- Relax on tropical beaches on the DR's north coast
- Go horseback riding and whale watching
- Visit national parks and hike to waterfalls
- Tour the colonial landmarks of Santo Domingo
|Day 1||Arrive in Samaná, Optional Activities||Samaná|
|Day 2||Whale Watching Tour||Samaná|
|Day 3||Hike to El Limón Waterfall||Samaná|
|Day 4||Quad Adventure & Beaches||Samaná|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Los Haitises National Park||Samaná|
|Day 6||Beaches of Samaná||Samaná|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Playa Rincón||Samaná|
|Day 8||Transfer to Cabarete, Optional Activities||Cabarete|
|Day 9||Waterfall Hike & Zipline Adventure||Cabarete|
|Day 10||Horseback Riding Tour||Cabarete|
|Day 11||Transfer to Puerto Plata, Walking Tour||Puerto Plata|
|Day 12||Free Day in Playa Dorada||Puerto Plata|
|Day 13||Transfer to Santo Domingo, Guided Tour||Santo Domingo|
|Day 14||Depart Santo Domingo|
Day 1: Arrive in Samaná, Optional Activities
Welcome to the Dominican Republic! This Caribbean nation is steeped in pirate history, and for a good reason—it's a veritable treasure trove of wonders. Part of the island of Hispaniola, DR has everything a traveler could want: white-sand beaches, crystalline waters, coral islands, rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife, and plenty of colonial history. In fact, the Dominican is the site of the earliest settlement of Europeans in the Americas. Its capital Santo Domingo was founded in 1496, and many colonial landmarks are still standing.
You'll arrive on the Samaná Peninsula, at the northern end of the Dominican, which is a paradise of unspoiled coast, inland jungles, and protected national parks. Upon arrival at the airport in Samaná, a driver will pick you up at the airport for the one-hour drive north to Las Terrenas.
This resort town is famous for its white-sand beaches, backed by coconut palms and fronting turquoise waters. It's a great place to relax, which is precisely what you'll do after checking into your hotel. Head over to Playa Las Ballenas, where you can spend the rest of the day lazing on powdery sands.
Day 2: Whale Watching TourYou're in for a treat, as this morning, you'll board a boat and head 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 can witness whole pods of humpbacks in their natural environment as they swim, frolic, and nurse their young. Don't forget your camera!
Day 3: Hike to El Limón Waterfall
After breakfast, 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 rushing 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 4: Quad Adventure & Beaches
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 along rivers on the way to discover some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the area. This is a guided tour 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 5: Day Trip to Los Haitises National Park
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Today's day trip takes you south to Los Haitises National Park. Spanning 618 square miles (1,600 sq km), the name "Los Haitises" translates to "mountainous land" in the Indigenous Taíno language, and that's an apt description. The park is notable for its limestone rock formations that rise dramatically out of the water.
Other highlights include exotic mangrove forests home to colonies of tropical birds and ancient caves notable for having the largest number of petroglyphs in the country. You'll witness these highlights on a group tour led by an expert guide. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 6: Beaches of 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. One of the best day trips is to the stunning islet of Cayo Levantado. Located about 3 miles (5 km) from Samaná Bay, it takes just a few minutes to arrive by boat. Once there, you can relax on powdery white-sand beaches, enjoy fresh seafood, and hit the water to explore some prime snorkeling spots.
Day 7: Day Trip to Playa Rincón
This full-day excursion takes you to Playa Rincón, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. After a one-hour drive north, you'll arrive at Rincón Bay for a refreshing dip in crystalline Caribbean waters. There will also be plenty of time for relaxing and sunbathing on the powdery white sands. Plus, you'll visit Río Caño Frío, a river that runs from the interior to the beach. This waterway boasts crystal clear waters, and its riverbed is surrounded by virgin tropical forest.
Other highlights of the day include a visit to the Samaná Market, where you can sample local products like coffee, cocoa, tropical fruits, and mamajuana (a spiced rum drink). You'll also enjoy panoramic clifftop views from the observatory in Punta Balandra—a prime viewing spot for humpback whales.
Day 8: Transfer to Cabarete, Optional Activities
Meet your guide in the morning for the three-hour drive up the coast to Cabarete, the Caribbean capital of adventure sports. On the way, you'll stop at two highlight beaches of the Dominican's north coast.
First up is Playa Grande. This seemingly endless stretch of white sand is as ideal for long walks as for relaxing in a lounger. During a stop, you can relax on the beach and enjoy a plate of grilled lobster and an ice-cold beer or coconut water. Afterward, you'll visit Laguna Dudú. This emerald lagoon comprises about 2,300 feet (700 m) of tunnels connecting two freshwater lakes (feel free to take a dip).
Later, continue to Cabarete. This coastal area draws visitors for its great surf and windsurfing/kitesurfing conditions. Here, you'll check into your hotel and have the rest of the day free.
Day 9: Waterfall Hike & Zipline Adventure
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 10: Horseback Riding Adventure
You've hiked through the jungle and ridden quads on the beach—now it's time to explore the Dominican on horseback. In the morning, you'll meet your guide at a local ranch. Here, you'll hop on a horse for a full-day ride to the coast.
On the way there, you'll pass traditional villages where you can meet locals and experience rural hospitality. Eventually, you'll reach the coast, where you'll take a scenic ride along the beach up to the mouth of the Río La Boca, where the day's ride ends. Here, you'll enjoy a refreshing beverage before transferring back to the ranch.
Day 11: Transfer to Puerto Plata, Walking Tour
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the one-hour scenic ride up the coast to the paradise of Puerto Plata, a city famous for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel, unpack, and unwind. Then you'll stretch your legs on a three-hour walking tour of the city's historic center. Here you'll find one of Puerto Plata's oldest monuments: San Felipe Fortress. The Spanish built this impressive battlement in the 16th century as a defensive fort to guard Hispaniola's north coast.
Next, you'll tour the Amber Museum, which features the country's finest display of amber and larimar. These precious stones are an integral part of the history of the Dominican Republic. Exhibits here showcase amber's famed effect of preserving dinosaur fossils for millions of years. Meanwhile, the larimar rooms include ornate pieces of jewelry made from this "blue jewel of the Caribbean."
Other stops on the tour include the Macorix House of Rum, an artisanal cigar factory, and chocolate confectionery. Last but not least, you'll head over to the Malecón (waterfront promenade), where locals might show you how to dance merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic.
Day 12: Free Day in Playa Dorada
Just 10 minutes east of Puerto Plata is the most famous beach in the region: Playa Dorada. This stretch of sand boasts crystal-clear waters and offshore coral reefs teeming with marine life. Because of its natural beauty, this prized beach enjoys the coveted Blue Flag status, and you'll get to experience it firsthand. There are extensive options for watersports here, from kitesurfing to banana-boat tubing, plus a number of restaurants and beach bars.
Other optional activities include visiting Ocean World Adventure Park, an interactive marine park home to dolphins, sea lions, rays, tropical birds, and even sharks. There's also the laid-back beach town of Sousa. Or you can return to the long sandy beaches in the resort enclave of Cabarete.
Day 13: Transfer to Santo Domingo, Guided Tour
In the morning, get back on the road for the 3.5-hour drive south to Santo Domingo, the nation's capital. After checking into your hotel, you'll meet a local guide for a tour of the city.
It begins in the Ciudad Colonial neighborhood, the city's historic heart. Here, you'll visit landmarks like 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.
Among other places of interest, you'll also stop at the Monastery of San Francisco (c. 1560) and the ruins of Hospital San Nicolás de Bari. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel and have the rest of the day free.
Day 14: Depart Santo Domingo
Two weeks fly by when you're having fun. In the morning, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!