A day at the beach isn’t always about R&R. If your perfect beach day is action-packed, check out the sun-soaked northern coast of Dominican Republic.

Stretching from Cabarete to the Samaná Peninsula, the northern coast kisses the Atlantic Ocean, where choppy waves create the ideal playground for surfers, kiteboarders, snorkelers and other water adventurers. Whether you’re a novice or a pro athlete, try one of these seven activities to make the most of your time in the water sports capital of the Caribbean.

1. Kiteboarding

National Geographic has recognized Cabarete as one of the top kiteboarding destinations in the world: Professional kite surfers flock to Cabarete to take advantage of the strong trade winds at Kite Beach. This beach town is also bustling with certified schools and instructors to show newbies the ropes.

Further east in the Samaná Peninsula, Las Terrenas is a kiteboarding mecca. Head to Punta Popy, the area’s social and water sports hub, or find the perfect beach for your group at Playa Bonita, which is calm, pool-like water on the west side but offers waves for thrill-seekers on the east side.


2. Surfing

Set your alarm and catch the glorious early-morning waves at Playa Encuentro, located between Sosúa and Cabarete. This surfer’s paradise is home to the area’s top surf schools.

To the east of Puerto Plata, Playa Grande attracts surfers with its golden coastline, palm trees and swells. Refuel after a day on your board with lunch from one of the authentic seafood shacks along the beach.

Searching for the best surf spot near Samaná? Enjoy the soft-sand beach at Playa Cosón after you get your fill of the waves.


3. Scuba diving

Balmy water temperatures year-round make the north coast of Dominican Republic an alluring destination for divers. The coast off Puerto Plata is home to many diving destinations, including Airport Wall. This site is considered one of the best and most beautiful in the country, with splendid coral and marine life. Shipwreck junkies and advanced divers can explore the Zingara Wreck site, located near a reef wall covered with colorful marine life.

Head east to Samaná to dive to the remains of the Dolphin Wreck at a formidable depth of 28 meters (92 feet). Off the coast of Las Galeras, you can explore the underwater remains of an 80-meter (262-foot) long cargo ship that’s bustling with barracuda, pufferfish, stingrays and schooling fish.

4. Snorkeling

Pack your goggles and head to Portillo to explore a Samaná dive site that boasts an enormous coral reef where you can swim among angelfish, trumpet fish, crabs, sea urchins and other colorful sea creatures. Beginner divers and snorkelers alike are also smitten with Las Ballenas in Las Terrenas, where you can swim among large schools of fish and colorful corals.

West of Puerto Plata, the Cayo Arena dive site is home to technicolor marine life, from corals to octopuses, crabs, and yellowtail snappers. For a day spent among damselfish, angelfish, surgeonfish and more, head to Punta Rucia, which boasts some of the most abundant marine life in the country.

Cayo Arena

5. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)

Challenge your core strength and coordination with a session on a stand-up paddleboard. Many outfitters along the north coast rent out paddleboards, or you can take a one-of-a-kind SUP fitness class. By incorporating yoga and other moves, class instructors help SUP enthusiasts take their on-water adventuring to the next level. Everyone from Sports Illustrated to Brides magazine has raved about SUP on Dominican Republic’s north coast.

Playa El Valle, Samaná

6. Sailing

Playa Cabarete is a popular destination for laser sailing. These small sailboats are designed to zip through the water. You can try the sport by renting a sailboat or taking a class through a local laser sailing school.

7. Whale watching

Every year between January and March, thousands of humpback whales flock to the Samaná Bay for their mating season. This yearly spectacle draws visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the majestic water mammals, which weigh 25 to 30 tons each.

Book an excursion by boat for a guided whale encounter, or swim out to sea with an experienced local outfitter for an immersive experience right alongside the whales.

Samaná Bay