Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Tourist Attractions

Dominican Republic tourist attractions don’t have the same stature as other islands such as Jamaica.

Visitors are more likely to spend most of their time on the island’s famous resort areas at Punta Cana or Puerto Plata.

But they will find some adventure near these destinations if they are willing to venture out of the resort enclaves.

Popular attractions include touring the historic capital of Santo Domingo, climbing waterfalls, taking multi-day bike rides and going on whitewater rafting with rapids ranging from Class II to Class V.

Punta Cana Attractions

Some of the most popular Punta Cana tourist attractions include:

  • Dolphin Explorer

  • Bavaro Adventure Park

  • Saona Island

  • Catalina Island

  • Santo Domingo

  • Many golf courses

    Dolphin Explorer

    Punta Cana visitors can swim with dolphins.

    Dolphin Explorer is one of the many parks in the Caribbean that offer visitors a chance to swim with the dolphins.

    The park on the northeast coast near the Bavaro Lagoon also offers interactive programs with rays, sharks and fur seals.

    Bavaro Adventure Park

    As its name suggests, the park has 15 active things to do including a flight simulator skydive, zip line, paintball park and bungee trampolines.

    Each adventure has a separate fee. The park is located in the town of Punta Cana.

    Saona Island

    Saona island is located on the southeastern tip of Dominican Republic and is part of the National Park of the East, located between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.

    It is a popular excursion for tourists by boat because of the beautiful beaches. A day trip from Punta Cana will cost about $70.

    Catalina Island

    This day trip island lies west of Saona Island and is known for its beaches and and especially the snorkeling and diving.

    The island and surrounding waters also are known for caves, reefs and shipwrecks. Anyone who doesn’t want to snorkel or dive should go to Saona instead for the beaches.

    Santo Domingo

    Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Americas. Excursion operators may offer a day trip to explore historical sites for about $95.

    Golf Courses

    Punta Cana has one of the highest number of nearby golf courses in the Caribbean with at least nine near the resorts. All of them line the northeast coast and take advantage of the seaside views.

    Puerto Plata Attractions

    Some of the most popular Puerto Plata tourist attractions include:

  • Fort San Felipe

  • Sosua

  • Cabarete

  • Ocean World

  • Damajagua Falls

    Fort San Felipe

    Fort San Felipe
    Fort San Felipe. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

    Fort San Felipe was built in 1564 and is the oldest surviving building in Puerto Plata. The fort served as a prison under Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of Dominican Republic in the mid-20th century.


    The city of Sosua is 30 minutes east of Puerto Plata on a bay spotted with white sand beaches, rock formations and luxurious homes and resorts.

    This former fishing village is now a top tourist destination as evidenced by the bars, restaurants and shops along its streets. It’s a convenient getaway for anyone who wants to venture outside of Puerto Plata.


    Dominican Republic windsurfing
    Cabarete is a top windsurfing site; © Dominican Republic Tourist Office

    Cabarete’s town beach is ranked as one of the world’s top five kiteboarding and windsurfing destinations.

    The beach often is part of international competitions. Adventure sports enthusiasts also visit Cabarete for other activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and whitewater rafting.

    Cabarete is a 45-minute drive east of Puerto Plata and is a convenient trip in combination with Sousa.

    Ocean World

    This new marine theme park allows visitors to swim with bottlenose dolphins in the world’s largest dolphin lagoon.

    They also can feed stingrays, explore an artificial reef, get close to sharks in the world’s first shark interaction pool and swim just inches from tigers behind protective glass.

    Guests can explore a rainforest with waterfalls, beaches, lagoons and wildlife. Displays include birds, iguanas, lizards, frogs, snakes, fish and tigers. Phone: (809) 291-1000.

    Damajagua Falls

    Damajagua Falls is located a half hour away from Puerto Plata. It reaches a height of 43 feet and has 27 rock pools and waterfalls.

    Rafting in Jarabacoa; © Dominican Republic Tourist Office

    Whitewater Rafting

    Rio Yaque del Norte in Jarabacoa is the longest river in the Caribbean home of one of the few whitewater rafting experiences on any island in the region.

    It offers class II through IV rapids and a drop over a 12-foot waterfall. Another waterfall option near Jarabacoa is Salto de Jimenoa.

    Jarabacoa is about a two-hour drive from Puerto Plata, making the rafting experience a full day trip.

    Santo Domingo Region

    Santo Domingo City

    The capital of Dominican Republic is the oldest city in the New World and has cobblestone streets, cultural attractions and historical sites galore.

    One shopping highlight is Calle El Conde, a cozy pedestrian street and one of the oldest and most popular streets in the city.

    It is lined with a wide variety of shops and restaurants and the kind of atmosphere for walking around that you will find in Old San Juan—but without the cars.

    Parque Zoológico Nacional

    The national zoo is a 400-acre park of tropical gardens, water features, tigers and local fauna. It also is home to two unique mammals.

    One is the hutia—a rare, large-eared animal that experts thought was extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1960s.

    The other is the solenodon—a nocturnal mammal that has existed in North America as long as 30 million years ago.

    Other Dominican Republic Attractions

    National Park Isla Cabritos

    Isla Cabritos in the southwestern area of the country has one of the world’s largest American crocodile populations.

    In order to view them up close by boat, visitors pay an entrance and boat fee of $60 no matter the number of people on board. The cost can be shared with other visitors.

    The visitor’s center has information about the region’s history and geology. No unguided visits are allowed. Entrance to the park is about one mile east of the town of La Descubierta.

    Los Haitises National Park

    Los Haitises is known for its delicate and ecologically diverse mangrove coast. Rock formations, pictographs and petroglyphs are available for viewing in three cave systems.

    Visitors also can see Hispaniolan parrots, owls and gannets along with solenodonte and hutia. Tours are available from El Portillo for about $65 and include lunch.

    The park lies midway between Puerto Plata and Punta Cana on the northeast coast.

    Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
    January 27, 2023

  • Amber Cove Cruise Port Guide

    Amber Cove cruise port
    Amber Cove in Dominican Republic, location of the first Jurassic Park movie, has become a major cruise port.

    Best Times to See Punta Cana

    Dominican Republic golf
    The best times to visit Punta Cana depend on choosing between drier or warmer weather.

    La Romana Cruise Port Guide

    La Romana is Dominican Republic’s third largest city and one of the few cruise ports in the country.

    Dominican Republic Tourist Attractions

    Punta Cana Vacation Review: The Best Experiences

    Best Dominican Republic Beaches

    Puerto Plata Travel Guide: Tips, Attractions, Weather

    Punta Cana Travel Tips: Resorts, Attractions, Weather