When nothing but a clear white beach and warm blue seas will do, find your own idyllic getaway in the Dominican Republic.

LEVEL flies from Terminal B at Punta Cana international airport. Most hotels and resorts offer connection services from the airport and in addition there is a large taxi rank outside the main arrivals entrance.

Things to do in Punta Cana

There’s much more to this Dominican Republic paradise than its beautiful beaches. The mix of historical, geographical and cultural influences in the former Spanish colony is what keeps people coming back.

1. Enjoy the life aquatic

If you’ve ever dreamt of swimming with dolphins, there are few better places than in the crystal clear waters of Punta Cana. At Dolphin Island Park join the friendly animals for an acrobatic show and a dorsal fin tow. Brave souls can also opt to snorkel with sharks and stingrays. At Seaquarium you can get close to tropical fish and even a shipwreck without getting your hair wet. Simply slip on a helmet (which is attached to an air tube) and you’re ready to slip beneath the waves and start walking along the seabed. You’re attached by rope to the boat and an instructor is there to guide you on your way.

2. Giddy up

HorsePlay Tours offers horseback tours of its sprawling 300-acre ranch, including lush plantations, rivers and green space. A full day tour includes a cultural exploration of local villages to learn about Dominican customs, history and traditions, as well as zip-lining and the chance to sample locally produced coffee and chocolate.

3. Go deeper underground

The Cuevas de las Maravillas (‘cave of wonders’) may be an hour-long drive from Punta Cana, but it’s worth the trip to goggle at the ancient caves filled with stalactites, stalagmites and geologic columns in reef limestone. In addition to the coral formations, there are also hundreds of petroglyphs, pictographs, and engravings by Taíno Indians, who inhabited the caves between 800 and 500 years ago. You can explore around 656ft of the caves on foot via paths that wind through the galleries, with a guided tour taking an hour.

4. Eat local

Dominican food is influenced by African, Spanish, and Taíno Indian cuisines, meaning it’s rich and delicious. Join hungry locals at the open-air La Posada de Gladys and order a steaming bowl of sancocho soup – a national dish, made with white rice, red beans, and chicken. For striking sea views, make a reservation at The Jellyfish and ask for a beachfront table. The fresh seafood on the menu comes in daily to the dock next door. Try the lobster tails with butter sauce, washed down with fruity sangría.

5. Step back in time

The bustling modern city of Santo Domingo is certainly worth a visit to learn more about the history of the Dominican Republic. Admire 16th century architecture in the Unesco-listed Zona Colonial, cross the threshold of the first cathedral in the Americas, and marvel at the European art at the Alcázar de Colón. For photo opportunities, visit the towering Columbus Lighthouse – a cross-shaped monument to the explorer. The Dominican Republic was the first place he reached on his journey.