If you love eco-adventures to see wildlife but you also prefer to relax in a jacuzzi instead of a tent at the end of the day, I have a great suggestion for you. A vacation to Punta Cana on the east coast of the Dominican Republic may be right up your alley. In Punta Cana, you can stay in a nice resort with all the luxury comforts while at the same time having easy access to some of the most amazing wildelife on Earth less than an hour away. The best way to have a thrilling experience with the wildlife in the Dominican Republic is to take Punta Cana excursions, i.e. day-trips, with a respected eco-tour operator.
The rock stars of the animal world in the Dominican Republic are the 4 species of large sea turtles (hawksbill turtles, green turtles, leatherback turtles, and logger-head turtles), the giant sting rays, the West Indian manatees (sea cows), and the bottle-nosed dolphins. Visitors to the region are also quite impressed with the extensive colonies of frigate birds, boobies, and brown pelicans roosting and nesting on the mangroves near Saona Island.
Of course, if you are into snorkeling or diving, the extensive coral reef ecosystem along the coast of the Dominican Republic will take center stage. The Dominican Republic coral reefs host literally thousands of tropical fish and invertebrate creatures so strange you may mistake them for plants at first. Regardless of whether or not you can identify all the creatures you see on the reefs, the vivid colors.and patterns will dazzle you.
There are many other fascinating animals to check out in the Dominican Republic too. These include the very large rhinoceros iguana, the agouta (solenodon) that looks a little like an anteater, and the fuzzy little hutia that looks like a cross between a guinea pig and a rat. Then there’s the hairy Cacata tarantula (also known as the Dominican tarantula) and its cousin the tailless whip scorpion. If you are into bats, you should definitely take the time to go on some excursions exploring the caves in the Parque Nacional del Este, the largest nature park in the country and less than an hour from Punta Cana. There are several interesting bat species living in these Dominican Republic caves.
While people are usually more curious about seeing exotic animals than plants, there is one plant species in the Dominican Republic that is a true star and a “must see.” The plant I am referring is the mangrove which forms dense mangrove forests. The mangroves located off the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic are easily accessed from Punta Cana by taking Punta Cana excursions. The mangrove forests also serve as vital habitat to thousands of other species. They serve as critical spawning grounds for fish and invertebrates and protect juvenile fish and sea turtles from predators. This is why conservationists world-wide and many Dominicans are so interested in conserving them.