Most visitors to the Dominican Republic come for the beaches and the all-inclusive resorts, but there's more than four centuries of history to explore in this diverse destination, not to mention mountains, museums, big cities and small towns, and much, much more.
Punta Cana's location is perfect for Caribbean beach resorts: Temperatures are moderate and steady, ranging from the low 70s to mid-80s year-round, and the stronger wind on the eastern side of the island makes it ideal for surfing, sailing, and other water sports.
Once the company town of the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company, who built their Central Romana factory there in 1917, the city of La Romana shifted to tourism in the 1980s.
Puerto Plata on the Dominican Republic's North Coast is home to Playa Dorada, a 15-mile stretch of sandy beaches, golf courses, restaurants, resorts, casinos, and other attractions, that make the area one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.
Halfway between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata on the north side of Hispaniola, the Samana Peninsula is the most pristine tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, if not the flashiest.
If you want to start your exploration of the 'real' Dominican Republic anywhere, start with Santo Domingo: Everything else did. The modern Dominican Republic begin here, and with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, one could say the entirety of Western expansion into the New World started here, too. Santo Domingo was the Europe's first capital on the other side of the Atlantic.