Get ready for two weeks of adventure and excitement in the Dominican Republic. It starts with tours of the colonial landmarks in Santo Domingo, followed by a trip to the highlands for horseback riding in Jarabacoa. Continue to the north coast and the tropical paradise of Samaná, where you'll laze on white-sand beaches, go snorkeling at offshore islands, and spot humpback whales.


  • Tour the colonial highlights of Santo Domingo
  • Go horseback riding in the mountain town of Jarabacoa 
  • Hike to waterfalls and ride ziplines in Cabarete
  • Enjoy the beaches of Samaná and go snorkeling
  • Spot whales off the coast of Samaná

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santo Domingo, Optional Activities  Santo Domingo
Day 2 Transfer to Jarabacoa, Optional Activities Jarabacoa
Day 3 Horseback Riding Tour Jarabacoa
Day 4 Day Trip to Constanza Jarabacoa
Day 5 Transfer to Santiago de los Caballeros, Guided Tour Santiago de los Caballeros
Day 6 Transfer to Cabarete, Surfing & Beaches Cabarete
Day 7 Waterfall Hike & Zipline Adventure Cabarete
Day 8 Transfer to Samaná, Optional Activities Samaná
Day 9 Hike to El Limón Waterfall Samaná
Day 10 Free Day in Samaná Samaná
Day 11 Snorkeling in Cayo Levantado Samaná
Day 12 Quad Biking & Beaches Samaná
Day 13 Whale Watching Tour Samaná
Day 14 Transfer to Santo Domingo, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santo Domingo, Optional Activities

Visit historic landmarks in Santo Domingo, like the Alcázar de Colón

Welcome to the Dominican Republic! This nation on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola has a long and storied history. You'll arrive in the capital of Santo Domingo, the epicenter of that history. Founded in 1496, it's the oldest European settlement in the Americas. As such, it's filled with historic landmarks dating back to the colonial era.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up at the terminal and take you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you can venture out and explore on a self-guided walking tour. You'll want to begin in the Zona Colonial district. Located in the heart of the city, this is where you'll find the oldest European-built structures not just in the Dominican but in the entire Americas.

Among other landmarks, you can visit the Alcázar de Colón (the first Spanish palace in the Americas), Fortaleza Ozama (the oldest military fort in the Americas), Parque Colón (the main plaza), and the remains of the Northern Walls, the defensive structures that once protected the city from attacks on both land and sea. Also here is the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. Construction on it began in 1504, making it the first church in the Americas—and the oldest.

Day 2: Transfer to Jarabacoa, Optional Activities

Go for mountain hikes around Jarabacoa, the most popular destination in DR's highlands

In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the two-hour ride north to the highland town of Jarabacoa. Located in the Central Cordillera mountain range of La Vega Province, this city is one of the premier ecotourism destinations in the country. You can hike through beautiful pine forests and marvel at incredible highland vistas. The level of peace and tranquility here is so renowned that locals even have a saying: "God is everywhere... but sleeps in Jarabacoa."

Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and have the rest of the day free to explore. There are many great activities to choose from, like horseback riding, hiking mountain trails, tubing/rafting down the Río Yaque del Norte, swimming in the lagoons at the Salto de Jimenoa and Salto de Baiguate waterfalls, and even rappelling down canyon walls. For dinner, you'll want to head up to Aroma de la Montaña, the only 360-degree restaurant in the Dominican Republic. The panoramic views alone are worth it. 

Day 3: Horseback Riding Tour

Horseback Riding Adventure
Mount up for a ride into the mountains of Jarabacoa

Saddle up today for a 2.5-hour horseback adventure in the mountains around Jarabacoa. Horseback riding is an integral part of the culture here and has been for generations. The only way to experience the true beauty of this mountainous region is by riding along its coriander-scented green fields and galloping beside rushing rivers. 

The tour follows a nature route abounding with incredible scenery and far from the hustle of modern city life. It's a great way to relax and commune with your surroundings. And if you don't have much riding experience, not to worry—an expert will be available to help guide your horse.

Day 4: Day Trip to Constanza

Day trip to Constanza
Take a road trip to another mountain gem in central Dominican Republic

After breakfast, you'll transfer an hour south from Jarabacoa to Constanza. This highland village is one of the most charming towns in the country, as it's surrounded by unspoiled nature.

On the way there, you'll stop at Valle Nuevo National Park. Famous for its mountain plateaus and great views, it's earned the nickname "the Dominican Alps." Another stop is at Aguas Blancas, an impressive waterfall that plunges 272 feet (83 m) into a lagoon. Feel free to dive in for a refreshing swim! Once in Constanza, you can stroll the town's streets, admire the colorful buildings, grab some food, and do a bit of shopping. After a relaxing walk around, you'll return to Jarabacoa later in the day.

Day 5: Transfer to Santiago de los Caballeros, Guided Tour

Guided City Tour With a Local
Santiago de los Caballeros is the site of major events in DR's history

Your driver will pick you up in the morning for the one-hour ride north from Jarabacoa to Santiago de los Caballeros. Located in the Cibao Valley, Santiago was one of the provinces created by the first Dominican Constitution in 1844. The area has borne witness to important historical events, such as the Battle of Santiago, which consolidates the first independence of the Dominican Republic. When you arrive, you'll check into your hotel in the city.

Later, you'll meet a local guide for a tour of the highlights. Among other landmarks, you'll visit the Leon Jimenes Tobacco Factory and Museum. The first floor features permanent exhibits showcasing Dominican history and culture dating back to the time of the Taíno Indigenous people. There's also a room dedicated to visual arts, and in an adjacent building is an exhibition detailing the history of the tobacco industry in the Dominican Republic. 

Day 6: Transfer to Cabarete, Surfing & Beaches

Surf the Waves in Cabarete
Grab a board and hit the waves in the beach paradise of Cabarete

It's time to head for the beach today as your driver picks you up for the two-hour ride north to the coastal Cabarete. Once a sleepy fishing village, it's now a famous stretch of coastline known for its all-inclusive resorts, beautiful beaches, and abundant adventure sports.

Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and make your way to the beach for a surf lesson. This two-hour class is equally great for novices as well as those who want to improve their skills. First, your instructor will give you a rundown of surfing theory, rules, and the mechanics of wave formation. Then you'll paddle out into the Caribbean to catch what will hopefully be the first of many waves.

When the surfing is done, you'll have the rest of the day to enjoy other activities. If you like, spend that time sunbathing on the beach. Or enjoy an optional activity like a zipline ride, quad adventure, or kitesurfing class. If there's time, you can also visit Monkeyland, a natural jungle habitat and theme park home to friendly squirrel monkeys.

Plan your trip to the Dominican Republic
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Waterfall Hike & Zipline Adventure

The waterfalls at Damajagua are a series of many stunning cascades in DR

This half-day adventure begins in the morning with a transfer to a hidden paradise of cascading waterfalls and turquoise river pools. There are 27 waterfalls along the Río Damajagua, plus limestone caverns and natural waterslides. When you arrive at the trailhead, you'll embark on a one-hour hike up to the area's best-known falls.

After some time to relax, the real fun begins as you slide and swim your way back down the mountain, passing multiple falls along the way. That's not all, because you'll enjoy a zipline adventure over the water at the end of the hike. After the wild ride, it's time for a delicious Dominican lunch buffet (vegetarian-friendly). Then you'll transfer back to your hotel in Cabarete, where you can kick back and relax.

Day 8: Transfer to Samaná, Optional Activities

Take a break from another scenic road trip in the turquoise waters of Laguna Dudú

After breakfast, you'll bid Cabarete farewell and transfer east to Samaná, stopping en route at Playa Grande and Laguna Dudú. Playa Grande, as its name implies in Spanish, is a vast stretch of spectacular beach, perfect for taking long walks, sunbathing, or enjoying a plate of local lobster accompanied by a cold beer. Nearby you'll find Laguna Dudú, a remarkable and biodiverse ecosystem where natural tunnels connect two freshwater lakes.

After visiting these two spots, your journey continues to Samaná. Bordered by white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and forested mountains, Samaná is a peninsula in the northeast of the Dominican Republic known for having the highest concentration of coconut palms per square meter in the world.

Popular highlights of the region include Cayo Levantado, a small island northeast of Samaná Bay, El Limón, a beautiful waterfall nestled in a natural forest, and the spectacular Los Haitises National Park. After settling into your hotel, the afternoon is free to explore. Start with a walk around the village, where you can stop into the many craft shops for handmade souvenirs, then head to one of the many stunning beaches to soak up some sun.

Day 9: Hike to El Limón Waterfall

Hike Adventure to El Limón Waterfall
El Limón is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the entire country

This morning you'll transfer by vehicle to the Sierra de Samaná mountains and embark on a 1.5-mile (2.5 km) journey, which you can do on foot or horseback. This is an adventurous trek through lush rainforests abounding with exotic flora and fauna, including coconut palms, pineapple trees, and tropical birds like the palmchat (the national bird of the Dominican Republic).

The trail ends at the roaring waters of El Limón—your reward for all that jungle trekking. The falls are a marvel, cascading 131 feet (40 m) into a shimmering emerald pool. Feel free to dive in and cool off. After a refreshing dip, you'll have time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings before returning to the trailhead. Once there, satisfy your appetite with a fantastic Dominican lunch. After eating, you'll transfer back to your hotel and can spend the rest of the day on the beach.

Day 10: Free Day in Samaná

Spend the day exploring the tranquil beaches around Samaná

Today is yours to relax at one of Samaná's many beaches or participate in an optional activity. Consider heading just north to the coastal town of Las Terrenas, where you'll have access to golden and white-sand beaches like Cosón, Las Ballenas, Las Terrenas, Portillo, and Playa Bonita.

Alternatively, you can head east to the region of El Limón and check out its 3-mile (5 km) beach. Or, drive alongside plantations, fruit trees, and over rural roads to reach Playa Morón, where historic cannons still lie on the sand. You can also surf at El Valle, a secluded beach hemmed in by two coastal mountains that see few tourists. Optional activities may include snorkeling or diving in Samaná, a full-day trip to Playa Rincón, or, depending on the time of year, a whale watching excursion.

Day 11: Snorkeling in Cayo Levantado

Dive into an underwater world and make new friends
Board a boat this morning and visit two prime snorkeling spots around Samaná. The first destination is the island of La Farola, where you'll see some corals, starfish, sea urchins, trumpet fish, and other tropical marine species. The second spot is a shallow ferry wreck and natural aquarium home to shoals of fish, including puffer fish, sergeant fish, damselfish, parrotfish, porcupine fish, and much more. You'll return to Samaná and your hotel at the end of the tour.

Day 12: Quad Adventure & Beaches

Quad biking is an adventure fit for the whole family

In the morning, you'll hop on a quad bike and hit the road on a day tour north from Samaná. The ride will take you around mountains and rivers on the way to discover some of the area's most beautiful and unspoiled beaches. This guided tour is led by an expert who will make you feel comfortable, even if this is your first time on a quad. 

After driving amid stunning scenery, you'll end up at some of the most secluded beaches on the peninsula. First up is windswept La Cana, then rugged Lanza del Norte, and finally tranquil Playa Morón, where turquoise waters lap at the shore. These unspoiled stretches of the coast have changed little over the past 500 years, and you'll enjoy them in perfect serenity without the tourist crowds. Capping the experience will be a delicious Dominican lunch. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel in Samaná.

Day 13: Whale Watching Tour

Whale Watching Samaná
See the spectacle of migrating humpback whales in Samaná
You're in for a treat, as this morning, you'll take a boat into Samaná Bay, a breeding ground for humpback whales. From January to March, these majestic marine animals flock to the warm waters of Samaná to mate and give birth. During this three-hour tour, you'll be able to witness whole pods of humpbacks in their natural environment as they swim, frolic, and nurse their young. Don't forget your camera!

Day 14: Transfer to Santo Domingo, Depart

Sun setting over the beach in Samaná, Dominican Republic

Your grand tour across the Dominican Republic has, alas, come to an end. Wake up early and meet your driver for the three-hour ride back to Santo Domingo and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!

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Map of Explore the Beaches, Mountains & Waterfalls of the Dominican Republic  - 14 Days
Map of Explore the Beaches, Mountains & Waterfalls of the Dominican Republic - 14 Days