A few of the best activities in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is truly a Caribbean gem. Not only are the locals low key and friendly, but the country is full of beautiful coasts and rainforests that are begging to be explored. Because of the tropical climate and island vibe, a lot of the best things to do and see in the Dominican Republic involve water (yes, good ol' fashion H2O). And as you'll see with my list of 5 amazing places below, these refreshing and stunning Dominican waters are the focal theme of this article.  

View of the coast near San Rafael del Yuma, Dominican Republic.

View of the coast near San Rafael del Yuma, Dominican Republic.

1. Jarabacoa

Destination Highlight: Small town surrounded by rainforest covered mountains and swift rivers.   

Our Favorite Part: Whitewater rafting on the Yaque del Norte River.

Location on Google Maps: Jarabacoa

Hiking in the mountains near Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

Hiking in the mountains near Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

Jarabacoa is an adventure seeker's dreamland, seated among mountains covered with tropical rainforests and near many rivers and waterfalls. Hiking and whitewater rafting are absolute musts while staying near this city.  I'm going to take it a step further and say especially whitewater rafting! The guides are awesome and the rapids are intense (not too intense that it feels unsafe). Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping quite like zipping down small waterfalls and working as a team to navigate the rapids of the Yaque del Norte River. 

How to book: Whitewater rafting with Rancho Baiguate is $50 per person (online reservations here). If you're staying in Puerto Plata (2.5 hours away) and would like a hotel pick-up + bus ride to the river, tickets can be booked for $79 per person. Check availability here.  

Salto (Waterfall) Baiguate near Jarabocoa, Dominican Republic

Salto (Waterfall) Baiguate near Jarabocoa, Dominican Republic

Unfortunately, we didn't capture any photos of our whitewater rafting experience to avoid equipment damage. But you can totally imagine the epicness right?  

2. Natural Monument Salto De Socoa

Destination Highlight: Beautiful waterfall and refreshing tropical pool. 

Our Favorite Part: Smaller natural pools downstream of the main waterfall.

Location on Google Maps: Natural Monument Salto de Socoa

Salto de Socoa, a picturesque waterfall and pool in the Dominican Republic

Salto de Socoa, a picturesque waterfall and pool in the Dominican Republic

Salto De Socoa has a classic tropical oasis feel to it with a clear, aquamarine pool at the bottom of a 65 ft (20 m) tall roaring waterfall surrounded by rich vegetation. Swimming here feels incredible, and just downstream of the waterfall, there are smaller pools formed between rocks that you can kick back and soak in.

Natural pool downstream from Salto de Socoa, Dominican Republic.

Natural pool downstream from Salto de Socoa, Dominican Republic.

Getting There: Getting here is really easy. You just follow a short dirt road off the highway to a parking lot, then hike less than 5 minutes and you're there. Definitely a great destination for all levels of fitness and age.  

3. Playa Rincon

Destination Highlight: Isolated tropical white sand beach.   

Our Favorite Part: Trudging down the Caño Frío river.

Location on Google Maps: Playa Rincon

The exotic Playa Rincon on the East side of the Dominican Republic.

The exotic Playa Rincon on the East side of the Dominican Republic.

Seated on the coastal edge of the Semana Peninsula, Playa Rincon lies pretty far off the beaten path. But a trip to this spectacular white sand beach is so totally worth it. Very few tourists make it out this far and the majority of the beach goers are locals who know about this isolated paradise. The beach is lined with palm trees and thick rainforest and the Atlantic waters are vibrantly blue. If you're looking for a great place TO CHILL and take in the Carribean climate, this is the spot to go. 

Pina Colado out of the pineapple while relaxing on the beach of Playa Rincon.

Pina Colado out of the pineapple while relaxing on the beach of Playa Rincon.

I'd highly recommend setting up camp on the north corner of the beach, where the piña coladas are served out of a small shack in fresh pineapples and the refreshing Caño Frío river meets the Atlantic.

The fluid in the laminar and slow moving Caño Frío river is beyond crystal clear. Seriously, I have never seen water with more clarity - it looked like freshly cleaned glass. 

The ridiculously clear Caño Frío near Playa Rincon, Dominican Republic.

The ridiculously clear Caño Frío near Playa Rincon, Dominican Republic.

On a personal adventure note:

We felt the only obvious thing to do with this transparent anomaly was to hike inland about a mile, then trudge down the jungle-lined river bed back to the beach in some sort of Pirates of the Caribbean / Indiana Jones fashion. The river never went above our necks and, in most places, we were able to walk down the sandy river bed with waist to chest high water. This expedition was completed at sunset, which made the whole experience a little eerie, as visibility around us was waning quickly and, of course, someone had to ask if there were crocodiles in the Dominican Republic (by the way, there are...but apparently only in Lake Enriquillo on the west side of the country). 

Suggestion: Bring your snorkel goggles if you want to take the occasional glance at what's happening below the surface. 

A sunset stroll down the Caño Frío river in the Dominican Republic.

A sunset stroll down the Caño Frío river in the Dominican Republic.

4. The 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu

Destination Highlight: The 27 waterfalls...duhhhh.   

Our Favorite Part: Hiking, swimming, natural water slides and cliff jumping.

Location on Google Maps: 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu

Natural water slide at the 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Natural water slide at the 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

The 27 Water Falls of Rio Damajagu is a Must-Do adventure while in the Dominican Republic! Essentially, this escapade entails hiking/swimming your way down a stream consisting of numerous natural pools, narrow canyons and caves shaped from limestone, and the big headliner, a sequence of 27 waterfalls interlaced in all of this. This is a pure adrenaline pumping experience, as you get to choose your own path for navigating the waterfalls, whether it be jump off a small cliff, take a natural water slide, climb down via ladder, or hike around.  

Some stud attempting to boulder the canyon walls while hiking through the 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu.

Some stud attempting to boulder the canyon walls while hiking through the 27 Waterfalls of Rio Damajagu.

Since the 27 Waterfalls are on privately owned land, tickets and a guide are required. These trained and knowledgeable locals will show you the best and safest way to maneuver each obstacle as well as tailor the experience to ensure you hit your desired levels of excitement.   

How to book: If you are driving yourself to the 27 Waterfalls, tickets for a guide, helmet, and life vest are pretty cheap per person (about $15 USD) and can only be purchased at the entrance. If you you would like round trip transportation from Puerto Plata with your tour, tickets are $79 per person and can be purchased online. Online reservations here. To kill multiple birds with one stone, you can hike through half the waterfalls, fly on zip lines, and horseback ride all in one day with this tour: Zip N Splash Adventure.  

5. Punta Cana

Destination Highlight: Beautiful beaches and spring break-ish nightlife.   

Our Favorite Part: Scuba diving!

Location on Google Maps: Punta Cana

Beautiful Caribbean views at a cafe in Punta Cana.

Beautiful Caribbean views at a cafe in Punta Cana.

Punta Cana is definitely the most popular spot in the Dominican Republic, with amazing white sand beaches, resorts, and spring-break-like nightlife. For us, the best thing about Punta Cana was the plethora of scuba diving in the area, including some awesome shipwreck dives.

But quickly back to nightlife - it must be said that there is a cave nightclub (Imagine Punta Cana) that provides some excellent partying, DJs, and dancing all set in the ambiance of being underground. If you've EVER wondered what it would be like to party in a cavern, this place is worth checking out.    

Partying at Imagine Punta Cana night club..

Partying at Imagine Punta Cana night club..

Like and follow First Time Visiting

You may also be interested in: