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Get wet and wild on a waterfall adventure in Cabarete, before exploring a coffee plantation in the Jarabacoa mountains; next, dance to merengue and join a baseball game in Santo Domingo, explore the swampy islands of Jaragua National Park, and finish on a secret beach near the Haitian border.


Dancer Illuminada Corniel on the terrace outside El Conuco, a restaurant and dancehall in Santo Domingo

Plan your trip

1 Embark on a canyoning adventure among the waterfalls and crystal pools of the hinterland, close to Cabarete (p52).

2 Explore the hilltop town of Jarabacoa, surrounded by coffee plantations, fruit farms and butterfly gardens (p54).

3 See a baseball game and watch merengue in the capital Santo Domingo, where Latin and Caribbean cultures meet (p56).

4 Take a boat trip on Laguna de Oviedo, an ecologically-diverse wilderness of mangroves, lagoons and islands (p58).

5 Cast away and set sail for the near-deserted beach and aquamarine waters of the Bahía de las Águilas (p60).



Thomas Cook and Thomson fly into Puerto Plata (the nearest airport to Cabarete) from various UK airports, including Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester, with Thomas Cook flying via Frankfurt (from £710; Alternatively, Delta and other US airlines have flights into Santiago (1½ hours from Cabarete) and out of Santo Domingo from US hubs with flights to the UK (from £1,130; UK nationals can visit the Dominican Republic for up to 30 days; tourist cards are available on arrival and cost $10 (£7), payable in cash only. Prior to travelling, all British travellers must complete an ESTA travel authorisation if transiting via the US (£9;


Cars can be rented from various airports (from £50 per day, including insurance; but caution is advised as roads can be poorly lit at night and many drivers tend towards reckless. Caribe Tours runs daily air-conditioned buses connecting the country’s main cities and towns, including Cabarete, Jarabacoa and Santo Domingo ( and as far as Barahona on the southwest coast. After that, to reach Laguna de Oviedo and Pedernales, you’ll be reliant on the guaguas – local minivans that are crammed and mostly without signage or regular timetables.


Occupying two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is surprisingly large and its mountain and coastal roads can be long and winding. It’s possible to complete this route in just 10 days, but that would be an unnecessary rush: the Caribbean runs on beach time and things move at an unhurried pace, especially along the north coast. Consider a fortnight, but ideally extend that to three weeks or more to allow time for activities such as hiking, surfing and – of course – late nights practising those merengue moves.

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