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Top Ecotourism Destinations in the Dominican Republic

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Twenty percent of the land in the Dominican Republic has been set aside for preservation, helping to ensure that visitors can experience the island's incredible ecological diversity. In all, the Dominican Republic boasts 19 national parks, 32 national monuments, six wildlife reserves, and two marine sanctuaries. Here are some of the best:

Whale Sanctuary, Samana

© Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
The Dominican Republic's Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals is conveniently located near one of the island's most popular tourist areas, Samana. Stretching between Christmas Bank and the Bay of Samana, the sanctuary encompasses the largest mating, courting and calving grounds in the world for the humpback whale. Whale-watching cruises can be chartered out of Samana Bay.

Los Haitises National Park

Also near Samana is Los Haitises National Park, famous for its mangrove coastline, caves, and petroglyphs. Horseback tours through the park lead visitors to Fun Fun Cave, where amateur spelunkers can rappel 60 feet down to explore the underground environment.

Cabritos Island National Park

© Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
Surrounded by Lake Enriquillo, the largest saltwater lake in the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic's lowest point (144 feet below sea level), this park in the country's southwest is home to American crocodiles, flamingos, and iguanas. An early morning or late afternoon boat tour around the island is the best way to see the crocodiles.

Armando Bermudez National Park

Pico Duarte, at 10,128 feet, is not only the highest point in the Dominican Republic but in the entire Caribbean. In fact, Armando Bermudez National Park is home to four of the highest peaks in the Antilles, as well as the source for a dozen major rivers. You can climb Pico Duarte, but it's not a day-trip: overnight stays in tents and rustic cabins are permitted, and guided hikes can be arranged. Keep an eye out for wild boar, among the many wild denizens of the park.

Isabel de Torres National Park

Located close to the Puerto Plata tourist destination, Isabel de Torres National Park is best known for its mountaintop statue of Jesus Christ, accessible from town by a cable car. The park also is home to a botanical garden. Guided hikes to the peak are available from Cabarete.

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