Are you looking for some inspiration for your next big travel adventure? A tropical paradise in a coconut shell? Never considered to travel to the most beautiful and diverse travel destination of the Caribbean? Maybe the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Yet it has much more to offer than the usual and expectable things. Naming a few, big holiday resorts and All-Inclusive-vacations in Punta Cana and palms along endless beaches are standardized imaginations. Probably these are the imaginations most people expect when it comes to this island. What most people don’t know is the multifacetedness of the Dominican Republic. And that it can satisfy the needs of every ambitious traveler type. Well, let’s say almost every travel type. Winter sports might be a little difficult to realize because of warm and sunny conditions for all year round. For this reason, the climate of the Dominican Republic is also known as “endless summer.”
But an endless summer in the Caribbean is probably what you already expected. Let’s rather focus on some thrilling and unique features of the Dominican Republic which inspire you to travel instantly. Read here 10 characteristics about the Dominican Republic that might surprise you and create wanderlust.
Columbus landed here in 1492
Christopher Columbus landed during his first voyage on Hispaniola Island on December 5, 1492. In 1493, the colony of La Isabela was built on the northeast coast on Columbus’ second trip. Even though the Republic itself was founded as a sovereign state much later, Columbus landed on today’s Dominican territory.
La Isabela was depopulated by 1500 due to a hurricane. Furthermore, the discovery of gold one year earlier in 1499 in the interior of the country made people flee to follow the gold rush. But the footsteps of Christopher Columbus are still present. And even 525 years later, the site of La Isabela can be visited. There are still some relics of the very first European settlement in the Americas. Travelers who love to see historical facts with their own eyes will love the colony of La Isabela.
Santo Domingo is the first capital city on the American continent
The colony of Santo Domingo became the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Consecutive upon that, Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the new world. At the same time, it is the first capital city, the first place of a Catholic cathedral out of Europe, and has the first university and hospital in Latin America. You can breathe in centuries-old history in the Dominican Republic.
Some of the original buildings have been restored and can be visited in the charming Colonial City of Santo Domingo. For this reason, a visit to the Dominican Republic should always include a few days Santo Domingo and the Colonial Zone with its picturesque and dainty flair which is worth to discover. Additionally, it attracts yearly thousands of visitors for its festivals. Check out the festival schedule – Maybe you can join the local Carnival, Barbarella and Merengue festivals.
The highest peak of the Caribbean
Contrary to sandy and pristine beaches, the Dominican Republic has the highest mountain of all Caribbean islands. ‘Pico Duarte’ is 10,164 feet (3.098 m) high and was named in appreciation of Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the Dominican Republics’ founding fathers.
The mountainous area offers challenging ascents for hikers. Its peak welcomes yearly approximately 3,000 climbers who like to experience its incredible beauty. That’s less than 10 people every day! As a result of this a real insider tip for everyone who likes to discover nature and be all alone on top of a mountain. And who can claim to have made it to the highest point of a geographic area? If you consider visiting the Dominican Republic, you hopefully have now an additional motivation to hike to Pico Duarte and be on top of the Caribbean!
Lowest elevation of the Caribbean
Conversely to everything that was written before about the highest peak of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic possesses the exact geographic opposite.
Located in the southwestern region of the country, Lake Enriquillo is the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the whole Caribbean. It covers an area of 145 square miles and the lake level is approximately 140 feet below sea level. Although it can appear seasonable as hypersaline, Enriquillo Lake offers habitat conditions to the largest population of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in the Caribbean.
Very unusual as well as the flooding trend: Since 2004 the lake has grown by almost 130% due to increased rainfall and reduced evaporation caused by milder temperatures. This, on the other hand, helps some endangered species who are living in the lake to keep their habitat protected.
You can defy gravity in Polo
Now to a very magic characteristic of the Dominican Republic that became over the last years more and more a viral trend. Close to Barahona in the southwestern part of the country, a tiny town called Polo can be found. Here you have one of the few opportunities in the world to trick scientific laws and challenge gravity at the Magnetic Pole (El Polo Magnético)
If you are going to stop your car in neutral gear in the downhill section, your car will roll up! You don’t believe it? Please drive to Polo and check out the gravity hill. Your car rolling up is caused by an optical illusion due to the condition of the road and the landscape itself. Still, a nice and unique experience. Don’t forget to take enough convincing photos or even illusory videos as a memory. Most importantly: No entrance fees are charged and you can discover it for free! For this purpose, it might be a good idea to include the magnetic pole into your road trip.
You will be able to play presidential Golf at ‘Teeth of a dog’
Did you know, that even former US-presidents are coming to the island to play golf? Furthermore, the Dominican Republic ranks with more than 30 beautiful golf courses among the best golf destinations in Latin America. Swing and no miss in the Dominican Republic! Most were designed by famous designers like Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent, Bobby Jones, Nick Faldo and Peter Dye. The ‘Teeth of the Dog’ course is the most prestigious Golf course in the Dominican Republic. Feel welcome to spend unforgettable golf holidays in the Caribbean. Nine of the Dominican golf courses are mentioned amongst the “Top 50” in the 2010 listing of the magazine Golfweek. Many sports champions, enthusiasts and celebrities from around the world came to the Dominican Republic to play Golf. To emphasize some of them: Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush came to play at the Dominican designer golf courses.
Merengue has its cultural origin in the Dominican Republic
Sugar, coffee, and tobacco are the most important economic export products of the Dominican Republic. But it’s the typical Merengue music and dances who made the country internationally popular and famous in cultural aspects. Fast-paced rhythmic music from hand-made instruments in combination with close and graceful dancing moves – nowhere else can the Dominican lifestyle be better observed as during the evenings when the Merengue music is played. In July and August are several Merengue festivals in Santo Domingo that wait to be discovered from you. They take place around the Malecón and the music beats keep pumping all night. Come and dance!
Most bird species of the Caribbean have their habitat in the Dominican Republic
Bird watchers have been considered lately with a decent interest from travel destinations. Hence, the Dominican Republic is a pure paradise for bird watchers. Especially Los Haitises National Park, Sierra de Bahoruco and Cordillera Septentrional offer stunning opportunities to observe the winging Dominican wildlife. Amongst tropical trees and many other animals, some threatened, endangered and even endemic species can be seen. Under those circumstances, the Dominican Republic is a pure paradise for ornithologists.
The diversity of bird species in the Dominican Republic is a consequence of Hispaniola’s complex geologic history with various microclimatic zones. In the Caribbean, the island is geographically the most diverse and enables the habitat conditions. As a result, it offers a habitat for 320 birds whereof 32 are endemic bird species.
And the Dominican birds are worth to glass. You should observe them with your own eyes – or your own field glasses.
The highest waterfall of the Caribbean is even unknown to many locals
Whenever it comes to really secret insider tips, the following Dominican destination shouldn’t be missed in any anecdotes. Totally disregarded by all guide books and excursions in the country, there is one of these secret insider tips. A waterfall with a single-drop of 390 feet can be found in the middle of a green area.
We’re talking about the waterfall ‘Salto de La Jalda’. Truly a travel destination, which is unknown to most of the locals and not even listed on Trip Advisor. A trip to this secret waterfall will take you about 4.5 hours by foot or 2.5 hours on horseback. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit before you go. Chilled water will refresh your mind once you arrive there.
As it can be still considered as an absolute hidden gem, you shouldn’t hesitate too long to go there. See it with your own eyes, before standardized package tour operators will bring thousands of tourists here. Furthermore, this stunning beauty is beside its long hike easy to reach. In detail, it’s just 1.5 hours distance away from Punta Cana and 2 hours from Santo Domingo. For this reason, it would be the ideal destination for an adventurous day trip.
Giant humpback whales are born in the Dominican Republic
Especially nature lovers who want to enjoy the diversity of animals will get one’s money’s worth in the Dominican Republic. Each year, approximately 2,000 – 3,000 giant humpback whales arrive in the Bay of the peninsula Samaná. They are migrating seasonally from the Northern Atlantic to the milder Dominican waters for calving and breeding. Their newborns don’t have enough fat reserves to be able to survive the cold winter waters in the northern waters, that’s why they come here to the Dominican Republic. In late March, they are returning to North America, Greenland, and Iceland to their feeding sites to prepare for the next season.
In a wider sense, giant humpback whales are native Dominicans who live abroad for the summer and come back home for winter. Of course, they visit their homeland (or better: “homewater”) every year. How cool is that?
Did you like these 10 thrilling and unique features about the Dominican Republic? Do you feel inspired to plan your next dream holidays there? As described before, the Dominican Republic has many interesting characteristics that every individual traveler would cherish. If you need more recommendations for your Caribbean dream holiday, you should contact the travel professionals from Dominican Expert. A customized trip through the whole country awaits you to fall in love with the Dominican Republic.