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An Island of Endless Choices
(2015 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Mark Stevens

Dawn has risen over the amber sands of Playa Dorada near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.

Lush mountains fall away to the sea, emerald headlands thrust into neon-blue waters decorated by the white lace waves.

This morning you will sail over those waves in a catamaran. This afternoon you will shop for amber and Larimar jewellery in town, stroll the Malecón, visit a colonial fortress while your gaze rises to the cloud-swathed heights of Mt. Isabel de Torres.

Make for points east tomorrow: book a surf lesson off Cabarete, dive off Sosua, ride a horse deep into the jungle then cool off in a limpid pool beneath the glittering cascade of Lemon Falls.

Choosing what to do next is entirely up to you. For the Dominican Republic—second largest in the Caribbean chain—is an island of choices.

Planning tomorrow? Simple. Choosing a week’s worth of tropical delights? Might take a little more thought.

Maybe lazing on a beach holds a place of honour on your to-do list. Four hundred kilometres of sand stretches here, from the golden sands of the Amber Coast in the north to the clear waters of the Caribbean to  the south.

Really committed to sun, sand and water? Book Punta Cana. Icing-sugar sands fringed by cane palms, 50 kilometres of seaside pleasure with accommodation ranging from all-inclusives to exclusive villas. Want a break from the palms and piña coladas? Play a round of golf at one of 11 area courses.

Brought the kids? Visit Santo Domingo’s zoo, ride the gondola at Puerto Plata, go zip lining or swim with stingrays.

Book a Samaná escape if you want to get back to nature: sign up for a jungle-jeep excursion, rent an ATV, ride a speedboat across Samaná Bay to Los Haitises, a national park boasting surreal sky-reaching islands. Stroll through caves here and—adding just a dash of history—peruse pre-Columbian pictographs.

Or add a heaping helping of history. Book a museum tour or colonial zone tour of Santo Domingo, a UNESCO Heritage Site. Visit Catedral Primada de America, one of the oldest cathedrals in the New World, snuggled among past gems of colonial Spanish architecture fronting cobblestone streets. Visit a unique Jewish museum in Sosua or march along the ramparts of San Felipe fortress in Puerto Plata.

End your day like a local. Sip a mamajuana (a serious concoction of rum and local herbs) or dine on fresh seafood seasoned with sofrito. Spend your evening dancing the merengue (a sizzling step born in the Dominican Republic).

But save some energy for tomorrow. For here in the D.R., there’s only one dilemma. What will you do next?

Travel Planner

For more choices, visit godominicanrepublic.com. During high season, Air Canada (aircanada.com) operates direct flights to Puerto Plata, Punta Cana and Samaná from Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and Halifax, while WestJet (westjet.com) offers weekly direct flights to Punta Cana from Hamilton and a weekly flight to La Romana from Toronto.

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