One of the up and coming venues for a superb holiday in the sun is undoubtedly the Dominican Republic. The island that Columbus christened 'Hispaniola' that has since become the home of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is still little known to many travellers. It is surprising but there are still many people who don't even know that the Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean!

However for those who have visited this tropical paradise, it leaves an indelible mark on their hearts, and few fail to return for further sojourns! Indeed Columbus is reputed to have said that he thought it the most beautiful land he had ever seen...and he saw quite a few amazing places!

The Dominican Republic is a truly tropical country, with weather to prove it. During summer, when there is normally almost ceaseless sunshine, the winds can 'whip up' and a sudden torrential downpours can periodically appease the stifling heat. Within minutes, though, the clouds and rain are on their way, and the blistering sun takes centre stand once again. So even though the summer through to autumn is technically the 'hurricane season' the epithet can seem quite misleading for most of that time, in a typical year!

For some, the very best time to visit the Dominican Republic is the late winter or spring time. From January through April the weather is usually dry and sunny, but the heat is less intense and stifling - which means you have the best of both worlds. Because this time of year is not the main holiday season for sun seekers from the UK, the US, Canada, France and Germany - it is also generally less crowded in the major Dominican holiday resorts.

One particular bonus you get when visiting the Dominican Republic between January and mid March is that it happens to be the 'Whale watching' season. This natural spectacle has begun to attract numerous visitors every year. Up to 10,000 humpback whales make their way thousands of miles south, from their traditional 'stomping ground', to cavort, mate and give birth in the warm tropical waters of the Bahia de Samana (Samana Bay).

Although carefully controlled to ensure minimum disturbance is caused to the 'important endeavours' of the mighty humpbacks, there are numerous Whale watching trips that sail out of Samana harbour every week during the season. Visitors are thrilled and amazed as the marine leviathans hurl themselves out of the water - 'breaching' boisterously in their efforts to impress their potential mates.

Later in the season Whale watchers can frequenty glimpse the rewarding sight of humpback mothers, or 'cows', tending to their baby calves (mind you, these 'babies' may well be 15 feet long even at birth!). It is certainly a moving experience to see these huge creatures demonstrating that they are capable of such obvious tenderness. (It is almost unbelievable that these marvellous mammals are now an endangered species thanks to the persistence of 'human' predators!)

Additional thrills for marine-life enthusiasts are also provided during this marvellous time by the much-loved clowns of the sea! Community groups, or 'Pods' as they are called, of lively Spotter dolphin frequently accompany the Whale-watching boats in and out of Samana harbour. They can be seen chasing each other ahead of the boats and generally acting in the playful and athletic manner that has made these lovely creatures such a favourite.

Few can deny that the Dominican Republic offers an amazing combination of special experiences on land - with terrains as varied as tropical forest, alpine-style mountain ranges, gold and silver beaches plus unforgettable romantic sunsets, and friendly smiling locals...But for those who visit this gem of a country in the early part of the year the additional thrills of witnessing the spectacle of the humpback whales, and the delightful dolphins surely makes the vacation memories all the more vivid and enduring!

By Al Smith - author and co-developer, with his wife, Dominican born, Ruth Ramos de Smith and her sister Esther Ramos of a premier website resource featuring articles, contacts, information and links for anyone visiting the Dominican Republic on vacation, for business, or seeking that perfect Caribbean investment property or retirement villa. The site includes plenty of information about Dominican republic holiday resorts and more about whale watching in the Dominican Republic, too!