The most tranquil beaches are those on the western side of the D.R., particularly Boca Chica or those along the southern coast of La Romana and Bayahibe. Beaches that front the Atlantic -- notably at Punta Cana, La Samaná, and Puerto Plata -- are likely to have more turbulent waters on and off throughout the winter months, although conditions are idyllic on many a day, even from December through February.

  • Playa Boca Chica -- There is good and bad news here. The beach of immaculate fine sand is still one of the best in the Caribbean. The gin-clear waters are protected by coral reefs, making Playa Boca Chica one of the most family-friendly of all the strips of sands in the D.R. Now the bad news: The beach lies 30km (20 miles) east of Santo Domingo, and, as such, is the virtual Riviera for the teeming masses of this overcrowded city. Lined with coconut palms, the wide beach was a brilliant stroke of nature, but manmade intrusions have ruined a lot of its backdrop with pizza stands, cafes, bars, tacky souvenir stalls, and blaring music all day long.
  • Punta Cana/Bávaro Beaches -- One of the world's greatest beach strips is centered at Punta Cana and Bávaro on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. This stretch of beachfront goes on for about 30km (20 miles) and is renowned for its all-inclusive resorts, the largest concentration in the Caribbean. The beaches here are wide, filled with golden sand, gorgeous, and safe for swimming all year.
  • Cayo Levantado -- On the peninsula of Samaná, along the east coast of the Dominican Republic, this island near the mouth of Bahía de Samaná lies 7km (4 1/3 miles) southeast of the town of Samaná. It can be reached easily by boat. Once on this island, beach lovers will find three beautiful strips of white sand, but little in the way of facilities. A tropical forest covers much of this hill-studded island, and when not enjoying the beach, you can go hiking along trails that are cut through the junglelike vegetation. Cayo Levantado was known to TV watchers in the '70s as the famous Bacardi Rum island, featured in commercials.
  • Playa Rincón -- On the eastern shoreline of the Peninsula Samaná, Playa Rincón is consistently hailed by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the 10 top beaches in the Caribbean, and we agree that it deserves such an accolade. Set against the 600m (1,970 ft.) cliffs of Cape Cabrón, the beach is hard to reach, but once you're here you can wander a Robinson Crusoe tropical paradise of white sands -- just don't expect any facilities. There's plenty of color in the sea -- vivid turquoise, blues, and greens that are safe for swimming and ideal for snorkeling.
  • Playa Dorada -- This is the most celebrated beach along the Amber Coast and the site of a large concentration of all-inclusive resorts. The golden or white sands along its Atlantic Ocean waters -- often turbulent -- have been discovered, so don't expect to be alone on the beach. Instead of depending on beach facilities, most patrons of Playa Dorada use their beachfront hotels for food, drink, toilet facilities, and changing rooms. Water-skiers and windsurfers alike take delight here. Because the waters of this beach front the Atlantic, waves can be a bit high in winter, and the waters a bit rough for swimming.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.