Numerous marine parks protect an extensive coral reef network and a dozen wrecks
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is more than 500 years old, making it the oldest settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Despite this long history, Americans are only now catching on to the bounty this country has to offer vacationers.
The DR has more than 1,000 miles of coastline around the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. Many of these miles are white-sand beaches.
Just offshore are numerous marine parks that protect an extensive coral reef network and dozens of wrecks. Enforcement is strict and there is compliance among the dive operators, so the corals here are in excellent condition.
The north coast offers pinnacles and sheer drop-offs, as well as easy access to the whale migrations along the Silver Banks. But even with the parks in place, there is still plenty of coastline that has never been commercially dived. As dive tourism grows here, so too does the number of available dive sites.
Inland, cavern divers will delight in an extensive network of freshwater caverns, tunnels and caves that may nearly rival those in north Florida and Mexico's Yucatan region. And like the ocean diving, exploration has only just begun and no one knows exactly how large this underground complex is.
Still emerging, the Dominican Republic remains a tremendous vacation dollar value for North Americans. Most of the resorts are all-inclusive - including alcoholic beverages.
American, Continental and TWA service two main airports: Las Americas, 25 miles outside Santo Domingo, and La Union, 23 miles outside Puerto Plata on the north coast.