Aside from its Major League Baseball fame, the Dominican Republic is an intriguing retreat of colonial history amid progressive development and tranquil white beaches fringing mountainous wilderness. World renowned resorts dot the Punta Cana coastline of the Dominican Republic while the nation claims the oldest city in the New World, Santo Domingo, along its southern shore. For such a small nation, it is fairly easy to book cheap and convenient airfare to the Dominican Republic through any of the four international airports; however, most travelers will find airfare to the Dominican Republic through the capital of Santo Domingo or the resort region of Punta Cana.
Geographically, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with the independent nation of Haiti. While two very independent nations today, the history of the island is far less clear cut. The first European settlement of the New World was established on Hispaniola after Christopher Columbus landed in today’s Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is the landing site of Columbus as well as the original colonial center ruled by Columbus’ brother Diego. The Museo Alcázar de Colón is a fantastically restored museum within Diego’s original home. The French were granted the western third of the island now known as Haiti.
Dominican history dates back earlier than most of the Caribbean islands, possibly to 2600 BCE. Since then several waves of Antillean people have come and gone until the Spanish conquest in 1492. Indigenous culture can still be observed in the very remote central mountain ranges of the island, but the populations are sparse. Santo Domingo and the second largest city of Santiago offer several museums, festivals and art exhibits dedicated to the history of the island as a whole.
From Dancing to Diving in the Dominican Republic
For a less cultural journey to the Caribbean, the ideal destination for most is the eastern coast of Punta Cana and the surrounding turquoise and white island communities. Spend your days lavishly lounging in a resort designed by Oscar de la Renta near Tortuga Bay or take part in some killer windsurfing and kiteboarding on the breezy waters of Cabarete. Family friendly all-inclusive getaways are sprinkled among vacation rentals in the outlying areas for the more independent, outgoing types (or those who prefer a secluded beach experience).
There are also several options for nightlife. Funky bars serve tropical drinks with a twist and decked out discos play an eclectic mix of beats and rhythms. The exotic dance known as Meringue also originated in the Dominican Republic and many hotels and clubs offer on the spot lessons for beginners through advanced.
The Dominican Republic lies just west of Puerto Rico and east of Jamaica. Although the other Caribbean island nations may be more than a boat ride away, they are readily accessible by air. Get to the tropical Caribbean this season.