9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Dominican Republic

Postcard-perfect beaches, luxury resorts, and a solid tourism infrastructure are what draw many tourists to the Dominican Republic. The diverse geography, which ranges from lush forests and mountains to semi-desert areas, also creates unique opportunities for travelers who want more than a simple beach vacation.Immerse yourself in nature, find secluded beaches, and learn about the culture with our list of the top attractions and best places to visit in the Dominican Republic.



1. Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial

In this city, where Christopher Columbus first landed in the America's, you'll find the hustle and bustle of modern day life being played out against the backdrop of centuries-old buildings. The colonial architecture, much of which today houses museums, restaurants, shops, and quaint hotels, lines the streets and squares, and takes you back to another era in mind-blowing fashion. Much of the activity focuses around Calle El Conde, the main thoroughfare and a popular street for shopping or dining el fresco. Wandering around the various streets, you'll see crumbling ruins, like those of Monesterio de San Francisco; beautifully preserved buildings, such as the Catedral Primada de América (First Cathedral in the Americas), which is still in use today; and residential areas, offering a glimpse into local life. Even eating pizza in a restored colonial building on a hot night, or lounging in the courtyard of your 450-year-old hotel can feel like a unique experience in this beautiful city. Santo Domingo is definitely a place worth spending some time.

Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial

2. The Resort Destination of Punta Cana

Where an endless stretch of beautiful white-sand beach meets the emerald waters of the Caribbean is Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic's premiere resort destination. If you are looking for luxury all-inclusive resorts, a couple's retreat, or family-friendly accommodation combined with an unending list of water-based activities for entertainment, this is the place to come. Bavaro Beach is Punta Cana's most impressive stretch of beach, where you can wade into the water or walk for hours along the sand. Resorts line the beach and offer easy access to all the activities. This is not a place to come for a quiet getaway. The ocean is a flurry of activity, with boats, parasailers, and tour boats coming and going. Roped-off areas offer safe places to swim. Inland from the beach are a smattering of restaurants and retail, most of which are very modern, especially by Dominican Republic standards.

The Resort Destination of Punta Cana

3. Puerto Plata & Playa Dorada

Along the north coast, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, the resort destination of Puerto Plata and the beautiful stretch of beach known as Playa Dorada is one of the Dominican Republic's biggest tourist draws. This golden-sand beach is lined with luxury resorts, although much less densely packed than what you'll find in Punta Cana. This area is also much more subdued and has more of a tranquil feel. The beaches are not busy with boats and water sports, although it's a beautiful area for swimming or snorkeling. You can walk beyond the resorts to undeveloped beaches backed by palm trees and forest.

Puerto Plata & Playa Dorada

4. Cabarate & the Beachside Restaurants

Cabarete is known for its relaxed atmosphere and huge, crescent-shaped beach lined with casual restaurants where visitors can dine right on the sand. Unlike the Dominican Republic's resort destinations like Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, this town is not full of all-inclusive resorts and packaged-vacation tourists. Instead, Cabarete attracts free spirits, backpackers, retirees, and kiteboarders who come here to spend a few weeks or months, particularly during the winter.
If you are staying in nearby Puerto Plata you can day trip to Cabarete to spend a day on the beach, enjoy a meal, or do some shopping. In the early evenings, especially on weekends and Tuesdays, musicians often perform in the local beachfront restaurants and provide entertainment as the sun sets.

Cabarate & the Beachside Restaurants

5. Las Galeras


At the farthest tip of the Samaná Peninsula, where the road dead ends at the ocean, looking out over one of the area's many beautiful beaches, is the small town of Las Galeras. Its remote location will appeal to independent travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience. Palm-lined, white-sand beaches and turquoise water create an idyllic scene. Beaches like Playa Rincon, La Playita, Playa Fronton, and other unnamed stretches of undeveloped beaches in the area are some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic and offer the polar opposite experience of the major resort destinations on the island. Here, you can hire a boat to take you to a remote beach for a morning or afternoon, or walk from town to several beautiful sandy coves in the surrounding area.

The town itself has only one main street but restaurants along here, many operated by French expats, offer outstanding cuisine at backpacker prices. Restaurants in the surrounding mountains or along the oceanfront cliffs, which require a drive from town, provide more great options. Las Galeras is the perfect place to get away from busy streets and the tourist scene, while still offering enough infrastructure to make you comfortable.

Las Galeras Dominican Republic

6. Whale Watching in Samaná Bay

Each winter, from December through March, thousands of humpback whales enter Samaná Bay to mate and give birth, making this one of the best places to see these beautiful giants in the wild. The city of Samaná, on the Samaná Peninsula, is the main departure point for Whale Watching trips. The city itself holds little else for travelers, but the whales are such a popular tourist attraction, many companies offer day trips here from various destinations around the island. If you are passing through on your way to Las Galeras, of if you are based in nearby Las Terrenas, less than an hour away, you can stop in Samaná and sign up for a half-day whale watching trip with a marine biologist. You can also do a 12-hour whale watching day trip from Punta Cana, which involves a short flight and a shuttle bus to the boat.

Whale Watching in Samaná Bay

7. Las Terrenas

On the north coast, Las Terrenas is a busy Dominican city with a peaceful and laid-back beachfront area, where winding, single-lane dirt roads meander past small French cafés and lookout over palms, beaches, and the aquamarine ocean. Just a short stroll inland takes you to the motorbike-filled streets, where Dominicans are going about work and everyday life. This is one of the best places to visit if you want a taste of Dominican culture and all the conveniences of a city, combined with a great beach destination. Like Las Galeras, many French people have made Las Terrenas their home and have set up restaurants and inns.

Las Terrenas Dominican Republic

 8. Bahia de Las Aguilas

Well off the major tourist route, the remote Bahia de Las Aguillas in Jaragua National Park is a glorious eight-kilometer stretch of beach, which you may have all to yourself on any given day. The shallow, clear, calm water and white-sand bottom, combined with a distinct lack of tourism and development, make this one of the most pristine beaches in the Dominican Republic. Located on the southwestern coast of the country, close to the border with Haiti, this area is isolated, to say the least. From Santo Domingo, the drive time is at least six hours. The nearest town to the beach is Pedernales, almost an hour away by car, and the tourism infrastructure in this part of the Dominican is some of the least developed in the country. You won't find luxury resorts, but you will find tranquility, solitude, and unique experiences if you come out this way. The climate here is semi-arid, and the landscape, which consists largely of cactus and scrub, is much different than other areas of the country.

Bahia de Las Aguilas


9. Isla Saona and Parque Nacional de Este

While Parque Nacional del Este, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a serene place of natural beauty and habitat for countless plants, animals, and birds, most people know the park for the beaches of Isla Saona. This island is a tourist magnet, with all kinds of day trippers from the nearby resort destinations of Punta Cana and La Romana. The soft-sand beach and turquoise water is what most people would imagine if they were to picture a tropical island paradise. But, despite the fact that there are no resorts on the island, it is a lively destination during the day as catamarans and speedboats drop tourists on the beaches to relax in lounge chairs and soak up the sun. If you are tired of the scene in Punta Cana and looking for an outing, you can hop on a Saona Island Day Trip from Punta Cana. A small speedboat will whisk you over to the island for a day of relaxing on the beach and playing in the shallow waters.

Isla Saona and Parque Nacional de Este