The Dominican Republic isn’t just another Caribbean vacation where you stick your toes in the sand and relax on a beach. I discovered that the Dominican Republic is a geographically diverse country. From rugged mountain scenery to colonial architecture, desert landscape and an energetic city life, here are the top three Dominican Republic experiences you can have.

Explore the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua

The 27 waterfalls of Damajagua is a short drive from Puerto Plata. But to experience them is not for the faint of heart. You have to wade through clear pools, swim through narrow canyons, hike through the forest, and climb ladders, rocks and ropes through the powerful waterfalls. But the real adventure is on your return trip, when you plunge and slide back down the falls. Warning! Jumps are as high as 30 feet.

See Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial

History lovers will enjoy walking through Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Dominican Republic. It was the seat of Spain’s 16th century empire and has cobblestone streets and gorgeous restored mansions and. Argh Matey! The real fun is to walk in the footsteps of pirates conquistadors.

Go Whale Watching

You’ll get a kick out of watching humpback whales (from a safe and respectful distance) that migrate off the Península de Samaná to mate and give birth. For a more intimate experience, consider week-long aboard excursions in the Silver Bank, north of Puerto Plata. You can snorkel alongside the mammals. This was somewhat scary for me because I’m a squirrel. Thank goodness humpbacks don’t have any teeth.

Take a Cruise Vacation to the Dominican Republic

Get the most out of your Dominican Republic vacation with a Carnival Cruise vacation. I love cruises because they allow you to stay in one spot. Plus, the captain steers the ship. All you do is sit back and have fun as you make your way to each destination. Now that’s the way to travel!