I was recently invited by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism to explore the beautiful country on a road-trip adventure. The journey took us from the colonial streets of Santo Domingo to the beautiful beaches of the North Coast – Puerto Plata and Sosua – stopping along the way to explore the off-beaten path towns.
The Dominican Republic has so much to offer that my seven-day trip felt short. With breathtaking mountain scenery, vivid colonial streets, beach galore, valleys of lush tropical rainforests, and even arid semi-deserts, the Caribbean country has something for everybody!
Ah, Santo Domingo, the city where one walks through the colonial town and get transported back in time, where one finds many of the New World firsts, and where parades can surprise you at any corner.
Many visitors stopover in Santo Domingo on their way to the more alluring side of the Dominican Republic without so much as glancing at the city. But Santo Doming is packed with historical sites, tasty restaurants, and many fun things to do.
Where to Stay in Santo Domingo
Located in the heart of the Colonial city, the hotel offers luxurious comfort with an intimate atmosphere. Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando’s building dates back to 1502, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to mention, it houses one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city- Dos Mundos headed by chef Martín Omar.
If you are an interior design geek, Casa XVI is a must. The colonial houses turned boutique hotel, will have you feeling like a 16th-century Spanish nobility – One of the houses used to belong to Oscar de La Renta!
Where to Eat in Santo Domingo
The restaurant headed by the “Ambassador of the Dominican Cuisine” – Martin Omar – aims to elevate the Dominican gastronomy for the ever-evolving local’s palate as well as their international guests. Dos Mundos offers a tasting menu that changes every season but still rooted in the Dominican traditions.
For an explosion of vibrant colors and music, Jalao offers delicious food and a great atmosphere for those looking for a great time and a place to satisfy their bellies. At Jalao, you will find traditional Dominican food as well as drinks.
For another great eat in the Zona Colonial, Meson D’Bari offer mouth-watering stewed crab, empanadas, and goat stew, amid an eclectic mix of paintings and colors.
Barran Payan – the city worst kept secret – the fast food restaurant is a very popular spot among locals. Serving delicious sandwiches that will satisfy any big eater. Their delicious fruit smoothies is a must as well.
TIME Vegetarian Kitchen
TIME Vegetarian Kitchen is a crowd pleaser for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Their dishes are not only creative but also delicious.
Things to Do in Santo Domingo
The old colonial town – Zona Colonial – will transport you back in time with its architecture and historical sites. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Zona Colonial is the perfect place to spend your day exploring, eating, and shopping.
Rum Barcelo Tour
One can’t visit Santo Domingo and not take a tour at one of their famous rum factories! With a little of rum tasting and a brief history lesson, Rum Barcelo Tour is a fun activity to add to your itinerary.
Its crystalline water, white sand, and proximity to Santo Domingo is no surprise Boca Chica is a hugely popular spot for locals and tourists. The beach can be enjoyed at posh restaurants/bars with cabanas or at the beach among locals sipping fresh coconut water.
The first monastery in the new world!
Mamey Librería Cafe
Cute coffee shop.
Coffee shop meets shoe store – This is my kind of place!
Santiago may not be the most popular town on the list but it’s a charming place for a quick stop.
Nested between the towering mountain of Isabel de Torres and the Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Plata boasts the most extensive collection of pastels Victorian-style houses in the Caribbean. The town once neglected has been revitalized and now ready to impresses its eager visitors.
Where to Stay in Puerto Plata
When in the Dominican Republic, is hard resist staying at a gorgeous colonial style hotel – enters Casa Colonial. The exquisite boutique hotel boasts lush greenery, cabanas by the beach, and a dock where one can enjoy the morning breakfast amid the sound of crashing ocean wave.
Things to Do in Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata Plaza
Take a stroll in the plaza and its surrounding. If it gets too hot, get an ice cream at Heladeria Mariposa or a fresh coconut water!
For a panoramic view of the region, take the cable car to the top. You know what they say, the best view is always at the top!
Want to feel like you live on your private island? Check out the small key of Cayo Arena aka Paradise Island. Crystal clear water and powdery white sand surround the low-lying island. Make sure to go early in the morning to have the key all to yourself – go latter, and you will be surrounded by hordes of people.
Located on the north coast of Dominican Republic in Puerto Plata, Sosúa offers beautiful beaches with abundant marine life for those looking for a city escape. The town famous for its nightlife is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic.
Where to Stay in Sosúa
Sosúa Ocean Village Deluxe
Treat yourself to a breath-taking oceanfront private villa. Each villa can fit 6-8 people and, includes a private pool and a golf cart!
Things to Do in Sosúa
Enjoy a day at the Sosúa Bay among locals and have freshly caught fish for lunch!
Have you ever been to the Dominican Republic? What other places do you recommend?
Diana’s original blog post: http://inbetweenpictures.com/exploring-the-dominican-republic/