You’re taking a cruise of the Caribbean. But you’ve got some days at the end to spend in the Dominican Republic. What to do?

Lucky for you there’s no shortage of things to see and do in one of the favourite destinations in the world for Canadians. And there’s no shortage of variety, as well.

“The Dominican Republic has so many different things to do,” said agent Penny Martin, Vice President Travel Agent Services at The Travel Agent Next Door. “There’s the history, culture, beautiful beaches, great windsurfing and, of course, dancing the merengue!”

The Travel Agent Next Door
Penny Martin, VP, The Travel Agent Next Door.

Here are a look at some of Martin’s recommendations, along with suggestions of things to do or features that make it attractive for Canadians and other visitors.

Doves flying over main square with Columbus statue, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (photo via 3dan3 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Santo Domingo is a charming city in the Dominican Republic.

Punta Cana – Terrific resorts, blue ocean water, terrific, white sand beaches. And easy access via the international airport.

Puerto Plata – Great Atlantic Ocean beaches, nearby mountains, and the Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car

Cabarete – An area widely known for windsurfing. Martin says a friend who is passionate about the sport raved about the area as a windsurfing mecca.

Samana – Great beaches but also whale watching and waterfalls.

Santo Domingo – The capital a colonial city with lots of history.

Martin also cited baseball and merengue, a style of dance developed in the DR that she says is so much fun.

El Limon waterfall, Dominican Republic (photo via Donyanedomam / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
El Limon waterfall, Dominican Republic.

Martin makes some great points. While some look at the DR as a place for endless beaches and frozen daiquiris, it’s also home to stunning architecture, beautiful cities like Santo Domingo, lush jungles, sparkling waterfalls. And baseball.

One of my great memories of a brief visit I had to the north shore of the Dominican Republic a few years ago was checking out a local baseball game in a country where the sport is truly king. Many of the top Blue Jays from over the years have come from the DR, including Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandez and Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista.

I also loved the waterfalls we hiked in and around at Damajaqua Falls, and the beaches and jungle growth around Playa Rincon, one of the best beaches I’ve seen on the planet. There’s a small collection of huts and an outdoor restaurant that serves good chicken and fish as well as fried plantains for less than $20 CAD. They also have deck chairs for rent, and the setting is amazing. One end of the beach features a beautiful, clear water stream that’s great for kids.

Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
264Caption: Playa Grande is a great beach in the DR, with colourful shacks selling fresh fish and other goodies.

Playa Grande is a gorgeous beach on the north coast of the DR, maybe two hours east of Puerto Plata. A short drive from the main highway takes you to a small “village” with wildly colourful buildings selling freshly grilled meats and fish, as well as souvenirs. We dined on fresh fish, chicken, rice, plantains and other goodies for a very good price and washed it all down with Presidente beers and a frothy Pina Colada served in a coconut husk.

The Punta Espada golf course at Cap Cana is a gem; a Jack Nicklaus design with deep green grass, brilliant white sand bunkers and several holes along a beautiful stretch of the coast. I haven’t had the chance to play it, but the Teeth of the Dog course in the DR is rated by many as the best layout in the Caribbean.

Other great things to see and do include visiting two national parks. The Haitises National Park on the northeast coast is famous for its mangrove forests and petroglyph caves, while visitors can enjoy quiet, remote beaches at Jaragua National Park, located at the southern tip of Pedernales, near the Haiti border and west of Santo Domingo.

CRUISE OPTIONS: Many cruise lines stop at ports in the Dominican Republic. Popular stopping points include Santo Domingo, Amber Cove, La Romana and Punta Cana.

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