See the city of Higuey
Start with a visit to the 500-year-old city of Higuey, capital of La Altagracia. Wander the narrow, shop-lined streets and check out the Basilica Catedral Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia, an all-cement, surprisingly modernist structure built in 1970 and dedicated to the patron saint of the nation.
Visit Juan Ponce de Leon’s home
Just outside San Rafael de Yuma, wander through Juan Ponce de Leon’s plantation home, which was built for the famous explorer by slaves in the early 1500s. Take in the medieval architecture and period pieces that include a suit of armour worn by Ponce de Leon himself.
Explore the Cave of Wonders
Head underground 25 metres to La Cueva de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders), located between the Soco and Cumayasa rivers in San Pedro de Macoris. Concrete pathways let visitors discover the nearly 500 red and black petroglyphs created by the Taino peoples.
Go to a museum in La Romana
To find out more about the Taino, go to nearby La Romana and explore the Museo Arqueologico Regional Altos de Chavon. With approximately 3,000 antiquities on display, the museum documents the history of the island’s various indigenous cultures.
See live music
Also in La Romana is Kandela, a nightly performance at the Altos de Chavon Amphitheater. Mixing Latin beats with African rhythms, this show will have even the most reserved audience members swaying their hips.
[A version of the article appears in the January 2015 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated]
Five Places to Explore in Puerto Plata
The 16th-century city of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic is the perfect spot for travellers looking for a bit more than lounging on the beach. Get a bird's eye view of the city from the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, explore a historic fort at Fortaleza San Felipe and visit the many historical monuments in Puerto Plata's colourful downtown.