Dominican Republic in Pictures: 18 Beautiful Places to Photograph
The Dominican Republic is one of the most picturesque islands in the Caribbean. Endless palm-lined beaches; lush mountains, including the highest peak in the Caribbean; waterfalls; and historical sites make for outstanding pictures.
Many tourists head to the resort centers of Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, but be sure to venture inland from the coast, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Smaller towns and villages are fantastic places to get pictures of sights many tourists never see.
Finally, make sure you plan some time for the capital city of Santo Domingo and its restored Zona Colonial (Colonial Center), where the photo opportunities are completely different from those found in the beach areas.
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The town of Cabarete and the surrounding areas are some of the most picturesque places on the entire Amber Coast. Here, you'll find a lively town with casual restaurants and true beachfront dining, right on the sand. To the east of Cabarete, the deserted beaches stretch for as far as the eye can see, and green mountains rise up in the distance. Swaying palm trees line the beach, and you may have some sections of it all to yourself.
2. Kite Beach
Known around the world as one of the preeminent destinations for kitesurfing, Kite Beach in Cabarete is a must-see for photographers. A kaleidoscope of colorful kites fills the blue sky each afternoon when the winds pick up. This is a great place for sports photography and capturing action shots.
The windier the day, the more action you'll see. Experienced kitesurfers frequently jump to heights of 10 meters or more, sailing through the air performing tricks.
3. Santo Domingo
More than 500 years of history can be seen in the historical buildings of Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial. Many of the structures are restored and well maintained, while others show the effects of earthquakes and storm damage over the years. Public squares teem with people coming and going, and some just relaxing on benches. This is a wonderful city to stroll around with your camera or sit and watch the world go by.
4. Downtown Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata is the largest city along the north shore of the Dominican Republic, also known as the Amber Coast. This city has a good offering of late-Victorian-style historical buildings and numerous tourist attractions.
The city center is a riot of fun places to photograph. Head to Parque Central to see the main square and cathedral, then wander the nearby streets to see umbrella street, or the pink Paseo de Dona Blanca, and streets lined with the brightly painted "gingerbread" houses.
For amazing panoramic views of the city and entire coastline, take the cable car up to the top of 812-meter-high Monte Isabel de Torres.
5. Fort San Felipe, Puerto Plata
For a bit of 16th-century history, visit Fort San Felipe. The fort is set above the seashore in Puerto Plata. Rusting cannons, the 2.4-meter-thick walls, and views of the azure waters in the distance are some of the main photo subjects. You can also find interesting angles and sights in the interior of the fort.
6. Las Galeras
Las Galeras is the town at the end of the road on the Samana Peninsula. It's remote but well worth the effort to get here if you are looking for beautiful beaches. The area is famous for Playa Rincon, frequently named one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, but this is just one of many incredible soft-sand beaches in the area. Some are only accessible by boat. Turquoise waters, palm trees, mountains, and a lack of development mean you can grab some postcard quality beach pictures.
Be sure to take a trip out to El Cabito for a bite to eat and to snap some amazing photos of the waves crashing against the rocks below this cliffside restaurant.
7. Playa Dorada
Playa Dorada is the most famous beach in the Puerta Plata area. A long stretch of sand is backed by some of the top resorts in the Dominican Republic. Many of these are all-inclusive resorts full of vacationers escaping the cold or families on a holiday. Beyond the resorts to the east is an undeveloped stretch of beach, perfect for walking and photography.
Nature lovers flock to Samana to go on whale watching tours. From mid January to the end of March, migrating humpback whales converge in Samana Bay to mate and calve. Tours leave from the main dock and usually take three to four hours depending on the location and number of whales.
9. Bahia de las Aguilas
Bahia de las Aguilas is located in Jaragua National Park and is considered by many Dominicans to be the most beautiful beach on the entire island. Calm, clear, warm water laps at the white sand for eight kilometers. Relatively challenging to get to by car, the beach is easily accessed via boat from the nearby town of Cabo Rojas.
Located in the central highlands of the country, the lush rolling hills of Jarabacoa showcase a side of the Dominican Republic many tourists never see. One of the top picture spots is the impressive 35-meter-high Jimenoa Waterfall tumbling over a large cliff into a pool below.
11. Punta Cana
Long stretches of white sand backed by luxury all-inclusive resorts are what you'll find at Punta Cana. This is the main tourist location in the Dominican Republic and it draws sunseekers from around the world. Colorful pictures can be taken of people parasailing. It's also a great place to capture family snapshots. Bavaro Beach is the main beach in the area.
12. El Limon Waterfall
One of the main attractions on the Samana Peninsula, El Limon Waterfall is an impressive sight. Water cascades out of the jungle over a rock cliff to a moss-lined pool below. Access to the waterfall is generally on horseback from the town of El Limon. The trail is steep and muddy. Swimming in the pool is allowed, although be prepared for a bracing dip - the water is generally ice cold.
13. Playa Grande
Playa Grande is a wide stretch of beach on the northern coast near Rio San Juan. It's known for often having large waves and it's a popular surfing destination. Swimming is possible here, but best on calmer days. The beach is very photogenic, with rocky headlands at each end. At the back of the beach, you'll find palm trees and, in behind, small restaurants serving local dishes.
14. Las Terrenas
The beach town of Las Terrenas is located on the Samana Peninsula. Here, you'll find a number of beaches with palm trees leaning out over the water. The town itself has some interesting colorful wooden buildings and is also a good place to see locals going about their daily business.
Many of the local restaurants tend to be owned by French expats, and good meals are easy to come by. Enjoy lunch while looking out over the ocean.
15. Paradise Island (Cayo Arena)
Just offshore from the small town of Punta Rucia is the tropical oasis known locally as Paradise Island. A popular destination for day trips, this small sand island is surrounded by reefs teeming with colorful fish. On the island itself are vendors selling snacks and cold drinks. It's an ideal place for a drone shot if you've got one with you.
16. Punta Rucia
You may not even feel the need to go to Paradise Island when you see the long curving beach of nearby Punta Rucia. Crystal-clear waters wash ashore on powdery soft sand. A great picture can be had by framing the colorful local shuttle boats against the sand and sky with the small trees on the beach in the background.
17. Buen Hombre
If you are looking for a place that is truly off the beaten track and fun to photograph, make the long trek to Buen Hombre. This very small town (with limited accommodation) has a bit of everything.
Out front is a spectacular stretch of shallow oceanfront with multi-colored hues created by the reef and seagrass. In behind are rounded hills with scrubby trees that appear green from a distance. Unique shots can be had by capturing the line of ramshackle beach hut restaurants painted in bright colors.
If the wind is up, which it usually is by about four in the afternoon, kiteboarders emerge and race across the water. Some of these adrenaline junkies perform impressive aerial tricks if you want to try your hand at sports photography.
18. Puerto Plata Cable Car
For a bird's-eye view of the city below and the rolling mountains, take a ride on the Puerto Plata Cable Car. In addition to the amazing scenery, consider a shot of the red, yellow, and green cable car itself, framed against the lush backdrop of the mountains. Pro Tip: Go early in the day for the best shots; the afternoons tend to be cloudy.