The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a country on the island of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean. It covers about two-thirds of the island. In the west it borders Haiti, in the east is the island of Puerto Rico.

Although we have been to the Caribbean already several times we forgot how hot and humid it can be. Leaving the plane, as the heatwave hit us, Zsolt wanted to immediately turn back and hijack the aircraft back to the Netherlands.

Our hotel, The Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa

We stayed in an all-inclusive hotel which we did not choose ourselves, it was a deal of the travel package we have bought at TUI. The resort was located in Bávaro (It is a tourist area in Punta Cana, located in La Altagracia province, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic).

Tip: Most tourists view Bavaro and Punta Cana as the ideal “chill out vacation”. Those looking for tropical jungle tours, local culture, or exotic animal species should explore the north of the island. Unfortunately, this little piece of information we did not know when we booked our trip.

The building is a very modern, huge concrete complex, surrounded by a little green vegetation. In the hotel, there are a lot of bars, restaurants and every night live music. There is fitness with daily scheduled programs and open for free the whole day.

In total we enjoyed our stay, especially the food was very varied and good, but there were definitely some disadvantages of staying in a honeymoon resort, like this. There are a lot of American tourists, especially honeymoon crowds, so it is always very busy and loud. Services that were not included in the hotel package were extremely expensive.  Leaving the hotel was almost a mission impossible without making a reservation through one of the tour operators.

After making some google search we found out that there was a car rental in a nearby location, which we have managed to call on the third day (I would not survive in the hotel any longer).

Santo Domingo

So after we picked up our rental car our first visit was to Santo Domingo, the capital city. It took us three hours to get there so we had to leave the hotel early in the morning.

Although in the hotel car rental was not advised to us because of the dangerous traffic on the island, we never had an issue with the driving culture of the locals.

But you have to watch out for pedestrians and the people on mopeds.


The cave Los Tres Ojos

This beautiful open-air limestone cave is located in the Mirador del Este park. The three lakes were created as a result of tectonic fractures. The place was used by the indigenous Taíno Indians for religious rituals and fertility rites. These epic cenotes gave also birth to movies like Tarzan and Jurrasic Park.

After we descended to the Three lakes, we only had time to visit the old city center, the World Heritage site, Ciudad Colónial. Santo Domingo was founded on August 4, 1496, by the Spanish governor Don Bartolomé Colón (Bartolomeo Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus).

Santo Domingo Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the New World. In the 1990s, a grave was found in the church bearing the name of Christopher Columbus. This raised doubts as to whether the body preserved in the Cathedral of Seville was perhaps not the body of Columbus, but his son Diego. In 2006, DNA research showed that the body in Seville is indeed the body of Christopher Columbus.

When you are strolling through the streets of Zona Colonial you have the feeling that people are paid for sitting around and chatting to each other. It is like the time has stopped for a while. The old center had a typical Spanish atmosphere, colorful, lazy, and very relaxed. You can see here old colonial buildings, traces of Christopher Columbus, cozy restaurants, cigar shops, cocoa museums, and cute courtyards.

Tip: Paletas Bajo Cero, a cool place with a great variety of popsicles. The combinations are as exotic and different as they are delicious and made entirely of natural ingredients. They have some special flavors such as avocado stuffed with Dulce de Leche, tamarind with condensed milk, pineapple with herbs, etc. It is a relief to arrive at this place after spending hours walking through the hot Colonial Zone. It is a must-try!

If you would like to learn more about making chocolate, we suggest you take a cacao tour in the Kahkow Experience. It is a place that offers a unique, interactive experience in the city to learn about the history, processing, cultivation, and everything related to Cacao, you can even create your own chocolate bar. In the store you can buy chocolate bars with different degrees of purity, you can buy cocoa tea, hot chocolate with milk, with cold coffee, you can buy frozen chocolates and much more. An excellent place 100% recommended.

Part two, a day trip to the public beach, Playa Bayahibe.