The country’s protected areas received 1.3 million visitors during 2014. The great majority, 86% (1.1 million), were international visitors. The Eastern National Park, specifically Saona Island, received 49% of all visitors. The surface territory of the Dominican Republic is 48,000 square kilometers, of which 52.8% has been declared protected areas.
According to local statistics, some 146,000 visited the country’s protected areas during the month of March. In January the number of visitors was 137,465 and in February 127,200.
The country’s protected areas include national parks, scientific reserves, marine sanctuaries, natural monuments and wildlife refuge.
The Eastern National Park, specifically Saona Island, received the highest number of national and international visitors. In total, 641,503 (49%) visited the off-shore island, followed by the Three Eyes Cave in Santo Domingo (160,077), an important habitat for local wildlife and Catalina Island, an important stop for international cruise companies, with 130,744 visitors.
The Dominican Republic currently features 119 protected areas, classified in 12 categories, covering a total area of 25,472 square kilometers.
Eastern National Park
Situated in the country’s southeast corner, specifically between the fishing villages of Bayahibe and Boca de Yuma, the park’s main attraction is Saona Island. The beautiful tropical small key features important attractions, such as ancient caves and absolutely beautiful beaches. Visitors are transported to Saona Island on board catamarans or speed boats.
Colonial Tours (www.colonialtours.com.do/saona)
“Explora Dominicana (www.exploradominicana.com)
Weiler Caribbean Sea (www.weilercaribbeansea.com)
Three Eyes Cave
Situated on the outskirts of the capital city of Santo Domingo the caves feature four sulfur-water underwater natural pools. Three of the natural pools are situated in a large ancient cavern.
Domi Bachata (www.domibachata.com/ins/ojos/TresOjos.html)
Blue Travel Partner Service (www.bluetps.com)
This small key is situated off-shore from the east coast city of La Romana and is considered one of the country’s most important natural monuments. The key features a land surface of nine-square kilometers, with beautiful white sand beaches. The island’s interior surface is covered with a dense tropical forest. It is the perfect destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Small boats leaving from La Romana and the nearby fishing village of Cumayasa transport tourists to the island on safe boats.
Reality Tours (www.reality-tours.com)
Seapro Divers (www.seaprodivers.com/Spanish/index.htm)
Emely Tours (www.emelytours.com.do/index.php)
Silver and Christmas Banks
The country’s foremost marine mammal sanctuary is situated in the Atlantic Ocean some 140 kilometers from the north coast city of Puerto Plata. The sanctuary has become one of the Caribbean’s most important natural destinations because it is here where the humpback whales visit during the first months of the year to breed in the warm waters. The area is comprised of an underwater coral-based platform with an average depth of 20 meters. It is part of a system that extends from the Bahamas to the Bank of Christmas, off the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Most tours to the region take place during the visit of the humpback whales, from January 15 to late March. February is when most tours visit the area.
Events Fun Factory (www.funeventsfactory.com/?p=423)
Whale Samane (www.whalesamana.com/es/index.html)
“Salto del Limon” (Limon Waterfall)
This absolutely beautiful 300-meter long waterfall, situated in the northeast fishing village of El Limon, in Samana Province, is reached either on horseback or four-wheel vehicles.
Santi Rancho (www.cascadalimonsamana.com/index.html)
Seemore Tourism Excursions (www.seemore.do/sp/introduccion/)
This protected area, now part of the Dominican Treasures initiative is located in the north coast province of Puerto Plata. It is a six-square kilometer area featuring small waterfalls and 27 natural pools that visitors can visit through adventurous hiking trails.
Ticket Express (www.ticketexpress.com.do/Default.aspx)
Solei Tours and Travels (www.soleitoursandtravels.com)