dominican republic activities

Forget your fear of heights and try paragliding in the Dominican Republic. (Photo: Lebawit Lily Girma)

Tips + Trends

From Caving to Drum Making: Underrated Adventures in the Dominican Republic

Dreaming of those long beach walks and postcard-worthy photos you’ll snap as soon as you land in the Dominican Republic? You’re not alone. But there’s another side of the DR you should experience along with those beaches.

From mountain peaks to merengue dancing, these underrated activities reveal a Dominican Republic few get to enjoy.

Paragliding in Jarabacoa

Tucked in the heart of the Dominican Republic, the small mountain resort town of Jarabacoa — which translates as “place of waters” in Taíno (the culture and language of the island’s original inhabitants) — is all about outdoor life.

Imagine daily panoramic views of rolling hills, horseback riding past pine tree forests to waterfalls, and verdant fields dotted with mango trees and grazing goats. You could easily have memorable days relaxing beside Jarabacoa’s three rivers, or motorbike riding along winding mountain roads.

But why stop there when you can “fly” all across its spectacular landscape?

Arrange your paragliding experience with Flying Tony. The excursion begins with a short drive to Paso Alto, the departure point just outside of Jarabacoa. After receiving basic instructions, and under perfect wind conditions, you’ll take off from a hill in tandem with your instructor. Don’t worry about the height: you’ll forget about it as soon as you see the sights below, waterfalls included.

Make it an overnight trip from Puerto Plata or Santo Domingo and you’ll have time to enjoy Jarabacoa’s waterfalls, rivers, and cool spring climate.

Climbing Pico Duarte

dominican republic activities
The most challenging expedition in the DR rewards adventurers with these views. (Photo: Lebawit Lily Girma)

Few obtain bragging rights for reaching the summit of the tallest mountain in the Caribbean region. Standing at approximately 10,128 feet, Pico Duarte is the most challenging expedition you can experience in the DR.

Tucked inside Parque Nacional José Armando Bermúdez, the two-day hike — accompanied by licensed guides, mules, food, and overnight tents — offers a rewarding glimpse of the DR’s mountainous terrain and cold temperatures. It’s cool enough that there’s frost in these parts.

Reaching the top is the ultimate reward: an Instagram-worthy selfie with the statue of Juan Pablo Duarte, the father of independence, and the Dominican flag. And, of course, the feeling of knowing you’re standing over the whole Caribbean.

Merengue Típico Workshop

dominican republic activities
Not all adventures involve outdoor exertion. (Photo: Lebawit Lily Girma)

Not a fan of extreme adventures? Opt for an immersive afternoon of merengue with a family of merengue típico performers and drum makers in Puerto Plata. The Red de Turismo Comunitario takes you to the small, rural town of Guananico — known for its cacao farms and lush, hilly landscape.

Once there, you’ll begin with an introduction to the history and cultural significance of merengue instruments: the güira, the accordion, and the drum, each representing the DR’s Taíno, European, and African roots. Try your hand at the accordion and find out just how musically adept (or inept) you are!

A drumming workshop follows, taught by one of the country’s most renowned drum carvers, Isabel Trejo Peña. You’ll end the afternoon with a hour-long merengue dance class, to the sound of live instruments.

When you’re back in Puerto Plata city, show off your merengue steps at the often-packed El Furgón dance club, or do as Dominicans and practice right on the beach.