Must See

The Amber Coast

The northern (or Amber) coast is the location for some of the world's finest amber, seen in the Amber Museum. The coast also boasts 120 km (75 mile) of beautiful beaches.

At the western end is Puerto Plata, the largest city in the north and home of the Cultural Festival. Founded in 1504, the city is nestled between the colonial harbour and the dramatic Mount Isabel de Torres. In the centre of town is Independence Park with its restored gazebo, along with the Church of San Felipe and General Gregorio Luperón Monument.

The best view of Puerto Plata (the Silver Port) can be found at the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, where a seven minute cable car ride climbs over 760 m (2,500 ft) above sea level. In addition to the views of the city and the Atlantic, the top of the mountain also has 10 sq km (4 sq mi) of botanical gardens, a statue of Christ similar to the one in Río de Janeiro and a restaurant.

Casa De Campo

The Casa de Campo is a luxurious 7,000-acre resort designed by Oscar de la Renta in the city of La Romana. Established in 1975, the resort has several hotels, an airstrip, a golf course, a riding school, a polo ground and tennis courts. Within its boundaries is the village of Altos de Chavón, a reconstructed 15th-century Mediterranean-style village that overlooks the Chavon River and Caribbean Sea from its vantage point high up on the edge of a cliff. A 5,000-seat amphitheatre hosts major events.

Fort San Felipe

Fort San Felipe was built in the 1600s by the Spanish to protect the settlement from pirates, and was later used as a prison for political dissidents. It is Puerto Plata's only remaining colonial structure and one of the first European forts to be constructed in the Americas. It is surrounded by a moat and its 2.4 m (8 ft) thick walls now house a museum that traces its own important role in the history of the Dominican Republic. At night the fort is outlined in lights.

San Cristobal

Thought to be the most visited city in the country, San Cristóbal is the birthplace of the infamous dictator Rafael Trujillo who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930, before being assassinated in 1961. La Casa de Caoba (The Mahogany House), his country house, exhibits some personal belongings. The first constitution was signed in San Cristóbal on 6 November 1844.

There is a popular water park (La Toma) nearby, built on a river.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the Dominican Republic's capital and largest city, and the oldest surviving European settlement in the Americas. With the restoration of the colonial section complete, the capital is full of its original charm. The city is home to the New World's first university, fort, cathedral, monastery and hospital. The city's modern section, by contrast, is a thriving port, equipped with contemporary buildings, nightclubs, casinos, restaurants, shops and the Cultural Plaza.

Just out from the city, underground rivers feed a cave complex full of stalactites and stalagmites, and tropical vegetation. The turquoise lagoons sit on three different levels, giving the cave system its name, The Three Eyes of Water (Los Tres Ojos de Agua).

Watersports

There are some excellent opportunities for watersports in the Dominican Republic, including swimming at magnificent beaches; diving among reefs, wrecks and caverns; sailing; windsurfing; white-water rafting; tubing; cascading (climbing a gorge and abseiling down the fall); canyoning (jumping not abseiling); and fishing.