The Dominican Republic’s 7 Most Unique, Exciting Tours
The Dominican Republic is a land of many, many wonders, and seeing as it’s quickly becoming a top tourist destination, more and more tours are sprouting up to take advantage of that. Each of these tours is simple and guided, and we’ve hand-picked some of the more interesting, off-the-wall options.
Cabarete plays host to a ton of tourist attractions, many of which we’ve discussed in other articles. One we haven’t hit upon, however, is the Magic Mushroom Canyoning Tour.
This is a 6-hour excursion, where a local adventure guide will lead you through an untouched part of the Dominican rain forest along the Rio Blanco. The highlight of this tour is what gives it its name: the Magic Mushroom is a massive waterfall shaped… well, like a giant mushroom. You’ll rappel 150 feet down its surface, enjoying scenery that you couldn’t see anywhere else. On top of that, you’ll also have a 45-foot jump off a canyon wall, so it’s guaranteed to be an exciting trip.
For those who don’t know; canyoning is very different from cascading. It’s much more technical, but slower paced. Luckily, you’ll be given solid instruction on the matter so that by the time you’ve arrived at the main attraction, you’ll be ready and raring to go.
That’s right, one tour can take you to two of the island’s most beautiful nature spots. Los Haitises and Cayo Levantado have both appeared in other articles as examples of the Dominican Republic’s natural beauty, so getting the opportunity to see them both back-to-back is one of those things that you just can’t afford to miss.
The trip starts in Samana, where a guide will take you to the city’s port and put you on a boat to Los Haitises. This whole area is protected sanctuary, meaning that you’ll find an untouched paradise replete with more animals and plants than you can imagine. After that, you’ll hitch onto a speedboat that’ll take you through canals leading through the mangrove forests, a unique ecological spot full of creatures ranging from oysters to manatees. The mangrove forests themselves will make you wonder whether you’ve been transported to another planet.
After that, you’ll hit San Lorenzo Bay, pass the island of Cayo de los Pajaros, which is absolutely flooded with massive birds. You’ll follow that up with a trip to the nearby caverns, decorated with ancient paintings of the indigenous Taino people. Your tour guide will give you the historical background of these caverns as you go along your trip.
The Los Haitises leg of the tour is a once-in-a-lifetime sight, so make sure of two things; the first is that you bring a camera. The second is that you do your utmost not to disturb the wildlife or leave behind anything that could impact the ecology of the area.
But, after that exciting adventure, this tour allows you to hit Cayo Levantado, a beautiful island where you’ll enjoy a Dominican buffet, a relaxing swim, and a peaceful day during which to reflect upon and digest all the natural beauty you witnessed in the last 24 hours.
Puerto Plata is a beautiful place that occupies a unique middle-ground as far as Dominican Cities go. It’s a tourist hot-spot, yes, but it’s also a popular place for Dominicans, full of genuine Dominican cultural influence. As such, its city with all the convenience of a tourist destination that still allows you to experience the culture of this beautiful country.
And this is one of the best ways to explore the history and culture of Puerto Plata. It’s a full-day tour of the city with a local guide who will show you a ton of local landmarks, including the Dominican Amber Museum (Dominican Amber is considered the most beautiful in the world, due to its clarity), and the San Felipe Fort, where you’ll find antique artifacts of war and encounter a stunning view of the ocean.
The tour finishes up with a trip in a cable car, suspended high above the city, that will take you to Isabel de Torres Mountain. Hopefully you aren’t afraid of heights, because the view is positively breathtaking.
Alright, for starters: you don’t have to be at Samana to take part in this tour. They’ll also pick you up from Cayo Levantado, Las Terrenas, and Las Galeras. So, if you’re planning to be in any of these spots and are looking for something adventurous and kid-friendly, this tour is an absolute must.
Because that “zipline” bit is only half the fun. Let’s give you the rundown:
You’ll be picked up in a safari truck, where you’ll meet your guide: the famous local rapper “David Flow Bandana,” famous for giving unforgettable tours. The trip to the Zipline itself is a lot of fun, and once there, you’ll zip between the 13 stations, where you’ll get a birds’-eye view of the Samana wilderness.
The highlights include the Dominican Tree House Resort, a replica Swiss family Robinson hotel right up in the trees. You’ll get to have a ton of local fruit, coffee, and chocolate, all of which the Dominican Republic is famous for. You’ll also get to see an old fishing beach, and the beautiful Playa el Valle.
On top of all of this, the tour is extremely well managed and modern, meaning that you should expect this to be a comfortable (and exciting) tour.
Here’s another kid-friendly tour. What’s more, it’s a shorter one, so it’s perfect if you’re trying to squeeze something into a busy day.
The tour will pick you up at Punta Cana and drop you off in Manati Park, where a guide will lead you on a two-hour tour of the landscaped theme park. It’s primarily an educational/natural wonders sort of park, where you’ll be given a run-down on native plants (such as beautiful orchids) and animals like iguanas, snakes, and caimans.
The fee includes entrance to the park, so after it’s concluded, you can take your pick of the animal shows that take place throughout the day, including horse shows, comic parrots, and dolphins.
But, it does have a more cultural side. The park has an area called the “Taino Village,” dedicated to the indigenous peoples of the island. You’ll see Taino dances, hear about their rituals and folklore, and have a whole museum to explore.
Another short tour, perfect for couples. You’ll be taken to Cortesito Beach, where you’ll be taught all the safety procedures for parasailing before ascending to 500 feet above the island’s beautiful ocean, where you’ll be given a sky-high tour of the coast. Given how clear the waters are, you’ll have a unique view of the coral reefs that surround the island. The tour-groups are small, which makes it a good choice for couples.
Its topped off by a complimentary shopping experience where you’ll have access to handmade items, local cigars and rum, perfect for those looking for unique Dominican Souvenirs.
We’ve talked about whale watching in the Dominican Republic before. It’s an omnipresent attraction, and due in large part to the eco-friendly measures most of the Dominican Whale Watching Tour services are taking, it’s becoming more and more popular. On top of that, the more these tours go out to see the whales, the more comfortable the whales become with their presence, meaning that they’ll be more likely to breach near the boats and be friendly.
That said, some of the best whale-watching tours are available from Punta Cana, Bayahibe, and Samana. We’ll talk mostly about those first two, here.
The tours are available from mid-January ’til mid-April, the season during which the whales migrate to give birth along the Dominican Republic’s East coast. Apparently, they’ve been doing this as long as people have been on the island—some of the Taino cave paintings mentioned above depict the whales.
These whale watching tours leave early, and during the road trip to the bay, you’ll be given cultural information about the Dominican Republic. After, you’ll be given breakfast and some safety information before hopping onboard a catamaran to finally see the whales. Seeing as more than 300 whales enter the bay on a daily basis, it’s absurdly rare for people not to see one, and as the males love to put on displays to attract females, you’re guaranteed to see something interesting.
Strict minimum distances and regulations are observed to ensure the safety of both you and the whales, so be sure to abide by them.
These aren’t all the Dominican Republic has to offer, obviously, but they are some of the most unique tours you’ll find in the whole Caribbean, and we strongly recommend adding a few of them to your “to-do” list for your trip.
Written by Connor Johnson
Connor Johnson is a flexible content and copy writer located in the Boston area. He supplements his writing with in-depth research and general marketing skills. He can be contacted here.