Best Dominican Republic Beaches
Earlier this year, Bunny explored the Dominican Republic for a whopping 10 weeks. The country boasts more than 800 miles of beautiful coastline and Bunny was determined to find the best beaches on the island.
She travelled from the windswept Atlantic shores to the turquoise Caribbean paradise on the southern coast and from the all-inclusive haven of Punta Cana to the seclusive corner of Peninsula de Pedernales in the southwest. All in an effort to find and explore the best stretches of sand on the island.
Read below the full results of Bunny’s assessment as she reveals the best beaches in the Dominican Republic. And make sure not to miss her video either.
If Bunny had to choose just one favourite among all the gorgeous beaches in the Dominican Republic, she would pick Playa Rincón.
Playa Rincón is situated on the Samana peninsula on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, a mere 15-minute drive from the sleepy village of Las Galeras.
Playa Rincón spans more than three miles and offers spectacular, unspoiled white sands with very little development. There are no all-inclusive hotels or tourist groups in sight. Just swaying coconut trees and clear, turquoise water, beckoning you for a swim.
A couple of beachside restaurants serve barbecue food and local women occasionally sell delicious home-made coconut bread on the beach. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas or set up your own private picnic in the shade of the coconut trees. There is plenty of space to find your own, quiet spot here.
Playa Fronton, a short boat ride from Las Galeras, has some dramatic views of beautiful cliffs hugging the wild beach. The boat ride can be a bit rough and there are no services on the beach but it is definitely worth a visit.
Bahia de las Aguilas
Bahia de las Aguilas is often referred to as the most beautiful beach in the country. It is an isolated 5-mile long virgin beach on the Peninsula de Pedernales, in the remote southwestern corner of the Dominican Republic close(ish) to the border with Haiti.
The turquoise water here is crystal clear, the waves very gentle and the sand dazzling white. Its remoteness only adds to its allure. To get here, you will have to endure a long drive on a bumpy road or take a scenic boat ride past rocky karst landscape along the coast.
Once you make your way to the beach, you are likely to have this paradise mostly to yourself. Big green iguanas roam the grassy areas next to the beach but there are blissfully few people here.
There is also very little shade (no palm trees) so come prepared with a hat and stacks of sunscreen as well as everything else that you might need as Bahia de las Aguilas is a pristine paradise inside the Jaragua National Park. There are no services, no accommodation or beach bars here - and all the better that way.
Isla Saona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. It is a protected island in the Parque Nacional del Este in the southeastern tip of the country. You can reach it only by boat or organised excursion.
There is a small community of people living in pastel-coloured wooden houses on Isla Saona but most of the island is undeveloped. There are no cars here.
The beaches are stunning and the island is big enough to accommodate the high number of day trippers. If you avoid group trips and the most frequented beaches, you can still claim your own quiet piece of paradise here.
The waters are calm and the white sand is a soft powdery variety. The beautiful blue and turquoise hues of the sea appear almost unnatural. Thanks to its picture-perfect looks, Isla Saona has been used for a number of films and ads depicting the quintessential “deserted tropical island”.
Don’t count on any services here, so bring your own drinks and a picnic lunch if you’re not on an organised tour, Bunny says.
Also part of the Parque Nacional del Este, Playa Palmilla is located on the mainland Dominican Republic but there is no access by land. You will have to visit by boat from nearby Bayahibe or La Romana.
Locals call Playa Palmilla piscina natural - natural swimming pool - and that’s exactly how it seems. The sandbank and shallow turquoise water form a beautiful pool that is a natural habitat for starfish.
Bunny found the beach particularly idyllic. There is no construction, apart from some makeshift huts, just rows of lovely palm trees. There is even a perfectly curved lonely palm tree for those Instagram selfies on the beach.
Playa Palmilla is a popular stop for most tours that go to Isla Saona so it sometimes suffers from the loud and unruly party atmosphere of the visiting catamarans and speedboats.
Do not take starfish out of the water! Many starfish species can survive outside of water only for a few seconds. Do you really want to kill a beautiful living creature for a photo op, Bunny asks?
Bunny loved all the beaches in the Las Terrenas area on the Samana peninsula. She spent lots of time just walking up and down the gorgeous, palm-lined beaches here. Playa Bonita, Playa Punta Popy and Playa las Ballenas are some of the best stretches of sand in the whole country.
Bunny’s favourite beach in the area, however, was Playa Coson. It is located approximately a 20-minute drive west of Las Terrenas town. The sand at Playa Coson is not pure white but rather tan in colour. The waves here are sometimes a bit rough but that’s good for water sports. Bunny tried boogie boarding here for the first time and loved it.
Playa Coson is more than four miles long so there are also many picturesque bays here. The beach has some hotels and luxury villas but no services. The atmosphere is that of quiet exclusivity.
Where to Stay
Sublime Samana is a small luxury hotel and residence on Playa Coson. It has excellent facilities, very friendly service and spacious, stylish rooms. The canopied daybeds and interconnected swimming pools in the garden look and feel just as sublime as the name suggests.
Ohmygod, this is busy! This was Bunny’s first thought when she stepped paw on Playa Bavaro. Playa Bavaro is one of the most popular beaches in the Punta Cana area and it shows. The narrow beach is lined with hotels, sun beds and beach bars, with people swarming everywhere.
However, the more time Bunny spent on Playa Bavaro, the more she liked it. It has lovely white sand (in contrast to most other beaches in the area) and calm turquoise water, perfect for swimming.
Playa Bavaro is one of the best beaches with resorts in the Dominican Republic, Bunny says. If you enjoy all-inclusive hotels, love people-watching and prefer activity-packed beach days, this is the beach for you. There is no shortage of restaurants, beach bars or gift shops either. In short, you will not be bored here.
The Punta Cana area has more than 10 beaches. Most are lined with hotels and condos but all of them also have public access points. Bunny’s other favourites in the area included Macao Beach, which has a nice surf and an authentic local atmosphere. Playa Uvero Alto is another wild, but quiet beach in the northernmost area of Punta Cana.
Cayo Levantado is a tiny paradise island with a beautiful white sand beach and clear turquoise water. It is located in the Samana peninsula, is reachable only by boat and is a popular cruise ship excursion.
Arriving at Cayo Levantado early in the morning, Bunny was initially a bit disappointed. The weather was not cooperating, the beach seemed dirty and the piles of dilapidated sun beds stacked on the beach evoked images of mass tourism. Not a good start.
However, the sun soon came out, the sea started glistering in lovely turquoise hues and the staff did a good job cleaning the beach. Slowly, Bunny was starting to understand the appeal of this place.
Delicious cocktails and cold beers are readily available and there are even some restaurants mere steps away from the public beach, although Bunny didn’t try any. Snorkelling is, as elsewhere in the Dominican Republic, a bit underwhelming but the water is certainly clear and refreshing.
And if you really love the public beach, you can always book a room at Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado and enjoy the island’s private beach, exclusive for hotel guests, at the other end of Cayo Levantado.
Just outside Puerto Plata on the Northern coast of Dominican Republic, Playa Dorada is one of the country's longest established resort areas.
The beach is long and wide, with tan soft sand and quite a bit of development. It reminded Bunny of the beaches in Florida. All kinds of water sports options are readily available and there are also some restaurants and bars. However, many of the hotels lining the beach are all-inclusive and cater only to their own guests. Playa Dorada Shopping Center is located inland a few hundred metres from the beach.
Thanks to Playa Dorada’s massive size, it does not feel too crowded although there are a lot of people on the beach at any given time. If you find it too busy, you can always walk further from the action as the beach spans for miles and miles.
Where to Stay
Bunny preferred the beach area in front of the Gran Ventana Beach Resort, as it was a picturesque little bay with calmer seas, excellent for swimming. However, if you are planning to stay on Playa Dorada, there is no better place than the small luxury hotel of Casa Colonial.
If you travel to the Dominican Republic for its gorgeous beaches, you are heading to the right place, Bunny says. Dominican Republic is truly heaven for beach lovers.
There is something for everyone, whatever your preferences: quiet sunbathing, water sports, people-watching or beach-walking. Snorkelling is the only thing Bunny found a bit underwhelming in the country.
From the gentle Caribbean swell in the south to the wild beaches of the north, the Dominican Republic will not disappoint even the most demanding beach aficionado.