The culture of the Dominican Republic is rich and wide-ranging. From cigars to merengue dancing, it’s a country that is bursting with life and excitement. During an all inclusive vacation at Barceló Bávaro Palace, the adults-only Barceló Bávaro Beach, Occidental Caribe or Occidental Punta Cana, take some time for these five incredible cultural experiences in the Dominican Republic.
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve (Ojos Indígenas)
Owned and operated by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve is a 1,500-acre natural and cultural wonderland in the heart of Punta Cana.
- At Indigenous Eyes, intrepid explorers will find a dozen freshwater lagoons. You can take a plunge into five of them. Bring your swimsuit and explore the gorgeous waters. It’s these lagoons that give the park and reserve its distinctive name; the Taíno Indians called them “eyes” in the pre-Columbian era. The Guamá lagoon is the largest and deepest of all the lagoons at Indigenous Eyes. Back in the day, it was the private swimming hole of the Taíno chief. Not a bad perk!
- Indigenous Eyes is a great place to get a taste of the Dominican Republic’s wild side. Visitors can experience a fun petting zoo, a habitat for the threatened rhinoceros iguana and other attractions that reveal the natural history of the Dominican Republic.
- Did you know? Sugarcane played an integral role in the Dominican Republic’s culture and heritage. At Indigenous Eyes, there is a fascinating sugarcane exhibit, which reveals the story behind the DR’s long relationship with the crop.
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Basilica Catedral Nuestra Señora De La Altagracia
No matter what your personal faith may be, this magnificent Punta Cana structure is worth a visit during your Dominican Republic vacation. Quite simply, it’s one of the most beautiful churches in the western hemisphere – and one of the most important spiritual sites in the Dominican Republic. Located in Higuey (a short drive from Punta Cana), Basilica Catedral Nuestra Señora De La Altagracia was completed in 1971. It’s a sight to see as you approach the church, thanks to its awe-inspiring arch, which rises 225 feet above the landscape. Once inside, you’ll find a hushed atmosphere and intricate architectural details, all highlighted by a gorgeous altar with a 16th century painting of the Virgin Mary.
- Good to know: The church is named in honor of the Virgin of Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic. Every January, pilgrims come to Higuey to pay their respects to this beloved saint.
Altos de Chavon
A vacation the Dominican Republic isn’t just a journey to another country. It can also be a trip back in time. A one-of-a-kind cultural gem, Altos de Chavon is a detailed re-creation of a 16th-century Mediterranean village in La Romana, not far from Punta Cana. Here, you’ll encounter a working artists’ colony, filled with the Dominican Republic’s finest arts and crafts traditions. Don’t miss the beautiful open-air amphitheater, which has hosted such luminaries as Frank Sinatra and Carlos Santana. Altos de Chavon is an only-in-the-Dominican-Republic experience you don’t want to miss.
Dominican Cigar Immersion
Whether you are an aficionado or a newcomer to the world of cigars, Dominican Republic cigars can’t be beat. The country is the world’s largest cigar producer, with a history that stretches all the way back to the 16th century. But it’s not just about the number of cigars that the DR produces. It’s about the quality. In short, cigar making is an art form in the Dominican Republic. And it’s the perfect place for a cigar immersion. In the Punta Cana and Bavaro area, you have a few options when it comes to experiencing this important part of Dominican culture.
- Don Lucas Cigars: This downtown Punta Cana cigar shop and factory produces 14 different cigar sizes with five different strengths, all kept in humidors to ensure optimal conditions. For those who want to learn more, a revealing factory tour will take you behind the scenes.
- Tabacalera de Garcia Cigars: The largest handmade cigar factory in the Dominican Republic, Tabacalera de Garcia makes some of the world’s most beloved cigars. During a one-hour walking tour, you’ll get a step-by-step demonstration of how to make a great Dominican cigar.
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You guys…. where do I even begin!? #PuertoVallarta has been absolutely amazing. We’ve experienced so many cool things from art, to culture, to food, to paradise sunsets… and it’s only day 2 of our #PVGirlsGetaway! After breakfast this morning we headed to @sheratonpvr for a spa experience (a relaxing massage and #hydrotherapy session), then after some time at our own hotel pool at @marriottpv we went to @chocomuseo_puertovallarta for a chocolate workshop (we learned about chocolate history and production before making our own chocolate drinks and truffles from cacao we roasted, peeled, ground, and cooked!), then had dinner at @eldoradopvr while we watched the sunset over Playa de los Muertos. I’m going to post it all on my Stories, so be sure to follow along! @visitpuertovallarta has so much to offer- and I can’t wait to share it all with you on the blog in a few weeks. In the meantime I’ll keep posting lots of Stories! • #hosted #PuertoVallarta #PuertoVallarta #marriottpv #sheratonpvr #chocomuseo #travelblog #travelblogger #visitpuertovallarta #instatravel #travelgram #gltlove #girlsgetaway #mexico #foodtravel #foodietravel #chocolatemaking
ChocoMuseo Punta Cana
Like cigars, chocolate has been a major part of the Dominican Republic culture for centuries. It’s not just a sweet treat here! At Punta Cana’s ChocoMuseo, you can discover this rich heritage, and at the same time sample plenty of authentic Dominican chocolate, of course! Located in the Mundo Auténtico shopping complex, ChocoMuseo will illuminate you on everything about Dominican chocolate. You’ll learn how it’s harvested, how flavor is added and how it gets out to the rest of the world. You’ll also have the chance to become a chocolatier yourself and make your own Dominican chocolate. It’s one of the best – and most delicious – Dominican Republic cultural experiences.
Start planning your Dominican Republic cultural experiences. And don’t forget to take advantage of great deals and packages at Barceló Bávaro Palace, Barceló Bávaro Beach, Occidental Caribe and Occidental Punta Cana.