The Many Sides of the Dominican Republic

When I was packing my suitcase for a week in the Dominican Republic, I thought I’d probably be able to get by with just a bikini and some sunscreen. Wrong!

There’s more to this Caribbean destination than beaches and blue water, so I needed more than I expected to be fully prepared for everything the DR had to offer.

Fresh lobster on the beach
Fresh lobster on the beach

The Beach

Obviously white sand, turquoise seas and warm weather are the main draws for many of the DR’s visitors.

The country occupies 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola and as such is the 2nd largest island in the Caribbean. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, there are gorgeous beaches just about everywhere you look!

The beach at Las Terrenas
The beach at Las Terrenas
A clear day on a Dominican Beach = priceless!
A clear day on a Dominican Beach = priceless!
Sublime Hotel in Samana - beachfront and luxurious!
Sublime Hotel in Samana – beachfront and luxurious!

What to pack for a beach vacation in the DR – this is easy!

  • Swimsuits
  • Sandals
  • Cover-ups
  • Sundresses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels
  • Waterproof camera
Sunset on the beach
Sunset on the beach

Colonial DR

The DR’s rich colonial heritage lured me off the beach more than once – not an easy feat for this water baby! Out of the whole week I spent in the country, the one place that really stood out in my mind was Santo Domingo, the island’s capital and oldest colonial city in the New World. 

Colonial Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo is home to the Americas’ first street, cathedral, university and hospital and the whole historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In my all-too-short stay, I slept in a gorgeous hotel that was once the home of Santo Domingo’s first governor – Nicolas de Ovando – way back in the early 1500s. Now it’s a 5-star property that serves as the perfect base to explore the rest of the town.

Nicolas de Ovando
Nicolas de Ovando

What to pack for exploring the Colonial DR:

  • Comfy shoes for wandering
  • An umbrella for afternoon showers
  • Camera
  • Your appetite – there are some AMAZING restaurants within the old city

Jungle & Countryside

Once I had my fill of sun, sand, surf and colonial history, I quickly learned that the Dominican Republic’s interior has just as much to offer as its beachy borders. In the province of Samana, on the north side of the island, there’s a fun jungle horseback ride to the Salta El Limon waterfall.

Cascada el Limon
Cascada el Limon
Horsing around in the jungle
Horsing around in the jungle

Not into horses? How about a boat excursion to Los Haitises National Park? It’s a great place to see Taino petroglyphs, dozens of species of water fowl and the rolling hills, keys, caves and mangroves.



If ecotourism and outdoor excursions are ever rained out, there are certainly enough culinary adventures to satiate the appetite. Or whet the whistle… whatever. At the famous Ron Barceló Historical Center in San Pedro de Macoris, Barceló is the most famous Dominican rum. At the historical center, there are exhibits about the history of rum and how it’s processed from sugar cane to distillery to barrel storage. And of course there’s plenty of opportunity to taste!

At the Barcelo Rum Distillery
At the Barcelo Rum Distillery
Barcelo tasting
Barcelo tasting

For interior adventures, be sure to pack:

  • Sneakers & socks
  • Insect repellant
  • Breathable cotton clothing
  • A baseball cap

Folks back home loved the cigars, rum and organic chocolate I brought back, so don’t forget to leave space for souvenirs!


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