The Dominican Republic will always be a special place for me. A crazy skin ailment first brought me here in 1995. For a month I hadn’t been able to lie down without my skin breaking out into hot, itchy blotches on whichever side I was lying. I had tried calomine lotion (which barely helped with the itching) and had finally seen a few doctors. They had no idea what I had. I think it was stress related – I was going through a divorce at the time. I decided that I needed a vacation.
I bought a cheap all-inclusive package for a resort close to Sosua. A few days of sun and beach got rid of my skin ailment. I didn’t see much on that first trip but I remember being shocked by some of the poverty I saw.
In 1999 I returned with a friend and stayed at a resort in Punta Cana. Like most travellers to the D.R, I didn’t see anything outside the resort. The beaches were beautiful, the hotel staff friendly, and I drank lots of beer and played beach volleyball.
After a few trips travelling independently through Asia, I decided in 2003 to backpack through the Dominican Republic. I flew to the D.R twice that year, spending a total of 4 weeks and visiting much of the country: Santo Domingo, Cabarete,the Samana peninsula, Boca Chica, Puerto Plata, and Bayahibe. I spent a few days at the Hotel Palacio in Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial and was incredibly impressed by the history. I went to a Dominican baseball game, was taken around the city by locals, even cascaded down the Damajagua waterfalls. I rented a motorcycle in Las Terrenas and rode it the full length of the Samana peninsula, thinking it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. I fell in love with the Dominican Republic on that trip: the friendly people, the rum, cigars, music, and the women (who I thought were gorgeous). It inspired me be more serious about my Spanish. I’m a believer that we create the forks in the road by the choices and experiences we have and I think that it was that trip to the Dominican Republic that ultimately opened the doors for me to meet Lissette in 2005.
In 2008 I took my son Benjamin to Punta Cana for a 1-week guy vacation.
In 2010, I returned with Lissette to the Secrets Royal Beach in Punta Cana. Although I’m not a great fan of all-inclusives this is a good one. Nice facilities, friendly staff, good food, no kids allowed. I’ve previously mentioned that Punta Cana has great beaches. There’s not much else; this area is the most unattractive in the whole country, comprising mostly of flat terrain with low lying brush. Going west the country becomes lush and mountainous. Its a shame that most travellers will never see what the DR has to offer outside the resort areas (see my Independent Traveller’s Guide to the Dominican Republic).
Summary: I’ve been to the D.R 6 times now altogether. I still love the people, beaches, cigars, rum and the crazy merengue music that blasts out everywhere you go. I’ll probably never be back, but it is full of memories and a place that I hold special in my heart.
Related: Why we love Colombia
Have you been to the Dominican Republic?
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