Santo Domingo: Culture and Nightlife
Arrive in Santo Domingo mid-morning and check intoÂ El Beaterio
Â in theÂ Ciudad Colonial
. Grab an outdoor Dominican lunch on the sidewalk terrace ofÂ CafeterÃa El Conde
Â and enjoy the views of theÂ Parque ColÃ³n
Â and theÂ Catedral Primada de AmÃ©rica
Â while you eat.
Walk lunch off by exploring the areaâ€™s stunning architecture and museums on foot, or rent a bike fromÂ Zona Bici.Â Make your way downÂ Calle Las Damas,Â visiting theÂ Fortaleza Ozama,Â Museo de las Casas Reales,Â andÂ AlcÃ¡zar de ColÃ³n,the former palatial home of Diego ColÃ³n, son of Christopher Columbus.
For dinner, indulge in the seafood tasting menu atÂ Patâ€™e Palo,, the first-ever tavern in the Americas. Afterward, walk over to LulÃº Tasting Bar for a cocktail on a colonial terrace. If itâ€™s a Friday or Saturday, catch the freeÂ Santo Domingo de FiestaÂ folkloric dance show on the far end ofÂ Plaza de EspaÃ±a.Â If itâ€™s a Sunday, walk over to theÂ San Francisco RuinsÂ for the cityâ€™s most popular outdoor merengue, son, and salsa concert.
The SamanÃ¡ Peninsula: Beaches and Seaside Landscapes
Rise early and walk down Santo Domingoâ€™sÂ MalecÃ³n,Â the waterfront promenade, to the neoclassical, neighboringÂ GazcueÂ district. Have a Dominican breakfast atÂ Hermanos Villar,Â a cafeteria buffet with staples such as fried cheese andÂ mangÃº.
Ready for those sugary white beaches? Head north to theÂ SamanÃ¡ PeninsulaÂ by coach bus withÂ Caribe ToursÂ or by rental car (get your toll change ready). Enjoy spectacular views of coconut plantations on the 3-hour journey before arriving inÂ Las Galeras.
Check intoÂ Villa SerenaÂ and have lunch there. Walk to the main village beach and arrange for your next day boat ride to three of the areaâ€™s most beautiful beaches, and then spend the afternoon at nearbyÂ La Playita,Â a less crowded stretch of white sand with shallow turquoise waters.
If youâ€™d rather have a little more adventure, spend the afternoon horseback riding along the shoreline withÂ Rudyâ€™s Rancho.Â At sunset, walk back to the main village beach bar and join the locals with some rum and loud merengue or bachata music. For dinner, enjoy a casual Italian meal in the village atÂ Ristorante Roma.
From the main beach, get whisked off to the Atlantic shores and towering cliffs of Las Galeras. Youâ€™ll have an entire day swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling at threeÂ postcard-perfect beaches:Â Playa Madama, Playa FrontÃ³n,Â andÂ Playa RincÃ³n.Â After your excursion, have dinner at a romantic cliff-top table atÂ El CabitoÂ and take in Las Galeras one last time.
Hop in a private taxi or catch aÂ guaguaÂ (local bus) to funkyÂ Las Terrenas.Â Check into your cabin atÂ Casas del Mar NeptuniaÂ and walk over to the beachfront. Stroll its length down toÂ Playa Las BallenasÂ and have an affordable French gourmet lunch atÂ La Vela Blanca.Â Spend an afternoon swimming and sunning on the beach.
For dinner, grab a seafront table atÂ La TerrasseÂ along the livelyÂ Pueblo de los PescadoresÂ restaurant row. Head over toÂ ReplayÂ and dance the night away to Dominican and international tunes. Arrange for a taxi toÂ El Catey AirportÂ the next day, or continue on your trip.
Puerto Plata and Cabarete: Cultural Tourism and Water Sports
Rise at dawn and head toÂ Puerto Plata,Â four hours by car and five hours by public bus. Admire the rustic beauty of the North Coast as you pass multiple fishing villages. Once in Puerto Plata, grab lunch atÂ CafÃ© TropicalÂ and then continue on toÂ TubaguaÂ village by taxi or car, another 20 minutes into the countryside.
Drop your bags in your cabin atÂ Tubagua Eco LodgeÂ and take in the panoramic hilltop and sea views. The lodgeâ€™s local guide Juanin will take you on a three-hour hike through Tubagua village to gorgeous falls and pools atÂ Charcos de los Militares.Â If youâ€™d prefer to see the DRâ€™s famous amber mines or a nearby coffee plantation, you can arrange it through your host at the lodge. Return to the lodge to enjoy the sunset while soaking in the pool tub.
Head out early by car or taxi to explore the northwest coast, stopping first at theÂ Estero Hondo Marine Mammal Sanctuary.Â Go on a guided hike around the reserveâ€™s mangroves and observe over a dozen manatees from a lookout tower. Continue on to nearbyÂ Playa Ensenada,Â for a Dominican lunch at one of several beachfront food shacks.
After lunch, head to adjacentÂ Punta Rucia Beach,Â where you will find boat captains ready to take you to offshoreÂ Cayo Arena.Â The boat will take you through the mangrove channels of theÂ Monte Cristi National Park.Â Spend the rest of the afternoon snorkeling around the gorgeous corals off this tiny cay.
Head back toÂ Puerto PlataÂ city and check intoÂ Boutique Hotel El Palacio.Â Walk over toÂ SkinaÂ for dinner. This longtime local favorite serves authentic Dominican and Latin dishes.
If youâ€™re up for it, catch the sunrise along Puerto Plataâ€™sÂ MalecÃ³n.Â Grab a morning breakfast and admire the Victorian architecture atÂ Heladeria Mariposa,Â across fromÂ Parque Independencia.
Head to Puerto Plata airport for your flight home, or continue your trip and hop into aÂ carritoÂ (local shared taxi) heading toÂ Cabarete.Â Check into the beachfrontÂ Villa Taina HotelÂ and grab a light sandwich atÂ Mojito Bar,Â a short walk away. Spend the day learning how to windsurf or kitesurf atÂ Kite Beach.
Later, have a beachfront dinner atÂ La Casita de PapiÂ for authentic Dominican seafood; burn the calories off at the two-storyÂ Lax OjoÂ dance club,Â Onnoâ€™s Bar,Â or one of the other numerous beachfront dance spots.
Jarabacoa and Constanza: Countryside Lifestyle
Experience the stunning mountainside of the DR inÂ Jarabacoa,Â about a two-hour trip by car or bus. Check intoÂ Jarabacoa Mountain HostelÂ and head out for a casual Dominican lunch atÂ El TaÃno.
From there, meet up with local guide David fromÂ Jarabacoa Eco Adventures,Â who will take you on a horseback or motorbike ride toÂ Salto de BaiguateÂ for a swim in refreshingly cool waters.
In the evening, hop in a taxi for dinner at the mountaintopÂ Aroma de la MontaÃ±a. Pick a candlelit table on the outdoor terrace and dine with views of theÂ Cordillera Central.
After breakfast at the hostel, head out to neighboringÂ ConstanzaÂ by car or with CÃ©sar ofÂ Sindi-Taxi,riding throughÂ El TireoÂ village and its vast fields of vegetable crops and flower plantations. Once there, enjoy a fresh vegetable pizza and strawberry batida atÂ Antojitos de Lauren.
Drive up toÂ El Divino NiÃ±o Monument,Â just outside of the town center, to meet the 48-feet high statue overlooking Constanzaâ€™s hills. Head back to town for a local Ferringer brew at the funkyÂ La EsquinaÂ bar, a local favorite.
If youâ€™re able to rent an all-terrain vehicle, drive toÂ Valle Nuevo National Park,Â one of the DRâ€™s natural wonders, and hike through its pine forests with a guide fromÂ Villa PajÃ³n Eco-Lodge.Â Head back to Jarabacoa for the night and have dinner atÂ Pizza and Pepperoni.
Grab an early coffee and breakfast fromÂ La TinajaÂ in downtown Jarabacoa before heading back to Santiago for your flight home. Hop onÂ Caribe ToursÂ (the bus terminal is a short walk from La Tinaja) or get a private taxi ride to the airport.