An island of idyllic beaches
Known above all for the splendor of its white-sand beaches, the Dominican Republic is a country of tremendous diversity. The variety and spectacular beauty of its countryside is certainly one of its greatest riches. But it is not the only one, for people also visit the Dominican Republic to see the many remnants of its colonial past and the kindness of its people.
The Dominican Republic shares with Haiti the island of Hispaniola, the second-largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba.
The Dominican Republic’s main drawing points include its colonial history, particularly the old area of Santo Domingo, the typical Caribbean charm of its villages, and its resort area developed on fine-sand beaches.
The first city founded in the Americas, the capital Santo Domingo was built in 1502 by Nicolás de Ovando, the colonial governor. Today, with over 3,000,000 inhabitants, Santo Domingo is the largest and most populated city in the Dominican Republic. It is also the country’s financial, industrial and commercial centre. Its petrochemical, metallurgical, textile and plastic industries are thriving. Despite the frantic pace of life here, Santo Domingo is a pleasant city, especially in the colonial zone, where colonial-era buildings are concentrated.
The Caribbean Coast
The miles of beautiful coastline in the southeastern region of the Dominican Republic are popular with visitors from around the world, who are accommodated by numerous hotel complexes. Tourist resorts, like Juan Dolio and Casa de Campo, have sprung up in previously uninhabited areas, near beautiful sandy beaches. Luxurious modern complexes have also been built in the centre of typical Dominican villages, alongside modest Creole cottages, as in Boca Chica and Bayahibe.
Puerto Plata and the Atlantic Coast
Traveling from Puerto Plata to the Samaná Peninsula, a formidable 150 km long (93 mi) seafront, takes you through one of the best-known regions of the Dominican Republic. More than anywhere else in the country, the development of tourism has been particularly intense here over the last 20 years, and many of the region’s towns and villages have become major resort areas. Following Puerto Plata, Sosúa and Cabarete, development of the superb beaches has now moved further east, to the regions of Río San Juan and Playa Grande.
The Dominican Republic’s eastern point is characterized by an almost unbroken succession of sugar-cane fields and orange groves. Most travelers come to this region for its beaches, among the most beautiful in the country, if not the whole Caribbean. For over a decade now, the once nearly uninhabited northeastern shore of the Dominican Republic, known as the Coconut Coast, has become a major holiday destination. Most developers have followed the same general plan, building grand luxury hotels on large properties, at the edge of breathtaking and completely isolated beaches.