La Romana

With miles of pristine beaches; an unspoiled, centuries-old National Park; several world-class golf courses; an American-style casino and a rich assortment of full-featured resorts, La Romana—an emerging tourist destination on the Dominican Republic's southeast coast—is the ideal vacation destination for honeymooners, families, water sports enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers and golfers.

From the moment you arrive on Hispaniola—the Caribbean's second-largest island (Haiti occupies the western third and the Dominican Republic the eastern two-thirds)—any pressures or anxieties from home quickly dissipate. Warm, tropical weather (average year-round temperatures range from 78-88 degrees) coaxes you from the airport as you head to La Romana (you can arrive by boat, too; many cruise lines stop in La Romana). La Romana's Teeth of the Dog golf course has been ranked as one of the 50 best in the world

Upon arrival, expect to be greeted by your resort's staff with a welcome cocktail (Brugal rum is the drink of choice). Dominicans are gracious, friendly hosts, and stories of your Dominican travel experience will undoubtedly include interactions with locals. (Conversation-starter tip: Brush up on your baseball trivia before arriving; Dominicans are huge fans of the sport. Something like, "I love Big Papi, how 'bout you?" will work great.)

Turf and Surf

Once you've settled into your room, grab some powerful sunscreen—even on the cloudiest days in the Dominican Republic, you'll need it—and head for the nearest beach, which is onsite at any of La Romana's major resorts. Recognized internationally as some of the Caribbean's most dramatic and beautiful beaches, La Romana's sand spots have been certified "Blue Flag," an exclusive eco-label presented to beaches and marinas that demonstrate strict adherence to water quality, environmental management and safety practices. Although you can spend a great deal of your vacation snoozing comfortably seaside, even the most stalwart landlubbers will want to venture out into the inviting Caribbean waters, even if just to cool a rapidly developing tan. The fifth hole of La Estancia golf course

Although swimming is the popular activity here, sailing, snorkeling, wind- surfing, kayaking and fishing are equally popular sports that can be enjoyed at any of La Romana's resorts. And with the Caribbean's endless blue and green waters as a landscape, guests can swim, drift and paddle with nary a thought of e-mail, Tivo or when you'll finally earn that long overdue promotion.

Scuba fans will love the diving opportunities along the shores of La Romana, some of the Caribbean's best. Below the clear blue waters lies an undersea world with unlimited opportunities for exploration, with ancient shipwrecks, underwater caverns and stunning coral reefs all beckoning visitors. There are more than 120 species of tropical fish here, all for you to meet firsthand as you venture out from any one of La Romana's 28 dive sites. And no matter where you're staying, all La Romana resorts offer on-site PADI certified dive centers, making booking excursions fast and easy.

Wealth of Activities

La Romana is renowned internationally for its championship golf courses, including three Pete Dye-designed courses (its Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo resort has been ranked as one of the world's 50 best) and a brand new P.B. Dye course. All offer rates that are significantly less than what you'd pay for similar caliber courses stateside, and tee times are far easier to reserve, too. Ask your resort's guest services rep for help. Tips

Make time for at least one off-resort excursion. Whether you want to explore the prehistoric Maravillas Cave, visit the recreated 16th-century village of Altos de Chavon, sail the Caribbean on a catamaran, or rent an ATV and cruise through local sugar cane fields, local tour operators can provide you with all the support you need to explore La Romana in great detail (and at modest prices).

While your resort will provide all of the familiar foods and drinks from home, try local specialties that include pescado con coco (fish cooked in coconut milk sauce) and catibias (meat-filled flour fritters). And don't forget to wash both down with a properly chilled Presidente, the beer of choice for Dominicans.

With your belly properly nourished, it's time for some after-hours entertainment. You could meringue—and do the cha-cha—poolside with your resort's ever-cheerful staff. Or you could catch the tail end of the typical cruise ship-like entertainment revue that your resort probably offers (with enough Brugal in your system, who couldn't enjoy a Captain & Tenille-themed karaoke contest?). Or, if you're the gaming type, you might want to head over to La Romana's recently unveiled American-style casino, the Dominicus Casino. The bustling venue offers an assortment of games for all budgets, great eating options and Vegas-style shows. And no need to worry about dishing out big bucks for roundtrip taxi transfers: The casino offers daily complimentary shuttles to and from all major resorts.

Make no mistake: Although La Romana is an emerging vacation region, its facilities are in no way raw and unpolished. They're first class in every respect, ensuring a vacation experience that will exceed the expectations of even the most cultivated travelers.