●L’Abym – vertical wall with impressive barrel sponges and black coral trees.
●Champagne Reef – bubbling volcanic gas vents; unique experience.
●5 Finger Rock – “muck-diving.”
●Mountain Top – half-mile from shore in Atlantic; rarely visited due to frequent strong currents & position; as name suggests, rock spire rises to about 60' from surface; fabulous when diveable.
●Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Preserve – Scotts Head Pinnacle has cool swim-throughs and Scotts Head Drop-off is wall dive encrusted with sponges.
●Anchorage Hotel – Castle Comfort (Roseau); 767-448-2638, 767-448, 2639, or 888-790-5264; anchoragehotel.dm; established in 1971; for active traveler, no better choice, as scuba diving, whale-watching, hiking, fishing, and bird-watching are emphasized; small rooms with balconies overlook pool; best open onto Caribbean and contain two double beds; although at shore, little to no sandy beach available, so use pool; hotel has own jetty and (random) squash court; restaurant is Caribbean and French, simple, emphasizing fresh fish and vegetables.
●Castle Comfort Lodge – Castle Comfort (Roseau); 767-448-6088; castlecomfortdivelodge.com; 14 rooms; comfortable, in no way opulent.
●Fort Young Hotel – Victoria Street (Roseau); 767-448-5000 or 800-581-2034; fortyounghotel.com; 18 oceanfront guest-rooms and 3 1-bedroom suites at cliff bottom; onsite restaurant and poolside bar; built on ruins of 1770 fort but that is not apparent by looking at it; best location to avoid mosquitoes.
●Secret Bay – Tibay (Portsmouth); 011-767-445-4444; secretbay.dm; 4 modern, stilt-supported, wood frame cottages with glass walls, perched like tree-houses on cliff above Caribbean; full kitchens; bathrooms with free-standing tubs, and 1-2 bedrooms; decks with showers, private pools, and/or Jacuzzis; welcome dinner on arrival.
●Anchorage Dive Center – Castle Comfort; 767-448-2638, 767-448, 2639, or 888-790-5264; anchoragehotel.dm; arranges whale-watching tours.
●Extreme Dominica – 767-795-7272 or 767-795-6828; extremedominica.com; book tour rapeling into canyons or tubing down river.
Sights & Sites
●Morne Trois Pitons National Park – Saint Patrick Parish, Roseau; Emerald Pool Nature Trail leads to picturesque, waterfall-fed grotto; perfect for swim; Trafalgar Falls culminate short, uphill stroll over even ground; can continue past these twin falls to enjoy dip in hot springs (such as Boiling Lake, which is world’s 2nd largest hot spring.
●Syndicate Trail – Northern Forest Reserve; need private guide; 8-mile hike that provides “otherwordly” views into flooded volcanic fumarole.
●Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge – km 17 Carretara de la Costa (Baharuco Barahona); 809-476-5059 or 809-540-5908; casabonitadr.com.
●La Casita de Don Alfredo – main beach; grilled seafood.
●Caleton Club – Juanillo (Higuey, La Altagracia); 809-562-6725 (villas) or 809-469-7469 (bungalows); caletonbeachclub.com; 6 waterfront bungalows and 16 3-4-bedroom villas; stunning; Bungalows 1-3 have steps leading to small beaches; villas set back from water but each with private pool (half have ocean views over golf course); fantastic beach always empty.
●Eden Roc – Juanilllo (Higuey, La Altagracia); 809-469-7469; edenroccapcana.com; 37-suite, Mediterranean-style hotel; 1-3-bedroom villas, each with plunge pool and spa-like bath area; Leading Hotels of World.
●Sanctuary Cap Cana – Juanillo (Higuey, La Altagracia); 809-544-4343 or 800-836-9618; secretsresorts.com; 176-room flagship; can ask for suites on unattended beach; Royal Villas 1006 & 1007 have 2 bedrooms, private deck, and plunge pool cantilevered over surf.
●AcquaMare – Marina de Cap Cana; 809-469-7342; seafood, especially sushi.
●Capriccio – Sanctuary Cap Cana (at Sanctuary Hotel); 809-562-9191, ext. 5185; Italian.
●Casa Bella – Juanillo (Higuey, La Altagracia, at Sanctuary Hotel); 809-544-4343; breakfast buffets are good.
●Faith at Farallon – Farallon Cap Cana; 809-469-7450; high on cliff with beautiful views; open till midnight.
●Magnolia – Juanillo (Verón, Bávaro, at Golden Bear Lodge); 809-469-7425, ext. 2000; nicklaustravel.com/Golden-Bear-Lodge-Spa-Profile.html.
●Marrana – Marina de Cap Cana; 809-469-7050; seafood and steak; elegant.
●Mitre – Marina de Cap Cana; 809-469-7010; smart, Spanish-influenced cuisine.
●La Palapa – Juanillo (Higuey, La Altagracia, at Caleton Beach Club); 809-688-5587; caletonbeachclub.com; most scenic restaurant in area; great fresh fish, with great ceviche; beautiful deck is great for cocktails.
●Il Vaporetto – Marina de Cap Cana; 809-227-2262; pizza and snacks.
●Waterfront Blue Marlin – Juanillo (Higuey, La Altagracia, at Sanctuary Hotel); 809-544-4343; seafood; if not at resort, need reservations.
Sights & Sites
●Juanillo Beach – beautiful beach with some rough water (white heads).
●Quedagh Merchant – 17th Century ship once sailed by Captain Kidd; protected as “living museum”; in 10' water.
Sights & Sites
●Amber Museum – Calle Duarte 61; 809-586-2848; ambermuseum.com.
●Fortaleza San Felipe – Avenida General Gregorio Luperón (Malecon); 011-809-261-6043; godominicanrepublic.com/destinations/puerto-plata/category/landmarks/fortaleza-san-felipe; tower contains small wartime artifacts museum (artillery shells, cannonballs & guns); main attraction, however, is sweeping views across Atlantic Ocean; built in 1564 by order of Philip II of Spain & oldest surviving local building.
●Mount Isabel de Torres – Manolo Tavárez Justo (Las Flores); 809-970-0501; telefericopuertoplata.com; take cable car up 2.6K' for great view.
●Silver Bank – 9 hours off coast; only snorkel (no scuba); can swim with humpback whales.
Rio San Juan
●Palace at Playa Grande – Playa Grande; 978-409-2739 or 888-634-1336; thepalacedr.com.
●Balcones del Atlantico – Las Terrenas Beach (Las Terrenas); 809-240-5011; balconesdelatlantico.rockresorts.com; 5-star resort on Samana Peninsula’s north coast; 90 opulent 2- and 3-bedroom villas filled with custom-made and hand-selected furniture; flat-screen TVs, king-sized beds, and floor-to-ceiling tiled ensuite bathrooms; fully appointed kitchens with granite-countered islands; balconies on 3rd-floor villas feature lounge couches and settees, as well as large dining tables; private beach, bike paths, tennis courts, and swimming pools; from January through March, humpback whales migrate off Samana Peninsula.
●Bannister Hotel – Carretera Sanchez-Samana Km5 (Puerto Bahia Samana); 809-503-6363 or 855-503-6363; thebannisterhotel.com; 48-room luxury boutique.
●Casa Tropicalia – Samaná Bay; aubergeresorts.com; 37 beach bungalows and 44 beachfront suites; open-air spa (to open in 2014).
●Peninsula House – Calle Coson (Las Terrenas); 809-962-7447 or 809-817-1152; thepeninsulahouse.com; Victorian-style plantation house with wraparound verandas overlooking miles coconut palms down to ocean; considered among world’s best bed-and-breakfasts; family run, showcasing generations’ worth museum-quality objects d’art, paintings, and sculptures, many from Asia and Middle East; dinner, available only to guests, in central, open-air brick courtyard; flat-screen TVs; even pool house has world-class African mask collection; secretive entrance is unmarked from off long dirt road.
Sights & Sites
●Los Haitises National Park – Santa Barbara de Samana (Samana Peninsula); 809-221-5340; pronounced high-tee-sis; among Dominican Republic trip highlights and most extraordinary part Samana Peninsula; famous for caves and grottoes (filled with petroglyphs and pictographs left by indigenous Taino, who inhabited area before Columbus), as well as karst limestone formations; park accessible only by boat; professionally guided tour highly recommended; 121 different bird species, including magnificent American frigate birds, brown booby, brown pelicans, egrets, and herons.
●El Limon Falls – Samana Peninsula.
Sights & Sites
●Amber World Museum – Arz. Merino 452; 809-686-5700; amberworldmuseum.com.
●La Caleta National Underwater Marine Park – 5 Prol. Fantino Falco (Ens. Piantini); 809-227-4409; parquemarinolacaleta.org; underwater preserve includes large reef system and several noteworthy shipwrecks; El Limon is 69', triple-screw, steel tugboat sunk as wreck dive, siting in 65' deep, flat sand bottom; Hickory rests upright on similarly flat, sand bottom some 60' down; this is 144' long, steel-ribbed treasure salvage ship; also, shallow coral gardens and massive spur-and-groove formations that end in white sand plains.
●Silver Bank Sanctuary – among few places where can free-dive with humpback whales.
●Turks & Caicos Aggressor II – 209 Hudson Trace (Augusta, Georgia); 706-993-2531 or 800-348-2628; aggressor.com/dominican.php; day-trip dive accommodations that are luxurious and perfect for dive vacations.