Take a walk on the wild side of the Dominican Republic, where unspoiled national parks, white-sand beaches, and ancient caverns await. You'll arrive in the capital of Santo Domingo, and after a bicycle tour of the colonial landmarks, venture north to the coast and Haitises National Park to do some caving and kayaking. Then continue to the virgin coastline of Samaná for snorkeling, sunbathing, and swimming in lagoons.


  • See Santo Domingo on a bicycle tour
  • Go kayaking in Los Haitises National Park
  • Explore caves and see ancient rock art
  • Enjoy the beaches of the stunning Samaná region

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santo Domingo, Guided Bicycle Tour Santo Domingo
Day 2 Transfer to Los Haitises, Optional Activities Los Haitises
Day 3 Los Haitises Kayak Tour Los Haitises
Day 4 Los Haitises Guided Cave Tour Los Haitises
Day 5 Transfer to Samaná, Optional Activities Samaná
Day 6 Day Trip to Playa Grande & Laguna Dudú Samaná
Day 7 Free Day in Samaná Samaná
Day 8 Day Trip to Playa Rincón Samaná
Day 9 Snorkeling in Cayo Levantado Samaná
Day 10 Transfer to Santo Domingo & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santo Domingo, Guided Bicycle Tour

Explore the colorful colonial center of Santo Domingo

Welcome to the Dominican Republic! This island nation often flies under the radar, passed over by travelers on their way to some of its more high-profile Caribbean neighbors. Those who venture to this corner of the world immediately realize they've arrived in paradise. Not only is DR filled with Spanish colonial landmarks (the island was the site of the first-ever European settlement in the Americas), its natural beauty is both stunningly beautiful and surprisingly diverse. Here, you'll find white-sand beaches, mountainous national parks, misty highlands, and idyllic offshore islets.

Upon arrival at the airport in the capital of Santo Domingo, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you'll head right back out on a 1.5-hour bicycle tour of the oldest city in the Caribbean (it was founded in 1496). Your destination is the Ciudad Colonial neighborhood, which is packed with historic architecture, like the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. Built in 1514, this is the first church in the Americas—and the oldest.

Other highlights you'll see include 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. You'll also stop at the Monastery of San Francisco (c. 1560) and the ruins of Hospital San Nicolás de Bari, among other places of interest.

Day 2: Transfer to Los Haitises, Optional Activities

The limestone islets of Los Haitises National Park

Wake up early and meet your driver for the 3.5-hour drive north from Santo Domingo to Los Haitises National Park. Located on Samaná Bay, this northern region of the Dominican is famous for its virgin beaches and the annual migration of humpback whales that pass through here (January-March). Occupying 618 square miles (1,600 sq km) of this pristine region, Los Haitises is one of the crown jewels of the Dominican Republic's 29 national parks. Interestingly, this mountainous coastal area includes large karst rock islets comprising a rich mosaic of marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Upon arrival, you'll check into your accommodation in the park. If you like, you can embark on a tour to discover Los Haitises' unique ecosystem, which includes estuaries, inlets, mangroves, bays, and limestone islets. The park is also an ideal place to discover the cultural wealth of the Dominican Republic dating back to its pre-Hispanic past. Here, you can visit modern towns like Sabana de la Mar and explore caverns home to the country's most extensive collection of ancient cave paintings.

Day 3: Los Haitises Kayak Tour

Discover the Haitises by Kayak
Paddle along the coast and in the rivers of Los Haitises

Hit the water today and paddle along Los Haitises' waterways and virgin coastline in a kayak. On this excursion, you'll follow your guide down a rainforest-lined river in the heart of the national park. It's a fun, leisurely way to see the interior of Los Haitises while communing with nature.

When you return to land, you'll have the rest of the afternoon free. Perhaps head back out for more nature excursions. If you're a bird lover, don't miss the opportunity to see some of Los Haitises' over 200 avian species. These include waterbirds like pelicans and herons, as well as endangered species like the Peale's falcon and Ridgway's hawk. You can also take a boat tour to spot some marine mammals in the park, like manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and (if it's the right season) humpback whales. 

Day 4: Los Haitises Guided Cave Tour

Los Haitises National Park Caves of Tahinas Guided Experience
Explore some of the oceanside caves in Los Haitises

In the morning, you'll embark on a tour not above Los Haitises National Park but underneath it. During this three-hour excursion, your guide will lead you through caverns once occupied by the Taino people, an ancient Indigenous group and the first inhabitants of the Dominican. It was in these caves that the Taino people took refuge, assembled, and practiced rituals. You'll see evidence of the Taino presence in these caves in the form of ancient rock art and petroglyphs dating as far back as the 10th century. Your local guide will be there every step of the way to shed light on this history.

After the caves, you'll return to your accommodation and will have the rest of the day free. You can relax at the hotel or organize a guided excursion to go rock climbing, hiking, birding, or ziplining. You could also visit the famous mangroves and white-sand beaches of San Lorenzo Bay

Day 5: Transfer to Samaná, Optional Activities

Explore Samaná
Explore the colorful town of Samaná and its surrounding beaches

Your driver will pick you up this morning for the three-hour ride to the other side of Samaná Bay and the eponymous town. Samaná is known for endless stretches of fertile rainforests, coconut plantations, unspoiled white-sand beaches, and hidden islands. For centuries the area was popular with marauding pirates, and now you'll get to spend your last few days in the Dominican enjoying its treasures.

Upon arrival in Samaná, you'll check into your hotel and have time to relax. Then you can head out for a stroll around town to stretch your legs. If the urge to shop strikes, head an hour north by taxi to Las Terrenas. There is a lovely palm-lined beach here, and the town is filled with charming boutiques and shops. You can browse for souvenirs like handmade crafts, jewelry, Dominican rum, coffee, and cocoa. There are also galleries showcasing works by local artists.

Alternatively, you can hop on a ferry for the hour trip to Cayo Levantado, This small island, located in Samaná Bay, is famous for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Here you can go kayaking, paddleboarding, or laze on the beach and enjoy some fresh seafood.

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

Day 6: Day Trip to Playa Grande & Laguna Dudú

Day trip to Playa Grande & Laguna Dudu
Take a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters of Laguna Dudú

In the morning, your driver will pick you up for a full-day outing northeast of Samaná to Playa Grande. This seemingly endless stretch of white sand is just as ideal for long walks as it is for relaxing in a lounger. Complete the experience with a plate of grilled lobster and an ice-cold beer or coconut water.

Afterward, you'll head back toward Samaná and stop at Laguna Dudú. This emerald lagoon comprises about 2,300 feet (700 m) of tunnels connecting two freshwater lakes (feel free to take a dip). At the end of the day, your guide will take you back to your hotel in Samaná.

Day 7: Free Day in Samaná

Enjoy some free time at the beaches in and around Las Terrenas

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 8: Day Trip to Playa Rincón

Full day excursion to Playa Rincón
Spend the day enjoying the paradise of 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 excursion 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 9: Snorkeling in Cayo Levantado

Take a trip to go snorkeling around the reefs at Cayo Levantando

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 10: Transfer to Santo Domingo, Depart

Sunset over the beach in Samaná
Unfortunately, your wild ride in the Dominican Republic has reached its final stop. In the morning, you'll transfer three hours south to the airport in Santo Domingo, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Dominican Republic Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Dominican Republic? Check out these other DR itineraries, explore other ways to spend 10 days in the DR, or discover the best time to visit the DR.


Map of The Wild Side of the Dominican Republic - 10 Days
Map of The Wild Side of the Dominican Republic - 10 Days