Whilst it is oh so tempting to spend your holiday in the Dominican Republic lounging around with a spectacularly lavish, umbrella-clad cocktail in hand, that can get rather monotonous for those with an appetite for adventure. If you are one of those restless holidaymakers who have found themselves stuck on the tranquil Caribbean island and itching for adventure (we don’t feel sympathy for you), we’ve got some ideas to get the adrenaline pumping in one of its popular resorts, Playa Dorada.
Discover your inner Bear Grylls and head out to sea to catch some mighty fish. The beautiful waters of the Dominican Republic are home to an impressive array of marine life, including white marlin, sailfish, and the more amusingly named mahi mahi and wahoos. On a half-day deep-sea fishing adventure, you’ll have your own captain who knows the ropes and all the best spots for fishing. Typically included in the price is the fishing equipment as well as a savvy crew who can probably tell you a thing or two about tackling sharks with their bare hands etc. (We’re wildly speculating here).
Image © Bruno Ismael Silva Alves
The Caribbean Sea is so brilliantly blue and dazzlingly crystal clear that holidaymakers are powerless to its allure, and it’s tempting to spend your entire holiday swimming and frolicking in the gentle waves. Why not spend a blissful day leisurely floating around the north coast of the Dominican Republic on your own catamaran, perhaps stopping every now and then to dive into the Caribbean’s azure waters? There are plenty of companies to take you out for the day, with many based in Puerto Plata, just outside of Playa Dorada.
Visit Some Waterfalls
Head out into the jungle forestry of the surrounding area of Puerto Plata and visit the Damajaqua Cascades. These 27 waterfalls make up a beautiful complex and there are a number of tour companies operating in the area who can take you out on a high-adrenaline day trip. Spend your day walking through the gorges, admiring the natural surroundings, sliding down boulders and taking refreshing dips in natural pools. For those with more of a daring spirit, there are some dizzying heights to throw yourself from, under the guidance of experience tour guides, of course!
Cable Car to Mount Isabel de Torres
Head inland five minutes by taxi and board the cable car for a trip to Isabel de Torres Mountain. The mountain lies on the outskirts of the city of Puerto Plata and is 2,700 feet high. At the summit, enjoy staggering panoramic views of the tropical green forestry that gradually diffuses into a cityscape and the bay beyond. There is also the impressive statue of Christ with outstretched arms – a homage to the famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
We managed to make it almost halfway through this list without mentioning rum, but realistically, it was only a matter of time. For a taste of the nation’s favourite tipple, Brugal Rum Factory is around an hour’s walk away from the heart of Playa Dorada, although you may want to consider the seven-minute taxi option for the (presumably slightly foggier) journey back. Here, visitors can learn about the history of the sugarcane-based drink, or can skip straight to the good stuff and sample some of the unique distilled flavours.
Visit a Merengue Bar
Image © chriss73
For those looking for a taste of the Dominican Republic’s unique culture and a night out truly Caribbean in its essence, suss out your nearest merengue bar for an evening of fast-paced dance and exotic and tropical music. Hailing originally from the Dominican Republic, this genre of music has swept across the Caribbean to Colombia and down through Latin America. Ultimately though, it’s a dance that the natives do best, with an energy and exuberance that has undoubtedly been passed down through the generations.
If you’re feeling the effects after a night on the rum, whizzing at top speed over the verdant tropical forestry of the Dominican Republic is one way to wash away the cobwebs. With an excursion with Zip ‘n’ Ride, you begin your ascent on horseback – a leisurely amble through the stunning countryside. There are a mammoth 11 platforms spanning over rainforest, river and mountains and, as the day goes on, the speed and height of each line increases, until your last cable sends you soaring over the canopy – not one for the faint-hearted!
Discover the Rich Colonial History
Head to Puerto Plata and discover the jumble of colonial houses that have been splashed with colourful paint to add an element of tropical vibrancy. La Isabela is a settlement built on by Christopher Columbus but was once native to the Taino tribes. Its architecture is a stunning reflection of the island’s historical heritage and on a tour you can learn of bygone times and stories of swashbucklers and pirates. you can also hear about the island’s role in the slave trade. There is also the opportunity to see the area that was once Christopher Columbus’s house.
Just a six-minute taxi from Playa Dorada and at the base of the Isabel de Torres mountain is Rancho Lorilar – an 80-horse-strong Canadian-owned stable. From this ranch, you can mount a horse and follow guides up the mountain through the jungle shrubbery. En route, guides will be sure to point out native plants and trees. With any luck, you’ll also spot some of the bird species indigenous to the area. Round off the day by watching as the sun dips into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.
Speedboat over to Paradise Island
The aptly named Paradise Island is no more than a small landmass of golden sand with a couple of wooden bars dotted around – only just large enough to constitute its status as an island. There are plenty of companies that will speedboat you out to the island, and tours usually include a lunch of fresh seafood. Don a snorkel and discover the island’s spectacular reef and the hundreds of tropical fish that live there, or mount your drink on a floating raft and enjoy refreshing sips of champagne – pure bliss!