Activities Dominican Republic


So you want to go on vacation to the Dominican Republic; an island jam-packed full of beautiful beaches and azure-colored water.



best surfing camp vacation

You may not realise though that the Dominican Republic has a landscape which lends itself to some of the most beautiful and exciting activities on offer, not just in the Caribbean region, but on the entire planet.
There’s a good reason why some parts of the movie Jurassic Park were filmed on location on the island. Famed for its prehistoric Amber stone, coffee and cacao, the Dominican Republic is a gem of an island, offering so many activities to choose from, you won’t be able to fit them all in during a week-long stay.


With regards to accommodation in the Dominican Republic, you’ve certainly got some good choices of where to stay on this huge island. Perhaps you are thinking to stay in a place like Punta Cana, where the majority of accommodation is in large all-inclusive hotels with organised tours, but not much in the way of local life outside of your hotel, or are you going to be more adventurous/independent and head for ‘real’ towns like Cabarete or La Terrenas? Either way, the Dominican Republic is vast and beautiful, with a friendly population who love to share the adventures of their island with you.


Many people staying in an all-inclusive are led to believe that it’s not safe to leave a resort, but this could not be further from the truth. This advice is given by all-inclusive hotels who have a clear motive; if you go out and about by yourself, they miss out on huge commissions from all the tours they would otherwise sell you, so it’s more profitable to keep you inside. Better still, steer clear of the all-inclusives hotels altogether and choose a smaller, privately owned hotel or guest house to stay in, with an owner who can share their extensive local knowledge with you on where to eat great food and visit fun places.


Rest assured, from someone who lived in the Dominican Republic (in Cabarete) for 12 years, getting out and about in the Dominican Republic will be rewarding, safe and fun, so think about organising a vacation around two or three different areas of the island.

Sunrise Playa EncuentroHow about combining a few days of surfing or kiteboarding in a sporty, vibrant town like Cabarete, with a few days in the oh-so-peaceful La Terrenas, and even a couple of days in the Zona Colonial for some culture in the capital city, Santo Domingo? Or perhaps a hiking tour up Pico Duarte, followed by a truly relaxing few days on a deserted beach like Punta Rucia. Whatever you plan, be sure to get the very best out of this interesting, beautiful and diverse country.

This article deals mainly with sports and adventure tours in the Dominican Republic, but if you are also interested in the culture, carnivals and festivals on offer on the island, have a look at page.

Here we have given you the top 20 must-do activities in the Dominican Republic, listing the sports activities and adventures on offer alphabetically. Hopefully, it will give you an idea or two when you are planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic.

Top 20 activities in the Dominican Republic


Several Dominican companies run these fun ATV tours around various parts of the island. You will find one close to any tourist area like Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Samana, etc. Many combine the fun of driving these 4×4 open vehicles with a little local culture, such as driving through the sugar cane fields or visiting local coffee growers.

Safety can be a concern as rigid rules on health and safety are rarely adhered to, but in fairness, this can often add to the fun! Duration of tours is generally 3 to 4 hours, but check with local operators.


The Dominican Republic is a huge island (it takes 7 hours to drive east/west). Right across the centre of the island mass are mountain ranges (with the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte at 3098m). canyoning dominican republicWith mountains come canyons and rivers and the Dominican Republic has more than its fair share of both.

If you are relatively fit and a little bit brave, these tours are not to be missed. With iconic names like The Big Bastard (about sums it up), The Magic Mushroom (a geological marvel) and Ciaguapa Falls, to name some, canyoning trips involve hiking (upwards) for a few hours and jumping, sliding and repelling all the way back down again.

Trips generally last the whole day and you will need non-slip shoes which can get wet. Your reputable tour operator will provide proper safety gear, including wet suits (the water from the mountains is cold), harnesses and helmets.

The best tours are in the Cordillera Septentrional, Puerto Plata region, so base yourself in the cool surf town of Cabarete to get the very best of the canyoning trips in the Dominican Republic.


Again, several providers based across the island offer catamaran tours of local waters. Some double-up as fishing adventures and others are more of a sunbathing and swimming cruise, often involving drinks and food. Notable operators are Tip Top or Freestyle Tours in Puerto Plata and too many to mention in Punta Cana. Your hotel will have local leisure cruise, fishing and booze-cruise information.


Both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana have deep sea fishing tours and charters on offer. High Z and Mahi Mahi Tours are the best on offer in Puerto Plata whilst Punta Cana tends to have more expensive private charters for hire.


Being a Caribbean island, bordered both by the Atlantic (North Coast) and the Diving SosuaCaribbean Sea (East and South coast), the Dominican Republic enjoys some beautiful, turquoise water, abundant with fish and corals.

There are many scuba dive schools operating on the island. Our pick of the bunch would be Merlin Dive school in Sosua (close to Cabarete) and Dressel dive school operating in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. We chose these companies because of their European-style professionalism in operating; scuba diving needs to be taken seriously. More info at


limon waterfallIn the Samana region, about half an hour from Las Terrenas, you will find El Limón waterfall. This trip is less extreme than the canyoning mentioned previously, or the 27 waterfalls (27 Charcos) we will mention later in this article.

El Limón is quite a spectacular waterfall, standing at a whopping 52m high. Getting to the waterfall involves a horseback ride of roughly 45 minutes, where you will get wet as your horse negotiates several river crossing points to reach the base of this magnificent waterfall. You’ll be offered this tour from locals whilst walking around the charming town of Las Terrenas but it’s worth sticking to the more established tour operators like Santi or Parada La Manzana as they have better guides and well-cared for horses. Walking is also possible, but add an hour or so to the trek.


hiking pico duarteWe’ve already mentioned that the Dominican Republic is home to Pico Duarte, the tallest mountain in the Caribbean at 3098m high. If you are a fit and regular walker, this is a great choice to see the magnificent interior of the island.

Tours generally are 2 to 3 days and start at Jarabacoa. Tours are not cheap, but accommodation, meals and guides are included and generally break down to around $150 USD per person, per day.


It’s a fact that for many people, a beach holiday is not complete without a pony trek along the sand, or if you are a more accomplished rider, a canter through the shore-break. horse riding cabareteAll tourist regions offer horse-back riding tours from several sources.

Riding on the beach can be exhilarating, but we strongly recommend that you take a tour which goes inland and rides through some local towns and villages, along with river crossings through some beautiful valley scenery. Rancho Louisa y Tommy is one such company, based in Sabaneta de Yasica, close to Cabarete on the north coast. You can contact them on their Facebook page


Cabarete, on the North coast of the Dominican Republic is widely thought to be the kiteboarding capital of the world. Side-on steady winds and warm water combine to provide perfect kiteboarding conditions. The waters of Cabarete Bay are full of the beautiful multi-coloured kites as they glide effortlessly through the water.

Kiteboarding might look difficult, but actually, it’s much easier than it appears. A good kiteboarding school, such as LEK Cabarete, Kite Club Cabarete or Kite Club Punta Cana, will teach you in a one-on-one lesson with an IKO qualified kiteboarding instructor. Learning is not cheap, but it shouldn’t be as each kite equipment set used in lessons is valued at around $3000 USD and is easily damaged (kite crashing to the beach) during lessons. Don’t be tempted to cut costs in a kite lesson; it’s not worth the safety risk.

Poor instruction in a kite lesson can lead to very serious injury; the kites wield enormous power and it’s easy to get launched high in the air if you don’t move the kite in the correct way. With good instruction, it’s exhilarating and quick to learn; you can make great progress in 6 to 8 hours of lessons. A good kite boarding school will charge between $69 and $72 USD per person per hour of instruction.


These two truly stunning azure lagoons of water are close to each other, on either of Cabrera along the North coast. You could combine a trip to them both in one day.

laguna duduGri Gri is formed from a natural spring, but after an earthquake in 1952, the subterranean water rose up and formed a lagoon. Named after the Gri-Gri tree which grows in abundance in the surrounding mangrove forrest, tours go by boat through the lagoon, taking in the caves where thousands of Swallows nest. The boats often have glass bottoms, so you can really appreciate the quite incredible colour of the water beneath you.

El Dudu offers the same stunningly beautiful azure water (both Gri Gri and El Dudu look as though the water has been dyed, such is the vibrancy of the colour), but it’s more of a small lagoon for jumping into, with a zip line and ladders to aid a fast or slow decent into this most spectacular pool of water.

A boat trip on the Laguna Gri Gri lasts around an hour or so and you can spend as long as you like hanging out at El Dudu. A taxi from Cabarete to Cabrera will cost around $80 to $100 USD for a return trip, even if there are several people in the vehicle. Cheaper gua gua’s and carritos also go for a few pesos each, but expect a very crowded journey.


Just outside of Cabarete, you will find the Monkey Jungle & Zipline adventures. monkey jungleOpened as a way to fund urgent free medical care for Haitians and Dominicans who previously had no access to any medical care, the Monkey Jungle is now a firm favorite on the North coast (base yourself in Cabarete or Sosua for this adventure).

Sadly Chuck and Candy, the founders of the project lost their lives in a small ‘plane in 2016, whilst returning from a humanitarian mission to deliver much needed supplies to Haiti. Their legacy lives on in the form of a really fun afternoon feeding the Squirrel Monkeys and racing down the ziplines. It’s great to know that while you enjoy yourself, the money you have paid to do so is going to such a great cause.


We’ve already written of the expansive mountain ranges of the Dominican Republic, so of course, mountain biking is readily available through the Cordillera Central. In fact, cycling generally is huge in the Dominican Republic, with regular road races happening both within the major cities and between mtb cabaretethem most Sundays.

Bike Map have several rides listed here on


(There’s a reason it’s called the adventure capital of the Caribbean)



Playa Grande is thought to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the North coast of the Dominican Republic and well worth a trip if you are staying in the region. playa grande dominican republicTraditionally a popular beach for locals every Sunday, this stunning beach is bordered by fisherman’s huts/restaurants. As soon as you arrive, you’ll be offered a simple table and chairs beneath the palm trees and delicious, BBQ’d fresh catch of the day.

Beware the shore break on some days, it can be quite heavy, but generally, kids who are good swimmers will love playing in the waves whilst you lie on the golden sand.

The renowned golf course designer, Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed two golf courses on the North coast. Playa Dorada and Playa Grande. Playa Dorada (just outside of Puerto Plata) is a nice, quaint little course but Playa Grande is the masterpiece; a links golf course with stunning holes atop the cliffs, all overlooking the magnificently blue Atlantic ocean.

Whilst on the subject of golf in the Dominican Republic, there are enough great courses on the island to plan a multi-centre golf vacation, including the world-famous Teeth of the Dog golf course in Casa De Campo (south coast). There are no less than 26 golf courses to choose from in the Dominican Republic, making it the best Caribbean island choice for a golf vacation!


Several locations on the island are great for snorkeling. Sosua, the next town Snorkeling activities dominican republicto Cabarete, has a stunning bay and snorkelling trips are leaving from the bay for a short trip to the reefs in front of the beach. Merlin dive centre are one of the companies who will organise a local boat to take you into the bay to where you will be able to swim with and feed the fish. If you are staying in Puerto Plata or in Punta Cana, your resort hotel will have a list of the companies they use for their snorkelling trips.


This popular sport is available in several locations. Las Terrenas and Punta Cana both have flat water so if you like to paddle around without waves, you will be very likely to be able to rent an SUP at your local beach.

SUP Cabarete

The North coast is where the majority of the waves are, so if you are able to surf waves with an SUP, head for Cabarete where you can find some great waves on the reef in the town’s main bay. There’s also flat water in the bay of Cabarete. Bear in mind that SUP boards are banned at the surf beach of Encuentro for safety reasons.

Sup’ing (or kayaking) down the rivers in the Sabaneta de Yasica area, close to Cabarete, is very popular. Check with Kayak River Adventures for more details.


Bearing in mind the fact that the Dominican Republic is bordered by two different oceans (the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean) there is a distinct location for good surfing and that is on the Atlantic side of the North coast. best surf vacationThe Caribbean side (Punta Cana, Casa de Campo, etc) is flat pretty much year-round, so if you are coming to the Dominican Republic to surf, you must head to the North. In this regard, if you are a surfer, fly to Puerto Plata (POP) and not to Punta Cana (PUJ) as it takes 6 hours to drive north from PUJ.

Encuentro is the main surf beach of the North coast. Situated about 10 minutes drive from Cabarete, it has several different surf peaks to suit all levels of surfing. The best surf for expert surfers is to be found between November and April, with the summer months May to October, being better for smaller waves.

There are many  other surf breaks along the North coast; you can find more information on surfing in the Dominican Republic on this page

Down at Encuentro beach there are a number of local surf schools who will give you surf lessons but if you want to take a more intense surf course, then stay somewhere like Swell surf camp, where you can be immersed in a complete surf camp experience, with lessons, airport pickups, meals and a vibe with other surfers to enjoy.

Macao Beach, just north of Punta Cana, does have some rather limited shore breaks at certain times of the year. You will find surf schools located on the beach there when the surf is up.


27 waterfallsWe’ve already spoke about the canyoning trips, but there’s another amazing waterfall experience close to Puerto Plata on the North coast. The 27 Waterwalls (local name, 27 Charcos), is a breathtakingly beautiful hike, walking up no less than 27 linking waterfalls and then descending by sliding and jumping.

Historically, this trip did not enjoy good safety standards and very sadly, after the deaths of 3 people at the waterfalls some years ago during heavy rains, a rapid revision was made of safety standards. Guides were properly trained and new regulations put into place about when the waterfalls should be open or closed (too much rain now results in closure). These days, the trip is much better organised, but do bear in mind, it is a strenuous hike and you should not attempt it if you don’t enjoy a decent level of fitness. Do not go during periods of prolonged rain and remember that sometimes, even when the sun is shining on the beach, it can be raining up at the falls, such is the nature of local weather patterns. Check with the operator who is planning to take you, whether the conditions at the falls are favorable.

You can choose to do less than the full 27 waterfalls and most of the trips from all-inclusive hotels will not attempt the full hike. Instead, you will normally hike the first 1/3 of the 27 waterfalls.


Cabarete, on the North coast of the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s best spots for wind-sports. Long before kitesurfing became popular, Cabarete attracted many good windsurfers who enjoy this bay’s perfect wind direction (side-on), warm water and great waves on the reef for launching slick tricks like the Shifty 720.

There are some good windsurf schools on the bay of Cabarete who will give you a beginner lesson in this king of water-sports. Quality gear rentals are also available from these schools, so if you windsurf already, there’s no need to be carrying your heavy windsurf gear to the Dominican Republic.

Flat water windsurfing is available at other resort towns like Puerto Plata and Punta Cana.



On the North-East peninsula of the Dominican Republic, off the coast of Samana, from mid-December to mid-March, humpback whales will congregate for their annual migration. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world for whales during these months and you are pretty much guaranteed to see them.

whale watching dominican republicIn fact, if you stay anywhere on the North coast, whales will be visible to the naked eye from the shore during the whale mating season, especially during January and February, as they pass by on their way to Samana.

If you want to get close to the whales, there are many companies in and around Las Terrenas and Samana who will organise a boat trip for you to travel into the breeding grounds. A note of caution; after many years of zero regulation, it is now illegal to to harass the whales. Strict regulations have been introduced to reduce the impact of these tours on the whale’s breeding ground. Now only 3 boats are allowed to be relatively close to a pod so there is often a lot of waiting around for your boat to have a ‘turn’ getting close to these majestic creatures. Boats are also restricted to 45 minutes in the vicinity of a pod of whales. Do not accept a ‘whale-watching tour’ from any ‘regular’ fishing boat as only boats holding a license from the Ministry of the Environment are allowed into the humpback whales’ breeding ground. We strongly recommend that you go with a company like that run by Kim Beddall who stringently follow these vitally important regulations, not just for your own safety, but for the protection of these crucial breeding areas.

20. YOGA

With more than 20 million people regularly taking part in Yoga in the United States alone, Yoga is firmly established as an important element of people’s daily or weekly lives and that continues, even on vacation.

yoga cabareteYou will find many Yoga studios in the Dominican Republic. Cabarete has 3 or 4 different venues for Yoga, including a 3x weekly Ashtanga Yoga class at Swell surf camp (you’ll have to be staying at Swell though to take their classes).

Las Terrenas, Samana, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, Santiago and Santo Domingo will all have Yoga classes you can take part in. Check with your accommodation host or hotel to see where and when your nearest Yoga class will be: They should also be able to tell you about the type of Yoga being held.

We really hope that this article has given you some ideas of what to do on vacation in the Dominican Republic; it really is an amazing place!

“The Dominican Republic has it all”

We hope you enjoyed reading this article about the top activities the Dominican Republic offers, feel free to share it on your favorite social media site.

Dominican culture & arts


Here is our updated 2019 info page on how to get to the Dominican Republic, and how to get around the island


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Sunrise Playa Encuentro


We have a lot of text describing what a surf vacation on the north coast of the Dominican Republic is all about, but instead of writing about how pretty the scenery is here, we thought we’d show you the scenery , landscapes and action you can expect when you visit us.

All Surfing pics and scenery pics are taken by Swell staff in and around Cabarete.

( sorry there’s a fair few sunrise and sunset shots, because we never get tired of them)




La Boca at Sunset
La Boca at Sunset

Taken at La Boca, a few minutes east of Cabarete. They have a nice restaurant in a local ambience here. Enjoy the Seafood and Dominican food


Presidente Beer
Presidente Beer

Presidente, the local beer of the Dominican Republic. Available everywhere and very tasty.


Sky over the mountains behind Cabarete
Sky over the mountains behind Cabarete

Pretty skies over the mountains just back of Cabarete. Photo is taken from Swell, and most nights the sky will turn some incredible colour.


Fishing boat Las Terennas
Fishing boat in Las Terrenas

Ok so technically this is not Cabarete, however if you are doing an adventure holiday on the north coast then Las Terrenas should be a place to stop for a night. No waves here but a very pretty Caribbean town, some nice restaurants too.


Sunrise Playa Encuentro
Sunrise Playa Encuentro

Playa Encuentro is just a few miles west of Cabarete. This is where we take our guests surfing every day, and since we are pretty much always the first ones at the surf beach, we love taking pics of the sunrise. Palm trees, no development, chill vibes; we are blessed to call this our local surf spot. Want to see more surfing pictures of Cabarete? See our surf pictures gallery


View of Cabarete Bay
View of Cabarete Bay

The stunning bay of Cabarete captured with a drone flying over Swell. Windsurfing, kite surfing and sunbathing is all done at Cabarete Bay. It’s a few minutes walk to the beach where you can also find tons of good restaurants and bars


Swell surf road trip
Swell surf road trip

This surf spot is also not in Cabarete, but it’s only 45 minute drive away. It’s stunning white sand beach, lined with Palm trees. With the right Swell direction it’s also a world class surfing spot.


Playa Encuentro
Playa Encuentro

This is the scenery at Playa Encuentro where we surf. No high-rise condos or McDonald’s signs here, just palms trees and good waves.


Cabarete sunset
Cabarete sunset

The Sky over Cabarete bay at Sunset. This photo is taken on the west side of the bay, looking over Cabarete and kitebeach


Snorkelling in the Dominican Republic
Snorkelling in the Dominican Republic

Just a 10 minute drive west of us is Sosua bay.  No surfing in Sosua but there are some very nice snorkelling spots with plenty of fish to see. At Swell we can organise this snorkelling trip for our guests ( diving and diving courses can be organised too)


La Boca
La Boca

When there is no wind (kitesurfers love kiting at La Boca Lagoon where there is wind), it’s very quiet and peaceful at La Boca. Stroll along the lagoon, sunbathe on the beach or have  lunch at the local restaurants.


Waves at Encuentro
Waves at Encuentro

Playa Encuentro is one of the most consistent surfing spots in the Caribbean. Warm water so leave your wetsuit at home. Have a look at the surf seasons page to see when is the best time to visit the Dominican Republic


North coast scenery
North coast scenery

Drive an hour east of Cabarete and you will come across this stunning viewpoint.


Playa Grande
Playa Grande

Swell regularly organises day trip to Playa Grande and Laguna dudu, See #15


Laguna Dudu
Laguna Dudu

Swim in the amazing deep blue water of Laguna Dudu. There’s a zipline that can launch you into the refreshing deep water.


Kitesurfing in Cabarete
Kitesurfing in Cabarete

Cabarete is considered one of the best spots in the world for kitesurfing, as a result, the local Dominicans are amongst the worlds best. Take a kite lesson in Cabarete or just watch the locals do their incredible moves a few meters from the shoreline. Cabarete beach and Kitebeach are the best places for kite surfing.


Bonfire at la Boca
Bonfire at la Boca

Swell can organise a trip to La Boca, where there will be local food, cold beers and a bonfire. What more could you ask for?


want a coconut?
Want a coconut?

Want a refreshing coconut? ask a local and you’ll have a refreshing drink and bite a few minutes later.


Kitebeach Cabarete sunset
Kitebeach Cabarete sunset

Watch the sunset over kitebeach after a day of surfing or kitesurfing as a great way to end the day.


Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) at Cabarete Bay
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) at Cabarete Bay

Flat water inside Cabarete Bay make it an ideal place to take a SUP lessons at one of the SUP Schools in Cabarete. Want some waves. Cabarete reef also has some perfect mellow waves.


Sunset at Cabarete Bay
Sunset at Cabarete Bay

Wander out of Swell and within minutes you are at Cabarete Beach. Stroll along the bars and restaurants where there’s always 1 place that has a happy hour with some good Mojito’s or cold  Presidente on offer.


Pretty beaches
Pretty beaches

The north coast has too many pretty beaches & coves to name them all here. You are never far away from the next spot that is ideal for your instagram shot.


Dinner under palmtrees in Cabarete
Dinner under palmtrees in Cabarete

At Swell we cook dinner 4 times per week for our clients, the other evenings all our clients usually go for a short walk to Cabarete beach to choose one of the many restaurants located right on the beach, so you can enjoy fish or a fine steak ( or pizza) with a cold beer under the palm trees.


Enjoy the tropical plants and animals
Enjoy the tropical plants and animals

The Dominican Republic has very fertile soil, plenty of sun and refreshing rains, as a result there are some stunning plants & trees to be admired. This is a pic taken in the gardens at Swell.


Catch good waves on the north coast
Catch good waves on the north coast

There are many different surf spots to choose from. From easy and mellow spots for a  learn to surf  vacation to reef breaks that are great for advanced and experts surfers looking to get barreled. To see more surfing pictures in and around Cabarete, Dominican Republic go to this page


I hope this “Cabarete in surfing pictures” post got you excited for a vacation to the north coast of the DR. There’s a good reason the saying here is

“The Dominican Republic has it all!”


We hope to see you soon in Cabarete

See what Swell Surf Camp is all about

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