The Dominican Republic is a popular stop-over for cruise ships in its main ports, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Barahona, La Romana, Manzanillo and San Pedro de Macoris. The Caribbean Sea around the country is alive with sea life including hump-back whales and manatees. The coastline has wonderful beaches and coral reefs and the cities have vibrant nightlife and shopping.
The capital, Santo Domingo, was one of the first settlements of Spanish explorers in the New World and has several impressive museums, including Museo de Las Casas Reales, Alcazar de Colon and the National Museum of History and Geography. There's also a museum devoted to cigar making. The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata has a remarkable collection of rare and exotic insects and plants preserved in transparent amber stones like fossils. The river flowing through Santo Domingo is the Ozama, and it's believed Christopher Columbus moored his ship here when he landed on Hispaniola.
La Romana has fabulous beaches and is one of the most developed tourist towns on the coast, and nearby, on a hill overlooking a bend in the Chavón River, is Altos de Chavón, a town built like a Mediterranean village, with cobbled streets, founded as an artists' colony in the 1970s.
The interior of the island has mountains where several important rivers form. The Yaque del Norte is the most significant waterway in the country. 150 miles long, it rises in the Cordillera Central and flows out into the Monte Christi Bay on the north west coast. The Yuna River is the second longest and passes through the city of Cotui on its way to the sea in Samana Bay. The Yaque del Sur also begins in the Cordillera Central and flows for most of its 80 miles through jungle, out into Bahía de Neiba on the south coast.