The place hasn't changed much since Columbus discovered it. There are still the green hills and sleepy rivers and azure surf rolling in on unspoiled beaches. But part of old Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic, is at last reaching out for a role in leisure and the good life. In years to come, a new Caribbean vacationland will emerge, starting with La Romana, the resort pictured here, a place keyed to sport and sunshine. At right, cover girl Tannia Rubiano and Cynthia Korman splash through the surf. More Dominican scenes unfold on the next pages, followed by a report on a lost paradise regained.

Warmed by the Caribbean sun, life in the Dominican Republic is a blend of colorful scenes, from the beaches near La Romana, where Carmen Luísa Vela frolics in vivid ruffles at left and below, to Peligro, a ranch where Latin cowpokes—who still pack six-guns—round up herds in a tropic version of the Old West.

Future La Romana vacationers will find a dramatic golf course where the first seven holes swing along the ocean, as well as warm pleasures like the hotel's private beach—accessible only by sea or air. In such seclusion tops and cares may be discarded; Tannia (center) does both, and Carmen casts shadows in the sand.

There are spirited Morgan horses to ride (that is Dominican polo star Alfonso Paniagua with Tannia) and there are spirited—and elusive—tarpon and snook in the lazy Chavon River. Not far away, at tiny Bayahibe Village, gangs of spirited, skinny-dipping kids, after rolling in the fluffy white sand, race to the water.

Sailing into the postcard sunset, Dominican fishermen head for shore along the island's north coast, while in a de la Renta costume suited to sunshine and seclusion, Cynthia relaxes on the beach near the big Nisibon Ranch.