Your Caribbean guide
Cities steeped in history vs lush tropical beaches, we explore the very best of what the Caribbean has to offer, with a few golf courses thrown in for good measure.
Diverse, inspiring and beautiful, the Caribbean is geographically regarded as a region of the Americas, consisting of the Caribbean Sea and some 700 islands in total. Beside tourism being one of its major economic sectors, it offers unforgettable experiences appealing to all tastes from thrill seeker exploration to beachside serenity.
Dominican Republic Barbados
The differences in the Caribbean regions only add to their charm. Latin spirit of the Dominican Republic is seeped in history, with capital city Santa Domingo being home to the oldest buildings in the Western hemisphere, compared to the lush tropical vistas of Punta Cana and Bajan festivals of Barbados that give insight into their vibrant cultures. Regardless of destination, travellers to the Caribbean can indulge in a true tropical lifestyle and experience some of the best golf courses in the world.
A direct flight to Bridgetown, Barbados is around 8 hours 40 minutes. From there, take a 20-minute transfer to Oistins or Fitts Village to some of the luxury resorts, attractions and sandy beaches on offer. The Dominican Republic has a slightly longer flight time of 9 hours and 15 minutes, where guests will arrive at Punta Cana International Airport, in which a transfer to the centre will take approximately 10 minutes. For transfers to the nearby Bavaro and Cap Cana resorts, transfers take around 25 minutes.
When to go
The Caribbean is known for its glorious weather, with daily temperatures averaging around 27°C in January to 31 °C in August depending on geographical location. Its climate falls under the category of ‘tropical marine’, meaning there is little change in temperature and a clear wet and dry season throughout the year. Saying this, the best time to travel is December through to April, when the weather is dry with low humidity.
The summer months are slightly warmer, humid and wetter, with short showers being common. It’s worth noting that its official hurricane season runs between the months of June to November, where tropical storms and hurricanes are prevalent; although, this usually peaks during August to October.
The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean with over 6 million visitors annually. However, this beautiful and historic country is so much more than all-inclusive resorts, although it certainly adds to the appeal. A trip to the capital Santa Domingo is a must; the old town streets of Zona Colonial feature spectacular architecture and historic sites, worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage credential. Whether you visit the old town to step back in time, the Plaza de Espana art capital or Cathedral Santa Maria La Menor (the world’s first cathedral), all districts provide the perfect setting to bask in the romantic atmosphere of the city.
It is an undisputed fact that many of the best golf courses in the Caribbean can be found in the Dominican Republic. Renowned for its ocean holes and famous architects, it’s no wonder that at least seven of the Dominican’s courses consistently feature on Golf Week Magazine’s Top 50 courses in the Caribbean and Mexico. Most notably, the 5* Casa De Campo Resort is widely considered to be one of the best golf resorts in the world, with 3 Pete Dye designed courses to choose from.
The sun-soaked region of Punta Cana is a top spot for tourists in the Dominican. Over 500,000 hotel rooms in luxurious resorts mark the eastern coastline while the 32km stretch of pristine beaches provide the base for lavish retreats such as Bavaro, Uvero Alto and Cap Cana.
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Forecaddies are available for all top courses in the Dominican and while policy varies, in some cases it is mandatory. Be prepared to take a caddie during some rounds of your break, which generally run between a $50 - $75 fee for each caddie. Walking caddies are also available at some courses.
Although Punta Cana is hailed for its scenic landscapes, it’s not all sun, sea and golf. Take a day out from the courses to experience the thrilling water sports, ecological sites, safaris and rum tasting on offer. Popular attractions include the 1,500-acre Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park, providing a unique ecosystem of over 500 species of birds and plants. Guided tours are available through its botanical and fruit gardens whilst giving guests the opportunity to cool off in the many pure freshwater lakes. Alternatively, visit the natural Scape theme park located in Cape Cana for adrenaline-pumping activities such as cave exploration, zip-lining, and lagoon tours.
Bavaro is a hub for tourists in Punta Cana, with many of the region’s all-inclusive resorts based in the area. The crystal waters off of Bavaro beach make it the prime location for snorkelling, parasailing and windsurfing. An attraction by its own right, be sure to indulge in some Caribbean-style R&R under coconut palms as the Caribbean Sea merges with the Atlantic Ocean.
Within downtown Bavaro, guests can experience an array of shopping and nightlife options. The Palma Real Shopping Centre is the perfect place for some retail therapy, while local vendors also line the streets with authentic Dominican goods. Whether travelling as a group, family or couple, the relaxed atmosphere of Bavaro is suitable for all. For a true once in a lifetime dining experience, visit the Passion by Martin Berasategui restaurant. Winner of 7 Michelin stars, its authentic Mediterranean cuisine is not to be missed. In regard to local courses, the Iberostate Bavaro Golf Club provides 18 holes of golfing bliss, conveniently located in reaching distance of the many accommodation options.
Barbados is home to 5 PGA standard golf courses, each offering something for all levels of golfer from the recreational to the professional. In the past, Barbados has hosted world tournaments at the Sandy Lane Golf Course (also the location for Tiger Woods’ wedding), while the Royal Westmoreland Course regularly holds the PGA European Seniors Tour. Apes Hill Golf Club in the central of Barbados offers an alternative environment to the coastal greens.
Bridgetown & Oistins
The historic capital of Bridgetown is a port city based on the southwest of the island. Old colonial buildings line the streets to create a fusion of Bajan culture and the modern world, with both vibrant street vendors and commercial complexes available for shopping trips and dining. The entire downtown area was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012 for its historical significance. Be sure to visit the beautiful Carlisle Bay, one of the best beaches in Barbados, located off the coast of Bridgetown. Many locals visit the Bay to watch the sunset over the natural harbour. For a unique experience, take a trip to 350-year-old Mount Gay Rum Distillery on the outskirts of Bridgetown to sample the world’s oldest rum.
The fishing town of Oistins comes alive each Friday with the weekly Fish Fry, hosted at the already popular attraction of Ostins Bay Gardens. Local vendors serve the finest seafood from their daily catches, as well as traditional Barbadian dishes such as goat curry. Live music fills the air as tourists and locals alike enjoy this relaxed setting. With transfers only 20 minutes from Bridgetown, it’s a great way to spend an evening.