Break Free From The Tourist Traps – Dominican Republic

Imagine you got dropped into a non-English-speaking country at 10pm, not knowing anyone, with no form of transportation, and with your apartment located more than 30 minutes away by car.  What would you do?

Well…this is exactly the situation we found ourselves in on our recent trip to the Dominican Republic.  Fortunately, we rose to this challenge, along with many others we had on our decidedly non-tourist trip to the island country.

Read more to hear our top picks for the Dominican that are off the beaten path of the all-inclusive resorts!

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Where to Stay

If you are looking to go off the beaten path and enjoy living like the locals, we suggest renting an Airbnb near El Cortecito or Bavaro Beach.

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Our condo was about 20-30 minutes from the Punta Cana Airport. The taxi from the airport was $30, or $20 if you’re really good at negotiating in Spanish! We saved a TON of money by staying at an Airbnb and it certainly made the trip feel more authentic.

Must Sees and Must Do’s

(Some require a rental car)

  • Tres Ojos Cenote ($4.00 US per person): Located about 2 miles from the Santo Domingo Colonial Zone. This was one of the best bargains of our trip. The views of the river and the Cenote were truly amazing. There was even a little boat that took you through the cave for an extra 50 pesos ($1 US). 

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  • Capri Beach House: If you’re not staying at an all-inclusive, check out a beach front restaurant like Capri Beach House.  We bought a few beers and were able to get an umbrella and chairs on the beach for just a few bucks.  The service was great and it was very cheap!

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  • Playa Juan Dolio: About an hour and half from the hustle of Punta Cana, this beach was truly a gem. It is not crowded with tourists and has a much more local, small time vibe. We ate at Octopus Bay, located right on the beach, sipped on some of the best homemade cocktails we have ever had and topped if off by devouring some amazing and delicious paella.  Warning: If you’re in a rush or starving, the service is on the slower side (as is most in the Dominican), but that didn’t bother us too much! If you have a rental car it is definitely worth the trip. This was (another) one of the highlights of our vacation.

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Lessons Learned

  • We found that it was very difficult to get a taxi when not staying at the resort. We had odd flight times (due to cheaper prices) and had challenges getting to and from the airport.  As we found out at 4:30am on the last day of our trip, even planning a ride a day ahead of time and getting the WhatsApp number of your taxi driver wasn’t enough…he didn’t show!
  • It is not very easy to find ATM’s (Cajero automático) so make sure to bring plenty of cash (We suggest between $300-$400).
  • Use credit cards for everything you can and check your bank statement once returning home. We noticed that an excursion we paid for with our credit card was charged 4 times instead of one!
  • Be prepared to use more Spanish than you may expect. While English is spoken by some, it was not as widespread as we anticipated.
  • Flexibility is key! Very few things went as planned for us but this made our trip all the more exciting, and made for tons of laughs! If you want everything to go perfectly and stress-free, stick with the all-inclusive!

(A Few More) Pictures from Our Trip

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First Church in the New World! (Santo Domingo)

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Our (best) friend Sergio who let us practice our Spanish on him!

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The snorkeling catamaran excursion ($50/pp including all-the-rum-you-can-drink)


If you’re traveling, why wouldn’t you travel with Airbnb?  We absolutely love it and haven’t stayed in a hotel in over 3 years!

Get $55 on us by using this link to book your next trip.

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P.S. if you really want to maximize your travel, become an Airbnb host!

Fund your travel by renting your place.


 

 

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