The Dominican Republic has long been a favorite among American travelers, and this year is no exception. The country’s diverse cultures and rich history, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and prime location in the Caribbean, all combine to make it a top destination for anyone looking for sun and sea.
Out of the 8.5 million who visited last year alone, most flock to Punta Cana, and for good reason. Yes, Punta Cana is indisputably beautiful, and its location at the crossing point between the Caribbean and the Atlantic brings with it some truly postcard-esque beaches. While Punta Cana’s beauty is a major selling point for tourists choosing to come to the Dominican Republic, there is so much more to the island to explore.
Here are 3 top places to visit in the Dominican Republic, other than Punta Cana:
If it’s action you are seeking, Cabarete is the place for you. This smaller beachside town is located about an hour from the popular Puerto Plata, a common starting point for visitors arriving from both cruise ships and international flights. Cabarete beach is technically a bay, and the waters are kept calm due to a coral reef protecting them from the open ocean.
Calm as they might seem, Cabarete is notoriously breezy, helping it to secure its spot as one of the most famous water sports hotspots in Latin America. The beaches here are world-famous for kiteboarding and windsurfing.
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Cabarete has a surf town vibe, yet not one that has been overtaken by foreigners completely. The locals here are colorful and eclectic, and everyone lives alongside each other with little problems.
The nightlife in Cabarete is also quite notorious, and you can dance the night away at the many beachside bars.
Bahia de Las Aguilas
Those who are adventurous enough to venture to the Dominican Republic’s wild and undeveloped west coast will be rewarded with Bahia de Las Aguilas. Widely considered amongst the Dominicans as the most beautiful beach in the country, Bahia de Las Aguilas is part of the Jaragua National Park. This natural paradise has kept commercialization at bay, and nature is preserved by not allowing hotels, shops, or restaurants.
The beach here is fine white sand and reaches almost five miles. To reach Bahia de Las Aguilas, you must come by boat or 4×4 vehicle, and once you have arrived, you can enjoy a unique ecosystem and spot various endangered species. This largest protected natural area in the Caribbean is definitely worth a visit, if not solely for the adventure of reaching it.
This former unknown fishing village has enjoyed a tourism boom in recent years, with many choosing to explore this northern area of the island. The numerous beaches here range from completely natural to a bit rugged, with not one major hotel to be found. Beaches such as Playa Bonita or Playa Coson are favorites among the locals and tourists, and most of the area’s coastline needs to be accessed by ATV.
You will not have to fight anyone for space on the beach nor pay for access anywhere. There is also no shortage of beach bars and seafood houses to enjoy. Las Terrenas is also famous for its surreal crystal-clear waters and powder white sand. If you are looking for a natural coastline unspoiled by massive resorts yet still with a town full of amenities, then Las Terrenas is your kind of place.
Looking for a cool spot to check out away from the beach? Just outside the vibrant capital city of Santo Domingo, you can find Los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes) National Park. This open-air limestone cave system with a series of crystal clear lakes looks something like a Mexican cenote. To visit, you can take a taxi or local bus, and costing less than 5 USD to enter. This place is a bargain.
Movies such as Jurassic Park 3 and Tarzan have shot scenes here, and you can see why. An easy afternoon away from the city, Tres Ojos will provide the backdrop for some stunning vacation snaps.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com