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11 Top-Rated Beaches in the Dominican Republic

Jul 31, 2017

The Dominican Republic has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Whether you are looking for a beach where you can relax at an all-inclusive resort, a secluded and undeveloped stretch of sand to get away from people and civilization, or something in between, the Dominican Republic has it.

Beach on the backside of Playa Rincón
Beach on the backside of Playa Rincón | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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On the north side of the island, endless soft-sand beaches line the coast. Some of these are surfer havens and kiteboarding destinations, others offer tranquil retreats for swimming and snorkeling. The Caribbean Coast on the south side of the island has a mix of powdery white sand or smooth pebble beaches, depending on the region. On the far east end of the island, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, is Punta Cana, with a combination of gorgeous beaches and luxury resorts.

1 Bávaro Beach, Punta Cana

Bávaro Beach, Punta Cana
Bávaro Beach, Punta Cana
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Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic's number one beach resort destination, with sun seekers coming here in droves to relax at the all-inclusive resorts that line the soft white-sand beaches. The most beautiful stretch of beach in the Punta Cana area is undoubtedly Bávaro Beach, just north of Punta Cana. The calm Caribbean waters are perfect for swimming or wading, and the water color is a typical Caribbean turquoise hue that stretches out well beyond the roped-off swimming area to the protective reef in the distance. Beyond the swimming zone is an action packed area of boats and parasailers. On shore, the beach stretches for miles, perfect for walking and people watching. You can find many of the big name luxury chain resorts on Bávaro, including Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro, the adults-only Barcelo Bavaro Beach, and the Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa.

2 Playa Rincón

Playa Rincón
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Undeveloped and remote, Playa Rincón is the quintessential, postcard perfect, tropical white-sand beach. Glimmering aquamarine waves lap the shore. Huge palm trees line the sand and provide shade. At one end, a protected cove offers a consistently calm bay for swimming, and in the distance, lush green mountains rise up from the opposite shore of the bay. A small restaurant at one end of the beach and a couple of stands near the parking area offer lunch and snacks and are the only structures in the vicinity.

Located on the Samana Peninsula, Playa Rincon is most typically reached by a 30-minute boat ride from the town of Las Galeras, or by a 30-minute drive. The road is paved and in good condition almost the entire way, but near the beach it is dirt and potholed but passable with a regular vehicle.

If you want to hire a boat, you can simply walk down to the waterfront in Las Galeras, where the main road into town dead-ends at the ocean, and someone will be waiting to help you. The boats leave directly from the beach here. Most hotels are also happy to help you arrange a trip to Playa Rincón. If you want to go by car and make a full day of it, you may also want to stop off on the way back at the Boca del Diablo (Devil's Mouth) blow hole. This is about a 15-minute detour down a rough dirt road.

3 Cayo Levantado

Photo Copyright: Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado
Photo Copyright: Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado
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If your vacation goal is to relax on a beautiful beach on a private island, then look no further than Cayo Levantado. This remote island off the coast of the Samaná Peninsula is surrounded by soft-sand beaches, with shallow turquoise waters, and home to the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado. The island's three beaches, connected by trails, are some of the most beautiful in the Dominican. The resort is an all-inclusive, adults-only facility. The closest international airport is Samaná El Catey International Airport.

4 Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata

Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata
Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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On the Amber Coast, Playa Dorada is Puerto Plata's primary resort beach. This stretch of golden sand extends along the coast, east of Puerto Plata. The stunning mountain scenery; palm-lined beach; and clean, clear turquoise waters are exactly what draw tourists to this destination.

The resorts along here are not towering high-rises. Building codes have kept them to a maximum of three stories, and each resort is relatively well spaced from surrounding resorts. For a resort area with more than a dozen resorts, Playa Dorada has done a good job of maintaining a natural feeling environment. Almost all of the resorts along here are all-inclusive mid-range or luxury resorts, with one or more pools and on-site restaurants. Some of the best resorts on Playa Dorada are the large Iberostar Costa Dorada, the more quaint VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort, and the intimate and romantic Casa Colonial Beach & Spa. The Casa Colonial is a classy boutique hotel with only fifty luxury rooms and impeccable service.

5 Beaches of Las Galeras

Beaches of Las Galeras
Beaches of Las Galeras | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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While Playa Rincon, near the town of Las Galeras, is frequently mentioned as one of the top beaches in the Dominican Republic, the beautiful beach that lines the waterfront of Las Galeras itself is equally stunning but much less promoted. Beyond the main beach, you can easily walk 15 minutes or less in either direction from here to find more incredible beaches and your own tranquil piece of waterfront to lay out your towel or rent a beach chair.

The entire beachfront area of Las Galeras is graced by huge coconut palms, and the shallow beaches radiate a range of turquoise, green, and blue shades that are unparalleled along the entire north coast of the island. Add to this the charming little town of Las Galeras, and this is truly one of the Dominican's undiscovered treasures.

A short stroll west of town is the undeveloped beach of La Playita, where calm, shallow waters are perfect for swimming. A few beachside vendors are on hand to rent you chairs and palapas. To the east of Las Galeras, just a short stroll around a palm-tree-covered point is a tranquil turquoise beach and the Grand Paradise Samana, one of the only large-scale resorts in the area. If you are looking for something with a little more Caribbean character, midway between the main beach and La Playita is the charming, colonial-style Villa Serena Hotel, overlooking the ocean.

6 Playa Grande, Rio San Juan

Playa Grande, Rio San Juan
Playa Grande, Rio San Juan | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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Far from the famous resort destinations of Puerto Plata or Punta Cana, Playa Grande is an undeveloped beach with a distinctly Dominican feel. Backed by palm trees and a few rustic food stands, this coral-colored, soft-sand beach looks out onto the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Huge waves often roll in here, but calm days do exist, and the section closest to the parking area is somewhat sheltered by a headland. This wide beach stretches out for more than a kilometer, meaning even on busy days you can always find your own patch of sand, and weekdays you may be on your own here.

Playa Grande is located on the outskirts of the town of Rio San Juan, but day trips to this beach can be easily organized from Cabarete or Puerto Plata. If you have your own vehicle or car and driver, you can also stop off at nearby Playa Caleton, a much smaller beach in a quiet cove with often little to no wave action. Playa Caleton is a fun and safe beach for children. Similar to Playa Grande, a few vendors are set up along the beach.

At the far end of the beach from the parking area is the recently opened luxury Amanera hotel. Another luxury property in the area is The Balaji Palace at Playa Grande, located on a headland between Playa Grande and Playa Caleton. Both of these are top-end properties with spectacular settings, pools, and all the regular amenities.

7 Kite Beach, Cabarete

Kite Beach, Cabarete
Kite Beach, Cabarete | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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Cabarete's Kite Beach is one of the most internationally well-known beaches in the Caribbean when it comes to water sports. This is an action packed beach known around the world as a premiere kiteboarding destination, and it is also a popular spot for windsurfing. This celebrated beach hosts the annual Master of the Ocean, the world championship for watersports (kiteboarding, windsurfing, surfing, and stand up paddle surfing), held almost annually in late February. The 2017 competition didn't materialize.

The atmosphere at Kite Beach is friendly, and newcomers to these sports are always welcome. Kiteboarding lessons are available at several kiteboarding schools. If you are interested in getting started, see our article on learning to kiteboard on Kite Beach.

8 Cabarete Beach, Cabarete

Cabarete Beach, Cabarete
Cabarete Beach, Cabarete | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
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Cabarete Beach, running all along the waterfront of Cabarete, is more about atmosphere than turquoise waters. The beach here is lovely and is one of the few in the area that is frequently calm enough for swimmers of all abilities. The shore is also shallow for a considerable distance, making it more appropriate for children than other beaches in this area. But the real draw here is the vibe. Casual but modestly trendy restaurants line the beach, with tables, chairs, patio lights, and lamps set up under thatch-roofed buildings and directly on the sand. You can dine by the stars at some of the quaint seaside restaurants or listen to a band or solo musician in the early evening. A game of volleyball is usually playing out on the beach or soccer balls are being kicked around.

The calmer sections of this crescent-shaped beach are often tranquil enough for stand up paddle boarding, but more frequently, beginner windsurfers are practicing their skill a short distance off shore. Unlike beaches on the Caribbean Coast, you don't see powerboats on Cabarete Beach.

This is not the type of beach that is dominated by large-scale resorts, and all-inclusive resorts in Cabarete are scarce, however you can find some luxury beachfront hotels along Cabarete Beach. Chief among these are the Velero Beach Resort, the Millennium Resort & Spa, and the Ultravioleta Boutique Residences.

9 Bahia de Las Aguilas

Bahia de Las Aguilas
Bahia de Las Aguilas
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Beautiful and remote, Bahia de Las Aguilas is truly one of the Dominican Republic's most undiscovered gems. Located near the town of Pedernales on the Caribbean coast, not far from the border with Haiti, this glorious eight-kilometer-long stretch of sand is part of Jaragua National Park, a UNESCO designated natural reserve. Calm, crystal-clear water and white sand make this one of the most enticing beaches in the Dominican, yet it is also one of the least visited. The beach at Bahia de Las Aguilas is completely undeveloped, as is the surrounding area. Most visitors who come here stay in Barahona and day trip to the beach.

10 Playa Juan Dolio

Playa Juan Dolio
Playa Juan Dolio
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For a fun and lively beach vacation, the small seaside town of Juan Dolio is the place to go. This palm-lined stretch of golden sand is perfect for playing in the waves and soaking up the sun. Located along the Caribbean coast between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, Juan Dolio is frequented by foreign tourists as well as Dominicans. You can find a mix of vacation rentals and all-inclusive resorts along here. If you're looking to book a place, some good options include the mid-range Emotions by Hodelpa and the more upscale Xeliter Costa del Sol Juan Dolio.

11 Playa Fronton

Playa Fronton
Playa Fronton
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Accessible only by boat or a four-hour round-trip guided hike, Playa Fronton is a completely undeveloped beach. The crystal-clear water and palm-studded, soft, golden sand is backed by dramatic black cliffs, creating an almost surreal landscape that you won't find in other areas of the Dominican Republic. Boats depart from the small town of Las Galeras; the very last town on the main road through the Samaná Peninsula. If you thought you were at the end of the world when you reached Las Galeras, you won't feel any closer to civilization when you hop in a small boat and head out on the ocean for a 40-minute trip to a forgotten beach. The beach gets the light in the morning, and in the afternoon is shaded by the cliff walls.

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