Dominican Republic is a mecca for animal and nature lovers for many reasons. Over 7,500 animal species can be found throughout the country. The endemic species that can be found in the country include 32 bird species, 4 mammal species, 147 reptilian species and 2,569 invertebrate species. Whether you’re a bird watcher, a fan of amphibians and reptilians or hoping to catch a glimpse of majestic sea mammals, Dominican Republic is full of fascinating fauna.
To help in your exploration, here are three animals that you can see in their natural habitats while in Dominican Republic.
- Whales in Samaná
Off the northeast region coast of Samaná, 1,500 to 2,000 humpback whales migrate every year to mate, give birth and nurse their calves. The whale watching season runs from January to March and draws more than 50,000 visitors each year.
If you want to see these gentle giants for yourself, book a guided boat tour or watch whales on land from the observatory at Punta Balandra. Extreme aficionados can book an experience with a local outfitter to swim alongside the whales in the ocean. Be sure to use a professional guide through a reputable company that is committed to ensuring peaceful encounters between humans and whales.
Looking for more information about our friendly visitors? Make sure to visit the Whale Museum, located in the town of Santa Bárbara de Samaná. Exhibits include the full, 40-foot skeleton of a humpback whale found in 1993 along the rocky coastline between Santa Bárbara de Samaná and Las Galeras.
- Rhinoceros iguanas in the Southwest Region
The rhinoceros iguana is native to Hispaniola island, and it’s also a protected species. One of the best places to catch a glimpse of the rare iguana is inside the protected Lago Enriquillo and Isla Cabritos National Park, located between the provinces of Independencia and Bahoruco. The rhinoceros iguana can also be spotted in other dry areas such as Peravia, Barahona, Pedernales, Montecristi, Cotubanamá National Park and Isla Beata.
Within Jaragua National Park, head to the Laguna de Oviedo to watch for iguanas. This saltwater lake is the largest lagoon in the country. It’s also a prime bird-watching area, where you can also spot great egrets, pelicans, herons and flamingos. Book a one- to three-hour tour early in the morning for the best wildlife viewing, and to avoid the intense midday heat.
Fun fact: Dominican Republic is the only country in the Caribbean with two endemic species of rock iguanas: rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta) and Ricord´s iguana (Cyclura ricordii).
- Birds at Los Haitises National Park
Dominican Republic is home to 32 endemic bird species, and one of the best ways to see them for yourself is on a birdwatching excursion to the Los Haitises National Park in Samaná.
This eco-paradise in the northeast of the country is known for its distinctive mangroves, which are accessible by boat and offer the best wildlife sightings. Keep an eye out for bird colonies and the endangered Ridgway’s Hawk, woodpeckers, piculets, pelicans, herons, the Hispaniolan Amazon or Cotorra and countless other birds. For a more active adventure, conquer the mangroves by kayak and take in the lush site of one of Dominican Republic’s last remaining rainforests.
Los Haitises National Park is home to 230 bird species, out of which 78 are resident, 13 are endemic and 32 are migratory, making it the perfect location for birdwatchers.
Which animals have you spotted in Dominican Republic? Share your photos by posting to social media and tagging @godomrep.