Feel Like Getting Away This Winter? 7

The Dominican Republic Has It All!

The Dominican Republic wins the title of top adventure and ecotourism destination in the Caribbean hands down. The second biggest island in the region, national parks and scientific reserves cover 25% of the landscape. Majestic mountains, vibrant cities and living history compete with miles of  beaches for visitors’ attention.

With so many diverse ecological areas, the Dominican Republic abounds with vacation options. Active adventurers might seek out mountain climbing, horseback riding, river rafting, trekking, or hiking. Strollers can explore untouched beaches, lagoons, as well as desert areas. Golfers will delight in 26 amazing course options, including the award-winning Pete Dye courses. Luxury resorts abound for diving, windsurfing, kite boarding, jeep safaris, or lounging with a juicy novel on a powdery white sand beach. Many visitors in search of pure relaxation sign on for a massage using tropical lotions in a sumptuous spa.

For cultural immersion, history buffs can take a step back in time in the centuries-old capital, Santo Domingo. Wherever you go, you’ll hear the infectious sounds of merengue, the national music and dance. Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the country overflows with fascinating history, museums and exciting cultural experiences like music, art and festivals, plus uniquely Dominican specialties such as cigars, rum, chocolate, coffee, merengue, amber and Larimar—the rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite that is found only in the Dominican Republic.

As one of our most-often-requested destinations for winter and spring vacations at Lake Zurich Travel, Punta Cana is definitely a popular choice and continues to get even better with time. It is known for its 40-mile stretch of white-sand beaches and an endless selection of watersports. For a night like no other, experience the new Coco Bongo Punta Cana, with the theatrical flair of Cirque du Soleil and song and dance of Las Vegas. Our favorite resorts there include the all-inclusive Zoetry Agua‑with 96 ultra-luxurious suites on an intimate oceanfront property it is very popular with honeymooners!

The adults-only Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro boasts many awards, including Best Staff & Service by Apple Vacations in 2015 and was one of the Top Ten Best All-Inclusives in the World by TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Guests at this resort can enjoy the three pools, 2-story oceanfront spa, six bars and lounges, 24-hour gourmet room service, and the on-site P.B. Dye Golf Course.

In the LaRomana area, our favorite choice for families is the Dreams La Romana Resort and Spa, bordered by a tropical jungle and a magnificent palm-lined beach. Escape to Unlimited-Luxury where everything is included, fun-filled activities and exciting, nightly entertainment. Kids and teens stay busy at the supervised clubs, divers will appreciate the closeness of offshore reefs and the PADI dive center, and snorkelers can easily explore an underwater world right by the wooden dock.

At the 7,000 acre Casa de Campo resort on the southeastern coast, you will find not only a contemporary hotel, but also over 100 private villas from one bedroom to those large enough for family reunions. Casa de Campo also has an exclusive marina from which you can set out on a yacht to angle for marlin or enjoy the setting sun. Visit the property’s stables for a horseback ride to the artists village at Altos de Chavon or learn to play polo. Tennis lovers will enjoy the lighted courts and Golfers will delight in the oceanfront holes of Teeth of the Dog golf course.

The Dominican Republic invites you to discover the breathtaking island sanctuary and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Sue Shimkus is the president of Lake Zurich Travel and Lakeside Travel Advisors, Wauconda.