This relaxed 12-day road trip checks off the best of the Dominican Republic's historic cities, idyllic beaches, and stunning national parks. Cycle through colonial history in Santo Domingo, explore breathtaking dive sites in Sosúa, discover the pristine beaches of the Samaná Peninsula, and kayak through the mangroves and islands of Los Haitises National Park.


  • Explore the capital of Santo Domingo by bike
  • See the breathtaking underwater worlds of Sosúa
  • Unwind on the world-class beaches of the Samaná Peninsula
  • Discover hidden islands by catamaran
  • Kayak through Los Haitises National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Santo Domingo, Guided City Bike Tour Santo Domingo
Day 2 Drive to Yaque Arriba, Discover Presa de Tavera La Vega
Day 3 Drive to Santiago de los Caballeros, Guided City Tour  Santiago de los Caballeros
Day 4 Drive to Sosúa & the Northern Coast Sosúa
Day 5 Drive to Las Terrenas & the Samaná Peninsula Samaná
Day 6 El Limón Waterfall Adventure Samaná
Day 7 Day Trip to Playa Rincón Samaná
Day 8 Catamaran Excursion to Playa Jackson Samaná
Day 9 Drive to Los Haitises National Park Los Haitises
Day 10 Discover the Haitises by Kayak Los Haitises
Day 11 Guided Excursion to the Tahinas Caves Los Haitises
Day 12 Return Rental Car & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Santo Domingo, Guided City Bike Tour

Arrive in the capital of Santo Domingo

Welcome to the Dominican Republic! Upon your arrival at the Santo Domingo airport, you'll pick up your rental car and proceed to the hotel. After check-in, get ready to start exploring the city with a local guide on a biking tour. 

Founded in 1496, Santo Domingo is the Dominican Republic's capital and the site of the Americas' first European settlement. On today's tour, you'll see the city from a different perspective, as your charismatic local guide reveals interesting facts about the history and culture of the capital. Cycle through the fortified historic colonial center which dates back to the 16th century, and pass highlights like the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, the Monastery of San Francisco, Fortaleza Ozama, the Hospital San Nicolás de Bari, and Colón Lighthouse.

Day 2: Drive to Yaque Arriba, Discover Presa de Tavera

Views over Yaque Arriba

After breakfast, hit the road and drive northwest to La Vega. The lush landscapes here are filled with green vegetation and breathtaking views over the Yaque Arriba River and Presa de Tavera Dam. Once you have checked into your accommodations, take a walk around the area and discover all it has to offer.

Day 3: Drive to Santiago de los Caballeros, Guided City Tour 

The Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration of the Republic in Santiago

Today you'll drive north through the province of Santiago, an area full of history that's often missed on tourist itineraries. Located in the lush Cibao Valley, Santiago was one of the provinces created by the first Dominican Constitution in 1844 and it has been witness to many of the country's pivotal historic events.

Upon arrival to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, get settled into your hotel and get ready for a guided tour with a local expert. After discovering some of the city's highlights and hidden gems, the rest of the day is free for your to explore at your own pace. 

Consider a stop at the León Jimenes Cultural Center. The first floor of the center features a beautiful series of permanent exhibits showing Dominican history and culture dating back to Taíno times. You'll also find a room dedicated to visual arts where the winning pieces of the Eduardo León Jimenes Art Contest, created in 1964 to promote art and encourage new generations of Dominican artists, are exhibited. In an adjacent building, you can browse an exhibition focused on tobacco, which tells of the heritage of the premium tobacco industry of the Dominican Republic.

You can also arrange to join an immersive cooking class to learn about the fusion of cultures that typifies Dominican gastronomy. Discover the Spanish, African, Taíno, and Arab influences on traditional Dominican cuisine, and learn to cook one of the country's most famous dishes alongside an expert chef. 

Day 4: Drive to Sosúa & the Northern Coast

Discover the diving hotspot of Sosúa

Today's drive takes you to Sosúa, one of the must-visit cities on the wonderful north coast of the Dominican Republic. Located about 15 miles (25 km) from Puerto Plata and just a couple of miles from Cabarete, Sosúa is an excellent base for leisure and adventure activities along the coast.

Diving is one of the star attractions here, and it boasts multiple outstanding dive sites, such as Airport Wall, an area full of underwater walls and tunnels; Zingara Wreck, a spectacular wrecked ship; and the beautiful coral reefs of Coral Gardens. Easy excursions include Cayo Arena, Río San Juan, El Choco National Park, and Monkey Jungle, and you'll find two of the best beaches on the north coast nearby—the beautiful and quiet Playa Alicia, and the popular and busy Playa Sosúa.

Upon arrival at Sosúa, get checked into your hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing at the beach or enjoying the many water activities on offer.

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Day 5: Drive to Las Terrenas & the Samaná Peninsula

Unwind on the famous beaches of the Samaná Peninsula

After breakfast, you'll get back on the road for a scenic drive down the coast to Las Terrenas, located on the spectacular Samaná Peninsula. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and head to the beach! Samaná is an earthly paradise in the island's far northeast corner, bordered by enchanting white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and mountains full of coconut palms and rainforests. 

Day 6: El Limón Waterfall Adventure

A hike or horseback ride takes you to the stunning El Limón Waterfall

After breakfast today, you'll saddle up for a horseback riding excursion to the stunning El Limón Waterfall. Ride through lush jungle landscapes to reach an idyllic waterfall that plunges from the top of the Sierra de Samaná at 130 feet (40 m). At the end of the 1.5-mile (2.5 km) journey, you'll be rewarded with a refreshing dip in the cool water and plenty of free time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  After making your way back down, finish today's excursion with a traditional Dominican lunch. You can also choose to make the journey on foot or quad bike. 

Upon your return, the rest of the day is free to spend at the beach.

Day 7: Day Trip to Playa Rincón

Crystal clear seas at Playa Rincón

Today's full-day excursion takes you to the breathtaking Playa Rincón, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Start the day with a refreshing dip in the warm waters of the calm Caribbean Sea and soak up the sun on pristine white sands. You'll also visit the Caño Frío, located at the northern end of Rincón Bay. This river boasts crystal clear waters that flow into the beach itself, and the riverbed is surrounded by lush, perfectly preserved tropical vegetation. Other highlights of the excursion include a visit to the Samaná market, where you can sample local products like coffee, cocoa, tropical fruits, and mamajuana, and panoramic clifftop views from the observatory in Punta Balandra—a prime viewing spot for humpback whales. 

Day 8: Catamaran Excursion to Playa Jackson

Today's catamaran adventure takes you to the secluded "Sunken Island"

This morning another day trip takes you to the port for an unforgettable sailing experience. After a 45-minute scenic cruise along the north coast of the beautiful Samaná Peninsula aboard a 35-foot power catamaran, you'll arrive at the pristine waters of Playa Jackson—known as the "Sunken Island." Relax, unwind, and go for a leisurely snorkel through the corals and tropical fish of the crystal clear water. A buffet-style lunch is served on board before you head back to shore and return to the hotel for the afternoon. 

Day 9: Drive to Los Haitises National Park

Explore the lush mountains of Los Haitises National Park

Say your goodbyes to the beaches of Las Terrenas today and make the drive south to  Los Haitises National Park. One of the jewels of the Dominican Republic's national park system. Los Haitises, which translates to “mountainous land” in the Taíno language, attracts multiple visitors who come here by boat to see its magnificent series of rock formations that rise out of the water. The park also has lush mangroves along its bay, which is adorned with keys that are home to native bird colonies and a series of caves known for having the largest number of petroglyphs and pictographs in the country.

Upon arrival, get settled into your hotel and rest up for a full day of adventure in the park tomorrow.

Day 10: Discover the Haitises by Kayak

Explore the hidden corners of Los Haitises by kayak

Today you will discover the magnificent Los Haitises National Park by kayak. Your guide will introduce you to this magical place while you paddle past spectacular scenery. It's an easy, laid-back activity and the perfect way to discover the national park up close, in harmony with nature. The tour takes you inside one of the richest mangrove reserves on the planet, and then on to the calm waters of the San Lorenzo Bay, where the famous Los Haitises cayos (islands) begin.

The rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure.

Day 11: Guided Excursion to the Tahinas Caves

Explore the remarkable caves of Los Haitises today

While the  Los Haitises National Park is famous for its rainforests, mangroves, and diverse birdlife, it also boasts a remarkable system of dramatic natural caves. Today you'll visit the Tahinas Caves, accompanied by an expert local guide. The first inhabitants of the Dominican Republic left traces of their presence on the island in these spectacular caverns, and you can still find ancient petroglyphs and pictograms where they took refuge and performed rituals.

Day 12: Return Rental Car & Departure

The biodiverse mangrove swamps of Los Haitises

After breakfast, say your goodbyes to the Dominican Republic as you return your rental car at the airport and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Dominican Republic Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Dominican Republic? Check out these other Dominican Republic itineraries, with outdoor adventures, beach vacations, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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