With nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, there is truly a beach for every type of vacationer in the Dominican Republic. This favorite winter sun destination (that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti) has every type of sun, sand, and sea experience that you could wish for.
There are remote, pristine coves that require a boat (or a 4×4) to access; soft white sands with beach bars pumping out bachata music; windswept stretches where surfers find great waves and ideal weather conditions; spots where nature enthusiasts can go whale watching, and of course family-friendly spots where resort lovers can find the amenities they crave. Read on for our list of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic.
For the surfers out there
On the island’s north coast, just 20 minutes’ drive from Puerto Plata airport, the laid-back beach town of Cabarete is considered by many as one of the windsurfing capitals of the world. Surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers travel all over to this former fishing hamlet, where strong tradewinds provide the ideal conditions for these water sports.
Where the surfers led, development followed, and Cabarete now offers several good beachfront dining and accommodation options. Ceiba Cafe, with its traditional woodfired pizzas at Playa Encuentro (the main surfing beach), is loved for its authentic handmade pizzas which many swear are as good as any you’ll find in Italy (we’ll let you be the judge!).
If you’re looking for lessons, well-established outfitters such as Bobo’s Surf’s Up Surf School, run by local legend Victor “Bobo” Peralta offers classes for complete beginners as well as refresher courses to get your feeling comfortable on your board.
For city slickers
Remember how we told you that the DR has a beach for everyone? Well, it even has a beach for people who don’t enjoy spending their entire day on the sand. Playa Boca Chica is just 20 minutes outside of the capital city Santo Domingo, meaning you can combine mornings of sun, sea, and sand with afternoons exploring the winding streets and interesting history of this former colonial capital.
A coral reef offshore has created a huge saltwater lagoon at Boca Chica where the water is no more than 4ft deep at any point—it’s like bathing in your own private pool a mile wide. There’s even mangrove forest—La Matica—that you can wade across to explore (or paddleboard to), where you’ll find a local population of herons.
One of the Caribbean’s oldest cities (founded in 1496), there’s much to enjoy in Santo Domingo. Any visit should start with a coffee in the Plaza d’España followed by a look at the excellent medieval and renaissance art collection housed in the Alcazar de Colon palace, the former residence of Christopher Columbus’ son Diego, who was once governor of the island of Hispaniola.
For luxe resort lovers
Casa de Campo—a purpose-built resort community backed by American industrialist Charles Bluhdorn and Oscar de la Renta (who designed the interiors for the some of the original properties)—has long been considered the gold standard of luxury homes in the DR. With almost every activity you could think of: art classes, sailing, horseback riding and even a full-scale replica of a 16th-century European village, it’s a one-stop shop for a top-notch getaway.
The resort’s private beach, Minitas, doesn’t disappoint either. Only accessible to visitors staying within the community, the sand is soft and perfect, edged by swaying palms and clear turquoise water. There’s excellent snorkeling to be had, plus sea kayaks, paddleboards, and massages in the breezy beach pavilion. If you need a break from the sun, stroll up to Coco Mar, the chic on-site beach club where the signature piña coladas are a revelation.
For a fun family vibe
If you’re traveling with children, finding a beautiful beach that’s close to your accommodation is the holy grail. For this, Playa Bavaro in Punta Cana ticks all the right boxes. There are powder-soft white sand, palm trees and calm waters ideal for splashing around, plus it’s close to several resorts—some with kids’ club amenities— and the numerous private villas in Punta Cana.
Beach restaurants hug the tree-line so you can easily retreat for drinks and snacks as needed, and it’s also close to Punta Cana airport so you needed worry about driving for hours with the kids getting antsy in the car when you first arrive. All this convenience might lead you to draw the conclusion that beach is a tourist trap, but you’d be wrong. Despite the amenities available it still has an unspoiled feel and is large enough (with over 6 miles of seafront) for you to be able to find a secluded spot for you and your gang.
For nature enthusiasts
As humpback whales make their annual 3,000-mile migration from their warmer breeding grounds in the south to summer feeding grounds in the North Atlantic they pass by the Dominican Republic’s Samana Peninsula. If you’re visiting between January and March, a trip out to the peninsula is a must for nature lovers. The peninsula is away from the main tourist spots, so consider a day-long tour combining time on the beaches with whale watching out at sea.
Nearby Playa Rincon is the image of a classic Caribbean beach, popular with locals and with fewer amenities than the spots around Punta Cana. The beach has a natural freshwater lagoon that’s ideal if you’re traveling with young swimmers.