The Dominican Republic is an absolute wonderland for lovers of the natural world, boasting an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. From the majestic palmchat, the nation’s revered national bird and an endemic species to Hispaniola, to the captivating Bayahibe Rose, a pink-hued cactus flower and the national flower of the DR, there is no shortage of breathtaking sights to behold. And that’s not all – the DR is also home to a wide range of reptiles and amphibians, including the American crocodile and the endangered Ricord’s iguana. But the true stars of the show are the nearly 3,000 humpback whales that make their annual pilgrimage to the Bay of Samaná each year, drawn by the warm waters and abundant opportunities for mating and birthing. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience all that the DR has to offer!
Experience the incredible ocean life of the Dominican Republic, a true paradise for nature lovers. From the majestic humpback whales that can be found in the Bay of Samaná from mid-January to mid-March, to the endangered West Indian Manatee that calls the north coast of the DR home, there is no shortage of breathtaking sights to behold. And don’t forget about the four species of turtles – the loggerhead, green sea turtle, leatherback turtle, and hawksbill turtle – that nest on the pristine beaches of Saona Island and can also be spotted in the waters of Jaragua National Park. But that’s not all – the DR is also home to a wide variety of coral reefs, found along the eastern coast, which provide a habitat for a range of marine life including sponges, octopuses, and mollusks. Dive into the crystal clear waters of the DR and discover the wonders that lie beneath the surface, with a variety of dive centers located along the coast ready to provide you with the necessary equipment and guidance.
The Dominican Republic is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 300 species of birds calling the country home, 32 of which are endemic, including the national bird, the Cigua Palmera. In addition to the Palmchat, visitors to the DR may also spot the endangered Ridgway’s Hawk, which builds its nest directly above that of the Palmchat. Other endemic species to look out for include the Hispaniola woodpecker, the Hispaniola parakeet, the White-necked crow, the Black-crowned tanager, and the Golden swallow. Some of the best birding hotspots in the DR include the Sierra de Bahoruco, Los Haitises National Park, Jaragua National Park, Lago Enriquillo National Park, and Valle Nuevo National Park. Migratory and endemic birds can also be found in abundance along the northern and southern coastlines and hills, attracted by the mangroves, offshore islands, and protected parks in these areas. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the incredible birdlife of the Dominican Republic
Trees, Plants and Flowers
Discover the natural beauty and diversity of the Dominican Republic by visiting one of its national parks. The country is home to an astounding 6,000 species of plants, with 2,050 being endemic to the DR. The most prized plant species is the exotic Pereskia quisqueyana or Rosa de Bayahibe, the national flower, which is a rare cactus that grows leaves and features delicate pink flowers that are native to the Bayahibe area.
In addition to the national tree, the caoba or mahogany, you’ll find a wide variety of other species including the West Indian cedar, the calabash tree, and tropical palm trees, which are a legacy of Africa and can be seen throughout the DR’s shores and hills. The coconut tree is common throughout the country, and the royal palm is a symbol of the DR, appearing on its national flag. During the summer, you’ll see the bright red flamboyant trees in bloom, an imported species, while the high elevation towns in the center of the DR are home to Creole pine trees that thrive in the cooler climate.
Flower enthusiasts will be in heaven in the Dominican Republic, with over 300 species of orchids to discover, particularly in the wild in the cool valleys of Jarabacoa and Constanza. You can also find these beautiful flowers in contained parks like the National Botanical Garden in Santo Domingo, the largest in the Caribbean, the botanical gardens of Mount Isabel Torres in Puerto Plata, and Scape Park in Punta Cana. The province of Constanza is known for its colorful flower plantations, which were established by Japanese immigrants who came to the DR in 1956 after World War II to work in agriculture.
For a one-stop destination to see the natural abundance and variety of plants and trees in the DR, be sure to visit one of its national parks.
Experience the rare and magnificent American crocodile in the stunning Lago Enriquillo, a saltwater lake located in the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic. Despite the lake’s rising conditions, these reptiles continue to mate and lay eggs in the summer, making it one of the few places in the world with a high concentration of crocodiles. Take a boat ride on Lago Enriquillo during the summer to see these majestic creatures in large numbers along the shores. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the largest population of iguanas in the Dominican Republic, including the rhinoceros iguana and the endangered Ricord’s iguana, in the protected areas of Lago Enriquillo and Jaragua National Park.