In May of this year, I was blessed to acquire my 2nd passport stamp in the Dominican Republic traveling with 3 of my friends and my cousin to both Santo Domingo and Punta Cana for Memorial Day. We arrived in Santo Domingo first and was instantly greeted with Spanish men and humidity. Before we came, we heard that taxi fares would be inflated due to the Holiday weekend so we opted to rent a van and cruise the country from the comfort of our own vehicle. And what a beautiful country it was! We cruised down the coast on the way to our hotel and was in awe of the vibrant blue that covered the sea. We couldn’t wait to visit the beach and witness its beauty up close and personal. We were quickly snapped out of our waterfront trance by the loud honks and Spanish swearing directed at us from a few road raging citizens. It took us a while to realize that they were yelling to get our attention because they wanted to move in front of us. Usually in America we use our turning signals when we want to do such a thing but that rule doesn’t seem to apply in the DR. Apparently, you’re expected to know when other vehicles want to change lanes and to move out of their way swiftly during the exchange.
As we traveled down the coast and through the small neighborhoods, we were able to see a glimpse of how the natives in this part of town lived. The residents were poor; their homes were small and simple and they hung outside for most of the day, hustling to make money for their families but they looked so happy. It was beautiful. We wound up getting lost for about half an hour until we finally made it to our home for the night, the Sheraton Santo Domingo.
After getting settled in, we decided to have dinner at Adrian Tropical, known as one of the best restaurants in the city, according to the front desk agent. The weather was just right— warm with a soft breeze, so we opted to have dinner outside with the view of the beach as our backdrop. The waiter brought out the menus and 4 of us, including myself, were instantly confused because the entire menu was in Spanish. We could only read simple terms like pollo, pescado and ensalada. One of my friends didn’t have a hard time understanding the menu and after 15 minutes of confusion, I looked at her menu and saw that hers was both in English and Spanish, which is why she didn’t have as hard of a time as we did trying to understand what to order. We all laughed and sucked our teeth at how she didn’t even tell us her menu had English translation.
We placed our orders and proceeded to talk about what we wanted to do on the trip and before we knew it, 30 minutes had flown by and we hadn’t had a single bite! Thankfully we had good drinks and conversation to distract us from the long wait time. Finally our food came and as soon as we bit into the fish, we understood why this restaurant was the best in town. The pescado tasted so fresh, we wouldn’t have been surprised if they went out to the sea, caught it and cooked it the moment we placed our orders lol. And the camarofongo was incredible! It’s a mixture of plantains, shrimp, and garlic and is an island delicacy.
The next morning we headed to the Baiguate Falls for our first adventure, cayoning! The ride was about 3 hours long and once again we wound up getting lost. I was able to take some pretty good pictures of the scenery on the way.
By the time we finally reached our destination, the attraction was closed but my girls and I are adventure seekers so we decided to hike down to the Baiguate River so that the trip wasn’t a total waste. The experience was fun as we sang , jumped and danced our way through the hike and marveled at the river’s aesthetics. The minerals in the rocks glistened as rushing waters ran on top of them. The plants were full of color and the water was warm and inviting.
Following our impromptu adventure, we headed to our second city stop, Punta Cana! We rented a condo via AirBnB to save money and it was a pretty dope pad. Check it out for yourself below. It looked exactly like the pictures <3
The next day, I had a fun adventure planned for the girls. We toured the countryside of Punta Cana by way of Flintstone Buggies! We raced through the farmland and saw horses, goats, donkeys, chickens and more. We had the opportunity to meet a local woman named Franchesa, her family and tour their Dominican home. Fran showed us her garden where she grew her own produce and herbs. It was humbling to see how they lived a simple life but enjoyed every moment. And I can’t forget she gave us the BEST tasting coffee we’ve ever tasted without any sugar!
Our second day of adventure was filled with parasailing, snorkeling and hookah diving. Unfortunately 3 of my girls and I chickened out and didn’t hookah dive but we did do the other two activities. Looking back on it, I regret missing out on the dive so on my next vacay I’ll try it again and follow through!
Overall, I had an amazing experience. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people. Some visitors give them a hard rep because of their history of crime but there’s rough areas in every city. I like to focus of the charm of a culture and what it exudes. Dominicans grow their own foods and heal themselves without using any drugs. They have a zest for life, dance and love <3