As Juan Luis Guerra, a famous Dominican singer, once sang: the Dominican Republic is a country where white, black and taína people live together in harmony. The country is a crucible of cultures nourished by the historical inheritance of having been a Spanish colony, African (during the sad years of slavery) and Tainan (inheritance of the native Indians that inhabited the island in pre-Columbus times). Enjoying tourism in the Dominican Republicis a beautiful adventure that can include numerous cultural and historical attractions for people who like that sort of thing.
There are many different options when you are planning your vacations in Punta Cana, but sometimes our guests ask us to go a little further and help them draw up a plan that will help them understand the history of the country a little better.
About two hours from our Princess Hotels in Punta Canais the capital, Santo Domingo, with a stunning colonial area which impresses everyone that visits.
This island (taking in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic) is called “La Española“. They say that its coast was the first that Christopher Columbus saw on his voyage across the Atlantic. The arrival of the first Spaniards on the island kicked off a cultural fusion whose remains can still be seentoday if you visit the colonial area of the capital Santo Domingo, one of the most interesting excursions in the Dominican Republic, especially for history lovers.
You can find this in many forms, including in the modern language, agriculture and food. Don’t miss out on these tiny details during your activities in Punta Cana.
Food such as cassava (which can easily be found in all the buffet restaurants in our Princess Hotels in the Dominican Republic), words such as canoe, hurricane, barbecue or tobacco, names of places in the country such as Ozama, Samaná or Ceiba … all of this comes directly from the Indians and are everyday examples which tourists who visitus can easilyfind.
You can also see Taino treasures in museums in the capital, including vessels and tools used for cooking, harvesting or other daily tasks, or cave paintings. On the way to the capital, you can see one of the best-known paintings: the “Maravillas” (Wonders) Cave. Located one hour from the Princess Hotels, it is an original idea when you are looking for something to do in Punta Cana. It is a beautiful tourist attraction, not only due to the paintings on its walls, but also due to the natural beauty of the surroundings. It is located about 25 meters below ground and has about 800 meters of corridors, of which around 200 can be visited. Beautiful stalactites and imposing stalagmites create a frame for the most curious and interesting rustic and rural paintings.
Finally, we recommend you complete your visit in a small museum where the daily life of the Indians on the islandis explained using lithographs and some remains and other reproductions. This is an excursion that attracts adults due to its historical and cultural content,but it is also great for children as they feel like Indiana Jonesin the underground caves.
Everything related to religion, sorcery, voodoo or the evil eye are beliefs that still prevail on the island which come directly from Africa.
Also some musical instruments such as drums, marimba or maracas, and dances such as the gaga, congós or salvesare cultural elements that originate in African culture.
During Carnival in February in our Princess Hotels we use these dances and instruments to bring fresh and fun entertainment to guests. If there is one time of year in which the African heritage receives most attention, it is during carnival. The whole country takes part in troupes where they the Guloyas or Buloyas parade, an intrinsic part of the Dominican carnival.
Of course, African cuisine has also has an influence. The yams, meals with coconut or the famous yaniqueque, which Dominicans love so much, all have their origins in the times of African slavery.
As you can see, this is an inheritance rooted in modern folklore in the country and considered a heritage by its people, coexisting in a very particular way in this Caribbean country.
In short, if you are thinking about things to do Punta Cana and your intention is to get a bit away from the most popular and better knownactivities to discoverthe more cultural and historical side of this beautiful Caribbean island, there are different and surprising options suitable for all types of visitors.
This entry is also available in: Spanish