The Most Stunning Beach Towns in the Dominican Republic

Aerial View of Excellence Punta Cana/Oyster

The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean -- and for good reason. For starters, it's absolutely stunning. It boasts white- and golden-sand beaches, swaying palm trees protected by the government, turquoise waters, and pleasant year-round temperatures. And since it's the second-largest country in the Caribbean, there's a whole lot of gorgeous island to explore. But let's get real: If you're in the D.R., you're probably looking to spend most of your time on the sand. With that in mind, check out these five stunning beach towns that are well worth your vacation days and dollars. 

1. Samana

Beach at Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Samana/Oyster

Samana is famous as a breeding ground for humpback whales who migrate by the thousands off the shore in January through March. For the rest of the year, the 35-mile long peninsula offers sandy beaches, a 130-foot waterfall, and rainforests teeming with native species inside Los Haitises National Park. Just a 90-minute drive from Santo Domingo, Samana is also easy enough to reach, and it's not as built up as Punta Cana, providing a more authentic experience. 

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2. Las Terrenas

Beach at Casa Coson, Las Terrenas/Oyster

About a 15-minute drive from Samana, Las Terrenas offers a lively strip of open-air bars and restaurants on Pueblo de los Pescadores, as well as easy access to several beaches. Its namesake Las Terrenas Beach is as beautiful as they come, and you can reach other beaches like Playa Bonita (which means beautiful), Playa Coson, and Playa Las Ballenas (which means whales) in a short drive. Even more exciting, cays off the coast feature underwater caverns that can be explored on guided day trips. 

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3. Punta Cana

Beach at Excellence El Carmen, Punta Cana/Oyster

Punta Cana is the original tourist beach town that started Dominican Republic's tourist boom in the '80s. Today, what's generally referred to as Punta Cana is actually made up of neighboring beach towns including Cap Cana, Macao, Bavaro, El Cortecito, Cabeza de Toro, Arena Gorda, and Uvero Alto. There's little distinction between the areas; it's essentially a long stretch of beautiful beach and upscale all-inclusive resorts. Don't expect much in the way of local culture, apart from Dominican items in buffet restaurants and the occasional Dominican beach party hosted by your hotel. 

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4. La Romana

Beach at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, La Romana/Oyster

La Romana is known for two things: world-class golf courses and beaches calm enough for kids to swim. Some people have claimed that it'll be the next Punta Cana, but it isn't quite developed enough yet to make that call -- though it does have a small and rather expensive airport. La Romana is close to gorgeous natural interests like Rio Chavon and Parque Nacional del Este's Isla Saona. Golfers come here for the three Pete Dye-designed courses. Dye Fore Golf Course has seven cliffside holes that drop 300 feet down to Rio Chavon below. And of course, La Ramona wouldn't be on this list if it didn't have the region's famous sugar-sand beaches and crystal clear water. 

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5. Cabarete

Beach at Velero Beach Resort, Cabarate/Oyster

Budget travelers, we didn't forget about you. Cabarete's coral reef-protected bay on the northern coast provides winds and waves that draw kitesurfers. Encuentro Beach has consistent waves for surfers, who also love the laid-back vibe and low rates found in this part of Dominican Republic. Calle Principal, near the waterfront, is filled with restaurants and bars for a lively nighttime atmosphere that you won't find in Punta Cana. Many European expats call Cabarete home, and they've built up a foodie scene and exciting beach clubs on the sand. 

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