SO MUCH TO SEE!!!
Punta Cana is on the East Coast.. spectacular beaches stretched out for miles.. Bavaro Beach, the longest, Macao Beach, Uvero Alto Beaches. Bavaro Beach is the most famous beach there, with white sand for miles, and blue water, although parts of it can be a little wavy too.. the most southern part of the beach as the calmest water.. Right around the Barcelo Bavaro complex.. There are over 55 All Inclusive hotels in that part of the island, and more are being built.. there are non All Inclusive coming too.. The hotels built are becoming more and more upscale and luxurious as more people discover the Punta Cana beaches, and spread the word.
The South Coast of the island is the most quiet.. at this point.. I don’t think it will be for long, as more people will be discovering the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, and crystal clear, calm waters, perfect for snorkelling. La Romana and the Bayahibe area is also known for the spectacular sunsets on the water. There are Catalina and Saona Islands, where you can enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty af a tropical paradise, you can visit historical site of Altos De Chavon, gorgeous property built on the cliffs, overlooking the Chavon river.
From there you can take a trip to Santo Domingo, the capital city. There are great hotels there where you can stay and enjoy a big city vacation
The North Coast is great.. busy and active, with great beaches, and great affordable resorts. The sand is not white, but amber in colour, the water is clean, but not the turquoise Caribbean blue so many tourists are looking for..
Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata is the most popular resort complex.. But there is also Sosua and Cabarete, great little towns where you can experience more of the local culture and see how the locals live and work. The towns get into the party mode at night, but you do have to be careful.. you are a tourist in a foreign country..
Cabarete is a windsurfer’s paradise.. Constant breeze attracts many people from all over the world.. waves are incredible. There are many budget hotels there that are All Inclusive, or condos where you can make your own food. There is a lot of souvenir shopping and bars and restaurants right on the beach.. you can have a dinner under the stars right on the beach.
Sosua is built around a small bay with great views. There are several All Inclusive hotels there, and smaller condos.. there are plenty of restaurants and bars where food is pretty affordable, there are also nicer restaurants, if you have special dinners planned.. The beach is light honey colour, most of the time there are no waves, as the beach is protected by the reefs not too far from the shore. Snorkelling is great there, you can rent the equipment from many vendors on the beach, and enjoy the underwater world.
Both in Sosua and Cabarete you can rent the lounge chairs on the beach, they are very affordable.. you can make friends with the Dominican people, who are very warm and welcoming.
Condé Nast Traveler magazine said in a article about winter vacation destinations titled ” More Sun for less Money” that the Samaná peninsula is one of the 25 best locations in the world. There you can find unspoiled beaches, coconut-covered mountains, tropical rain forests, and most importantly internationally known whale-watching. That area will be developing as well much to the disapointment of some naturalists, who love their quiet and peaceful vacations there.
The Dominican Republic is a large country in the second largest island in the Caribbean (Hispaniola). Depending on which airport you fly into you may be able to access different parts of the country easily.
Santo Domingo is the capital and the first city of the “New World”. It offers some great historical sites and dining/nightlife.
To the East of Santo Domingo are the famous beaches of Punta Cana perfect for a holiday of white sand, palm tree lined beaches.
The center of the island is home to “Pico Duarte” - the highest mountain in the entire Caribbean. It’s excellent for hiking.
The North Coast, or Amber Coast, of the Dominican Republic offers beautiful beaches in Puerto Plata, Sosua, and Cabarete. Cabarete is a kiteboarding and windsurfing capital of the world, one of the best places on earth to practice these fun water sports.
If you are in Santo Domingo for just one day and one night, you are in the perfect area. Since you have just 1 day I woud visit (all in walking distance) The 3 big historical attractions are
-The cathedral (first cathedral in the Americas)
-Museo de las Casa Reales
-Alcazar de Colon.
Then explore El Conde (the pedestian street right outside your hotel door), enjoy a nice restaurant in the zona colonial.
A good guide to Santo Domingo is the one published by DR1. It is free and found in many business establishments in the capital, and can also be downloaded and viewed in it’s entirety for free at dr1guide.com It’s tagline says it all. “The tourist guide that treats you like a local” it’s full of information on transportation, shopping, attractions, etc.
Boca Chica is not a place I would recommend. The ‘feel’ is not right. It has a dangerous atmosphere I did not sensed anywhere in DR. And it had quite some prostitution as well. The beach is not pretty compared to other places.
I think Mercado Modello is an interesting place to check out local stuff (yes, some junk) and experience that kind of market.
the new highway was built for easy access to samana peninsula , once you enter the Samana highway there is nothing but the gas station
Water conditions are extremely better in this area though. Specially in the Dominicus area.
Is much more clearer, transparent, turquoise, and much CALMER than Punta Cana. Some days almost like a pool!. Not one wave, even small ones.
You see many many fish right at the beach and if you bring bread you’ll be able to feed them from your hands.
If you want to be in the touristy area the Punta Cana would be the best. If you want to experience more of the local life then Bayahibe Dominicus is the place to go. You can still stay in a nice All inclusive resort while you can easy access the local village.
Round trip: AUS, IAH to PUJ, AZS, EPS, LRM, STI,SDQ , POP,
the Iberostar beach area is way calmer than the rough surf in Cortecito, where the Palladium is located.
the Budget Resorts like the Grand Oasis/Be Live, Natura Park, Barcelo Dominican Beach, Carbela Beach Resort,Occidental Grand Flamenco, Tropical Princess/Caribe Club Princess, VIK, Gran Paradise Bavaro, Barcelo Punta Cana.
tripcentral.ca gives a grid showing prices and you can narrow it down by month and resort.
I have known two “tourist” people who had accidents in rental cars. Nothing serious. Maybe $1000 max in damage to the moto concho and car combined. None of them went to jail. No one was ever charged the full price of the car. The police talked to the car rental people and made sure their was full coverage and in one case they asked for their passport for a couple days till things got sorted out. The police also verified where the driver was staying. If you use the right credit card for the rental even the deductible is covered. If you rent from National or Avis or one of the International companies you will bemore protected than if you rent from a local non name type. If you drive defensively you should be OK. I have driven in Montreal and NY and drive here for 3.5 years. I think I prefer driving here!
Mitsubishi Outlander 6px is $105/day
Major car rental companies have airport, hotel and city locations. Do not cut corners when choosing your rental car service. Also take out the extra insurance plan that is available. If you suffer an accident that dents your car, for instance, the insurance will prevent delays or hassles. All you will have to do is visit the nearest police station and declare the accident. To do so, have the other party accompany you, or just take his name, insurance company, license number, cedula and car registration (license plate) number. A valid driver’s license and major credit card is required to rent a car for up to 90 days. You must be at least 21 years old.
Driving is on the right hand side and the speed limit is 60 kph in the cities and up to 100 kph on the highways, unless otherwise indicated. Getting around the DR is easy on a network of highways that branch out from Santo Domingo, the capital city. Roads inside towns and cities may not be in perfect condition so watch for large holes and oversized speed bumps.
Domestic travel times
Santo Domingo-Puerto Plata 3-1/2 hour
Santo Domingo-Santiago 1-1/2 hours
Santo Domingo-Jarabacoa 1-1/2 hours
Santo Domingo-Constanza 2 hours Santo Domingo-Boca Chica 1/2 hour
Santo Domingo-Juan Dolio 40 minutes
Santo Domingo-Bayahibe 2 hours
Santo Domingo-La Romana 1-1/2 hours
Santo Domingo-Punta Cana 3-1/2 hours
Santo Domingo-Samana 4 hours or 2 hours on toll road
Puerto Plata-Samana 3-1/2 hours
Santo Domingo-Barahona 3 hours
If you go to Bayahibe, I highly recommend you take the 45-minute boat ride to Saona Island and/or visit Isla Catalinita.
Reaching Isla Saona is easiest via Bayahibe, where there are a number of independent excursion vendors. A reasonable price to expect for a ride from Bayahibe to Isla Saona is about RD$1,000–2,000 per person.
La Piscina Natural, or Palmilla, as it’s sometimes called, is a starfish-dotted sandbar in the waters between the Parque Nacional del Este and Isla Saona coastlines. Excursion boats whisking their customers to and from Isla Saona make a stopover in this spot where, more than a kilometer off the coast, one can wade around in clear water that never gets above the waist. It is a unique experience to be able to walk in the Caribbean Sea so far from land.
Full Day Saona and Catalinita (Including buffet and drinks). 79.00/pp
Sharks, Stingrays, and Sunshine
Punta Cana drive around tour; we can DIY.
this is an idillic place in the middle of Los Haitises, they provide tour with lunch included at the hotel followed by a dip in the refreshing waterfalls that surround it.
>$100/pp, expensive tour, but kid may like it.
Bavaro Runners Safari Adventures
We had a great time on this trip. The driver was great, as was our tour guide “munchie”, safe vehicles. You get to see sugar cane field, tobacco, and how they are made and processed into rum. You also see the mountains, and experience a nice dominican style lunch. You also see a school, visit a beautiful beach, and a typical dominican home, where you get to try fresh coffee, coco, etc. Very neat trip for people who enjoy culture and adventure, i highly recommend it! I do however feel like this trip wouldnt be good for kids, its a nice couples trip, but kids will get bored, unless they enjoy culture etc.
Horseback Riding Punta Cana
Secrets Excellence has sunset horseback ride
El Pat Ranch. We booked it through our rep at the hotel.$50 US for a two hour ride along the beach.
Rancho El Diferente
Parque nacional los haitises (NP @Sabana de la Mar)
Paraíso Caño Hondo (Sabana de la Mar, tel. 809/248-5995, cell 809/889-9454,
Tours start around US$45 (including guide, lunch, and entrance fee).
The road from Miches to Sabana de la Mar is notoriously horrendous. You will need an SUV and a strong stomach. If you still insist on driving it on your own, just don’t drive at night since drivers tend to swerve to avoid potholes, sometimes without headlights!
El Salto del Limon
waterfall, horseback riding uphill, need to pick a nice stable.
Terry at email@example.com
La Playita is one of the best places on the whole peninsula to snorkel.The food at the beach restaurant is very good with fresh fish as their specialty.
the Devil’s blowhole
prices of some souveniers
All colmados and supermarkets will sell Dominican rum and it will be cheaper here than on the beach. IMO the best is Barcelo Imperial. The most popular is Brugal. They sell it in small bottles and it makes a good present. Another option is Dominican coffee - eg Cafe Santo Domingo.
The main tourist market is on Avenida Mella (just north of the Zona Colonial and is called Mercado Modelo - (referred to above as the balck market - never heard of it described as that). It has many stalls inside mostly selling stuff from Haiti. At the back are various stalls selling potions etc related to santeria.
The main things we buy when we are there are from the supermarket - coffee, rum and cigars + the local music - merengue.
Santo Domingo is a city for shoppers
The Mercado Modelo at Avenida Mella, a farmer’s market turned into giant gift shop, offers the largest selection of handicrafts. Several gift shops are located on Arzobispo Merino and Isabel la Catolica in the Colonial City. Shopping venues are located in the 27 de Febrero to Gustavo Mejia Ricart environs, including Plaza Central, Plaza Lama, Plaza Naco, Americana Departamentos, Hache, Acropolis, Plaza Bolera, Cuesta, Bella Vista, Diamond large stores.
Horseback riding at Punta Cana
Rancho El Diferente. They sell the rides on the property at Dreams Punta Cana and other hotels, but even if they don’t sell them directly through your hotel they can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (809) 552-6322, (809) 342-1639 and (809) 498-3482.
el pat ranch, a little bit expensive.
pandora ranch, horse is not in good shape.
Rancho Caribeno - recently recommend
— Appendix —
Barahona-Enriquillo Coastal Highway
This is perhaps the most splendidly scenic highway in the Caribbean, exceptional in its views of a multi-colored sea, untamed stretches of dense forest, sparkling rivers and towering green mountains. Visitors to this area are few and the simple ways of traditional village life may be glimpsed along the route. Wave to the residents and they will smilingly wave back. It’s a lush landscape of brilliant greens, complemented by millions of graceful yellow butterflies and the melodies of innumerable birds.
In Boca Chica, the main shopping strip is one block up from and parallel to the beach. It’s only about 5 or 6 blocks long, but it has everything you need to take back home: rum, cigars, artwork, crafts etc.
I will suggest 4PUJ-3Bayahibe-3PUJ for hotels.
suggest car rental for 5 days in the middle of trip.
day 1 - arrive
day 4 - Road trip PUJ - Sabana del la Ma, NP Los Haitises
day 5 - Catalina island tour
day 6 - two islands tour
day 7 - St Domingo road trip (option)
day 8 - sunset horse riding at beach
day 11 - fly home