There is a reason Columbus landed here first. Travelling to the Dominican Republic (“the DR”) now is akin to seeing a great band in a small club before they started filling big arenas. But people are catching on: in the first quarter of 2012 the DR had an 8.4 per cent rise in tourism. More airlines offer stops at the eight international airports and cruise ships now make it a major port of call.
In response, a large number of hotels and resorts are set to open in 2013 and, while the country was relatively untouched by the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, major infrastructure development is under way, including road construction.
But why is the Dominican Republic on our hit parade ? Well, it’s as if someone took your wish list and purpose-built a destination: sip a cocktail made from local rum; watch whales swim by; hit the dancefloor with salsa and merengue lessons; brave the rapids on the Caribbean’s only raftable river; or enjoy the 400km of coastline. The warm climate is year round and, unlike many other tropical getaways, and the Dominican Republic is still relatively affordable.
Hike, climb and swim your way up the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. Once you’ve made the top, the only way down is to slip, slide and jump into the waters below. Some of the leaps are 10m high and, yes, you are handed a helmet and life preserver. But the trip is a test of will that makes you feel like a true explorer once you hit that final pool of water.
Dominican Republic Live, Tom Hall Lonely Planet, 22.10.12, 5pm