Tourist Attractions in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has become a huge tourist destination, catering to package tours, with all-inclusive resorts lining the beaches. Many places have done a good job in the development, with low rise buildings that blend in well with the surroundings. The main tourist hot spots are the areas around Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, and Samaná. However, the most culturally significant city is Santo Domingo, the capital, which lies on the south coast. Scattered around the island are a number of other interesting attractions, from waterfalls to secluded beaches.
Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a lovely old section, the Zona Colonial, with old buildings and cobblestone and coral-rock streets. Perhaps the most significant site here is the First Cathedral of America, known for being the oldest existing Cathedral in the Americas. It is also called the Cathedral of Santa Maria. The early 16th C Alcazar De Colón and the Casa Tostado, which is today a museum, are also worth a look. The best museum in Santo Domingo is the Museum of the Royal Houses, significant both for the building that houses it and the collection. In the Plaza De la Cultura, a park like area, are other prominent museums and the National Palace.
On the north coast is the city of Puerto Plata, known mostly for the nearby beaches of Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada. This is where the largest concentration of resorts can be found along this coast. While many visitors hardly leave the hotels at all, there are a few sites in and Puerto Plata for those who choose to venture out. Towering behind the city is Mount Isabel de Torres. A cable car takes visitors to the top where there is a statue of Christ, a botanical garden, and places to eat. The Amber Museum of Puerto Plata and the Fort of San Felipe are two of the main attractions. The ocean side Malecon is an area of restaurants and vendors, which is also a good spot for people watching. A popular excursion from Puerto Plata and the resorts is to Damajagua Waterfalls, with 27 waterfalls where visitors can climb, jump, and swim as part of a tour.
At the far eastern end of the island is Punta Cana, with beautiful beaches, golfing, and of course, many hotels. Snorkeling, diving, boat trips, parasailing and other watersports are all available in this area and generally arranged by the hotels and resorts. La Romana has a less developed tourist infrastructure than Puerto Plata and Punta Cana but does have a couple of prominent resorts, including the luxury Casa de Campo, and a beautiful golf course.
On the Peninsula de Samaná is the town of Samaná and the picture perfect Playa Rincon, a beautiful stretch of beach where visitors can escape the crowds. From mid-January to mid-March this area is also a great whale watching destination, often stated as one of the best in the world for humpback whales.