Santo Domingo was Spain’s first capital in the New World, and its Ciudad Colonial is now a World Heritage site. Occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest country in the Caribbean (only Cuba is larger). With rich soil, it produces a variety of agricultural products, including cocoa, coffee, tobacco, sugar cane and rum. Its varied ecosystems are home to a wide range of animals, including 29 indigenous species of birds. At the eastern end of the island, Punta Cana is the principal upscale resort area. Twelve golf courses have been built since 1991 by designers such as Jack Nicklaus, P.B. Dye, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo and Nick Price. Punta Espada at Cap Cana and Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo generally make lists of the world’s best golf courses.
The Puntacana Resort & Club has a 1,500-acre ecological preserve on its grounds with several freshwater sinkholes. Following a half-mile trail that looped through subtropical forest, we discovered 12 limpid pools sunk in the coral limestone. They reminded us of the great cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Schools of fish hovered lazily, and as we were completely alone, we decided to join them. The water was cool and delicious.
An Alternative Dining Option
If you’re staying at The Peninsula House in Las Terrenas but want to stroll down the beach to find an alternative place to eat, consider Porto at Xëliter Balcones del Atlántico (Tel.  240-5908). The restaurant is stylish, the atmosphere casual and the food a blend of Peruvian and Italian cuisines.
Tour the Cave of Wonders
The Cueva de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders) is an impressive underground cave system a one-hour drive from Punta Cana. Book a walking tour to admire still-growing stalagmites and stalactites and hundreds of petroglyphs and pictographs made by the indigenous Taino people.
Explore Río San Juan
The north coast, where Amanera is located, is renowned for its aquatic activities. The nearby town of Río San Juan is both picturesque in its own right and is also home to Laguna Gri Gri, a freshwater lagoon known for its extensive mangrove forests. You can hire a local boat and discover this wonderful ecosystem, which includes a bird sanctuary and lovely beaches. Another option is to explore the coast near Río San Juan on eco-tours by kayak.
To phone hotels in the Dominican Republic, dial 1 + 809 (Dominican Republic code) + local numbers in listings.
Dominican peso (DOP). Fluctuating rate valued at DOP54.5 = US$1.00 as of April 2020. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
Santo Domingo, Tel. (809) 567-7775.
As elsewhere in the Caribbean, the dry season extends from December to June. Summer brings increased rainfall and humidity.