5- Reasons Why The #1 Destination In the Dominican Republic Is Wrong For You and where you should visit
As the Dominican Republic was finding its place in the world’s tourism market despite all the wonderful destinations this country has to offer, its tourism industry started and ended in one location -Punta Cana. The Dominican Republic has matured past the basic all-inclusive resorts located in Punta Cana, to a wonderful place to experience beaches, the ocean, nature, rivers, lakes, mountains, Dominican culture, food, and dancing (merengue, salsa, bachata), all with the wonderful backdrop of the Caribbean.
1. You miss Out On the Culture of the Dominican Republic Probably the #1 reason why I say skip Punta Cana
Probably the #1 reason why I say skip Punta Cana. Punta Cana is setup for tourists wanting to spend their time drinking and eating on the beach. That sounds perfect, right? Well, it’s not. The food is often low quality, the booze is cheap, and you feel like you are cattle being herded around the whole time and not to mention most people want more than just a lot of food and booze on their vacation. Both play an important role, but in Punta Cana the role they play is often too big and the quality too low. In my opinion, it truly is gluttony in its worst form.
There is nothing about the hotels in Punta Cana that lets you experience the Dominican culture. If you want to drink and eat on the beach, we suggest you do it in a town or city that is full of the Dominican experience. Enjoy a whole fried fish with plantains and local rum drink, all while overlooking the Caribbean in a romantic restaurant and listening to salsa music playing in the background as opposed to waiting in a line at the all-you-can-eat buffet for a piece of overcooked bland meat.
Sure, there is a convenience factor to an all-inclusive resort. You can go there, use your foreign credit card to pay for the whole weekend and then you don’t have to worry about money for the rest of the trip. You don’t even have to exchange your currency for Dominican Pesos. Can you really say you “visited” a country if you haven’t even used the local currency? If you are dead set on staying at an all-inclusive, we have better options for you when you read #3.
2. Filled with hotel after hotel after hotel; with most being all-inclusive
The main (if not only) draw to Punta Cana is the all-inclusive resorts that sell you by showing you pictures of 5 people on the beach and plenty open white sand. The reality is there are hundreds of these hotels lined up one after another with thousands of people in each hotel, and not enough hammocks and lounge chairs to go around. There are plenty of destinations with fewer people, more romantic, more picturesque and wide open beaches to walk up and down – Juan Dolio, Samana, Playa Encuentro, Las Terrenas, Bahia de las Aguilas to name just a few.
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3. Alternative All-Inclusive Hotels
If you do want to enjoy the comfort, safety, and ease of an all-inclusive, we suggest staying in one that is close enough to other attractions worth seeing in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is filled with generic day trips that are overcrowded and can be done or seen in many other locations. If you were to stay in the all-inclusive Emotions by Hodelpa in the town of Juan Dolio, you would have all the amenities of the all-inclusive’s in Punta Cana and you would also be able to easily take a day trip or afternoon trip to Santo Domingo to visit theColonial Zone (Zona Colonial), a UNESCO world heritage site and arguably one of the most culturally and historical significant location in the country.
If you stayed in the all-inclusive, Bahia Principe Cayacoa, in Samana, you will be a 5-minute walk (by beach) to the center of Samana where you can enjoy the local Dominican Culture at your leisure.
The all-inclusive Viva Wyndham in Las Terrenas has you overlooking a beautiful part of the North Coast where you can take casual walks among the locals just outside the doors to your all-inclusive and short taxi rides to any of the many restaurants, public beaches, bars, souvenir shops, etc.
4. Eco Tourism
From the pristine beaches and waters of Bahia de las Aguilas in the south-eastern portion of the country to the mountains of Jarabaco in the central part of the country and all the way to the Dominican Tree House village on the Samana Peninsula in the North-eastern portion of the country, Eco-tourism is alive and well in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has magnificent waterfalls that you can hike to and then bath in the waters below, large undeveloped beaches on the Caribbean waiting for you to walk down them, rivers to kayak down, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, etc.
5. It’s Not The North Coast
From the contouring romantic coastlines found in Las Terrenas to the World-Famous Kite Beach in Caberete and the all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata, the north coast offers something for everyone. The waterman can find days filled surfing at Playa Encuentro or kitesurfing in Cabarete at the World-Famous Kite Beach, then when the sun goes down, you and your friends can enjoy a nice Dominican dinner, a glass of your favorite local rum, all while listening to a local salsa group play into the night.
On the Samana peninsula you can spend your days whale watching, sunbathing at one of the many famous beaches (Playa Bonita, Playa Corsin, or Playa Colibra), scuba diving, fishing, hiking el Limon waterfall, or taking a partial day trip by boat to explore the magnificent nature found in Las Haitises National Park. When the sun goes down, if you are staying in Las Terrenas, you can enjoy the restaurants and bars located on either Calle 27 de Febrero or Caamano Dendo Franciso – both streets are located on the water and many of the restaurants and bars offer breathtaking views of the ocean. If you are staying in Samana, you can enjoy their restaurants and bars by walking down Avenida La Marina. Many of the restaurants and bars found on Avenida La Marina (Malecon) offer wonderful views of the bay and the marina.
With most of us being able to take a vacation only once a year and with the cost of flying to the Dominican Republic, it seems silly to waste it on mediocre food, drinks, and views while sunbathing alongside thousands of tourists from all the adjacent hotels. We encourage you to visit the real Dominican Republic; carve out that perfect spot on the beach to enjoy the Caribbean Sea and then let the Dominican culture (food, drink and music) fill your nights.