Discovering the hidden jewels of the Dominican Republic

Identified for its sprawling all-inclusive East Coast resorts, the Dominican Republic is a busy place.

However keep away from the constructed up seashores, the golf programs and throbbing music and also you’ll discover some well-kept secrets and techniques, particularly within the stunning south, with cliffs falling into the ocean, nature reserves and miles of undeveloped shoreline with not a soul in sight.

Listed here are six extremely rated ideas . . .

Dominican delights: The palm-fringed seashore in Mano Juan, East Nationwide Park, Dominican Republic 

NATURE AND NURTURE

From the Dominican Republic’s capital Santo Domingo it’s a lengthy, bumpy drive right down to the Parque Nacional Jaragua and Bahia de las Aguilas on the border with Haiti.

However those that take some time are rewarded with among the prettiest seashores within the Caribbean alongside this 8km of unspoilt shoreline. There aren’t any solar loungers, no seashore bars, no pedalos and no pounding reggae at Bahia de las Aguilas.

From my spot on the white sand, a brief boat journey from Eco Del Mar eco-lodge, there’s simply me and so many white butterflies that it appears to be like like a snow flurry.

WHAT TO DO: In case you can prise your self away from the seashore, go to the Jaragua Nationwide Park, of which Bahia de las Aguilas is a component, the place there are mountain climbing trails to come across ugly however endearing rhinoceros iguanas within the inexperienced saltwater Lago de Oviedo, additionally house to flamingos, parrots and pelicans.

STAY: Eco Del Mar dinner is a toes-in-the- sand affair with tables on the seashore and recent grilled langoustine. There’s no wi-fi so visitors are studying and chatting by the sunshine of a bonfire. You is usually a price range camper or a luxurious glamper right here with lodging starting from tents to snug cabanas, from £126 (ecodelmar.com.do).

HIDDEN TREASURE

Though solely three hours from the capital, the province of Barahona looks like a forgotten land. The coastal street from the south has the ocean on one aspect and mountains on the opposite.

Regardless of its unworldly vibe, that is the background late Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta selected for journal shoots. Barahona is the one place on this planet the place they mine larimar, a semi-precious stone the color of the ocean. Locals say larimar can heal a damaged coronary heart.

WHAT TO DO: Cease at Los Patos, the nation’s shortest river, the place kids cool off in water from the mountain. It additionally has a seashore in style with surfers as a result of its deep waters.

STAY: Casa Bonita is a household retreat turned boutique resort tucked within the coronary heart of the rainforest. The beautiful 18-room hideaway has a zipper wire the place individuals glide by means of the treetops. Or go for the infinity pool with views of the forest and the ocean, from £191 (slh.com).

Back to nature at Eco Del Mar where dinner is a toes-in-the- sand affair with tables on the beach and fresh grilled langoustine

Again to nature at Eco Del Mar the place dinner is a toes-in-the- sand affair with tables on the seashore and recent grilled langoustine

PEARL OF THE SOUTH

Journey alongside the untouched coast of Barahona and you’ll encounter small seashores in style with locals however undiscovered by vacationers.

WHAT TO DO: Escape the warmth in a sequence of pure swimming pools fed by the San Rafael River that runs within the grounds of Villa Miriam, a non-public home open to the general public.

STAY: Perla Del Sur is a brand new luxurious mission within the undeveloped space of Barahona which can comprise a boutique resort, villas and flats. The resort is because of open subsequent 12 months and villas are already open. Financed by native households, it’s a sustainable mission aimed toward re-energising the world and benefiting the neighborhood (perladelsur.com).

TRAVEL FACTS 

  • The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti — one island, two nations.
  • It’s the most visited vacation spot within the Caribbean; about 5 million a 12 months.
  • Columbus landed in 1492, establishing the primary European settlement within the Americas. His stays have been as soon as housed within the capital’s cathedral.
  • The nation was often called Santo Domingo till the early 20th century.
  • The nationwide sport is baseball.
  • The Latin dance merengue originates from the Dominican Republic.

FRUIT OF THE VINE 

Azua de Compostela was based in 1504 by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, Cuba’s conqueror. However guests right this moment are drawn to Azua province by its winding shoreline with views to Corbanito’s beautiful seashores.

WHAT TO DO: Take a dip at Playa Chiquita, an open cove with gray sand and clear waters that creates a secluded spot excellent for swimming.

STAY: Ocoa Bay is the Caribbean’s solely winery, present in Azua about one-and-a-half hours from the capital Santo Domingo, the place its place between the Central Mountains and the ocean has a dry local weather excellent for cultivating grapes. The winery, which is run by husband and spouse Maria Claudia and Guillermo Mallarino, already runs wine-tasting experiences and excursions. Plans are in hand to open a boutique winery resort and villas early subsequent 12 months (ocoabay.com).

BEACH LIFE 

The coast west of Santo Domingo is tranquil and unspoilt, backed by mountains teeming with wildlife.

WHAT TO DO: This space actually is animal magic. Discover the hills to the north of Bahia de las Calderas and meet iguanas and sea birds. Nearer the coast anticipate pelicans and flamingos.

STAY: A lot of different new initiatives within the space are set to alter the sleepy panorama together with Puntarena, the brainchild of Frank Rainieri who based the well-known Punta Cana. The brand new growth may have 4 motels, beachfront condos, a golf course and nature trails. A seashore membership home and restaurant are already open (puntarena.com.do).

Stop at Los Patos, the country’s shortest river, where children cool off in water from the mountain. It also has a beach popular with surfers due to its deep waters

Cease at Los Patos, the nation’s shortest river, the place kids cool off in water from the mountain. It additionally has a seashore in style with surfers as a result of its deep waters 

ROMANTIC RUSTIC 

Alongside the south-east coast there’s a huge expanse with sugar cane fields which give the backdrop to among the nation’s most stunning seashores. The neighborhood of Romana was based within the early 19th century and prospered due to the sugar cane cultivation.

WHAT TO DO: Go to the fishing village of Bayahibe based in 1874 the place the Dominican Republic’s nationwide flower The Rose of Bayahibe has its roots.

STAY: Rancho Ecologico el Campeche is a pleasant eco-lodge with rustic rooms amongst tropical greenery. There’s an off-the-beaten-track really feel and the lodge has an space for tenting and alternatives for bird-watching by day and night time, from £75 (ranchocampeche.com).

TRAVEL FACTS

Iberia flies to Santo Domingo from Heathrow through Madrid from about £600 return, iberia.com. Tui presents seven nights in La Romana with return flights from Gatwick from £990 pp. For extra info, go to godominicanrepublic.com.