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Santo Domingo

The colonial part has been carefully restored to retain its original charm, and is home to the first university, cathedral and hospital built in the New World. The modern city of Santo Domingo, by contrast, is a thriving port city, equipped with discos, gambling casinos, shops and the Cultural Plaza , which houses the Gallery of Modern Art and the National Theatre. Just a few miles east of the city is a remarkable cave complex, Los Tres Ojos de Agua (The Three Eyes of Water), so-called because it contains three turquoise lagoons on three different levels, each fed by an underground river and surrounded by countless stalactites, stalagmites and lush tropical vegetation.

Southern Coast

To the west of Santo Domingo is San Cristóbal, where the first constitution was signed on 6 November 1844. It is probably the most visited city, particularly by those wishing to get a closer look at the historical sites linked to the life of Trujillo, the dictator who governed the country with an iron fist from 1930-61. In the church and Caves of Santa Maria, the patron saint’s day is celebrated with drums and dance rituals. One hour 45 minutes east of Santo Domingo is the city of La Romana, home to the understated elegance and graceful charm of the 7000-acre Casa de Campo resort, designed by Oscar de la Renta. Nestled within the resort is Altos de Chavón, a reconstructed 15th-century Mediterranean-style village of culture and art which is perched high on a cliff overlooking the tropical Chavón River and the Caribbean Sea. Altos de Chavón hosts major events in a 5000-seat Greek amphitheatre, built in the traditional design of Epidaurus. Near Punta Cana, is Manatí Park, a theme park which includes a zoo, gardens, a recreated Taino village and a variety of exotic animals, visitors have the opportunity to swim with dolphins. The popular destination of Barahona is a humid area with beautiful beaches of white sand. Cabritos Island, a national park in the centre of Lake Enriquillo, is the greatest preserve of the wild American Crocodile, large populations of flamingos and two species of iguana. Azúa de Compostela was founded in 1504 by Diego Velázquez, who later conquered Cuba. In particular, the ruins of the colonial city in Pueblo Viejo are well worth a visit.

Northern Coast

The Northern, or Amber Coast, is so-named because some of the most beautiful amber in the world is mined here. The Amber Museum houses a good display of amber pieces found in this area. Puerto Plata (the Silver Port) has some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean Islands. It was founded in 1504 and boasts colonial architecture. The Fort San Felipe was built in the 1600s by the Spanish to protect the settlement from pirates. The Atlantic coast of the country is renowned for its miles of unspoilt beaches that surround Puerto Plata, the most popular being Sosúa. Just 3 km (2 miles) from the town is the Playa Dorada resort complex. Just outside, in Puerto Plata, is the Costambar Beach Resort, with 5 km (3 miles) of beach. Mount Isabel de Torres features a cable car which climbs over 760 m (2500 ft) above sea level. The breathtaking view of the Atlantic and the port of Puerto Plata is well worth the seven-minute ride up to the top of the mountain. 10 sq km (4 sq miles) of botanical gardens can be explored here. Río San Juan is still an undeveloped area awaiting the adventurer to discover Playa Grande (with a few resorts under construction), the beautiful Playa El Caletón and the Gri-Gri lagoon.

The Samaná Peninsula is located on the northern portion of the island, approximately two hours from Puerto Plata’s international airport. Samaná, with its transparent blue waters, miles of unspoilt beaches, and dozens of caves, is a romantic paradise. Other resorts include The Gran Bahía Beach Resort, Cayo Levantado and El Portillo Beach Club.





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