Baseball: This is not only the national sport, but also a national obsession, and even the smallest communities have floodlit stadia. The center of the country’s baseball is the industrial seaport of San Pedro de Macoris. Many Dominican players go on to play in the US major leagues. Juan Marichal, whose pitching exploits for the San Francisco Giants landed him a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is now the country’s Director of Sports. The professional winter season runs from October to January. Visitors should ask local people or look in the local paper for schedules and the nearest game.
Water Sports: The opportunities for water sports in the Dominican Republic are excellent. Although some shores are rough and rocky, there are magnificent stretches of beach suitable for swimming. For scuba-diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, there is reef diving, good visibility, warm waters, wrecks, caverns and a rich marine life. Good dive sites include Sosúa (near Puerto Plata); Cabrera (freshwater cave diving with an underground lake); Las Terrenas; the Sasmaná peninsula; Punta Rucia (good for coral diving); La Caleta National Underwater Park (accessible by boat from Boca Chica); Catalina and Saona islands (accessible by boat from La Romana); and Barahona (an area currently being developed for ecotourism). Experienced divers can also join the North Caribbean Research Group and participate in a government-funded project to recover and remove artifacts from sunken ships (some dating back to the 16th century); details can be obtained by e-mail (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Snorkeling and diving equipment can be borrowed or hired from dive operators and resort hotels. Small sailing craft are available through hotels in Santo Domingo and most other resorts in the country. Boat trips to the marine caves of the Gri Gri Lagoon near Sosúa are a popular tourist attraction. Hotels also organize charter boats for offshore fishing for marlin, sailfish, dorado, benittos and other game fish. River fishing in flat-bottomed boats with guides can be arranged at La Romana, Boca de Yuma and on the north coast. Windsurfing is particularly good in Cabarete, which also hosts the Professional Windsurfing Association World Cup.
Adventure Sports: The Dominican Republic was quick to jump onto the adventure sports bandwagon and, hence, has well-developed facilities for the usual range of adrenalin-generating sports. Whitewater rafting is available on the Río Yaque del Norte in Jarabacoa. The best places for tubing, in which participants individually float down the rapids in oversized rubber tubes, are on the Río Jamao del Norte, the Río Yaque del Norte and the Río Isabela in Santo Domingo. Cascading involves climbing up to the top of a waterfall and rappelling down the cascade tied to a rope; the best places to do this are Cascada del Limón, Cascada Ojo de Agua, El Salto de Baiguate and El Salto de Jimenoa. Cannoning, which is cascading minus the rope (meaning that practitioners climb up a river gorge and then jump into the river below), is popular at La Madajagua in Imbert and the Jarabacoa area.
Trekking and Hiking: The best places for trekking are Jarabacoa, the Constanza Valley, and the Nuevo Valley. Hiking and climbing enthusiasts may join the locals’ annual pilgrimage to the Caribbean’s highest mountain, the Pico Duarte (3210m/10,7000ft), which they can conquer either on foot or by riding a mule. Similar tours can also be made at El Mogote, Mount Isabel de Torres, Pico Yaque and, in the southwest, the Sierra de Bahoruco.
Horse Back Riding: Dominicans love horse back riding and their country offers some of the best riding in the Caribbean. Regular polo games are held at Sierra Prieta in Santo Domingo and at Casa de Campo near La Romana where guests can join in the twice weekly competitions.
Golf: There are nine championship golf courses (and several others under construction), many of which are bordered by the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Following on from the 42nd Caribbean Golf Championships, which were held in the Dominican Republic in 1998, the country continues to actively promote itself as a major international golf destination. Some of the best courses can be found at La Romana Country Club, Casa de Campo, Dientes de Perro (Teeth of the Dog), Playa Dorada (designed by Robert Trent Jones), Gran Diablo Links (the planned location for the country’s first Golf Academy) and Santo Domingo Country Club. For more information, contact the Federation of Dominican Golf (FEDOGOLF), Aut. Duarte KM 201, Santo Domingo (tel: 231 4719 or 231 4720; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.fedogolf.org.do).