Dominican Republic Trip Report
In January, Ash and I spent a long week backpacking in the Dominican Republic. I had heard mixed reviews about the D.R. both good and bad. One that is the most dangerous country in the Caribbean and also it was just for all inclusive resorts. We flew into the sprawling capital city of Santo Domingo, a city of well over a million people and one of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere.
The Dominican is huge, sharing the largest island in the Caribbean along with Haiti. The D.R. is a travelers dream with affordable accommodation, good diving, sailing, kite boarding, amazing people and some of the best beaches in the world.
Using local transportation we bused it down to the southeastern coast fishing village of Bahayibe, a super cool, laid back village which is always tranquillo. The locals were extremely friendly, especially if you brought up baseball with them, Big Papi, David Ortiz is a national icon there. We didn’t encounter many travelers from the States but many Europeans, especially Italians and French.
Surprisingly Bahayibe had several European style restaurants that were good and a surprise departure from typical rice and beans Dominican food, if you found yourself a little off the beaten path you could find some pretty interesting cuisine at half the price. Mama Rosa’s, a very energetic and full bodied local woman cooked up lobsters,
snapper and any seafood you were interested in right out of her house. Ashley thought it was “different” that we had to walk through her kitchen to get to the restaurant.
Diving was good, actually better than expected as the reefs are very well maintained with lots of smaller fish, nothing too big as over fishing is still quite a problem in the area. We also dove an old wreck site complete with canons that had been unloaded to prevent a ship from sinking in a very well known hurricane.
Did lots of hiking around the area and found it very safe, especially Parque Nacional de Este which is known for its massive caves and underground cenotes. The nights were spent hanging out with other travelers, drinking pineapple mojitos and watching the sunset.
After spending four days in Bayihibe we adventured north to the Samana Penisula to Las Terrenas (think Pirates of the Caribbean films and Survivior which were both filmed nearby). It took about five hours on three different buses and a motorcycle to reach the Wyndham Viva Samana. The bus dropped us off in the small village of Coson after some negotiating. We quickly met a warm large Dominican man named Francisco who gave us a ride to the resort for a few dollars.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at the resort since it was all-inclusive, something I am typically uninterested in but had three free nights for using 45,000 points, a savings of over $1,800! All for signing up for their cobranded credit card, well sign me up!!!
The Viva itself was absolutely gorgeous, some of the most beautiful palm fringed beaches I had every seen anywhere in the world. It turned out to be a great base to exploring the exotic Samana Penisula, fishing dorado, whale watching (10,000 plus whales embark for the coast of Samana every winter) and having great food and drinks (free!) which I do love. The resort also offered many activities, ones that I would typically pay for at other places including paddle boards, hobie cats and kayaks. Things I did not like were the outrageous fees to get anywhere on the peninsula, we hired a motorcycle from town for about a tenth the price and even got a lift to the international airport which was about 30 minutes away. We had an opportunity with our flight to have a layover in one of my favorite cities…Montreal. Walking through Old Montreal is always a memorable experience as well as dining on some poutine, a Quebec favorite, fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy!
On our flight back to Denver we had a six hour lay over at La Guardia which actually was, well phenomenal. We were able to relax in style at the AMEX Centurion Lounge, could not recommend this place more, again in the airport, The Centurion Lounge featured a locally inspired menu designed by a celebrity chef, a full service bar with specialty cocktails in a very classy atmosphere. After six hours of having cocktails and mouth watering food, we were ready to move in!