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4 places outside Punta Cana not to be missed

In addition to the magnificent beaches of Punta Cana and the very popular Saona Island, it is well worth taking a trip to the Dominican Republic to explore the natural parks, culture and historical and architectural heritage of the Dominican side of Isla Hispaniola.

This is our challenge: leave your resort in Punta Cana for a moment and venture out a little further into the country. Here are some suggestions.

Los Haitises Natural Park

Los Haitises Natural Park is one of the gems of the Dominican Republic's national park system.

The park has extensive mangrove ecosystems, several caves with petroglyphs and small islets that are home to numerous bird colonies.

All in all, a visit to Los Haitises – which means “mountainous land” in the extinct Taíno language – is one of the trips worth taking from Punta Cana. Despite the distance.

Samaná Peninsula

The Samaná peninsula is a Dominican territory with an extraordinary beauty and many attractions.

First of all, the beautiful beaches Rincon, Bremen and Fronton, which are certainly among the most photogenic beaches in the country. But also the simple and peaceful town of Las Galeras, the more sophisticated Las Terrenas, the beautiful El Limón waterfall and even Cayo Levantado, an island of rare beauty off the coast of Samaná.

All in all, it's one of those destinations that you absolutely have to include in your itinerary while in the Dominican Republic. Just leave Punta Cana for a couple of days - you won't regret it.

Santo Domingo

The capital of the Dominican Republic has a colonially inspired historical center, filled with churches, walls and palaces, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Between the Dominican Resistance Memorial Museum, the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación and the Santa Bárbara Church, the Homeland Pantheon and the Amber Museum, the Columbus Alcazar and the Ozama Fortress, and, of course, the Three Eyes Natural Park, there are always lots of things to do in Santo Domingo.

And you mustn't forget the trendy cafes and excellent restaurants. It is just over two and a half hours from Punta Cana and it is really worth it.

Puerto Plata

The city of Puerto Plata is the cradle of tourism in the Dominican Republic and it is still important today.

The region is surrounded by spectacular natural landscapes and, being further away from Punta Cana, Puerto Plata shows a completely different side of the Dominican Republic. The architecture is distinctly Victorian, with beautiful wooden buildings painted in bright colors.

In fact, it is said that the historical center of Puerto Plata is home to the largest collection of preserved 19th-century Victorian-style houses in the entire Caribbean.

For that alone, the visit would be worth it, but there are also beaches, water sports and nightlife in the nearby town of Cabarete, cocoa and coffee plantations and, of course, the sounds of merengue. Here's the suggestion. 

By Filipe Morato Gomes / Alma de Viajante