Hundreds of kilometers of coastline define the Dominican Republic (DR) – some of it white-sand beaches shaded by rows of palm trees, other parts lined dramatically with rocky cliffs, wind-swept dunes or serene mangrove lagoons. Whether it’s fishing villages with boats moored along the shores, or indulgent tourist playgrounds with aquamarine waters, the sea is the common denominator. Some of the bays and coves where pirates once roamed are the temporary home of thousands of migrating humpback whales, and form part of an extensive network of parks and preserves safeguarding the country’s natural heritage.
The social glue of the DR is the all-night merengue that blasts from colmados (combined corner stores and bars), and this is true everywhere from the capital Santo Domingo to crumbling San Pedro de Macorís to Puerto Plata, where waves crash over the Malecón. Dominicans greatly appreciate their down time and really know how to party, as can be seen at Carnival celebrations held throughout the country and at each town’s own distinctive fiesta. These events are windows into the culture, so take the chance to join the fun and elaborate feasts.