The Dominican Republic is the most visited travel destination in the Caribbean. In 2019, over seven million travelers from around the world arrive at this beautiful tropical island nation–and for good reason since there are many incredible Dominican Republic things to do! The Dominican Republic is considered a “micro-continent” because it offers a little bit of almost everything from bright blue beaches to chilly mountain towns surrounded by pine trees. However, with so many amazing places to visit in the Dominican Republic, tourism is not so consistently spread around the island. To encourage others to venture out beyond the beach resorts, here is an insider’s guide, from a Dominican-American who has traveled around the Dominican Republic countless times, on 34+ incredible things to do in the Dominican Republic!
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Related Resources for Planning Your Dominican Republic Trip Itinerary
Things to Do in the Dominican Republic: Barahona Province
1. Hike La Plaza & La Cueva
This is a full day, two-part hike in the beautiful province of Barahona. This stunning hike takes you through several crystal-clear blue pools surrounded by limestone rocks within a jungle. Both parts of the hike (La Plaza and La Cueva) are well worth it with several gems along the way. Because it is a virginal region, it is unpaved and thus not an easy hike. You must improvise the way: over rocks, jumping down, leaping over, swimming, sliding, crawling, and climbing up natural “second floors” without stairs. It is like the ultimate obstacle course + hike. A full-body workout in the midst of pristine beauty.
For guided tours through La Plaza contact Barahona local, Alex for via Whatsapp: (829)847-4770 and tell him Isabelle sent you so he understands which route to do.
2. Larimar Gemstone Mines & Shopping
Larimar is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. It is only found in the Dominican Republic and there is only one mine located in the Barahona province, making this one of the most amazing Dominican Republic attractions. So don’t miss out on the lifetime experience to see how a local collective of miners extracts this rare gem. You will need a 4×4 SUV to get up to the mining area. Here is a video of visiting the mines.
Please keep in mind: This is not to encourage poverty tourism but to recommend an experience of learning how locals have created a community mining system to extract one of the world’s rarest gemstones. Please do not use locals, especially their kids as photoshoot props. And please tip your guides/the workers for taking the time out of their workday to show you around.
While you’re admiring the beautiful coastline of Barahona, take a moment to pull over and go shopping! Directly support the local small businesses by buying a beautiful piece of larimar gemstone. Some road stands sell them as raw pieces, polished stones, and/or as jewelry. Whichever form of larimar you choose, it will surely make for a lovely souvenir.
For guided tours of the Larimar mines from above, you can also contact Barahona local, Alex via Whatsapp: (829)847-4770.
3. Los Patos Beach/River: Seafood Feast With Epic Views
While driving through Barahona, stop by the gorgeous Los Patos Beach and River for a fresh seafood lunch. My favorite place is Kathy’s restaurant right on the beach and in a more secluded corner. Her restaurant, a women-owned small business for many years, serves delicious food from a pristinely kept kitchen. Give her a Whatsapp text or call (829)988-1038 so she can have everything ready for you upon arrival. And let her know Isabelle sent you! 😉
Things to do in the Dominican Republic – Pedernales Province
4. Bahia de las Aguilas: The Best Beach in the World
Bahia de las Aguilas is the prize at the end of the scenic Southwest Dominican road trip from Barahona to Los Patos to Pedernales. I’ve traveled to over 45 countries in the world and Bahia de las Aguilas ranks as one of the best beaches in the world for me. So if you love beaches, visiting Bahia de las Aguilas is a must-do and one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic.
Want to visit Bahia de las Aguilas independently? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get to Bahia de las Aguilas from Santo Domingo via public transportation.
Once you’re in the area contact Satima, a local woman who cooks delicious plates of food for you to enjoy. Her sun also drives the boats to Bahia de las Aguilas. She only speaks Spanish. Her Whatsapp is: (809)693-4419. She does not know how to write or read very well so send her audio messages only!
5. Go Glamping along the shores of the Dominican Republic’s Best Beach
Glamping is a fancier version of camping. You have all of the modern amenities but you’re still closer to nature. At this beach glamping in Pedernales, you can fall asleep by a bonfire while gazing at the stars and hearing the sounds of the gentle waves. Wake up to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and then take a boat ride to see Bahia de las Aguilas beach. Glamping in the Caribbean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and perfect for beach/outdoor lovers!
6. Los Pozos de Romeo
On the very road that leads to Bahia de las Aguilas beach, consider this refreshing detour and Dominican Republic point of interest. Los Pozos de Romeo is a crystal clear natural pool enclosed within rocks and cacti fauna. A perfect pit stop to re-freshen up before or after the beach!
7. Laguna de Oviedo: Iguanas, 3 & More
Laguna de Oviedo is a saltwater lake in Jaragua National Park in the Pedernales province of the Dominican Republic. Here you can hire a guide for a boat tour through the different islands to learn about the cacti fauna while bird and iguana watching. At the end of your trip don’t forget to ask for the natural mud bath stop! There is a lot of things to do in Laguna de Oviedo including unique caves and trying exotic cacti fruits. So plan at least half a day here to really appreciate all that one of the best places in the Dominican Republic has to offer.
8. Arroyo Salado
Located just 10 minutes from Laguna de Oviedo is Arroyo Salado natural pool. This is the perfect stop to wash off the saltwater from Oviedo Lake and any remnants of your mud bath! This natural freshwater pool is surrounded by mangroves and is home to little fish who will innocuously eat away at your dead skin.
Where to Stay in Pedernales
- Hostal Dona Chava – Super cute and cozy bed and breakfast, owned by a wonderful local family of Dominicans. It’s situated in a central part of town where you can walk to the many delicious restaurants or grocery stores in Pedernales town! It’s also easily one of the best hotels in the Dominican Republic.
THINGS TO DO IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – JARABACOA TOWN REGION
9. Hike El Pico Duarte: The Tallest Mountain in the Caribbean
The Dominican Republic is home to a significant amount of mountain ranges including the tallest mountain in the Caribbean: El Pico Duarte. El Pico Duarte is located along the Cordillera Central mountain range which stretches across the Dominican Republic and into Haiti (also making it easy to plan an incredible 3 days in Haiti tour).
This prestigious and magnificent mountain peak soars at over 3,000 meters (10,000+ feet) in altitude. Consider doing a fun multi-day Pico Duarte hiking tour. The hiking base is just 40 minutes driving from the popular mountain town of Jarabacoa – another hidden gem.
10. Paraglide Over the Dominican Alps
Paragliding is a highlight experience for adventure lovers coming to Jarabacoa and looking for exciting things to do in the Dominican Republic. You can go with a professional pilot and roam the skies above the Jarabacoa valleys. Costs start at $50 per person.
11. Relax in the Dominican Alps
Fun fact: Because of its cooler climate, green valleys, and tall mountainous peaks, our Cordillera Central region is referred to as the Dominican Alps! Here, you can create your own mini-retreat by spending a few days (or weeks) in one of the mountain top villas in this beautiful pine-studded mountainous region.
For solo travelers who want to meet others, staying at the stunning Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel is a must! And if you want to stay in a beautiful hotel by the Jimenoa River with delicious food, check out Hotel Gran Jimenoa.
You can rent an entire place to yourself like the mountain top villa (pictured above) or a Japanese-style luxury guest house (also pictured above) for a fraction of what resorts will charge you! Best of all? You’ll be near tons of wonderful activities to do in the Dominican Republic.
12. Enjoy Jarabacoa’s Various Hikes & Waterfalls
You can actually chase waterfalls in Jarabacoa as there are various ones to choose from. Travelers can reach the different waterfalls by car, horse, and/or hiking. Consider visiting the top three most beautiful waterfalls on a full-day tour of hiking and swimming. Here are the three I recommend: Jimenoa I Waterfall, Baiguate Waterfall, and Salto Secreto Waterfall. Email David for tours – he is a local guide in this area.
13. Water Rafting Through the Yaque del Norte River
Raft down the Yaque del Norte River, the second-longest river in the Caribbean with Rancho Baiguate. Depending on the time of the year the rapids can be smoother or a bit stronger. The tallest drop is about 3 meters. This is the perfect experience for both beginners or more experienced rafters.
Continue Reading: Jarabacoa Travel Guide: 21 Reasons to Visit the Dominican Alps for more in-depth information on things to see and do in this region.
Where to Stay in Jarabacoa
- Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel offers budget prices and gorgeous quality. Prices range from $14/dorm to $28/private to $55/for a luxurious room with your own Jacuzzi. You can also rent an apartment entirely for yourself!
- Gran Jimenoa Hotel is a high-quality resort-style hotel on a very calming and almost spiritual Gran Jimenoa River (pictured above). It’s a great place to go if you want to have breakfast included, housekeeping, and other hotel amenities.
Things to do in the Dominican Republic – Monte Plata Province
14. Salto de Socoa
Probably one of the most underrated Dominican Republic tourist attractions, this underrated gem in Monte Plata barely gets any visitors. You may likely have the entire place to yourself like I have several times. Yet, it’s very easy to access from the main road to Samana. Pay just $1 to enter and take a 15-minute walk down including some steps. The emerald green swimming area also extends to several other beautiful pools. To get to these pools you must walk over some wet rocks, so bring water shoes with grip.
15. Culturally Immerse Yourself in Campo Life & Cooking Lessons
One of the best (and most fun) ways to culturally immersive yourself is through food. Consider taking a half-day trip to the rural farms of Monte Plata for some cooking lessons by the town chef: my aunt Ramona. Along with other members of my family, they will teach you how to cook some of the most delicious Dominican dishes over a traditional wood fire outside. You can also tour the farm, pick cacao, ride horses and more. Consider adding a visit to El Salto de Socoa as an add on for a full-day tour of fun in the lush province of Monte Plata. Prices are $250 per person (minimum two people). Book now by emailing [email protected] and enjoy one of the more authentic, local attractions in the Dominican Republic.
The famous Salto Alto, one of the most well known Dominican Republic tourist attractions in the area, is currently suffering from overcrowdedness. Skip the crowds coming out of the big tourist buses and head to the more quaint Salto de Socoa (listed above).
Things to do in the Dominican Republic: BANI CITY REGION
16. Sand Boarding in Las Dunas de Bani (Sand Dunes)
Travelers to the Dominican Republic are often shocked to find out that this tropical island is also home to desert topography including tall sand dunes surrounded by cactus plants. Las Dunas de Bani (the Bani Sand Dunes), one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic, offers stunning views of the Caribbean sea juxtaposed against the desert landscape. Here you can hike over the tall dunes for fun or rent a board and surf the sand dunes in style!
17. Pink Salt Pans aka Las Salinas
Another one of the many underrated things to do in the Dominican Republic is a hidden gem in the southwest, the salt mines of Bani. The large salt pans are naturally pink before the salt is extracted by the local miners. Ask for permission to enter, and take a stroll down the trolley tracks to take in the view of these pink pools surrounded by beautiful mountains and piles of snowy-white salt.
Things to do in the Dominican Republic – Azua Province
18. Ocoa Vineyard
Wine lovers should stop in the province of Azua to visit the gorgeous and luxurious Ocoa Bay Vineyard. This vineyard offers wine tastings, guided tours, a beautiful outdoor restaurant, a clubhouse with an infinity pool, and dozens of sustainable agricultural projects.
Things to do in the Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo
19. Los Tres Ojos
The Dominican Republic’s Three Eyes National Park is a nature reserve and open-air limestone cave system with a series of crystal clear lakes known as the “eyes.” Located in Santo Domingo, just ten minutes by car from the popular Colonial Zone, the park provides a sweet respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. Along with a guided tour, these stunning open water caves also offer deeper insights into the pre-colonial and ancestral origins of the Dominican Republic making this one of the many amazing things to do in Santo Domingo.
Keep Reading: How to Visit Los Tres Ojos Travel Guide
20. La Zona Colonial
If you can only do one thing while in Santo Domingo, then let it be this. La Zona Colonial is the historic colonial center of the city. Here you can spend days on end and experience some of the best things to do in Santo Domingo. This is also the best place for cultural events, social movements, art galleries, museums, nightlife, and trendy restaurants.
Continue Reading: The Top Things to Do in Santo Domingo including La Zona Colonial.
21. Hidden Afro-Heritage Walking Tour + Slave Route
Go on a guided walking tour of La Zona Colonial but through the important lens of an understudied African history which delves deeper into the legacy of our African ancestors on the island today. For decades, Dominican Republic’s Black history has been neglected due to the colonial remnants that still plague all of the Americas. But we Dominicans have been making a lot of strides and efforts in reclaiming our narratives and decolonizing our history.
Anthropologist Ruth Pion or Afro Historia RD will lead you through this educational walking tour experience that you can’t get anywhere else in Santo Domingo. Consider combining this insightful walking tour her tour to the old sugar plantations where one of the biggest slave rebellions in the Dominican Republic occurred.
22. Ride El Teleferico
For less than .50 cents USD you can ride the spotlessly clean metro in Santo Domingo and then get a free connection to the teleférico (cable car) that takes you up and above and through various neighborhoods reaching just below the outskirts of La Victoria.
You’ll see kids playing in the natural pools, hear dogs and roosters sing, and smell that nostalgic toasted wood campo aroma, as you fly above schools, homes, lush plains, busy streets, and rivers. There are so many stories to the views from above with every swing.
While to us travelers this is a fun and exciting (when it swings out of the station it feels like zip-lining) ride through the northern outskirts of Santo Domingo… for many locals, it’s finally a way to get around and connect to more opportunities in the city center. This is a vital means of everyday local transportation that helps Dominicans and our environment. It also happens to be one of the Dominican Republic attractions that will give you a tiny glimpse into the everyday lives of locals.
23. Fiesta de Palo: Explore Afro-Dominican History in Villa Mella
Palo is Afro-Dominican sacred music with roots from the Congo region/West Africa. It has been preserved through us for hundreds of years despite colonial oppression and various attempts to suppress and repress it. Fiesta de Palo has become a “vehicle for anti-colonial, anti-hegemonic and anti-imperial” protest.
Palo can vary by region around the entire country. In Villa Mella, in the outskirts of Santo Domingo, where the first recorded slave rebellion occurred and where African slaves fled for refuge, is where Palo is most famously known to have been preserved.
If you’re interested in cultural heritage especially in music and Afro-Dominican history, venture out to hear a brotherhood in Villa Mella do a ceremony/Fiesta de Palo.
Things to Do in the Dominican Republic – Cabarete Town
24. Take a Kiteboarding Lesson/Go Kitesurfing
Cabarete is one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic (and in the entire world) for kitesurfing. About a mile from Cabarete downtown is the popular Kite Beach where you can either sign up for kite surfing lessons or watch in awe as the local kite surfers leap high into the air with moves that almost defy gratify. Other options for kite surfing include La Boca and Bozo Beach, two of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic.
25. Go Surfing or Take Surfing Lessons in Playa Encuentro
The northern shores of the Dominican Republic are home to some of the most popular surfing communities in the country. So, if you love surfing, then this beach should definitely be one of the Dominican Republic points of interest that you visit.
Playa Encuentro, less than 5 miles from Cabarete downtown, is one of the best beaches for surfing, especially if you’re a beginner. Surfing lessons average to about $50 for a 2-3 hour lesson. Prices depend on the business and lesson package. You are also free to rent surfboards without lessons if you wish.
During one of my many trips to the Dominican Republic, I stayed at El Encuentro Surf Lodge which is a few minutes walking from Encuentro Beach where I took a morning surf class for beginners. My lesson was with Pau Hana. And I couldn’t believe they actually got me to stand and surf on baby waves not once or twice, but THREE times!
26. Half-Day Trip to Wilson’s in La Boca
Looking for even more amazing places to visit in the Dominican Republic? Then check out Wilson’s in La Boca. This Dominican-owned restaurant sits at the foot of the Yasica River just before it meets the ocean. So the views are uniquely beautiful: part beach and part river with a few local kite surfers enjoying the perfect combo in a relatively remote and low key area.
The staff here also cook some of the best foods in the Dominican Republic and take you back into their kitchen where you choose your fish and weight it. For about $8-10 USD you can enjoy an entire fish cooked over a wood fire with tostones, rice, and salad. It is one of the best and tastiest meals you can have in the Dominican Republic.
However, getting to La Boca and one of the best Dominican Republic attractions is quite an experience. It’s about 15 minutes from Cabarete downtown and is a little adventure itself since it requires either an SUV or a proper motorcycle so that you can drive over/around streams of water, puddles, rocks, and sand. When you reach the end of the road, you will take a free boat over the river to this special restaurant! In my humble opinion, this is one of the best things to do in Cabarete!
Main Article: Top Things to See & Do in Cabarete – An Insider’s Guide
Things to do in the Dominican Republic – Monte Cristi City & Province
27. Visit Maximo Gomez’ House
Monte Cristi is home to some of the most impactful colonial history in Latin America– from being one of the first colonial cities in the Americas to having critical ties with Cuba’s independence thanks to Maximo Gomez. This alone is reason enough to check out his home/museum to gain a deeper insight into Dominican history and its connection with our Latino neighbors as well as how it affects us all today. That’s why, if you enjoy learning about history, this is definitely one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic,
28. Island Hopping from Isla Cabra to Cayo 7 Hermanos
Isla Cabra is an uninhabited island that offers little hikes, naturally shaded areas for picnics, and a beautiful emerald-green beach all to yourself. What more can you ask for when looking for Dominican Republic things to do? You can reach Isla Cabra’s Playa Paraiso by taking a boat which you can hire at the town fishing dock.
If you’re already on a boat tour going through the canals and Isla Cabra (#2 above), you may be interested in paying for the full-day excursion and head to Cayo 7 Hermanos. This group of uninhabited island keys is also within the Monte Cristi National Park region. They are comprised of: Terrero, Monte Grande, Ratas, Muertos, Arenas, Tororu, and Monte Chico – easily making this one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic.
29. Hike to El Morro & El Morro Beach
This iconic view is probably what you get when you google Monte Cristi. Tall limestone mountainous cliffs surround the golden shores of El Morro beach. There are at least three hikes you can do here for beautiful views from above or you can just walk down to the beach to see the views from below. Both are stunning. At night you can also get some mesmerizing views of the night sky. Perfect for astrophotographers. The paths here are rocky so bring proper shoes if you don’t have strong ankles. This is just one of several Reasons to Visit Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic
Things to Do in the Dominican Republic – Samana
30. Stay in a Luxury Jungle Villa
Samana has some of the most uniquely beautiful places to stay in the Dominican Republic. And this private villa gives you the best of both worlds: jungle and beach. Casa Paraiso‘s bedrooms offer open-air views facing the ocean, the perfect retreat if you’re traveling solo, with friends, or for couples.
Coming will feel like you’ve been transported to Bali and that’s because DR truly does have it all! And don’t forget to take a dip in the infinity pool!
31. Horseback Ride Up to El Salto de Limon Waterfall
Although the Samana province is popular with tourists, there are still many places that are still well worth the visit to this area especially: Salto de Limon. This waterfall is located in a lush jungle that you must either hike through or reach on horseback.
For tours – I strongly recommend doing the horseback coffee trail with Santi who leads high-quality tours and offers a delicious lunch at the end of your excursion in his restaurant space. There are many different trails, some not as nice, so remember to clarify that you want the COFFEE trail which Santi offers. Prices start at $20/per rider. Bring extra cash to tip the local guide at least $10.
32. Beach-Hopping to World Class Beaches Throughout the Samana Peninsula
At the end of the Samana Peninsula, you can find some of the finest beaches in the Dominican Republic such as Las Galeras which you can take a boat from to the secluded Playa Fronton (pictured above). Please note that this beach is not accessible when the waters are choppy.
If you’re looking for something closer to Las Terrenas, then consider Playa Rincon. Once a secret beach where a local fisherman family lived perched on the hill, Playa Rincon has now become a popular beach destination for locals and tourists alike. Today, you can find several local restaurant stands by the beach where you can order plates of fresh seafood while admiring the beautiful ocean views. But what really makes this beach special? Is that it begins where a crystal clear blue river ends. From here you can hire a canoe captain to take you through the lush river or rent a kayak and go exploring on your own. This river alone is a treat and a quiet respite from the lively beach on a weekend! Avoid holidays unless you love the lively holiday buzz of many local families and visitors.
33. Go Whale Watching in Samana
The Samana Bay area is considered one of the best places in the world to watch humpback whales in their natural mating grounds. This is the perfect family excursion for kids and adults alike. Take a boat onto the Atlantic Sea to see the humpback whales as they migrate back to this region of the Dominican Republic to mate. You’ll see their courting songs and flips into the air while learning about the whales.
Beware: If the waters are choppy, the boats can rock up and down several feet into the air. This caused a handful of people (including myself) to get terrible seasickness on the boat. I used to work on a boat every summer and never got sick so I’m not sensitive to it; that’s just how intense the water can get. We really liked that the folks at Whale Samana warned us about it that week. They will tell you if it’s risky or not (for your stomach).
34. Fulfill Your Childhood Dreams By Staying in a Treehouse Retreat
Disconnect from the world and let the folks at Dominican Treehouse take care of you. This all-inclusive treehouse stay offers access to zip-lining, beaches, waterfalls, bike rentals, and your meals. You will be sleeping in the open air lush jungle of Samana. So bring a good book to read at night because there will be no social media scrolling here.
Intentionally not mentioned in this post: La Romana, and Punta Cana since they are getting a ton of tourism relative to the rest of the island. Check out our roundup of the very best places to visit in the Dominican Republic. There are an endless amount of Dominican Republic points of interest. Subscribe to get more travel guides! & follow me on Instagram: @dominicanabroad
Like this travel guide? Check out our guide to see some other amazing places in the Dominican Republic not listed on here!
Local Tours of Amazing Dominican Republic Attractions
Consider supporting local small businesses by contacting us to connect you with locals throughout the island who offer incredible services and provide you with unique ways to see some amazing Dominican Republic points of interest. Or join in on one of our tours:
- Dominican Heritage Tour: Includes Santo Domingo, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Barahona, and Jarabacoa!
- Jarabacoa Weekend Retreat: Relaxation + wellness + outdoors
- Pico Duarte Hiking Tours: Ranging from 2-5 days hiking tours
- Jarabacoa Tours: Read everything we offer in collaboration with local guides
- Barahona & Pedernales Tours
- More Dominican Republic tours
- Email us for a custom tour: [email protected] – Please include your dates, daily budget range, and the places above that you’re interested in seeing.
Like the graphics of our maps above? Consider hiring local Dominican artist from San Cristobal: Flori Lorenzo!
Dominican Republic Itinerary
Planning a Dominican Republic trip but not sure where to begin or who to contact? Hire us for your Dominican Republic travel planning services. and to discover all of the top Dominican Republic points of interest. Rates begin at $150 per trip. Email us with your trip length, group size, and which of the above activities interest you and your daily budget.