Santo Domingo - Zona Colonia Zona Colonia is the historic central neighborhood of the capital with the entire area declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Interesting fact is that it's also the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the Americas. This is an easy area to walk the streets and navigate around. The highlights not to be missed are Columbus Park, Cathedral Primada (first cathedral in the Americas), Plaza Espana, and Convento De Los Dominicos.
Samana A town located in the North East of the country on the Samana Peninsula. In the winter months, it's primed for whale watching where you'll get hundreds of humpback whales during mating season. The Malecon, which is the waterfront promendade is a beautiful walk with colourful buildings, shops, and restaurants. There's also a Whale Museum which holds a huge whale skeleton (gutted I missed this)
Cascada Limon One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region is located a short drive from Samana, so easy to combine the two. The waterfall is a little tucked away in jungle landscape surrounded by peaks, but the start point is easy to reach via GoogleMaps. The waterfall itself is absolutely stunning! It flows into a sinkhole, so his is a great spot to go for a swim too. Depending on what time of year you're there, it can be extremely wet and muddy. There will be young locals offering horseback rides for those who are not keen hikers.
Las Terrenas Also located on the Samana Peninsula is the resort town of Las Terrenas. This was by far the best laid back beach town I visited whilst exploring the country. For a laid back beach lifestyle, this is the place! There's also a great range of dining options from casual to upscale. Palm trees line the white sandy beach, that's also surrounded by lush greenery. It's evident to see why this is becoming a popular retirement spot.
Jarabacoa Jarabacoa is 155km from Santo Domingo and is a worthwhile day trip to escape the city. The temperatures are cooler due to its position of altitude, there's flowing rivers, and green landscape. There's plenty of waterfalls and the rivers are perfect for adventure activities such as rafting. The highest peak across the entire Caribbean is also located here, which is Pico Duarte at 3,087m.
Endless Beaches For beach lovers, the options are endless here. Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, and Punta Cana all cater for those looking for a resort style getaway. Then there's smaller towns like Las Terrenas (again the highlight) offering more of a small boutique hotel/guest house approach, but again with stunning beaches.
Constanza For me, Constanza was all about the views! Also located in the mountains with the winding road a delight in itself. Be sure sure to stop off at Casabito Mountain Village for a coffee and picturesque views! Other highlights are Monument Divine Child, which again is all about the views. The most unusual attraction is definitely the bicycle monument by the name of "Monumento al Ciclista" located next to a beautiful church.
I followed my usual rule of "location" above everything else. I chose Hotel Casa Aluge, which is located in Zona Colonia of Santo Domingo. Everything is within walking distance, so it's a perfect base to use. The facilities are basic, but the hotel is clean and the staff are friendly.
For the first time ever, I'm actually going to recommend a vegetarian restaurant, which is located in Zona Colonia area of Santo Domingo. The restaurant is called "Time Vegetarian Kitchen". initially I stumbled across the place in search of a decent coffee, but then realised it offered much more. The curry served on banana leaf was amazing, as well as the caesar salad. There's a nice outdoor seating area to people watch too.