patroness of all the republic. The top shape of the church resembles a Latin cross and is made of bronze with gold plating. The arches are also interesting – they repeat the silhouette of the vestments of the Mother of God.
The church is modern: it was built in 1971 by French architects. Admission is free.
4. ALTOS DE CHAVON. CITY OF ARTISTS
One of the top places to visit in the Dominican Republic. Panoramic views, beautiful natural landscapes, and Mediterranean architecture. Altos de Chavon – a city of artists. The name of the town is translated as Altos de – above, Chavon – the river’s name below the city, that is, “On the high bank of the Chavon River.”
Altos de Chavon owes its creation to love. According to one version, the local rich man’s love for his daughter, who really wanted to go to Europe. So that the young maiden would not be sad, this reed merchant built a replica of a Mediterranean village over the Chavon River.
Over time, Altos de Chavon became a real mecca for artists, musicians, and other creative bohemia representatives. One of them was Frank Sinatra, who, with his own money, built a Greek-style amphitheater that could hold about 5,000 people.
Journey through a city of artists will not be complete without a look at St. Stanislaus Church. It is said that there was a wedding ceremony of Michael Jackson Louise Presley.
Today, Altos de Chavon, “Little Europe” in the Dominican Republic, working as a tourist and cultural center: here the art gallery also operates a branch of the New York School of Design.
5. SAMANA PENINSULA
For colorful pictures, welcome to the Samana Peninsula, where groves of coconut trees, crystal clear rivers, many waterfalls and caves, and unspoiled white beaches.
Samana will also delight fans of marine fauna: in the local waters you can find many manatees and dolphins, from mid-January to mid-March humpback whales come here.
Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts will find an outlet for diving near the nearby island of Cayo Levantado or, as it is also called, “Bacardi Island.”
There are all postcard Caribbean views for those who do not want to dive: gorgeous sandy beaches, turquoise water, coconut trees. The restaurants on the island offer Dominican cuisine and, of course, Caribbean rum.
6. SAONA ISLAND
Remember popular advertising about the “heavenly delight – Bounty” where the coconut fell on the ground? So, it was shot on the island of Saona. Moreover, You can find a similar paradise picture in the form of a beautiful sandy coast with palm trees and transparent blue water on Saone almost everywhere.
Thanks to the rich diversity of unique flora (more than 500 species of rare tropical plants), the island became part of one of the national parks. Therefore, there are no hotels or resorts on Saona: tourists can get here only with a guided tour.
There are many birds and underwater inhabitants on the island. These are all kinds of fish, stingrays, sea urchins, moray eels. And in Saona you can also see mangrove forests: they are located in coastal areas and go directly to the water.
7. COSTA DEL AMBAR
If you find yourself in the north of the country in the city of Puerto Plata, be sure to visit the Costa del Ambar (translated from Spanish as “Amber Coast”). The name of the resort has been received because of the large deposits of amber. Here you can also find the legacy of Columbus: the ruins of his home, the church, which held the first Mass in the Americas, and the castle of San Felipe.
You can climb Mount Isabel de Torres on the cable car and go to local museums – the Museum of the History of the Taino Indians and the Amber Museum.
Do not be lazy, look in the city of Montecristi, on the coast is flooded with a real flotilla of Spanish galleons.
8. ARMANDO BERMUDES NATIONAL PARK
The Dominican Republic is the object of attention because the country has many national parks. Here’s another one: named Armando Bermudez, who is at the center of the island, on the ridge of the Cordillera Central.
Here are the largest mountain peaks in the country – the highest mountain called Peak Duarte.
The Armando Bermudez National Park has the source of 12 of the country’s most important rivers. Alpine meadows, trees, vines, pine trees, juniper, almond, pine, and Creole wild jujube, finally, gorges and panoramic views.
9. JARAGUA NATIONAL PARK
Another national park in the south of Pedernales’s province will appeal to all fans of eco-tourism. Meet Jaragua, covering an area of about 400 square kilometers, including islands.
Local landmark – sea turtles are engaged in a sequel of sorts here. The egg-laying process can be seen when arriving in the spring-summer period. Species of turtles home to the reserve are quite rare: green turtle, laud turtle, kaguamo turtle, which can be up to 1.8 meters long, and brown turtle.
If you have seen waterfalls, cascades of waterfalls, then in the Dominican Republic, whole “cities of waterfalls” are waiting for you. One of them – Jarabacoa, located 50 km from Santiago. Alpine landscape, “woven” from the pine forests, rivers, waterfalls, and the highest peaks in the Caribbean. River Yaque del Norte in Jarabacoa offers excellent conditions for rafting.
The second cascade – Damajagua, which includes 27 waterfalls, can be found near Puerto Plata. Some pools are 3 meters deep, while others are only 0.5 meters deep.
11. BLUE LAGOON
The color of local waters through karst formations is incredibly blue and azure. Blue Hole or Blue Lagoon (Hoyo Azul) is located in the southern part of the resort area of Punta Cana – Cap Cana. Route To this lagoon includes a walk through the rainforest.
You can swim in the lagoon. Both adults and children dive. But it is worth considering that due to this mountain lake’s popularity, the number of tourists during the peak season is off the scale. Therefore, to enjoy the local views and swim in peace, it is best to come here early in the morning.
12. CAVE “THREE EYES”
Nature has created a unique cave, inside of which there are three small, very different lakes. This unique object is called a cave, “Three Eyes”: by the number of lakes. However, you cannot swim in them.
The first lake is 9 meters deep. The second is filled with hepatic waters so cold that even the brave do not risk swimming there. The third lake is not very deep, but it is distinguished by its soft water and comfortable temperature steps – once there was a pool, but now dive into the pool is prohibited.
13. NATIONAL AQUARIUM
More than 3,000 marine animals belonging to 250 different species. They are all housed in 90 separate reservoirs and 7 ponds.
One of the most spectacular – a pond with sharks. The reservoir is designed so that predators swim only a few centimeters from visitors. Colorful picture of the underwater kingdom complements all sorts of colorful fish, coral and turtles.
14. MOUNTAIN REDONDA
Mountain Redonda or Round Mountain in the municipality of Miches in El Seibo province – one of the most beautiful places in the Dominican Republic. Just imagine – a real natural viewing platform at the height of about 300 meters, with a panoramic view of 360 degrees. You can see Samana Bay, Redonda Lagoon, and the neighboring towns and villages.
In addition to the beautiful landscape, another attraction is the swing on the “precipice.” Of course, everything is thought out and safe. The feeling of flight and complete delight are guaranteed. No less spectacular are and photos on these swings: in the pictures, it seems that people are floating in the air.