11 idyllic beaches & nature parks in the Dominican Republic

Sara Darling

Sara Darling

The Dominican Republic* is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. Famed for its luxury resorts and sandy beaches, the terrain consists of rainforest, savannah and highlands, including Pico Duarte, the Caribbean's tallest mountain.

How to make the most of a holiday to the Dominican Republic
How to make the most of a holiday to the Dominican Republic © Viktor - Adobe Stock Image

The resort of Punta Cana* in the east of the island is a prime spot to base your stay as you can tick off two boxes of luxury all-inclusive accommodation and long, sandy beaches.

Here, we look at some of the most enticing beaches, thrilling hikes and nature-filled day trips you can look forward to on holiday to this Caribbean favourite.

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Playa Bávaro

Generally considered not just the best beach in Punta Cana but the Dominican Republic, the 10-km stretch of whiter-than-white sand Bávaro* is peppered with coconut trees making it ideal for romantic sunrise walks.

Beautiful Playa Bávaro
Beautiful Playa Bávaro © Nikolay Antonov - Dreamstime.com

Time this right to avoid the beach groomers who are working hard to dredge the sargassum, which is rife in seaweed season (roughly May to September), and you'll be rewarded with a sparkly clear and calm ocean with a beach that boasts a Blue Flag status. Its wide bay also offers parasailing lessons and a selection of boat tours.

Playa Macao

If waves are your thing, Playa Macao is the best place for surfing, windsurfing and parasailing.

Boasting a wide stretch of sand and crashing waves, what this beach lacks in sunloungers it makes up for in excitement. It's perfect for adventurers who shun fancy frills and are looking for something more authentic.

Swimmers are welcome too, and the Green Flags indicate when it's safe for bathing, and you'll be able to enjoy a clean, safe swim without the crowds.

Uvero Alto

Popular with locals and visitors, the still-wild Uvero Alto* is located northwest of Bávaro along the coast.

The powerful undertow and strong wave action of this beach mean that the sea is really only suitable if you're a strong swimmer, so choose a hotel nearby with a pool. However, if you're interested in surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing, it's the best place for lessons in Punta Cana.

Playa Rincón

Away from Punta Cana on the eastern shoreline of the Samaná Peninsula, Playa Rincón is the epitome of paradise.

The remote wilderness of Playa Rincón
The remote wilderness of Playa Rincón © Jakob Fischer - Adobe Stock Image

Set against the towering cliffs of Cape Cabrón, the beach is hard to reach with no facilities, so come prepared. But once you're there you can wallow in your own private utopia of powdery sand, crystal-clear waters, and lush palm trees.

Cabeza de Toro

There are two Blue Flag beaches in the Cabeza de Toro area just north of Punta Cana. Both offer a more chilled-out alternative to the activity-filled Playa Bávaro.

Both beaches boast white sand surrounded by palm trees and tropical vegetation and are perfect for snorkelling, swimming and walking.

Don't miss nearby Bávaro Lagoon, a small wildlife refuge featuring mangroves and activities such as bird-watching, kayaking and wildlife spotting. This makes it a good beach for nature lovers and families.

Samaná Bay

Long, beautiful Samaná Bay has plenty to offer visitors both around and in its waters. One of the premier sites for seeing humpback whales anywhere in the world (between mid-January and late March), book a whale-watching tour from either the town of Samaná on the northern shore or Sabana de la Mar on the southern shore, which is considerably closer to Punta Cana.

Boat trip through Los Haitises National Park
Boat trip through Los Haitises National Park © Sergi Reboredo - Alamy Stock Photo

Many boat excursions will include a stop at the isle of Cayo Levantado, also known as Bacardi Island owing to its starring role in a now-vintage Bacardi commercial.

On the southern side of the bay, you'll also find Los Haitises National Park where caves, mangroves and organised jungle trails are just waiting to be explored.

Playa Bonita

Located on the north shore of the Samaná Peninsula in Las Terrenas, Playa Bonita is a tranquil beach with powdery sand, coconut palms, and azure waters.

It offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds, ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Situated on the North Atlantic coast, the resort community of Playa Bonita is a popular spot for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding; this chilled spot has simple hotels and laid-back beach bars.

Playa Grande

Further up the Atlantic coast in Rio San Juan, Playa Grande is a breathtaking beach with golden sands and impressive waves. It attracts surfers from around the world with a striking backdrop of dramatic cliffs and green hills.

The Dominican Republic's northern coast is populated with super-swish resorts nestled in the pristine Caribbean jungle. The wide, sandy shores may be busy, but it won't feel crowded.

Brave the surf for a swim and, when the waves get too wild, retreat to the seafront restaurant for a fresher-than-fresh seafood lunch.

Damajagu waterfalls

For a break from the white sands, head to the far northwest of the island to enjoy a day in the hidden natural wonder of Damajagua, famous for its 27 waterfalls. Here, you can hike to your heart's content and when you need to cool off, you can take a dip in the refreshing, clear water.

One of the Damajagua waterfalls
One of the Damajagua waterfalls © Funcheta - Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

If you're feeling really adventurous, join a Jeep safari, which takes you through the tropical rainforest near Puerto Plata where you can experience an adrenalin-busting zipline.

Jaragua National Park

Meanwhile, in the far southwest, you'll find Jaragua National Park in the province of Pedernales to discover the five miles of pure white sand that make up Bahía de las Águilas (Eagle Bay).

The best way to arrive is by boat from Cabo Rojo or by four-wheel drive, and don't forget your snorkel and flippers so you can spy the extraordinary biodiversity that thrives among the astonishing coral formations.

Saona Island

Book a day trip from Punta Cana to glorious Isla Saona (Saona Island). Take a speedboat tour and stop at a natural swimming pool filled with starfish, before feeling like a castaway on this tropical beach with swaying palm trees, bone-white sand, and lapping turquoise waters.

Idyllic Saona Island
Idyllic Saona Island © Valentin Valkov - Adobe Stock Image

Part of the East National Park, it's known for mangroves, coral reefs and palm-fringed beaches like Playa Palmilla; it is also close to the fishing village of Mano Juan, which can be found near Flamingo Lagoon.

Scape Park

Situated on Playa Juanillo in the Cap Cana* community just south of Punta Cana, this adventure park ticks every adrenaline-busting box.

From ziplining over tree tops to swimming through underground caves, diving into the hoyo azul (blue hole) and snorkelling in tropical waters, there is something for everyone.

After all the excitement, relax at the Little John restaurant and try traditional Dominican dishes such as mangú (mashed plantain).

Weather in the Dominican Republic

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the weather in Punta Cana. Find out more about conditions across the island in our complete guide to the weather in the Dominican Republic.

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Sara Darling

Sara Darling

Article updated on Thursday 8th February 2024 in: Beach Caribbean Excursions Nature Winter sun

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