Following on from our piece last week sharing some unique cultural aspects of the Dominican Republic, we thought we’d keep the focus on all things Dominican by giving a little more detail on some of the unique experiences available through Discova in the country.
Keeping with the theme, we’ll focus on experiences that offer something special for travellers in this fascinating destination.
Once used as a filming location for Jurassic Park, this national park lies on the northern Samana coast of the Dominican Republic – one of the crown jewels of the national park system. Geographical features include a limestone karst plateau dotted with conical hills jutting out into the ocean, numerous sinkholes and caverns, and a large mangrove forest area humming with wildlife along the coast.
The wildlife makes up one of the reasons why this place is a memorable experience for nature lovers. The park is home to several large bird colonies; the Hispaniolan Piculet, the Hispaniolan Woodpecker, and the Hispaniolan Emerald are all endemic to this part of the world. Besides these, birdwatchers will relish the chance to see frigate birds, pelicans, and hawks soaring above the tropical forest.
The second unique feature that draws visitors is the splendid Taino pictographs scattered throughout the cave network. Those interested in these indigenous art forms will marvel at the ancient drawings that help explore the narrative of the Taino people.
Visitors with Discova can explore the tropical rainforest on hikes or by boat to admire the scenery and wildlife, and can even kayak through the mangroves to get a different perspective.
Las Salinas is famous for its salt mines on the southern coast, many of which are still working to this day, with Dominican salt being a world-famous export. The area’s ecosystem is defined by the enormous esplanades of salt juxtaposed with the most giant sand dunes of the Caribbean.
Due to its strange beauty, with a seemingly magical light at sunrise and sunset, the mines have become a favourite setting among lovers of photographic art, who try to capture the pinkish hues of the saltwater. It is not uncommon to find amateur and professional photographers doing photoshoots, taking advantage of the atmosphere that the mine creates.
Just a one-and-a-half-hour journey west of Santo Domingo, our Discova guides can share their local expertise in finding the best locations for those atmospheric shots.
Every year, between January and March, over 3,000 humpback whales return to their mating grounds in the waters surrounding the Dominican Republic.
The Atlantic waters of Samana Bay were officially declared a Marine Mammal Sanctuary in 1986. The sanctuary attracts thousands of visitors each year – that’s thousands of humans and whales!
Signing up for a boat excursion to go whale-spotting from Samana Bay can be pretty competitive as there are limited places available. With Discova, if travellers visit during whale season, we can guarantee places for travellers on these excursions within their itineraries when booked in advance – a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Rio Partido – or the broken river – is a magical weaving waterway hidden within the northern Dominican rainforest. This river has unique characteristics due to the minerals in the local soil, and these combine to generate a turquoise pigmentation, azure blue in some areas, that has to be seen to be believed.
With Discova, we can advise on the best hiking trails through the area to explore the secret lagoons, waterfalls, and natural rock formations. It’s a mesmerizingly beautiful area of untouched rainforest, pristine and still relatively unknown to visitors. Visitors will especially enjoy those natural pools in which to take a rejuvenating dip.
In the heart of Bahoruco’s mountains, these mines are the only place in the world where larimar is found. This turquoise-blue precious gemstone was discovered in 1974 by a Dominican miner – and has since been mined and crafted into jewellery and trinkets to be found in boutique shops across the country. These larimar souvenirs, ranging in price from affordable to luxury, are somewhat emblematic of the nation.
Workers spend eight to nine hours a day underground, mining this rare blue stone from holes that run as deep as 40 metres. Travellers can explore the mining area through local tour operators with Discova and witness workers climbing up from the mines with raw larimar stones in hand. Any trip to the site would not be complete without seeing the entire crafting process in the nearby workshops, including the intricate cutting and polishing techniques.
After seeing all the hard work that goes into the stones, travellers just might be tempted to pick up a precious larimar souvenir.
La Laguna de Oviedo is a natural saltwater reserve, separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land, found within Jaragua National Park in the country’s southwest. The area is famous for ecotourism as the water here is three times saltier than seawater, creating a unique habitat for many species.
The Oviedo Lagoon has a total of 24 small islands of different sizes. During the visit to one of these islands, travellers can observe iguanas in their natural habitat – many of which are endemic and endangered. Afterwards, visitors get to witness the largest flamingo colony in the Dominican Republic. This, in particular, is a fabulous experience as the flamingos complement a setting already full of colour and vibrancy.
Culminate the visit with a mud bath in a specific point of the lagoon, which is reputed to be laden will healthy minerals – a therapeutic wellness experience.
We are currently expanding our operations in the Dominican Republic as we look to open up the world of possibilities for travellers in the country. With plenty of new multi-day itineraries on the way and a whole host of fantastic immersive experiences for visitors, we know that things are looking up for Discova in the Dominican.
If you want to hear about our itineraries and experiences, don’t hesitate to contact our teams in the Dominican Republic.
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