- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The topographical landscape of the Dominican Republic is an extensive and intricate one — deserts, mountains, mangroves, forests, rainforests, rivers, waterfalls; short of an iceberg or two, the country’s just about got it all covered. Because of this varied topography, the Dominican Republic has bloomed into a full-force adventure tourism destination.
Canyoning and Cascading
Canyoning uses equipment such as harnesses, helmets, ropes, and other climbing and rappelling tools to navigate up, down, across, under, and through waterfalls. Cascading is very similar to canyoning, but cascading does not use equipment other than the occasional rope and tends to cover shorter distances. Canyoning is more intensive and requires a greater level of physical fitness. Damajagua, a half hour outside Puerto Plata, is one of the best places to enjoy this sport.
For serious hikers, the 47-kilometer climb to Pico Duarte, along the Cordillera Central in the Parque Nacional Armando Bermúdez, is the ultimate trek. At 3,087 meters, Duarte is the highest peak in the Caribbean, and it will take at least two days to ascend. Your reward is an amazing vista of the Cibao Valley. Shorter options would be to hike to the waterfalls of Los Saltos de Jimenoa and Salto Baiguate by Jarabacoa or in the high hills of Constanza. La Península de Samaná is also a wonderful place to trek.
Adventure companies like Iguana Mama of Cabarete offer single-day mountain-bike tours as well as two-week-long bike trips; many incorporate other adventure activities. A favorite fat-tire ride is in the lush mountains of Jarabacoa. For a road-bike excursion, the Lago Enriquillo Loop Road has a good surface and not a lot of traffic.
Quad Riding or ATVing
Four-wheel all-terrain vehicles can navigate terrain that is difficult to access with regular vehicles, such as tropical forest paths and mountain areas like the Cordillera Septentrional and Cordillera Central.
Río Yaque del Norte stretches over 290 kilometers in the Cordillera Central. The river reaches an impressive altitude of 2,580 meters, making it an exhilarating, raucous river-rafting route. The most respected outfitter in Jarabacoa is Rancho Baiguate.
On the Península de Samaná, Playa Frontón is a popular area for climbing, with rocky cliffs overhanging a perfect sandy beach. Hire a boat from Playa Las Galeras or hike an hour to get there. The Parque Mirador del Sur, in Santo Domingo, has some free climb sites, but it can be quite crowded on the weekends.
With its miles of coral reefs, diversity of underwater life and environment, and excellent visibility and temperature conditions, the Dominican Republic is one of the best places in the Caribbean for scuba diving. In the north, Sosúa is particularly popular for both beginning and advanced divers. Maximum depths of key diving sites range 8.5–36 meters. The southern shores — around Bayahibe and Pedernales — boast a vast sea of pristine coral reefs for the more adventurous diver. To get started, you must get certified. Classes are offered just about everywhere along the coast.
Good old-fashioned surfing remains the frontrunner of adventure sporting. Playa Encuentro, near Cabarete, is the ideal surfing spot. Wintertime offers up the best conditions, with consistent swells December–April. Although the swells vary the rest of the year, the water temperature (around 26°C, 79°F) makes for a good ride most any time. Playa Preciosa, by Río San Juan, has a good ride too, but the waters are a bit more dangerous (strong undertows).
Windsurfing and Kiteboarding
Cabarete has the best beaches for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Wind conditions shift throughout the day — from light in the morning to heavier later in the day — allowing adventurers of all levels to find their niche. From mid-December to April consistent winds average 13–17 knots (24–32 kph, 15–20 mph). Wind speed picks up some June–September and can reach 13–22 knots (24–41 kph, 15–25 mph). During May and between October and December, the winds are less consistent.
Kiteboarding, sometimes called kitesurfing, is a combination of surfing, paragliding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, and kite flying. It is fairly easy to learn once you figure out how to control the kite and get the hang of a few board maneuvers. There are quite a few kiteboarding schools in Cabarete, most on Kite Beach.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition