Isla Saona, La RomanaDominican Republic Tourism Board

A beach is a beach is a beach, right? Not so fast. While northerners love to travel to the warm Dominican Republic to escape the snow and ice, the exact beach destination they choose requires a bit of fine-tuning.

Cayo Areana.Dominican Republic Tourism BoardIn a country like the Dominican Republic – with almost 1,300 kilometres of shoreline – there are beaches to fit every vacation style. Yes, all are gorgeous (wiggle your toes in the warm sand, take a dip in the blue ocean waters). Each beach region has its own character, flair and best use. Looking for awesome waves to do some kiteboarding? Snorkelling a shallow coral reef on the vacation menu? The Dominican can deliver on all counts; but the end destinations are different.

We’re making it easy. Here’s an idea of what you’ll find at the gorgeous beach areas in the Dominican Republic:

The North Coast
Most vacationers head here – to the booming tourist enclaves at Playa Dorada, Sosua and Cabarete.

Puerto Plata.Nolitours & Transat HolidaysThe massive resort complexes at Playa Dorada (just east of Puerto Plata) make it the major destination for package tours. The beautiful beaches are busy, dominated by resort-run activities and services.

Sosua has experienced a boom in development, from quiet fishing village to magnet for tourists from around the world. It has a pretty, golden-sand beach and is known as one of the best diving and snorkelling sites along the North Coast.

Cabarete has been made famous by its winds, waves and watersports (it’s the kiteboarding and windsurfing capital of the hemisphere). The conditions are ideal for the sports: calm winds in the morning for beginners, more challenging trade winds later in the day are a magnet for the experts. Indulge in great people watching at Kite Beach.

Samaná Peninsula
The peninsula is a thin strip of land jutting out into the green-blue Atlantic Ocean, lined by a coastline of powdery-white sand beaches. Samaná has a peaceful, timeless ambience compared to the bustle surrounding Puerto Plata to the west. The stunning horseshoe-shaped Playa Rincón is known for the soft sands and thick grove of coconut palms. Whale-watching has become a major tourist draw – between January and March thousands of visitors come to watch the giants of the ocean that have migrated to their wintering grounds.

SamanaNolitours & Transat HolidaysThe white sand beach at Cayo Levantado might look familiar – it was used as the slice of paradise featured in the original Bacardi Island advertisements. The picture-perfect island still attracts plenty of beachgoers (access by boat from Samaná) to its trademark beaches and its calm, shallow turquoise waters.

The town of Las Terrenas may be known for its shops and restaurants, but it is also known for the golden sand of its nearby beaches. Playa Las Ballenas is a good spot for snorkellers and divers to explore an offshore shipwreck. Playa Bonita and Playa Cosón have the same beautiful, golden sand, but are a little less crowded.

Punta Cana.Nolitours & Transat HolidaysThe Southeast
A draw of this area is the long curve of palm-lined beach, anchored at either end by the resort towns of Bávaro and Punta Cana. It’s a busy area (popular on spring break and with families) known for large resort complexes with a dizzying choice of entertainment and sports options. The 50-kilometre stretch of Playa Punta Cana and Playa Bávaro is one of the finest stretches of sand in the country. The conditions for windsurfing and surfing here are close to ideal.

Further to the south, the beaches at La Romana and Playa Bayahibe border on the Caribbean Sea. A very popular day trip from Punta Cana or La Romana is to the quiet, remote Isla Saona; an island of near-perfect coconut tree-lined beachfront that is part of one of the national parks.

Isla Saona.Nolitours & Transat Holidays