Travel Destinations

Experience the Rich Culture of the Dominican Republic- Island of Hispaniola

Bahamas / Caribbean
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January 2014
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By
Meeghan
Truelove

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.

PUERTO PLATA-NORTH COAST

WHERE TO DOCK

Ocean World Marina (oceanworldmarina.com) can handle yachts up to 250 feet and is fully loaded with top-notch amenities. It is also located adjacent to Ocean World Adventure Park, an interactive marine park with the largest man-made dolphin habitat in the world, a swimmable aquarium and a shark interaction pool.

WHAT TO DO

Watersports:Windsurfing, kiteboarding and parasailing are popular pursuits here, and the beach town of Cofresi is a great place to try them out. Twenty minutes away is Cabarete, one of the best spots for windsurfing and kiteboarding on the planet.

Rio Damajagua: Hike up the trail along the river -- and then splash, jump and swim your way back. There is a network of 27 waterfalls that lead one into the next, all naturally formed.

Brugal Rum Factory: This is world's third-largest producer of rum and the largest in the DR. Tour the facilities and sample one of its house-made daiquiris.

PUNTA CANA-SOUTHEAST COAST

WHERE TO DOCK

Marina Cap Cana (marinacapcana.com) has more than 100 slips, can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet, and is just seven minutes from Punta Cana Airport. Amenities include a fuel dock, WiFi, and customs andimmigration offices. The facility is set within a picturesque resort village that boasts a lovely hotel, spa, salon, bank, and beach club. Shuttles can take you from the marina to the various restaurants and shops in the development.

WHAT TO DO

Hoyo Azul: Punta Cana is renowned for its stunning beaches, but there are less-known sites that are equally as stunning. Hoyo Azul is a spectacular lagoon at the base of a 170-foot cliff, and its sparkling turquoise waters go down to 120 feet.

Golf: This area is the Caribbean's golf mecca, with more than 10 stellar courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio.

Jeep safari tours: Take to the back roads for a wild ride that will include a swim at an unspoiled beach, a drive through sugar cane fields and a traditional Dominican meal.

Cueva Fun Fun: Rappel down into one of the DR's largest limestone caves and explore the stalactites, stalagmites, and pre-Columbian rock art.

LA ROMANA-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.

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