For the adventure and nature lover tourist, Dominican Republic’s National Parks are a must see. The country boasts of around twelve national parks, each as distinctive and different as its name. Listed below are some of the country’s national parks and their attractions.
Parque Nacional del Este
An unpopulated area located at the western side of the peninsula, this park spans 430 square kilometers and includes the island of Saona. The main section of the park is made up of limestone formed a million years ago. The topography is dry and flat with a hot climate due to its lack of rivers or streams. The key attraction in the mainland is the cave by the western side which contains pre-Columbian drawings and rock carvings. The western coastline is also famous for its diverse coral formations and excellent dive sites. There are saltwater lagoons and mangrove swamps in the southern part of the park where herons, pelicans and other bird species can be found.
Part of this park is Isla Saona, a 25km long and 5km wide island that has two small settlements – Punta Gorda and Mano Juan. The beaches along these settlements are white and the waters, very blue. The public can also visit the Laguna de los Flamencos and Laguna Canto de la Playa and the caves of Cutabanama.
Parque Nacional El Choco
The most accessible area along the north coast, El Choco covers an area of 77.5 kilometers and houses two lagoons, the Laguna Cabarete and Laguna Goleta. These lagoons stretch 8 kilometers between the Cordillera Septentrional and the Atlantic Ocean. The park’s focal tourist attraction is its caves and unfathomable water structures and underground pools as big as soccer fields. Some of these pools have been converted into tourist attractions while a number have remained hidden and untouched.
Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos
This national park takes its name from the island of Cabritos, which lie in the middle of the country’s largest lake, Lago Enriquillo.
People visit the park mainly to see one of the biggest American crocodile populations in the world. Best viewed early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the crocodiles leave the water to bask in the warm sun. They escape the noon heat by withdrawing to the deeper sections of the lake. Crocodiles are not the only wildlife found in this park. Tourists can also be treated to sightings of ricord iguanas, rhinoceros iguanas, flamingos, herons and the Hispaniolan parrot.
Parque Nacional Monte Cristi
This park covers an area of 550 square kilometers, from the borders of Haiti to Punta Rucia. Within the park lie mangrove swamps, lagoons and a 237-meter limestone mesa called El Morro. There are many different species of plants and flowers in the park such as the sabia montecristini which is prevalent in El Morro.
Parque Nacional Jaragua
Found at the southern tip of the Pedernales Peninsula, the park spans 1,374 kilometers and is home to the largest population of flamingos in the country. The park also houses the countries finest beaches including the Bahia de las Aguilas as well as caves containing Taino drawings and rock carvings.
There are also a large number of wildlife species found in the park including egrets, green-tailed warblers, leather-back turtles and many others.