Where can you see animals in the Dominican Republic?
As one of the most richly biodiverse places in the entire Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is a stunning natural paradise that’s home to thousands of animal species, many of which are indigenous. Here, we explain where to see some of the most impressive ones, flying to Dominican Republix from only 21,250 Avios per route:
1 Humpback whales in Samaná
Every year, more than 2,000 humpback whales make a winter migration from the icy seas of Iceland, Greenland and North America to the warm waters of Samaná Bay, in the northeast of the Dominican Republic. Here, they offer a one-of-a-kind show: the 40-ton males leap out of the water repeatedly as they woo the females, while the newborn calves break the surface for their first breaths of air.
The whales are in the area from mid-January to late March. Numerous tour companies offer boat trips so people can watch them close up. They can also be seen from the Punta Balandra land observatory located on the road from Samaná to Las Galeras.
2 Dolphins in Los Haitises National Park
Los Haitises National Park (‘mountainous land’ in Taino) is considered the largest karst region in the Antilles and its landscape filled with mogotes and cays is very beautiful. With an area of 1,600 km², it is home to mangroves, rainforests and a cave system with the greatest number of petroglyphs and pictographs in the country. Here, a stock of dolphins lives in its natural state and can be seen doing pirouettes on the water.
The park borders several provinces on the island’s northeast. There are year-round tours that will take you from Samaná by boat to places where the dolphins usually feed.
3 Manatees in Estero Hondo
The Estero Hondo Marine Mammal Sanctuary is located in the north of the island in the Puerto Plata province. This protected area boasts beautiful paths and a coastal lagoon that is home to the largest reserve of Antillean manatees in the country (and perhaps the entire Caribbean).
The manatee – also known as the ‘sea cow’ because of its enormous size – is a herbivore that was very important to the Taíno people who once inhabited the island. Today, the animals are considered endangered.
The Estero Hondo Marine Mammal Sanctuary has a visitors centre and is one of the few places where manatees can still be seen in its natural habitat.
4 Reptiles in Lake Enriquillo
Lake Enriquillo is located in the island’s southwest, some 200km from Santo Domingo. This 350km2 natural water mass is located more than 43 metres below sea level. Now a national park, the area has been designated a biosphere reserve by Unesco thanks to its great biological diversity. Here, you can get to see species such as the American crocodile, the rhinoceros iguana and the Ricord’s iguana.
Visitors can explore the lake by boat with a guide and visit Cabritos Island – which rises from its centre – along with the park’s tropical forests and springs.
5 Coral in Montecristi and Pedernales
With more than 1,600km of coastline, the Dominican Republic has a large marine ecosystem. This is why diving and snorkelling have become some of its main tourist attractions.
One of the gems on the island’s coastline is on the island’s northwest: Montecristi Underwater National Park is home to the country’s largest and most biodiverse (and unspoilt) coral reef.
Other points of interest include Pedernales – on the island’s southwest – home to very well-preserved reefs and the largest community of hawksbill sea turtles, or Boca Chica, whose bay is home to a great diversity of marine life, as well as Bayahibe, an enclave known for its beautiful and colourful coral formations.
6 Ridgway’s hawk and other birds
With more than 300 bird species (of which 32 are indigenous), the Dominican Republic is an important destination for ornithologists from across the globe.
The country’s top sites for birdwatching include the Sierra de Bahoruco, Jaragua National Park, Lago Enriquillo National Park, Valle Nuevo National Park and Los Haitises National Park.