There are many great free things to see and do in the Dominican Republic, and it can be refreshing to take a day out from the polished experience in the many fantastic all-inclusive resorts. As well as being an excellent destination for relaxing by the pool or beach, the Dominican Republic also offers experiences outside of the resorts that won’t hurt your wallet.
In the capital of Santo Domingo is the zona colonial (colonial zone), this beautiful area of the city is absolutely bursting with history. This is where Spanish conquistadors first landed in the Americas before conquering much of Latin America. The area is home to small neighborhood squares with historical buildings that rival those in famously old European cities.
The Zona Colonial isn’t just a living museum. There is plenty of local culture to enjoy at the same time. Calle El Conde is a famous street full of musicians and artists, a walk down here is a truly fantastic experience that you won’t experience inside the resorts. Consider taking a free walking tour to learn about the rich history on offer here.
Punta Cana Carnaval
Every year from February to March, the Dominican Republic comes alive for Carnaval. This is a must-see for any travelers in the country. As well as vibrant costumes and colorfully decorated carnival floats, there is almost endless dancing, music, and entertainment. As well as that, there are local food and drinks vendors dotted throughout the streets offering delicious refreshments.
The great thing about Carnaval is there is one in almost every city and town in the Dominican Republic, so there’s a good chance no matter where your resort is, that you are within walking distance or a short cab ride to the fun and glamor.
Salto De La Jalda
While the Dominican Republic has a reputation for all-inclusive beach holidays, the country is full of challenging adventures for tourists who bring their hiking boots on vacation. There are many wonderful nature hikes to take, but one of the least touristic ones is also the most beautiful. Salt De La Jalda is a 400-foot waterfall on the mountain of Cordillera Oriental that is almost untouched by tourism.
This is the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic and requires a challenging 3-hour hike. The trail is peaceful, with few other hikers to be seen, thanks to its almost unknown beauty within the tourism of the country. As the Dominican Republic explodes in popularity and its reputation as an eco-tourism destination grows, so will the popularity of unknown attractions like this. Therefore, now is the perfect time to enjoy this wonder of nature before it becomes chic and expensive day trips become the norm here.
One of the main reasons many travelers choose the Dominican Republic is its beautiful beaches. And apart from Macao Beach, they are all public and completely free. The biggest headache with beaches here is trying to choose which one to spend the day relaxing on in the sun.
Travelers staying in Punta Cana are especially spoiled. The area has 11 beaches, including the world-renowned Bavaro Beach. This is one of the longest continuous beaches in the world, stretching an impressive 30 miles (40km), and most importantly, the crystal-clear turquoise blue water is famously calm, making for safe swimming conditions. The Caribbean sea is exploding with coral reefs and sea life, all of which are present along sections of Bavaro Beach, making it also a fantastic snorkeling spot for beginners to experience.
There are many free experiences all over the Dominican Republic for travelers to enjoy, and even when some travel is unavoidable, the excellent highway infrastructure and reasonably priced public transport mean getting around the country is a breeze. While the all-inclusive resorts are absolutely fantastic here, it is a rewarding experience to pull on your sneakers and explore what else this beautiful Caribbean destination has to offer without putting a strain on a vacation budget.
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