Little known fact: the Dominican Republic is actually the oldest country in all of the Americas. Few are aware that Christopher Columbus visited during his first trip in the year 1492.

To this day, the Dominican Republic continues to be a gorgeous tourist destination known for its white sandy beaches, beautiful blue water, and luscious vegetation. If you are in search of the perfect summer vacation, this island nation has everything to offer. And best of all, it’s only a short flight away from the continental US.

Not sure what you’re feeling like? Here are some things to do in the Dominican Republic.

Things to Do in the Dominican Republic: Colonial District

History buffs, rest assured that there’s more to do in DR than just lounge at the beach. If you want to learn more about early colonial history with the Spaniards, drop by Santo Domingo. Here, you will find UNESCO’s world-renowned “Zona Colonial,” or colonial zone.

This is the sort of place where you unknowingly stroll by landmarks and monuments that are hundreds of years old. Some of them were around at the time of Columbus’ descendants.

There is no shortage of places to visit, either. There are approximately 300 historical sites all around this colonial zone. You will find forts, monuments, and even old Catholic churches.

Enjoy some old architecture, with whitewashed walls and original cobblestones. You’ll have the sea breeze at your back so you stay cool while trudging up and down the hills.

Enjoy All the Beaches

No guide about the Dominican Republic would be complete without a mention of its world-class beaches. There’s not much we need to add here. As we said in the intro, you get white sand, crystal-clear water, and deep-green vegetation.

There are beaches for every kind of person. If you would like to party hard and test the limits of your liver, head to Boca Chica and dance all night long. If you hate people and want a place where you can only hear the waves, you can visit secluded beaches like Sosua.

On every beach, there are plenty of water activities. You can go island hopping to explore the little islets. Or, you can do parasailing, tubing, and jet skiing.

There are so many beaches, in fact, that we recommend that you visit a new one at least a couple of times per day. On a weeklong trip, you will succeed in only visiting a tiny portion of them all. Taking a vacation here is essential if you’re looking for the best of the best.

27 Waterfalls

If you would prefer something of a day trip, then consider 27 waterfalls. Deep in the Dominican jungle, there is a complex of waterfalls that are ideal for swimming. It will take a bit of a voyage to get there, though.

You will need a jeep or an ATV to arrive at the waterfall complex. Before you go, know what to bring with you.

The waterfalls are an excellent place for families with young children to go swimming. There are plenty of pools, with boulders making for an excellent way to jump in.

Naturally, the water is quite refreshing amid the humid jungle heat. If you are lucky, you might even spot some local fauna. A Dominican Republic vacation often includes an unexpected spotting of at least one parrot or iguana!

The complex is quite large, so there are plenty of swimming holes for you to choose from. If you would prefer something a tad bit more secluded away from noisy children, you’ll find a couple of quiet adult-only pools.

The National Zoological Park

A trip to the Dominican Republic is not complete without colorful, bizarre animals. You are less likely to see these creatures in loud, busy tourist locations. But at the zoo, you can observe them in their natural habitats.

The Dominican Republic is home to monkeys, colorful birds, and many other strange fish and water-dwelling mammals.

If you get the chance, be on the lookout for the Hispaniolan solenodon. This species is unique to Dominicana and looks like a long-nosed shrew with a cute face. You might even get the chance to hold one if you are lucky.

Some additional travel tips: do be respectful of the wildlife. Avoid tapping on the glass, or making too much noise. Some of these species may be endangered, and you are doing them no favors by scaring them.

Lake Enriquillo

It might seem a tad bit ironic that some of the best waterfronts in the Dominican Republic are not by the ocean. The Dominican Republic is home to Lake Enriquillo, a massive saltwater lake hidden deep inland. What marks this lake out from the others is its plethora of fascinating wildlife.

For example, this is home to one of the largest habitats for saltwater crocodiles in the Caribbean. You may also find prehistoric iguanas with rhino-like heads. If you didn’t see any flamingos at the zoo, you definitely will here.

The lake makes for a peaceful boating trip. And after this little voyage, you can relax in the pools at Neyba.

Start Planning a Trip to the Dominican Republic Today

Needless to say, there are plenty of things to do in the Dominican Republic. They have beaches, nature retreats, waterfalls, and even a slice of colonial history. Whether you want a loud vacation with plenty of alcohol, or a quiet one with plenty of contemplation, you’ll leave satisfied.

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