When it comes to Dominican Republic, Mother Nature showcases it all - be it the luscious tropical rainforests, gorgeous mangrove swamps, looming alpine ranges and extensive sem-desert. This Caribbean country encompasses the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Today it is viewed as the Caribbean's most visited destination thanks to its expansive stretch of white-sandy beaches and looming palm trees.
Drop by at the south coast to view the massive cross-shaped monument to Christopher Columbus to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of South America. It dispenses a cross-shaped beam of of light into the sky, glimpsed from as far as neighboring Puerto Rico. The lighthouse is also home to a museum, whose displays comprise of a sarcophagus apparently comprising of Columbus' remains.
The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and cathedral in Salvaleon de Higuey. It is devoted to Our Lady of Altagracia, patroness of the nation. The structure is one of the Latin America's finest representation of modern religious architecture and is a top pilgrimage center in Latin America.
Animal lovers can spend some time at the Eastern National Park - a premium habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals, including 112 species of birds. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reserve covers one of the Caribbean's biggest marine parks with a massive coral reef system. In the tropical waters, one will hope to find four species of sea turtles as well as manatees, bottlenose dolphins and several species of fish. The park is also the habitat for the rare paloma coronita (crowned, or white-headed dove) and the rhinoceros iguana.
Hit the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic - Punta Cana. It is one of the most famous tourist areas on the island. Brimming with resorts, the town is popular for its vast stretches of palm-lined gorgeous beaches and world-class golf courses. Jarabacoa is rapidly developing into a tourist hotspot. It is brimming with a landscape of sprawling and luscious pine forests, gorgeous rivers, gushing waterfalls and is home to the highest peaks in the Caribbean. Those who want to pursue river rafting can head over to Rio Yaque del Norte, Dominican Republic's only whitewater river. Adventurous activities such as as mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing is also possible.
When it comes to shopping, be on the look-out for souvenirs such as amber jewellery and decorative pieces. Other finds are rocking chairs, woodcarvings, macrame, pottery, Taino artefacts, Creole dolls, baskets, limestone carvings and so forth. As for cuisine, dig into some of their local specialties such as La bandera (national dish; encompassing white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried plantain) and Pipian de Chivo (oat stew, a spicy dish popular in the northwest).
The stay options in Dominican Republic are abundant with the best luxury hotels, cheap accommodations and rental apartments available for tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Dominican Republic is a tropical, maritime nation. The best time to visit would be during the dry season from June to September in the north and from November to April in the south.