dominican republic photo

As much as I might try to ignore it, here in Seattle the weather is starting to feel more like fall than summer.  Seattle usually has great Indian summer weather, but once we hit winter it’s definitely the time to start thinking about getting out of town.  If your get-out-of-town preference leans toward the island sun and sand, give a thought to heading east (instead of west) and visit the islands in the Caribbean.

While much of the news of the recent past has surrounded the post-hurricane plight of Haiti, the other side of that same island (Hispaniola) remains a beautiful, unspoiled tropical paradise and is home to the Dominican Republic.  That’s right, Hispaniola is two countries on one island, and while travelers may not be as familiar with the Dominican Republic as they are with Haiti, it is the second largest country in the Caribbean.  (NOTE:  For the curious, Cuba is the largest.)

The Dominican Republic has become a popular Caribbean travel destination, offering a mix of mountains and beaches, oceans and lakes, surf and sand, and a tropical climate that averages around 80 degrees year round.  Add in a favorable exchange rate, currently $1 converts to 36.85 Dominican pesos, and it’s easy to see that you can have a cheap Dominican Republic holiday.  It could very well be the perfect spot for your next beach vacation.

Here are 10 ways to enjoy your time in the Dominican Republic:

  1. Enjoy the white sand beaches and the warm water of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  Some of the popular beach destinations are La Romana, Puerto Plata, Samana, Punta Cana, and Santo Domingo.
  2. Get into, or onto, the water with activities like diving, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, windsurfing, and plenty of other warm water adventures.
  3. Hit the links on one of the world-class golf courses.
  4. Catch a fish, or just give it a good try, going out for barracudas, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, tuna, mackerel, and more.
  5. Have an eco-adventure in one of the nine distinct ecological zones.  From sea level to the top of the mountains, and everything in between, you’ll find a diversity of flora and fauna.  Take an eco-tour or go hiking, and get closer to nature.
  6. Enjoy a relaxing treatment at one of the spas located at the all-inclusive resorts.
  7. Buy cigars.  The Dominican Republic is home to some fine cigar brands and, unlike Cubans, can be brought into the United States.  Ask around and you may be able to find a place to watch cigars being rolled.
  8. Learn to merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic.  Learn to feel the beat of this beautiful music deep in your soul.
  9. Hit it big at one of the island casinos.  Many of the hotels have their own casino, and there are others located on the island.
  10. Savor the rum on an island known for its production of sugar cane, an important component of rum.  Several types of rum are made on the island, so you can taste among them to choose your favorite.  If you’re in Santo Domingo, check out the Rum and Sugar Cane Museum.