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Santo Domingo / Dominican Republic

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The south coast of the Dominican Republic offers a more typically Caribbean setting than the north. Here the beaches are finer sand, the water is calmer and the hotels are more cosmopolitan in flavour. The strong Spanish influence is still very evident and you should not miss at least a day trip to Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World, founded in 1496 by Colón. UNESCO declared the colonial district a World Heritage Site in 1990 and its many historic buildings provide a fascinating glimpse into the past. There are many museums, including the home of Christopher Columbus.
Your first purpose for visiting the south coast of the Dominican Republic is probably for the sun and beaches.
Nearly all the hotels in this stretch of the coastline offer a wide range of watersports. Even if you are a total novice, do try snorkelling ­ it is amazing how much one can see even from the surface, without having to try diving at all. If land sports are more to your liking, golf courses and tennis are also available in the area.
A day trip to La Romana is not to be missed. Once a sleepy cattle and sugarcane settlement, La Romana is now home to Altos de Chavón, an exact replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village, perched on the cliffs above the river. This serves as both a living museum and an artists' colony and among the winding cobblestone streets are small galleries where visitors can learn macramé, jewellery making, print making and other crafts.
The various centres on the South Coast each have a somewhat different atmosphere: Juan Dolio is a more lively crowd with an abundance of daytime activities, discos and casinos; Boca Chica is more family oriented and offers excellent sheltered sea bathing; Bayahibe, which has by far the most beautiful stretch of beach in the area, is also close to an interesting nature reserve, the Parque Nacional del Este


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