Though you’re never far from a pristine, quintessentially Caribbean beach, the main attraction of going on Dominican holidays is the ability to enjoy its varied geography. Inland deserts contrast fertile valleys, while the coastline is alternately postcard-perfect and dramatically rugged; this is one West Indian nation which must be experienced away from the crowded resorts.

Sharing an island with the nation of Haiti, the Dominican Republic has a fascinating past, displayed in the fine colonial architecture and museums of the capital, Santo Domingo. Although there’s enough interest here for days of exploration, the majority of your time is best reserved for the country’s natural wonders, landing on a few beaches along the way.

More than 100 species of birds have made the Eastern National Park their home and visitors flock here just as eagerly. There are cave paintings and coral reefs, as well as some deserted beaches to explore. At the eastern tip of the island, Playa del Macao is the number one sunbathing spot but don’t let this put you off; the nearby fishing village and warm welcome from locals makes this beach understandably popular.

To the north in Puerto Plata lies Mount Isabel de Torres, the photo opportunity of a lifetime complete with cable car transport to the top and a Christ statue to rival Rio’s. In fact, with 80% of the country covered by mountains and the highest peak in the Caribbean – Pico Duarte – the Dominican Republic offers not only plenty of adventure, but spectacular views over the rest of its subtropical and verdant landscape.

The country owns many protected habitats like Lago Enriquillo, home to flamingos and the rare rhinoceros iguana. Marine mammals like the humpback whale are not the only attraction of the crystal waters which surround the island; kaleidoscopic underwater scenery and sealife await at key diving spots like Punta Cana and tiny Catalina Island.

Astonishing diversity is the norm on this unique island nation. From former pirate coves to dense mangrove forests, idyllic sands to towering mountain-tops, the Dominican Republic is a consistent favourite among the Caribbean islands and is one of those rare places which lives up to its own hype.

Lifecruiser Love Caribbean Islands

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