The Dominican Republic is ensconced as the Caribbean’s most visited destination. It’s not hard to see why; a seemingly endless spread of white-sandy beaches and palm trees play host to a similarly sizeable range of holiday resorts. The country has developed a reputation for a good-quality break at a reasonable price, for what it’s worth.
With its 32km (20 miles) stretch of beaches and clear blue sea, the region around Punta Cana on the east coast is particularly popular, offering golf courses, all-inclusive holidays and the usual fun-in-the-sun trappings.
The Dominican Republic makes up one-half of the island of Hispaniola – which it shares with Haiti in the west. The country is one of the most geographically diverse parts of the Caribbean, showcasing everything from tropical rainforests and high-mountain ranges to mangrove swamps and semi-deserts. Mountain bikers, windsurfers, hikers, climbers and even whale watchers are well-catered for.
No less notably, however, the Dominican Republic is heaving with life, blending the heady rhythms of merengue and bachata music, with a fondness for rum and religion, not to mention a near-unrivalled passion for baseball.
The country has a long history. It was the first part of the region to be discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. A visit to the capital city Santo Domingo still makes the most natural starting point for cultural visitors. The oldest fortress Fortaleza Ozama (built in 1502) and colonial-era churches still stand proud, while the city as a whole is a thrusting, energetic destination full of speaker-blaring corner stores and dance-till-you-drop nightclubs.
While it’s a large country by Caribbean standards, it remains relatively easy to combine different elements of the destination in one itinerary. And whether you’re here for the beaches, the music, the countryside or the culture, the Dominican Republic in full swing is a force to be reckoned with.