What to see in Dominican Republic
What to see in Dominican Republic. This winter my boyfriend and I decided to plan a Caribbean vacation, right mid January! Our choice fell on the Dominican Republic, an ideal destination for a seaside holiday, with also a beautiful story to tell. Having a full week available we were able to visit different locations. Here’s our detailed travel itinerary!
What to see in Dominican Republic in a week
Before starting, a consideration regarding the best time to visit Dominican Republic. There are only two seasons: one which is dry, from the end of November to the middle of May, when the winds blow, the storms are rare and the temperatures are between 28° and 29° C; the other, from the end of May to mid-November, is humid, with more intense and frequent rains. In the latter season, particularly between September and October, hurricanes can be formed. The month of January has been recommended as the best month to visit it.
We come now to our journey. Santo Domingo welcomed us with 28 °C after a long flight from Malpensa with a two-hour technical stopover in New York!
Our itinerary starts from the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. We decide to stay there our first day, spending almost all the time in the most characteristic district: the Colonial Zone. It is the only existing settlement created by Cristoforo Colombo and the other Spanish explorers back when they arrive in the New World, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1990. We discover a lively neighborhood, where history and current affairs are profoundly amalgamated. You walk and you are never alone, finding yourself among street dancers, painters who sell their paintings with vivid colors, very young trumpet players enchanting the tourists at the rhythm of Despacito. As in Cuba and in all the Caribbean, even here the houses are painted each of a different shade of the rainbow!
We leave the capital to reach the second stage of our trip to the Dominican Republic: Punta Cana, the eastern tip of the island, for 3 days. Frilman, our very nice driver (I leave you his phone number, if you also need a driver while there: +1 (829) 262-3988), picked us up at 10 with his car and takes us to Tortuga Bay Punta Cana Resort & Club, member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
We immediately put the suitcase in our room. In perfect colonial style, very white, clean and spacious: there was a large bathroom with a shower and a bath tub, a romantic four-poster bed (very useful to keep mosquitoes away at night), a chaise-longue, a walk-in closet, a private terrace with two deckchairs and a small table with chairs, to have breakfast in your room. And a great view of the resort park, the beach and the Caribbean Sea.
I found also a sweet welcome gift directly from the Oscar De La Renta boutique inside the resort: a small package with a set of pure red linen placemats, with typical prints of the Maison! The entire Resort was designed by Oscar de la Renta, who I discovered was born in Santo Domingo!
Each of the Tortuga Bay suites features a personal golf cart, perfect for cruising around the Resort which is truly immense! So we too started to discover it on board a golf cart of our own, led by Manu! Among dense palm trees we discover the many restaurants, the swimming pool, the SPA, the gym, the tennis court and a view of the beach of soft white sand and crystal clear water!
For dinner we head to La Yola Restaurant, a fish restaurant with a very special architecture. In fact, it seems to have dinner on board an elegant wooden boat in the middle of the sea! We ordered the catch of the day, which was served with vegetables and delicious fried yucca.
Breakfast at Tortuga Bay is a riot of mouth-watering sweets and colorful cupcakes! Soon after we left for our first boat trip, to Isla Saona. This islet is part of the Eastern National Park and is an island of undeniable beauty. In January it was not very crowded: just walking a few minutes to detach the group of tourists you can reach your personal heaven: white sand, tall coconut trees and wonderfully clear waters.
Isla Saona can only be visited on a day trip, as there are no facilities. Our excursion included a speed boat for the outward journey and a beautiful katamaran ride for return. To enjoy every second of the sunset.
Arrived in our suite another surprise: a hot bath prepared for us with bougainvillea petals!
For dinner we tried the Bamboo Restaurant, located by the pool. The menu combines locally sourced food with Mediterranean influences for a variety of innovative fusion dishes. I got spaghetti with lobster and they were really delicious.
We dedicate the morning to the discovery of the ecological reserve of Tortuga Bay Resort, the Ojos Indígenas Ecological Reserve, protected by Grupo Puntacana Foundation. In Punta Cana area there are no rivers and to reach the fresh water they have to dig. Here the black water from the subsoil is filtered so that it can be reused in the Resort for example to irrigate the golf courses. Furthermore, a natural habitat is recreated to allow sustainable agriculture. All the vegetables that grows here are sold and cooked in the resort, both for guests and for the people who work there.
In this reserve you can observe various animal species: the pato espinosoo (a species of duck with a beautiful blue beak), the white cheeked puntail (a species of white duck), the tilapia (a river fish) and various species of birds including the mockingbird (who mimics the sounds he hears) and the cigua palmera, the national symbol of the Dominican Republic.
In the reserve there is also a bee garden. Every year over 400 hives produce about 7,500 liters of excellent honey. The one produced from December 15th to June 15th is light colored, the one produced in the remaining part of the year darker. They explained to me that there are different types of bees, which have an amazing sense of orientation: they can fly away even up to 2/3 km in the forest, always managing to find their own beehive!
The Foundation is very attentive to the development of the local community and cyclically organizes workshops for Dominican citizens in order to educate them on how to manage their finances and become entrepreneurs. In particular, there is now a program that helps groups of women produce and sell handmade items by recycling plastic bags. I visited their shop and they gave me a bag and a key ring! They also have a store at the Punta Cana airport.
After the walk we arrived in the lagoon, which is called Yauya Lagoon: I immediately took the opportunity to dive into the wonderful fresh water that they say possess properties that can rejuvenate the skin of face and body!
For lunch we went to Mare Restaurant, a beach restaurant offering a special menu, all made with products from the ecological reserve, so within 5 km!
After lunch we relaxed on the hammocks next to the beach and then went for a massage at the Six Senses Spa at Punta Cana.
In the late afternoon we said goodbye to Punta Cana to move to Viva Wyndham Resort Samanà, where we were greeted by two spectacular cocktails made each one inside a pineapple! This is a only adults resort and is located in a very exclusive place, in Las Terrenas on the peninsula of Samanà! Even here the rooms were spacious and equipped with every comfort and there are many activities offered: from the spa to the gym, from the pool to the beach and water sports!
V Samanà organizes many interesting excursions. The first one we chose was the one that led to one of the most evocative places in the Dominican Republic. On horseback, among dirt paths in the middle of nature, until you reach a beautiful waterfall to take your breath away: El Salto Del Limòn. 50 meters high, it is possible to swim, paying attention to the strong wind. A truly unforgettable experience!
For dinner we came back to the resort and, having eaten very little for lunch, we decided to have a drink in the beach bar, ordering pizza in the resort’s Italian restaurant. A delicious pizza margherita that did not disappoint the expectations, so much so that we decided to stop even for dinner.
And in order not to miss anything, before going to sleep we made a stop at El Hip, a cocktail bar entirely covered with colorful majolica!
On the last day in the Dominican Republic we decide to make a new katamaran trip. First stop in a bay of crystal clear water where we had fun snorkeling and watching an ancient underwater shipwreck. Second stop Cayo Levantado, a wonderfully perfect Caribbean island of just 1 square km! Here we had fun taking some pictures with the drone: it is always great to find places to fly it without any restrictions.
Time to come back to Italy!
I hope, as always, that these tips can be useful if you are planning a trip to the Dominican Republic!
I wish you all a great Tuesday!