Dominican Republic - More than just Punta Cana
Hola amigo, we are back in a Spanish speaking country and are already in love. Here's some details for you:
We arrived pretty late to the airport (SDQ) so we don't have much of an opinion on it. Dominican Republic is definitely one of the more developed countries in the Caribbean, so the airport is definitely more up to date than others. The WiFi is strong, and you can use it to.. guess what... call an Uber. That's right; Santo Domingo has uber, and it's crazy cheap. We used it to go about half hour through traffic from our hotel and it only cost roughly $5 CAD.
Food prices can vary. If you're near the beach, you're gonna be paying about $15 CAD per meal, ay just about any restaurant you go to, and portion sizes aren't crazy big either. I recommend going to local hole-in-the-wall type places where the locals eat. Prices are still relatively high there, but you'll definitely be getting more bang for your buck.
We stayed our first night at an amazing hostel called Island Life in Santo Domingo (Colonial Zone, to be exact.). I believe it cost about $20 CAD per night for a mixed room with 4 beds and air conditioning, and it was definitely worth the money. They have a giant lounge area with a huge tv loaded with Netflix and Hulu, a hot tub, giant bar downstairs, courtyard area with plenty of space to relax, multiple hammocks, all the bells and whistles.
The next day we made our way to RIG Hotel in Boca Chica, one of the hotel sponsors we had for DR. The hotel was nothing to cough at really, but the location was awesome, about a 3 minute walk to the beach,
Now, don't get me wrong, Boca Chica beach is beautiful; white sand, palm trees, restaurants, all that good stuff. But if you're looking for a nice place to relax, don't come here. We could not go more than 5 minutes without being hounded by the local vendors to buy their crap. Sunglasses, massages, artwork, jewellery, whatever they could find, they would sell. A common scam we found was locals offering to seat you at a restaurant; nothing wrong with that, but be careful. We saw it happen so many times, they would sit you down and give you a fake menu with ridiculously inflated prices, and when you got your bill, they'd write it themselves and charge you even more service fees, table fees, whatever. If you want to eat at a restaurant, go straight to someone that actually works at the restaurant. This way you'll be getting the regular menu, regular bill, etc. (the restaurants are in on these scams, so they don't stop the people from doing them). Same goes for beach chairs. They're provided by the hotels, restaurants, etc. do NOT pay to sit at one.
After a few nights in Boca Chica we made our way to Punta Cana with a DR tourism excursion provider. Punta Cana is much different than the rest of the Dominican Republic, and if you're a backpacker on a budget, definitely skip it. There's almost no public beach access and the entire city is run on massive resorts.
We got to experience a few different excursions in Punta Cana, the biggest one being La Hacienda Adventure Park. Here, we got to go horseback riding, zip lining, and dune buggy-ing. If you're looking for a tourist-type adventure, then this is the one for you.
If you're in the area as well, I HIGHLY recommend taking a tour to Catalina Island. it's a small private island about 30 minutes off the coast of Punta Cana and it is absolutely gorgeous. White sand, palm trees, buffet (usually included with your tour) and incredible snorkelling/diving. Definitely a highlight of my trip.
Lastly, our accommodation in Punta Cana. We were blessed to be granted a contract with Catalonia Royal Bavaro, a 5-star all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, and oh boy did they spoil us. Me and my girlfriend were given our own private two-storey villa with a personal infinity pool, personal butler, private beach, and front of the line access to any shows or restaurants we wanted to go to. It was over the top luxury that I have never experienced before in my life.
Next up, we're heading to St. Kitts and Nevis. If you have any questions in regards to anything DR, adventure parks, or just wanna say hey, feel free to email me here, DM me on Instagram here, or message me on Facebook here.