Four Reasons the Dominican Republic Should Be on Your Travel Wish-List
The Caribbean has 25 countries and one of the most popular to visit is the Dominican Republic, located on the island of Hispaniola, alongside Haiti. It’s here that you’ll find: beautiful beaches, the tallest mountain peak in the Caribbean, year-round golf, a fast-growing economy (the second largest gold mine in the world is here) and a culture steeped, and preserved, in history. There are many reasons to vacation in the Dominican Republic, here are four solid ones:
More than 50 airlines service Punta Cana International Airport, including American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Spirit Airlines. If you’re flying into Santo Domingo Los Americas, you can hop on Delta, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United or JetBlue for easy access. A $10 Visa can be purchased upon arrival and passing through immigration is relatively simple. Both airports are clean and easy to get around.
Much to Do
Of course, the beaches are stunning, the water in Punta Cana is warm and azure, and the weather has an average annual temperature of 77-degrees Fahrenheit. Should you want to leave the beach, and your fists full of Dominican passionfruit cocktails or merengue soda, you can check out the whale watching, shop for local amber, go dancing or catch baseball fever (remember Sammy Sosa?).
Definitely make your way to Santo Domingo, a lively city of about three million people. Here you’ll find the first permanent settlement of the Americas and the oldest continually inhabited city—Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. Santo Domingo is home to the very first cathedral, castle, monastery, hospital, University, and fortress—all still standing—built in the New World. Make sure you visit Alcazar de Colon, the residence of Diego Colon, Christopher Columbus’ son. Built in 1510, this is the oldest residence in the Americas. Alcazar de Colon is located at the edge of a large square where you’ll find families eating ice cream, couples picnicking and soaking up the sun, and vendors selling candy and snacks from pint-size carts.
In Punta Cana rests two highly-rated gorgeous lodging options that are located right on the beach. Occidental Punta Cana, situated with direct access to Playa El Cortesito beach, has been recently renovated with a relaxing resort vibe. The light-and-bright accommodations are spread out and there are excellent dining options. You won’t have a hard time finding peace and quiet here. Grab a kayak and get out on the water, take part in a poolside activity like a funky foam party, dance lessons, or a yoga class, and enjoy nightly entertainment. You’ll meet, if you’re open to it, visitors from Russia, France, Italy, Canada and all over Latin America, creating a fun international experience.
Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort, nestled next to Bavaro Beach, an unruffled stretch of calm ocean, with a long and wide sandbar protected by coral reef, creates the ideal swimming spot. The water is so clear, you’ll likely spot little fish swimming around. The property is fairly large with many offerings: paddleboards, Pirate’s Island Water Park, non-motorized sports, beach volleyball and soccer, shopping promenade, casino, water polo and more. Add-on activities abound, including: banana boat rides, wind surfing, jet boats, catamarans, and scuba diving. Not to be missed at Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort: the U-Spa, with its hydrotherapy, thermal pools, terrace with private pool overlooking the ocean, and massage therapy. The spa is a welcome retreat, and where you’ll find an unobtrusive space for reading that novel uninterrupted.
In Santo Domingo, look no further than El Embajador, A Royal Hideaway Hotel. You’ll love walking around the expansive gardens, which is an amazing contrast to the concrete city. There is a lovely pool where you can relax and have a cocktail. Even though the hotel has been updated and is completely modern, the lobby has stayed traditional, full of art, with a grand piano, and classic touches that return guests have come to love. Dine at El Jardin or Los Porches Restaurant, both overlooking the garden and pool. At dusk, you can watch (and listen!) the bright green cotorra “pirate” birds as they get settled in for the night.
While at the resort, you can pretty much get any kind of food you’re looking for, from the familiar to the traditional. When you leave the hotel, or when you’re exploring Santo Domingo, you may be interested in trying a few Dominican specialties. Mangú, is a popular favorite, consisting of mashed plantains (you’ll find plantains in every variety in the Dominican Republic, including twice-fried Tostones), served with eggs, Queso Frito (fried cheese—very good) and a round salami. White rice, meat stews, shredded cabbage salads, warm casabe bread, and strong sugar-heavy coffee are also served frequently. For dessert, try Tres Leches, a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk. Tamarind balls and passionfruit cheesecake are good choices for dessert.
Travel expenses were paid for by Barceló Hotel Group.