I absolutely love traveling, and when it comes to traveling to new and warm places, I freak out just a little bit. So this winter break I begged my dad to take my mom and I to the Dominican Republic; and to my delightful surprise, he said yes! So with a triumphant face and excited spirits, I packed my suitcase (a week before departure, that’s how excited I was) and was all set to leave. Half of my suitcase contained bathing suits and the other half summer clothing (what else?)
We decided to travel around the D.R by car to try to get as much as possible out of our experience. Our first stop was Santo Domingo, the capital; you could describe the city as a defined mix between a former historical civilization and modern poverty-stricken disarray. With an antique old town in the center of the city, it’s easy to stroll around and do some sightseeing, whereas the city surrounding the old town is quite chaotic.
However, the D.R has many more other attributes, not only Santo Domingo’s historical charm. Our next stop was Barahona, a typical developing country town. If you want to go to the D.R and stop here I would recommend to stay at a nice isolated hotel. That’s what my family and I did and we loved it. Right next to our hotel there was a deserted beach that was within walking distance (perfect for some topless tanning, I might add).
Next were some other quaint and picturesque towns but my personal favorite was Bayahibe. This was a characteristically small pueblito that had a lot of charm and a busy beach filled with motorboats that would go to the highly touristy island of Saona, just an hour or so away. Isla Sanoa is an absolute must visit that includes a beautiful salty beach, fresh coconuts, blistering sun, palm trees, comfortable hammocks, and cheap massages. Perfectly magnificent.
Our next and final stop was in Punta Cana, the somewhat usual obvious choice for all-inclusive resorts. There isn’t much of a town in Punta Cana, although it has a very nice beach, which is what it’s known for (oh, and also the classically tomato-red burnt tourists). It’s a good place to go for pure leisure and absolutely no movement (only to get up to eat, adjust your tanning chair, and/or drink your piña colada). There is so much more to the Dominican Republic than all-inclusive resorts though. That’s why I recommend to take a tour of the country rather than just staying in a single spot. They have a wonderful culture with kind people, formidable native music (bachata and merengue are the chief genres), and extraordinary food.
Here are a few tips if you’re visiting the Dominican Republic:
- Dress appropriately (it’s known for men to cat-call and stare quite a lot) – loose t-shirts, cotton pants, maxi dresses, sandals, light hats, sunglasses
- Bring sunscreen – the sun is intense and you can easily get burnt
- Hydrate! – constant heat always demands for lots of water drinkin’ (coconut water is a wonderful solution; it’s good for the skin and good for health)
- Camera & charger – you’re going to be taking lots of pictures, trust me
- Dancing skills – bachata and merengue will constantly be playing, 24/7, at any restaurant, bar, boat, hotel, etc. You don’t even need to know how to dance, just appreciate the music
- Mosquito repellent – I hate those suckers too but you can’t avoid them
- Know a few Spanish words and phrases – the people will appreciate you trying and respond enthusiastically
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