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  • Writer's pictureCindy Van Dyck

Roadtrip: Travel around the Dominican Republic in seven days


Drone photography of Playa Las Ballenas, Las Terrenas
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Traveling in and around the Dominican Republic is no new challenge for the Keloke team. Every month we head out and discover new places. But for some tourists, it is very hard to choose between all that the island has to offer. That's why today we inspire you with a road trip and tell you how to travel around the island in just seven days.


You will find beauty everywhere you go.

Santo Domingo, the port of arrival

The road trip we are sharing with you today starts in the capital: Santo Domingo. Thanks to AirEuropa you can fly there daily, up to two flights a day. From Belgium, for example, you depart from Brussels, with first a stopover in Madrid.


Once you arrive in the south of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, we recommend first recovering from the long trip and staying in the historic colonial city. You have impressive colonial buildings that make you feel like you're back in time and it's just great to walk around. So perfect for a short break!


One hotel that we offer without a doubt is Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando. This as it is centrally located, you can visit the best restaurants and bars within walking distance, and you have a great pool there to order your first cocktails on arrival. Welcome to the Dominican Republic!

Swimming pool at Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando, Santo Domingo
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Stroll around the Colonial City

The first morning you can visit the "Independence Park," located on the western edge of the colonial city. In the park, which is surrounded by walls and guards, stands the "Altar de la Patria." Here you can visit the remains of the founders of the Dominican Republic, a very important and sacred place. You can also discover their real life-sized statues. After visiting the park, you can continue your day with a walk along their main street "Calle El Conde." And so back towards Parque Colón.


And again, don't hesitate to explore the little streets around the park. That's actually how we found the cute little place "Le Petit Coin" where you can have breakfast, lunch or coffee. Close by you will also find the Chocolate Museum "KahKow" or the Rum Museum "Museo del Ron y Caña". It's all within walking distance.

Pictures of La Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Go to Santiago de los Caballeros

Departing from the capital around noon, we headed north to Santiago de los Caballeros. Santiago is the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. And they are best known for the monument of "Heroes of the Restoration." It stands on a hill in the most beautiful place in the city! The monument was built during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and received its original name after the fall of his dictatorship. Today it represents winning the battle against the Spanish empire.


After a small visit to the monument, you can have a late lunch at some well-known restaurants in the city. Acasa, NutKitchen, SquareOne Café, are already some of our favorites.


Do you prefer local and Dominican dishes? Then go eat just next to the monument at "El Tablon Latino." There we personally had a very surprising lunch. Why surprising? It was the first time we tried salmon with strawberry cream. And even though it sounds like a very strange combination, it was really delicious. Exactly how we like our lunch: surprising and full of flavor! Also plantain is something you have to try when you travel around. They often serve it with every plate, so you can just ask for a portion to share. Eat like the locals do!

Pictures of Santiago de Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Monte Cristi, a preserved piece of nature

On the way to Monte Cristi you will drive past several small markets where people were selling fresh meat. Although we are used to going to a local big market in store or in the city center. At Monte Cristi (and also other small villages and neighborhoods) people mostly buy their fresh ingredients at local farmers or at people's house. It's a cultural discovery and we also want you to experience how locals live on each trip you make.


Once arrived at our Eco lodge hotel "El Morro," we went immediately to the beach which is also called "El Morro," translated as "the nose." Besides a mesmerizing sunset, a beautiful quiet beach and beautiful nature, until the sun sets you can have an overview of the "sleeping camel".


Do you recognize its shape on this picture below? Like "the nose" of the camel? At the top of the mountain you can walk around because it is a National Park and there is even a swing that gives you an overview of the beaches of the area!

Pictures of Monte Cristi and El Morro, Dominican Republic
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Have a stop at Punta Rucia

Note that time will fly by so quickly when you travel to another city each day. But if we can recommend you anything, it would be to stay at least two days in each city. Especially as there's so much to discover and you don't want to miss anything. Hike around the National Nature Parc, enjoy the white beaches and local bars for the best Goat specialities in Monte Cristi. So if you can extend your trip to 10 days, or two weeks, instead of just seven days, you will even enjoy it more!


From Monte Cristi you can drive to Puerto Plata with a stop at Punta Rucia. Here you can go with a small boat to Paradise Island, also called "Cayo Arena". This excursion is organized by "...." and it without any doubt a must do!


Paradise Island, or Cayo Arena, is actually a very small sand bank in the middle of the ocean. Here you can go diving with the fishes and around it you have different mangroves where the boat can take you into the beautiful nature the island has to offer. And to be honest, we are not gonna share too much anymore as you just have to go and discover it by yourself. It is heaven on earth.


After the excursion you continue to the center of Puerto Plata where you can stay at the impressive hotel "Casa Colonial". It's a palace, the rooms are luxury and on the rooftop you can enjoy the infinity pool that looks over Playa Dorada at the Atlantic Ocean.

Picture of Cayo Arena, Paradise Island in Punta Rucia, Dominican Republic
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Puerto Plata, Sosúa and Cabarete

After a healthy breakfast you can discover the historical center of Puerto Plata. And it is one of the cities that we love the most! It's colorful, historical, close to many other sites to visit and they also have their own airport, which makes it easier to travel over there.


If you're wondering about everything you can do in Puerto Plata, we can tell you just one thing: a lot! But our suggestions are to start your day at the Central Park (Parque Independencia) where you can visit the Cigar manufacturer "Espigon Cigar". Have a drink at the "Pachuche by C Brugal cigars" bar, which is a couple of small streets further. Stroll around Umbrella and the Pink street and afterwards enjoy lunch at Casita Azul. Every time we are back in Puerto Plata, we eat at Casita Azul


After lunch you can go for a breathtaking view at the "Isabel De Torres" Mountain which is a National Park. You can up by the only cable car in the Caribbean and discover the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer. In total you will be on almost 800m height and you will also be able to enjoy the botanical gardens.


From Puerto Plata you will continue for your fourth night at Cabarete. This city is located on the Eastern side of Puerto Plata and still at the Northern coast line of the Dominican Republic. It's known for the many people who are kitesurfing here all the year around.


Take your time to enjoy the beach, have food at the local bars and recharge yourself for the next stop.

Pictures of Puerto Plata, Cable Car and the Historical Center
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Find paradise on earth in Samanà

Are you fully recharged? Then take the road to the last province of Samana. This area of the Dominican Republic is known for its Whale watching at the Bay of Samana, but it's also the only place on earth where there are these many palmtrees per square meter!


On the way to Samaná, you can go for a boat tour through the mangroves and around the beautiful coastlines of Rio San Juan. Later on you can also stop at the Blue Hole in Cabrera, climb into some palmtrees and have lunch at a local beach bar. To have a stay over at Samaná, we can recommend The Bannister Hotel & Yacht Club at the bay of Samana or Saman Boutique Hotel, at one hour drive of the Bay in Las Terrenas.


As this area is truly beautiful, thanks to all the palmtrees and mountains, you just need to sit back for the evening and also here recharge yourself, so you can enjoy to go on an adventurous trip the next day!

Drone photography of Playa Ballenas, Las Terrenas
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Whale watching

Are you planning this road trip in January, February or March? Then you can go Whale watching at the Bay of Samaná. Every Spring they're pairing there, in the bay, and it became of course a well known touristic place for people who want to experience this maybe or probably - once in a life time - moment. During the trip they give the whales enough space to move around without feeling trapped. This means that you will always stay on a safe distance. And when you're lucky, they will come to the surface! You can book this experience with Flora Tours.


In the afternoon you can eventually go for an adventurous ATV ride through Santa Barbara de Samana, where you will be surprised by all the beautiful white sand beaches and the unbelievably amounts of palmtrees. And a personal tip from Keloke for during the ATV tour: ask your guide to bring you to non-touristic beaches. Some have only locals, are private and have hidden lagoons.

Picture of a whale in the bay of Samana, while Whale Watching
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

The adventure is not over, yet!

Before heading back to the capital, Santo Domingo, we recommend you to enjoy a little but more of all the adventurous excursion you can experience in this area. Start your next morning with a boat tour around the biggest Nature Park of the Island: Los Haitises. It's also a protected area of nature where you have incredible birds, fishes and caves. In the afternoon you can go do a 12-line Ziplining at the Tree House Village.


Regarding the drive back to Santo Domingo, we recommend you to leave no later than 3.00PM. You don't want to take the road in the night, as the road might be tricky and mountains sometimes can be unpredictable. Leave in Las Terrenas or Samaná around that time, and you will be back in the city before dinner time!

Zipline at the Village Tree House in Samaná
Photo Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

 

Before taking the plane back home, you can spend an extra evening and night in the colonial city. Thanks to its convenient location, about 30 kilometers from the airport, this is both the perfect starting and ending point of your trip. Enjoy it!

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