My first trip overseas was to the beautiful country of the Dominican Republic. We stayed at a rundown resort up a hill in Sosua. Taxi drivers hated driving up the road as it was filled with potholes. It rained everyday turning the potholes into ruts, but we made the best out of it and enjoyed our visit with family. The bad weather didn’t deter us from enjoying the ocean. Ironically the sun came out on our last day and I caught the travel bug despite all this.
Since then, we’ve visited the Dominican Republic on many occasions as we had family living there. It was a way to combine a family visit with an escape to a great sun destination. Sometimes we stayed with family but we also stayed at a variety of resorts in Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada and Playa Grande. A couple of times we stayed in Punta Cana and during those trips visiting family wasn’t possible as the roads across the island are treacherous.
We also took a cruise out of Santo Domingo, the capital. The first port we visited was Isla Catalina near La Romana. The beach is beautiful with soft white sand however when going with a cruise ship it becomes much too crowded.
After the cruise we stayed in La Romana. Other places we visited on day trips from Playa Dorada were Cabarete, Playa Grande and Cayo Levantado Island of the Samaná Peninsula.
Technically the beaches are all public but some aren’t accessible unless you are a guest at one of the beach resorts. These more private beaches have less vendors passing by trying to aggressively sell you us all kinds of stuff you don’t need and fewer ladies offering to braid your hair. I did that once but undoing the braids was impossible and I had to cut my hair above the beads!
Sosua beach is a public beach and getting harassed is part of the game. We said no so many times, when we were leaving we saw they were selling t-shirts saying “what part of no don’t you understand”. We almost said yes. Be careful that after dark it can be unsafe. Cabarete is renowned for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Playa Grande has big waves with a strong undertow but it’s perfect for boogie boarding. Playa Dorada has nice beaches where we spent many days relaxing and swimming. Puerto Plata is more of a city with a sea walk and an old fort Fortaleza San Felipe, which was built in the 16th century and served as a prison. The amber museum is also a well-known attraction in this city.
Samaná Peninsula is located off the beaten path on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic and it’s lovely. There was excellent snorkeling right of the beach where we stayed in La Romana and it seemed that there were a lot more colorful fish than we had seen in other places in Dominican Republic. Punta Cana has a beautiful long beach, which makes it an excellent choice for those who enjoy long walks in the sand. We walked for hours and didn’t reach the end!
Most resorts we stayed at were adequate except for the one in Sosua. Fresh fruits were plentiful at the buffet restaurants, which was really nice. However, like at most resorts there weren’t enough chairs by the pool or on the beach to accommodate all the guests. This is probably due to the fact that some people reserve a beach chair and a pool chair just in case. Often we didn’t see anyone using them all day. Even when there was a stated policy of no reservations for chairs, it is rarely enforced and we wish guests would be more considerate of others.
The Dominican Republic is a nice place to visit especially to escape the day-to-day routine. Take your time, relax and be happy. It’s Dominican Time!!