The Dominican Republic is probably the most touristy Spanish-speaking Caribbean island. In my experience, it can be aptly called the tout capital of the Caribbean. We went there in the shadows of COVID-19.
- The island has pretty good intra-city and inter-city public transport.
- The local currency DOP, Dominican Pesos, is about 1/60th of the US dollar.
Day 1 – Santo Domingo to Punta Cana
We landed at the Santo Domingo airport, took a 200 DOP guagua to Parque Enriquillo, and from there took a 2.5-hour bus ride to Punta Cana. We stayed there near the beach. Punta Cana is a typical Caribbean resort city full of touts. You won’t miss much if you skip it. But if you go, I would recommend Kat’s corner for breakfast.
Day 2 – Punta Cana to Sanoa Island tour
We went on a single-day cruise to the island of Saona that included a lunch buffet. The boat ride was good, the natural swimming pool was great, the lunch buffet was average, and continuing the tradition of touting, the workers on the ship were always trying to sell you either expensive drinks on the island or overpriced Bandanas. I wouldn’t recommend doing it here, Stingray city and Belize is a much superior experience.
Saona Islands are about 1.5 hours drive from Punta Cana towards Santo Domingo, so, we, being the backpack-only travelers didn’t go back but rather took an 80 DOP public ride from Bayahibe to nearby La Romana. La Romana wasn’t in our initial plan but I was pleasantly surprised how clean and well maintained this city is compared to both Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.
Day 3 – Santo Domingo
Early morning, we took a bus ride to Santo Domingo. Given its population, the island indeed has very well-developed public transport. We stayed in Zona Colonial surrounded by old structures. I would highly recommend this area for the stay.
In the afternoon, we took a 30 DOP guagua ride to the Three Eyes National Park (Los Tres Ojos). All the lakes are gorgeous and full of fish. There is a 50 DOP ride for the fourth lake inside the national park, I would recommend the fourth lake for the experience of going on a boat being pulled by the rope. You don’t need more than an hour for this national park. For the return, we couldn’t find a guagua and we took a 150 DOP motor ride back to the city.
Day 4 – Santo Domingo colonial town
Later, we checked out the historical structures including the lighthouse. Santo Domingo, founded in 1496, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas.
In the evening, we tried Pina Colada (120 DOP) at Juego Therapia on Calle El Donde. “Calle El Donde” street is a great place to take a stroll or to find a restaurant to eat in. The standard price of plain juices is about 50 DOP.
Day 4 – Berro Waterfalls hike
We got a tour guide for a hike deep in the boonies. We started at 6:30 AM and returned at about 6:50 PM, just in time before the 7 PM curfew kicks in. It rained the previous day, so, the hike wasn’t a pleasant or a smooth experience but was worth it. The Berrow waterfalls were great and it reminded me of Dominica.