Head to the Caribbean and you’re in for a treat. The weather is often amazing and most of the islands that comprise the region have lush palm trees and fine yellow sand leading to turquoise waters. It’s not hard to see why millions of people come to this part of the world to escape the grind and relax.
It’s not all about relaxation on the beach with something cool, however, as the Dominican Republic which shares an island with Haiti has plenty of things to explore and do. Rich in history, the Dominican Republic has something for everyone whether you’re travelling as a family, a couple or flying solo.
Accommodation wise, you’re spoilt for choice. Luxury villas and luxury hotels such as Iberostar’s, Dominican Republic all-inclusive resorts are everywhere, and given the size of the place, getting around and seeing the exciting vibrant parts of it is easy.
Caves are a Big Deal in the Dominican Republic
Head to Santo Domingo and you’ll find one of the country’s most renowned restaurants embedded in a limestone cave formed from billions of years of waves washing away the place where you can now fine dine.
The cave had an interesting and rich history before becoming home to the El Meson de la Cava restaurant. It was used by the Taíno Indians and buccaneers to hide before launching a pirate attack, and later in the 1930s, it was used by guerrillas to fight foreign occupation.
In the 1960s, the Organization of American States (OAS) commandeered it for storage.
Relics of the past are displayed in the restaurant, so as you eat you can appreciate the past.
CUEVA de las Maravillas National Park
For a completely different underground experience head to the CUEVA de las Maravillas National Park. Here, you’ll find an intricate cave system built by the native Taíno people.
It was the Taíno people who met Christopher Columbus when he first set foot on the island.
The caves themselves are highly significant both to Taíno culture and history. As you walk underground you can expect to see ten petroglyphs (rock engravings), and 472 pictographs (wall paintings). You can see earlier etchings on rocks and stalactites around the cave.
As you wander through the caves you can’t help but wonder what must have inspired the Taíno to make the carvings. It is for this reason that an exploration adventure underground should be on your bucket list.
El Carnaval de la Vega
If you come in the pre-Lent season then why not join in the colourful fun of the annual El Carnaval de la Vega?
The carnival dates back to when the first Europeans arrived in the 1500s and the carnival is celebrated on the theme of good triumphing over evil. Expect to see colourful costumes and dancing, and merriment. Dominican Republic’s independence has been added to the traditional theme, the anniversary of which is the 27th of February.
The carnival vibe has spread to almost every province of the Dominican Republic, but the El Carnaval de la Vega is still the place to go during carnival season.
Castillo Mundo King
It is amazing what eccentric Germans can do when they put their mind to it. Take Hamburg-born Rolf Schulz for instance. An artist decided at the age of 51 to leave his native Germany behind and build a castle in the Dominican Republic.
He started construction in 1990 and up until his death in 2018, he lived in the castle without electricity or running water and filled the five floors with his own alien artworks, and Haitian creations made by native artists.
Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse)
The Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse) is said to be the final resting place of the legendary explorer Christopher Columbus. That said there is a lot of mystery and controversy on whether or not it is Columbus buried at the lighthouse.
The story is involved and complex and DNA testing in Spain where it is also claimed Columbus is buried has proved inconclusive. So it could just be Columbus made it one last time to the Dominican Republic where he was laid to rest as per his wishes.