Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic

Mention the Dominican Republic, and visions of Punta Cana, golf courses, mobsters and seemingly endless white-sand beaches come to mind. But there’s much more to this island nation. Home to the Western Hemisphere’s first European city, the charmingly Spanish Santo Domingo, this tropical destination has all the culture of neighbouring Puerto Rico, as well as the outdoor adventurousness of Costa Rica. Up north, Las Terrenas and the other charming beach towns of the Samaná Peninsula attract a more low-key beach crowd, with easy access to thick jungles, vivid coral reefs and activities like white-water rafting and whale watching. Beyond Santo Domingo, the country’s wild southern reaches are home to large swathes of biosphere reserves and national parks, untamed rainforests and unspoilt beaches where the locals go to escape foreign tourists.

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When to go

Tourists flock to the island's beaches and resorts between July and August, so if you want a bit more elbow room on the beach aim to arrive in December or January. Hurricanes can hit the island in August and September, but if you're feeling daring, the latter month can be quiet and balmy.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    To reach Santo Domingo and the south of the island, fly to Las Américas International Airport ( There are direct flights from most major airports on the US eastern seaboard; from Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf in Europe; and most Caribbean islands. Transatlantic flights arrive via Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Hartsfield International, or Charles de Gaulle and Punta Cana airports; flights across the Pacific via San Francisco and Newark Liberty, or Portland and Hartsfield airports. If staying in the north, head to El Catey International.