The Dominican Republic sits on the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, the second-largest Caribbean isle after Cuba, and it is nestled roughly in the center of the region between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Boaters will find an amazingly diverse country with top-notch marina facilities, world-class resorts and plenty to explore on shore once you have docked. Dominican culture is lively and rich. Spend the day at a packed baseball game (Dominicans are crazy for baseball), and then dance the night away to the frenetic and irresistible sounds of merengue and bachata. Coming from the north, boaters can start their Dominican adventure in Puerto Plata and then cruise south to Punta Cana, on the eastern coast, and from there head to La Romana on the south coast.
WHERE TO DOCK
La Marina & Yacht Club at the Casa de Campo Resort (casadecampo.com.do), has 350 slips and a full-service shipyard with a 250-ton lift and can accommodate boats up to 250 feet. It sits within a beautiful development inspired by the architecture and spirit of Mediterranean villages. The sailing school has 424 boats and instructors from Costa Smeralda, in Italy the numerous shops around the grounds sell precious goods, such as fine linens handcrafted by women on the sugar farms; and the resort community has no shortage of excellent restaurants, including one from the family that owns Le Cirque.
WHAT TO DO
Altos de Chavon: A re-created 16th-century European village, where virtually every element — door frames, cobblestones — was crafted by hand. A gallery specializes in work by Dominican artists, boutiques sell pottery and jewelry, a museum highlights pre- Columbian artifacts and culture, and a 5,000-seat amphitheater — inaugurated by Frank Sinatra in 1982 — has hosted entertainers such as Sting, Shakira,
Gloria Estefan and Marc Anthony. The Church of St. Stanislaus contains a hand-carved statue that Pope John Paul II sent from Krakow to commemorate the church’s opening.
Horseback riding and polo watching: Take a scenic trail ride (Western or English, your choice) with one of the expert guides from the equestrian center at Casa de Campo. The center also organizes professional polo matches from November through April.
And, of course, golf: La Romana rivals Punta Cana for golf greatness. It may not have as many courses, but it does have several designed by Pete Dye, including the oceanfront Teeth of the Dog, consistently ranked the best course in the Caribbean.