Beach and sun, Family, North America

As holiday destinations go it doesn’t get much better than the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Bless with sunshine all year round and some truly breathtaking coastline, the Dominican Republic offers both a Latin party atmosphere and the relaxed nature of the Caribbean islands. A real best-of-both-worlds destination and the perfect place to visit during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. So if you’re looking for some winter sun here’s why we highly recommend the Dominican Republic.

Sun, sand and sea

Being an island nation there’s obviously a lot of coastline to enjoy and it’s safe to say the Dominican Republic has more than it’s fair share of stunning beaches. Bavaro is our highlight with it’s secluded feel and long stretch of beautiful sandy beach. If you’re looking for a quiet beach holiday then this is one area worth checking out.  Its not far from the resort town of Punta Cana on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic and there’s no shortage of great hotels here. The beach in this area stretches for some 30km (20 miles) and is a joy to stroll along.

What to do

There’s a wonderful array of things to do in the Dominican republic and, thanks to it’s rich colonial history, its a nation with lots to explore. The Altos de Chavón, La Romana is a re-creation of a 16th century Spanish village on southern coastline. It’s a very unusual place that you could call a “living museum”. Definitely check out the Grecian amphitheater and be sure to pick up some hand-crafted souvenirs here. Probably the best place to get them on the island.

La Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo was the first real “European” city in the Americas, and its monuments especially have been well preserved. Take a stroll through the cobble streets and check out numerous churches and monuments along the way. It’s a real walk back in time and a great way to spend an afternoon.

Santo Domingo’s  Colonial Zone called Alcázar de Colón and is an impressive fortress built for Columbus’s son Diego. He managed the colony for Spain and in 1509 moved to Santo Doming with his wife, the niece of King Ferdinand of Spain. On the southern top of the Samaná Peninsula you’ll find the national park known as “Parque Nacional Los Haitises”, covering some 208 square km (80 square miles) and spanning 24km (15 miles). A huge mangrove swamp, home to over 100 species of bird. You can also visit the original residence of the Taíno Indians who inhabited the island long before the Spanish arrived. A network of caves can be explored and you’ll also find some reconstructions of later villages on the island.

Where to stay

I’d highly recommend Punta Cana on the eastern tip. You’ll find most beautiful coastline here, quite possibly the most iddilic you’ve ever seen. There’s no shortage of resorts to choose from here and Bahia Principe have 4 to choose from as well. The Esmeralda resort in Punta Cana is our pick with 510 rooms to choose from. It has a beautiful colonial feel to it with grand European style architecture and a wonderfully secluded feel thanks to it’s row of palm trees along the coastline. The lobby and lounge area has a grand open plan feel and the beach area has just the right amount of space and trees to keep you shaded from the tropical sun.

How to get there

The Dominican Republic is well connected to the United States of America and to Europe, especially from London, England. Flights from the UK cost between £600 and £900 direct to Punta Cana. While some airlines stop over in America before arriving in the Dominican Republic, there are flights from both Gatwick and Manchester in England that fly direct. Flight time is around 7 hours and all the resorts at Punta Cana offer a transfer service from the airport.

The Dominican Republic is the perfect place to spend a week or two topping up your tan in December. The temperature is always in the high 20’s and you’re sure to have a relaxing and culturally rich experience too.