The Dominican Republic is a gorgeous nation in the Caribbean. It is most well-known for its luxury, all-inclusive resorts, but that is not all this country has to offer.
Full of lush natural beauty including national parks, wildlife, and waterfalls, exploring the wilderness is one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic.
The coastline is full of postcard-worthy beaches as well, complete with soft white sand, clear water, and towering palm trees. From the beaches to the jungle, there is so much beauty to see.
If lounging on the beach doesn’t suit you, there are also lots of adventure activities in the country. You can climb gorges, swim in waterfalls, cliff jump, kiteboard, paddleboard, hike, surf, and more. You can also admire the historic towns and indulge in the exciting nightlife.
For a real immersive cultural experience, consider backpacking and doing a Worldpackers work exchange. One of the best things to do in the DR is getting to know the locals, so you can learn about their lifestyle and culture.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, or what interests you, surely you’ll find some fun activities in this diverse and beautiful country. Here are some of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic!
Things to do in the Dominican Republic
Explore Santo Domingo
Swim in Dominican Republic's waterfalls
Find amazing things to do in Punta Cana
Walk along Bavaro Beach for great views
Explore the Samana Peninsula
Go whale watching
Visit Saona Island
Relax in Cabarete
Sightsee in Santiago de Los Caballeros
Get to know the locals
1. Explore Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. If you want to see and learn about the history, architecture, cuisine, and culture of the country, this is the place to go.
Santo Domingo is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean, and Zona Colonial is the historic district of the city. Here you can admire the colorful colonial architecture, visit museums, and sip coffee in an outdoor cafe.
Calle el Conde is the main street of the Zona Colonial, and this is where you’ll find most of the cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Also take a day trip to the gorgeous national park known as Los Tres Ojos, which is full of limestone caves and crystal clear swimming pools. This park is only a 10-minute drive from the Zona Colonial.
2. Swim in Dominican Republic's waterfalls
One of the most fun things to do in the Dominican Republic is swimming in the waterfalls. There are so many, as this lush country is full of rainforests and jungles.
Some of the most famous waterfalls in the country include Salto Socoa, La Rejoya, Salto El Limon, Salto de la Jalda, Saltos de Jima, and more.
But the most popular and exciting waterfalls excursion is visiting the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua. This collection of waterfalls is perfect for hiking, swimming, and photography.
The best way to experience the falls is by booking a tour where they provide you with lifejackets, helmets, and other gear so you can climb gorges and jump off cliffs into the waterfalls.
3. Find amazing things to do in Punta Cana
Punta Cana is the most well-known place in the Dominican Republic, and is one of the most visited places on the island.
This resort town is jam-packed with luxury hotels, holiday cabins, all-inclusive resorts, and more. It is a very touristy place, and probably not the most authentic reflection of the local culture.
But if you want to really treat yourself to a nice hotel and just relax on stunning beaches, then Punta Cana is the place to be. Some of the best things to do in Punta Cana Dominican Republic include snorkeling, sailing, ziplining, and soaking in the sun on the exquisite beaches.
4. Walk along Bavaro Beach for great views
Bavaro Beach is considered the best beach in Punta Cana. Swimming in the sea or walking on the sand here are some of the best things to do in Punta Cana Dominican Republic.
The beach is bordered by luxury resorts, though you don’t even need to pay a fortune to feel like you’re in a postcard. Just being on the beach can feel like heaven, with the turquoise water and soft white sand.
From the multicultural and fun Las Galeras, to the dreamy Playa Rincon, to the secluded Playa Fronton, there are many options for soaking in the sun and catching some amazing seaside views.
Exploring the beaches, snorkeling, and hiking are some of the best things to do in Samana DR.
You can also do a work exchange to have a more unique experience in the area. Volunteer at an eco-village, immerse yourself in the jungle, and even sleep in a tree house!
6. Go whale watching
Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic has some of the best whale watching in the Caribbean. During the winter months of December through March, tons of humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Samana Bay. They hang out here for mating and giving birth before moving on.
So during this time, it’s likely you’ll get to see some humpback whales! You can book a whale watching tour with a professional guide, or just walk along the shore in the hopes of spotting some whales.
7. Visit Saona Island
In case you haven’t seen enough picturesque beaches on the mainland, there are lots of beautiful tropical islands surrounding the coastline of the Dominican Republic.
Taking boat tours or day trips to the surrounding islands are two of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic.
Saona Island in particular is a popular spot to visit. It’s close to Punta Cana, and it’s a popular day trip from the famous resort town. Other amazing islands to visit include Cayo Arena, Cayo Levantado, and Catalina Island.
8. Relax in Cabarete
This relaxed beach town is a popular spot among travelers in the DR. It is a little touristy, but not nearly as touristy as Punta Cana and the other resort towns.
There is a more laid-back vibe, where everyone is welcome and you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy yourself. The town is full of lively beachfront cafes, venues playing live music, and fun bars for partying.
Cabarete is also one of the best spots in the world for kiteboarding. There are often professional contests here that are fun to watch, and there are lots of local businesses that offer kiteboarding and surfing lessons for those who want to learn.
So if you’re interested in water sports, regardless of your experience level, Cabarete is the place to try it all.
9. Explore Jarabacoa
This mountain town in the Dominican Alps is an exciting alternative to the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic. The mountainous landscape brings higher altitudes, cooler temperatures, and lots of greenery.
You can visit the region as a day trip from popular beach towns, or rent a car and spend a few days exploring the natural beauty of Jarabacoa.
This area is perfect for adventure sports. There are mountains, waterfalls, rivers, forests, and more, all just waiting to be explored.
Some of the most fun things to do in DR include paragliding, white water rafting, and hiking El Pico Duarte, the country’s highest mountain. All of these activities can be done in Jarabacoa.
10. Sightsee in Santiago de Los Caballeros
As the second-largest city in the country, Santiago De Los Caballeros is a fun place to visit. More commonly known as just Santiago, this city is the industrial center of the country. Because of this, one of the best things to do in Santiago Dominican Republic is take tours of the island’s main exports: rum and tobacco.
A popular tourist activity in Santiago is going on a tobacco farm tour or a cigar tasting. You can also tour rum distilleries. There are also plenty of museums, monuments, and sights to see while exploring the city.
11. Get to know the locals
The best way to enjoy any country is by befriending the locals. They can introduce you to their culture, show you their way of life, and teach you valuable lessons and facts about their country.
While visiting the Dominican Republic, consider doing a work exchange with a local family or business to really immerse yourself in the land and the culture.
Hello! I am a 25 year old from the USA with a knack for traveling on a budget. I fell in love with traveling while studying in Europe, and that love grew even more when I started volunteering abroad in South America. Since then, I've worked odd jobs and volunteered all over the globe while cultivating passions for hiking, wildlife photography, food, wine, animals, permaculture, and more!