Our planning was influenced by the covid situation in the world. The Dominican Republic was one of countries where you can travel without any restrictions (except travel form). I don't think we could have chosen better :)
Kitsch beaches with palm trees, turquoise blue sea and beautiful wild nature of the north. That's what we saw during our stay in the Dominican Republic.
Christopher Columbus arrived on the island on December 5, 1492, during the first of his four voyages to the Americas. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Española, due to its diverse climate and terrain, which reminded him of the Spanish landscape.
The capital city Santo Domingo
Visiting the capital is the necessity of every trip. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.
Our trip started in caves Los Tres Ojos on the edge of Santo Domingo. Its name comes from the eye-shape of the three interior lakes. You can find there four blue underground lagoons with freshwater. A fourth lagoon is accessible via a small wooden barge.
After that we moved to the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, that was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1496, Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's brother, built the city of Santo Domingo, Western Europe's first permanent settlement in the "New World". It is the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in the New World.
First place that we visited was the Monasterio de San Francisco - the ruins of the first monastery in the America.
We visited the Alcázar de Colón - the first fortified Spanish palace built in the Americas. It was built between 1511 and 1514 mostly in a Gothic and Renaissance style. It is the only known residence of a member of the Christopher Columbus family in the New World, his first-born son Diego Columbus. We also saw the Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses) - the Palace of the Viceroy of Santo Domingo and it is the first (oldest) headquarters of Spanish power in the New World.
After that, we visited the National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic and the Ozama Fortress (Fortaleza Ozama) - it is one of the surviving sections of the Walls of Santo Domingo, which is recognized by UNESCO as being the oldest military construction of European origin in the Americas. Inside the fortress there are tunnels and dungeons where the prisoners were locked up, Christopher Columbus himself was imprisoned in the Ozama fortress. We also visited the first cathedral of the Americas - the Catedral Santa María La Menor.
Samana - a trip for humpback whales
The bay of the Samana is the place where humpback whales arrive every December. In order to mate and give birth to young, they spend time here until the end of March, when they set out on a long journey back to the north. The humback whales are incredible travelers - they mate, give birth and nurse newborn calves in the warm Caribbean during the winter and feed in the summer off the coast of New England, Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland.
Our first stop was the hill Montaña Redonda with 360° panoramic view.
After that we move to Rancho Salto Yanigua with beatiful garden and waterfall. It is also the place, where the blue amber is mined.
The last stop was Los Haitises Park itself. We sailed through a canal with mangroves into San Lorenzo Bay and Samaná Bay. We visited the Cueva de la Linea cave, where drawings of the original inhabitants of the island of Taíno have been preserved.
For me, the Republic of Dominican has become a place that combines beautiful beaches surrounded by turquoise blue sea and wild nature full of green mountains. The southern shores are washed by the Caribbean Sea, which attracts swimming, while in the north, one can experience the wildness of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is definitely a place you will be happy to return to.