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I’m one of two people after going to the beach. I’m either a cranky gal covered in sand and annoyed that the beach was too crowded, or I’m in a state of euphoria and suck in that sweet, sea air as if it is nectar from the gods. I was scouting for the latter during my Dominican Republic vacation in March. On my two-week-long road trip, I visited a lot of beaches. Some great, others just average. Here are the best hidden gem beaches in the Dominican Republic that brought ultimate relaxation.
Best Punta Cana beaches
Punta Cana is a tourist hotspot. The east side of the island is devoted to luxurious resorts for honeymooners, travelers looking for all-inclusive service and pristine beaches. It can be hard to suss out which beach is the most ideal and that will fit within your budget. These beaches are located nearby the Punta Cana airport, so they are ideal for travelers with a short itinerary or do not want to venture far from their resort.
Playa Los Corales
When arriving in the Dominican Republic, I thought I had already experienced white sand beaches, but I was mesmerized by the crystal blue waters sparkling in front of me. Playa Los Corales was bustling with activity. There were large catamaran and party boats off the coast sashaying to Latin beats. There were vendors walking the ocean’s shoreline selling coconuts and offering to braid your hair. The soft, white sands were just a short jaunt from the bustling city of Bavaro.
This beach was far from a deserted oasis, but it was the ideal beach to sunbathe and people watch. The waters here were also less choppy and easier to swim in. Playa Los Corales is roughly 20 minutes away from the Punta Cana airport making it a great beach to start off your Caribbean adventure.
Recommended by Michele for A Taste for Travel
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Southern Dominican Republic Beaches
After a week in the Dominican Republic, I visited numerous resort beaches. They were certainly beautiful and pristine but ached to lounge on the beach where the locals frequented. My prayers were answered when I arrived at Dominicus Beach.
Dominicus Beach is nestled in a sweet spot between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. It’s 45 minutes away from Punta Cana’s bustling airport and an hour and a half away from the cultural capital of Santo Domingo. We rented a car to be able to trek to this local hangout.
Dominicus Beach is tucked in between numerous resorts that dot the shoreline, but it’s open to the public. Just a short jaunt outside of town, this beach is lined with little shacks shanties that sold souvenirs and food and is swimming with locals. Locals dot the beach with their grills and barbecue the afternoon away. The beach is dotted with familial pods from the edge of the resort to Dominicus’ lighthouse. It’s certainly busy but is an absolute delight without the resort price tag.
Out on the water, beautiful sailboats and catamarans skim the horizon. The waves softly lull into shore. I spent so many hours floating on my back and drinking in all the idyllic scenery that surrounded me. Hands down one of my favorite beaches in the Dominican Republic.
Recommended by Greta from London Dreaming
When it comes to a Caribbean beach paradise stereotype, Isla Saona ticks all the boxes. White sand? Check. Clear Turquoise water? Check. Palm trees? Check. Local guys offering you lobsters and rum drinks? Check.
The journey to Isla Saona is pretty long, but it’s well worth it. It takes one hour by speed boat from the harbor of La Romana, or longer if you take a slower boat. The journey can be quite bumpy, but with the crew offering rum drinks even early in the morning, it will go by quickly.
It can get quite busy so make sure to go there early in the morning. The first boat departing is ideal since you can enjoy Isla Saona before the big crowds of tourists. At the main beach on Isla Saona, you will find umbrellas and sunbeds lined up under the palm trees. The perfect place to shelter yourself from the hot Caribbean sun.
What also makes Isla Saona stand out is the clear and turquoise waters. Even on a cloudy day, the sea was a bright shade of blue. Isla Saona is a must-see for any beach lover.
Two votes for Isla Saona
During my Dominican Republic road trip, I also ventured to Isla Saona. I departed from Bayahibe, which was the closest port that had tours to the picturesque island. Unlike the other beaches in the Dominican Republic, Isla Saona is a remote island allowing you to escape and truly enjoy paradise. There is only one city on the island, which has less than 300 residents.
If you’re lucky enough to nab a tour to Isla Sanoa make sure to pack your snorkeling gear. There are coral reefs off the shoreline that is home to some of the most beautiful Caribbean sea creatures I’ve seen.
Venturing to Isla Saona will be an all-day adventure so make sure to pack plenty of sunblock. There’s also plenty of Mama Juana, Piña Coladas and spiked coco frios to be had, so remember to hydrate as well.
Savor every moment you have on the picturesque island. The remoteness quietness is surreal, which makes it a rare hidden gem in the Caribbean.
Beaches nearby Santo Domingo
A bustling metropolis, Santo Domingo blossoms with history and cultural traditions. Hidden to the untrained eye, there are also some beach escapes that offer a little more relaxation.
Boca Chica Beach
Boca Chica is a neighboring city to Santo Domingo. Located 30 minutes from the heart of Santo Domingo, Boca Chica is a city that gives travelers a glimpse into the lives of locals. A beach that locals frequent is Boca Chica Beach. Park your car on the nearby city street and walk two minutes until your toes are nestled into the soft sands.
Boca Chica Beach is unlike any other beach in the Dominican Republic because of the juxtaposition of the idyllic Caribbean Sea which is surrounded by the industrial and lofty metropolis in the distance. Local fan-favorite restaurants dot the shoreline making it a great place to enjoy a delicious meal with a view. Or, in my case, a few ice-cold Presidentes.
Southwestern Dominican Republic Beaches
Dunes of Baní
Neighboring Bahia de las Aguilas are the Dunes of Baní, certainly not your typical Caribbean escape. Absent of any beach chairs, umbrellas or tourists, the Dunes of Baní is a hidden gem.
The Dunes of Baní will remind you of the power of the ocean. The pebble beach overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Beaches that face the Caribbean Sea are usually calmer and ideal for snorkeling and admiring the intricate and beautiful underwater landscapes. Yet, the Dunes of Baní offer a refreshing take on a Caribbean oasis. The dunes loom over the waves that crash on the pebbled beach below. The desert-like landscape is unlike any other corner of the island.
The beach is not ideal for swimming but it is great for enjoying a quiet picnic and waters the surf race to the shore.
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Northern Dominican Republic Beaches
Another hot spot in the Dominican Republic is the northern shore. Close to Puerto Plata and its bustling airport, tourists can easily galivant from beach to beach on the northern coastline.
Not all beaches are meant for relaxation. In fact, it’s nice to switch up the endless days of sunbathing with some heart-pumping extracurricular activities. Kite Beach’s surf is much wilder and unharnessed unlike the picturesque, resort-like beaches the rest of the island boasts. When walking onto the dark, tan sands of Kite Beach you’ll see hundreds of kites, parasails, windsurfers and sailboats dotting the skyline. The rough waves are what these thrillseekers chase.
If you stay closer to the shoreline, the beach is definitely manageable for swimming. If it is windy, the ocean will be much rougher than other stretches of beaches. Regardless, Kite Beach is another great beach that can break up the monotonous days of sunbathing.
Recommended by Sharon from Dive into Phillippines
Cabarete Beach x2
If you’ve visited Kite Beach, Cabarete Beach is a must-see. These two beaches complement each other perfectly. Like Kite Beach, parts of Cabarete Beach are bustling with sails filling the sky. The watersport enthusiasts play in the surf far enough away from the shore so they do not bother swimmers or those lazily drifting in the waves (AKA me!).
I stayed toward the northern end of Cabarete Beach where it was much quieter. My hotel has it’s own private entrance to the beach, which was the perfect place to watch the sunset. In the evening, there’s no need to venture into town to find food, all the best restaurants are located on the beachfront.
Also close to Sosua, Cabarete Beach offers the perfect balance of pristine beachfront and cultural gems. I definitely loved relaxing on the beach with a spiked coco frio in hand.
Playa Moron, Dominican Republic
Recommended by Mitch Glass of Project Untethered
There are tons of amazing beaches in the Dominican Republic, but Mitch’s favorite has to be Playa Moron near the town of Las Terrenas.
Mitch and his wife rented a car and drove from Punta Cana to Las Terrenas on their honeymoon. (The internet says this route is extremely dangerous, but the newlyweds felt perfectly safe). Most people stay near Punta Cana when visiting the Dominican Republic, but more adventure awaits at Playa Moron and the other beaches near Las Terrenas. The trek is totally worth the extra effort.
Playa Morena has soft, golden sand with turquoise waters. Best of all, it was completely empty. It’s not often that you get paradise all to yourself. Since Playa Moron is a bit of a hassle to get to, you’re almost guaranteed to have it all to yourself. Just remember to pack everything you need for the day, as there are no nearby amenities.
The beach is located about a 40-minute drive east of Las Terrenas and requires some “off-roading” to get there. You either need a motorbike or an SUV (normal cars won’t have enough ground clearance). To make sure you don’t get lost, make sure to download Google Maps so you can use it offline.
If you want to experience the ocean right at your doorstep, book a stay in Nagua where your accommodation looks right onto the Atlantic Ocean. The surf crashes on the shore while palm tree fringe shades you overhead. The shoreline from Nagua is quiet because visitors are often populating beaches near the metropolises.
Recommended by Melinda from Mel on the Go
Some beaches are hyped all over the internet, but I prefer the unsung beaches. Tucked outside the busy Luperon harbor is just such a beach, called Playa Grande. The locals know it and love it, and so did I. Walk or drive past fields and farms with obligatory goats and you will come upon the steps to this big beach. The gorgeous turquoise waters of the Atlantic will attract your attention first. In the Dominican Republic sun, that water feels so refreshing.
At Playa Grande, you have a choice of beach bars and barbecues. One of the best things about going to a local’s beach is local prices, which could mean a tall beer for $1. Another benefit is that you can meet the locals, especially if you know a few words of Spanish. So grab an ice-cold Presidente and chat with the other customers in between dips in the sea. If you’re hungry, the restaurant offers a filling grilled fish and other fares at much cheaper than resort prices.
In the DR, beach time is family time so watch the kids play in the sand and surf. Even better, if you’re traveling as a family, this is a great beach to visit with your littles. At Playa Grande, you’ll have a fun afternoon the Dominican way.
Note: Because this is a local favorite, expect it to be busier on weekends and holidays. During the week, you may have the beach mostly to yourself.
If you have time, check out the town of Luperon. As a renowned hurricane hole, it has a bustling expat and sailing community with lots to offer English speaking visitors.
The Dominican Republic is a shining gem in the Caribbean. It’s undeniable the number of beautiful, pristine beaches the island has. Avoid the crowds and make the most of your relaxing beach vacation by scouting out these off-the-beaten-path sandy locales.
Recommended by Rai from A Rai of Light
The Dominican Republic has a multitude of beautiful beaches, some of which are among the best in the entire region. Las Galeras, located on the far end of the Samaná Peninsula on the eastern end of the island, offers crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, an abundant marine life, and good views of the adjacent tropical islands. It is close to the more popular beaches of the region, yet stands apart due to its quiet, tranquil nature. It is a relatively unknown beach; visitors go here to get away from the crowds, and to relax at the huts scattered along the coastline. This remote fishing village is also where you will find the true essence of the Dominican Republic without the all-inclusive resorts and expensive tourist restaurants. It is not easy to get here, and a big reason why it remains hidden, but the easiest way to travel is by renting a car in one of the bigger cities. Alternatively, it is also possible to arrive by bus from Santo Domingo. The trails along the beach lead to a pristine wilderness that is great for exploring, in-between time well spent along this beautiful stretch of coastline that is well worth the effort to visit.