The Dominican Republic has it all. The second biggest country in the Caribbean and famed for its diverse geography, it offers beautiful beaches, stunning national parks, and a wealth of culture and history. Just a two-hour flight south of Miami and around an eight-hour flight from most European cities, a trip to the Dominican Republic is a spellbinding experience. What to see Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, there’s no shortage of panoramic views in the Dominican Republic. Explore Costa del Coco and soak up the stunning surroundings of its sandy, palm-fringed coastline, complete with coral reef. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot sea turtles in the calm waters, along with a wealth of colourful tropical fish. If it’s history you’re after, head to the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo’s colonial centre and Unesco world heritage site. Home to some of the oldest colonial architecture in the world, the Catedral de Santo Domingo is a melting pot of architectural styles, from Roman to Baroque. Entry is free, with optional tours at an additional fee. Weather in the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic enjoys a tropical climate with average year-round temperatures of 28°C to 33°C. June, July and August are generally the hottest months, while January, February and March are the coolest. Keen swimmers and water sports enthusiasts will be pleased to know that ocean temperatures range from 26°C in February and March, to 29°C from August to October. Taxes in the Dominican Republic When preparing for your Caribbean adventure, you’re likely to come across the question of Dominican Republic taxes. Up until April 2018, tourists were required to pay $10 for a tourist card permitting entry to the country. The tourist card was stopped as of April 2018, however it is important to note that tourists are still required to pay a departure tax of $20 when leaving the country. Do check with your airline or tour operator before paying this fee though, as it may already be covered in the cost of your trip. What to eat Foodies, unite! The Dominican Republic is a great destination for food lovers, thanks to its diverse range of tasty national dishes. From meat and seafood to tropical fruit and vegetables, your tastebuds are in for a treat. Dive into a dish of mofongo, made from mashed and fried green plantains served with salt, garlic and oil, and topped off with fried pork belly or rinds. Alternatively, tuck into a bowl of crispy rice, known locally as concón. Made from the crust that forms at the bottom of the pan when cooking rice, this simple dish has a special place in the hearts of many Dominican people. Definitely worth a try! What to drink Like many Caribbean countries, rum is part of the landscape and history of the Dominican Republic. No trip to the country would be complete without tasting some of their finest produce! Visiting one of the country’s many rum distilleries is strongly recommended for anyone looking to taste some of the finest rum in the world. If beer is your preferred tipple, order a Presidente at the bar. This is the Dominican Republic’s home-grown beer. For an alcohol-free thirst quencher, order a glass of pineapple and cactus juice, a truly tropical treat. Agua de Jamaica is another popular street-side refresher, made from hibiscus, with a sweet yet pleasantly tart finish. Where to go If snorkelling in colourful coral reef sounds like a dream come true, head to the crystal-clear waters of Samaná, a peaceful spot situated in the north-east of the country, where you’ll find scuba diving and snorkelling centres ready to take you out on mind-blowing dives. The area is also popular for whale-watching. Head out to spot humpback whales in their natural habitat. Water sports fanatics and shopaholics alike will be in their element at Playa Dorada, one of the longest-established resorts in the country. Buzzing with a fabulous array of 5-star hotels, shops, casinos and bars, thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline hit at centres such as Playa Dorada’s Caribbean Extreme Sports, while shoppers can splash some cash at the Playa Dorada Mall. The Dominican Republic has something for everyone, and a trip to this sun-soaked Caribbean jewel is sure to create fantastic memories. So book your tickets, hop on a plane and soak up the country’s incredible sights, sounds and sunshine as soon as possible!