The Marina Puerto Blanco is a where the cruising sailors go for all of their needs, including a restaurant , bar and social activities. As refugees from the Luperon Beach resort, it was a great alternative for food, drink, exploring and socializing.
The bar/restaurant is open walled and airy. The people working there were friendly and they served good food and inexpensive beer. We enjoyed talking with the temporary and semi-permanent locals, and joined them for their New Years Eve bash. It was good fun and one of the best New years I've enjoyed.
Sailors will want to visit the website for info pertinent to them.
Directions are by foot: To get to the Yacht Club, you leave the Luperon Resort and head right. Then take your next left. When you come to the rotary, stay left, with the ruins of a night club to your left. Continue down this road until you come to an intersection. There is a sign which points you right, down a dirt road. Follow the dirt road down the hill, to an 'intersection" with a small apartment building on your left. Take the right road, as the sign indicates and follow the road, staying to the left and down the hill to the water.
We were fortunate to find this lovely refuge, a fifteen minute walk from the Luperon Beach Resort, and a much better option for eating, drinking and ambiance. It is nestled on the side of a hill in the woods, overlooking Puerto Blanco. We came across it with the help of a couple of English sailors who were exploring the area on foot, as they had their sailboat in port.
The bar and restaurant area is open-walled and the view is spectacular. The people working there and running the place were very kind to us and the beers inexpensive. We were made to feel very comfortable and returned several times. You will meet many interesting people, as sailors from all over the world stop here on their voyages. They serve food and have daily specials, though we did not eat there.
While we were there, the place were under a bit of renovation, but the upper bar/restaurant were in full working order.
Directions are by foot: To get to the Yacht Club, you leave the Luperon Resort and head right. Then take your next left. When you come to the rotary, stay left, with the ruins of a night club to your left. Continue down this road until you come to an intersection. There is a sign which points you right, down a dirt road. Follow the dirt road down the hill, to an 'intersection" with a small apartment building on your left. Take the left road, as the sign indicates and up the hill to the yacht club on your right.
It is indeed a working yacht club, so sailors should look into their website for more details and contact info.
If you see a place like this one in Jarabacoa or anywhere else in the DR, at least wonder in and ask a question or two. Rather then an official packaged type of tour, we spent the better part of an afternoon with the octogenarian owner learning more about the region and the coffee business then we could have reading a thousand guide books.
Later one son. who acts as the managing director, personally drove us to a roasting and packaging plant where we were able to buy the coffee as coffee beans.
If you speak Spanish (good basis), it's cheap and easy to cross the country by bus. We didn't use the town bus, but the bigger ones that go from a city to another. We went from Santo Domingo to Varadero, it was quite intertesting to be the only "strangers". That's an experience we'll remember. Dominicans were really nice people.
I consider Samaná to be an off the beaten path destination because of the few hotels that can be found there. The tourist activity peaks during the whale season but Samaná has more than that to offer:
- unspoiled beaches at Las Terrenas, Las Galeras and Samaná city
- excursions to one of the hidden gems in DR: El limón Waterfall
- day trips to Cayo Levantado (Bacardi Island)
- food that's only found here: fish with coconut (milk)
The road going there is bad (as of Feb 2008) and it takes about 4 hours from Santo Domingo or Puerto Plata but a highway is being built between Santo Domingo and Samaná that'll shorten the trip to 3 hours or so. Also there are 2 airports and there's the harbor where cruises stop to let the guests visit the town.
Take a horseback riding excursion!!!
I was the only one in our group who wanted to join the excursion and I was a bit scared to go alone as I hadn't been riding in many years...but the group I went there with was lovely...
I met one family from Netherlands and we became good friends, still keeping in touch....
....it was so nice to ride on the mountains and through the river, views were amazing!
After excursion we had great lunch in the ranch
I recommend Ignacio Ranch, Chiquito tel.739-0746 (local)
The SW coast/region is the least exploited part of the country although it offers a lot when it comes to ecotourism and really unspoiled beaches. Because of this, it might be difficult to find good (or decent) accommodations other than in the Barahona province.
This zone is better to go to if with a tour or with someone who can communicate in Spanish, because English isn't as widely spoken as in the other (heavily) touristic areas. With that said, that doesn't mean that if you're perseverant and armed with a Spanish-English phrase you won't go a long way!
This is one of the parts where I spent most of my childhood visiting family and friends, which is sort of why I don't have many tips or pictures so as of now I can only show my Baní and San Juan pages.
(Sorry for the bad map.)
From my experience, it is safe to rent a motorcycle (mostly 175 to 500 ccm Enduro) from one of the local rental places. Make sure they are a serious place - they'll want either a copy of your driver's license or/and your passport. Make sure there's enough oil and the fuel display is working correctly. Then take a trip along the north coast from Cabarete to Samana, or to Jarabacoa in the mountains. There is a very nice cafe with a view over the Cibao valley on the way from Cabarete to Moca/LaVega. They serve good breakfast and they have clean bathrooms.
Walk down the beach from the Allegro and you come to a sign that reads "u r leaving the protected beach..." Just look for the bent palm tree. There are a few locals that are selling homemade products like jewerly and art. We bought a few things. I got a turtle that was made from an ivory-like substance. A little further down u come to almost a point where the view is breath taking. It is almost like ur surrounded by water and sun.
Even though not usually recommended, I rented a car in Dominican Republic. It is a very good way to see something unusual and several places during your holiday. But please take care if renting a car and driving in Dominican - you cannot be 100% sure of the insurance rules, the roads are somewhere in lousy condition (holes, even half can be missing). Traffic is chaotic and I don't remember if there were traffic rules, and íf they were obeyed. If possible, do not drive at dark (cannot see the holes in the road); there are animals among people and all kinds of vehicles on the both sides of the roads.
But for those brave enough it is a great experience. I suggest taking a big car, a Jeep, Land Cruiser or corresponding; just to save your own ass.
I drove to many other places too, but the most fascinating was to find those empty beaches. There I could be alone and listen to the wawes and really relax, far away from the red skinned tourist groups.
This may seem a strange place for a Puerta Plata tip with it being the center of much of the tourism to the Dominican Republic. But it this case, I mean to refer primarily to the actual port that is probably rarely seen now that it is not visited by cruise boats. Even if one makes an excursion from your resort to the city you are unlikely to see the port unless you go to the point with the light house, monument to General Gregorio Luperon and the modest Fuerte de San Felipe.
The city is also modest with no monumental architecture of note and not much business directed at the visitor. There seems to always be a several guys hanging around the main plaza hoping to be employed as guides, but there is not much need or demand for their services. There are about a half dozen souvenir and art shops 2 blocks west of the Parque Central. The city has built a nice Malecon along the ocean front that seems to become active on weekends and holidays but is otherwise empty. This is a great spot to observe and meet normal Dominicans.
Even though this is a small city in the middle of a tourist visited coast, people are friendly and easier to meet than in Santo Domingo or a town overwelmed by tourism. It is just odd that it should be so close to the center of things and seem to be off the beaten path. It has not always been this way and the town has plans return to riches with a beach sanitizing program and the building of a deep dock for the cruise ships. Until then it may remain a seemingly safe place to get know a little about the life of ordinary Dominicans.
This family, as many others, also grows their own coffee. When coffee beans are mature they put them into to oven to toast it and later grate.
The Dominican way of making coffee is: they boil water and put the coffee inside a fabric bag with a stick. They pour the water over the bag and they roll the stick until it presses the coffee. They repeat this operation several times, until they consider coffee is ready to drink. They used to say they made the best coffee in the world. Being from Portugal, I found it very tasteful but weak, as I am used to stronger coffee.
The sugar cane is used to produce rum, the Dominican Republic's typical drink. Everywhere you go you will find rum, plain or mixed with something. When we visited one of the plantations, the driver took us through the plantation showing worker's way of living. Then we visited the harvest and the warehouse and were, obviously, welcomed with rum (plain or with Coke). Also, they offered us fresh sugar cane pieces to taste.
One of the best things we did there -
There is a place near Puerto Plata called 23 waterfall (in spanish of course). It is so much fun, you hike, swim, climb up 7 waterfalls with a guide. (They provide cheap shoes, vests, and helmuts all of which you need) It was a great experience. My only complaint is the tour of the waterfalls first included a trip to a local cattle farm, a cigar rolling and coffee making place, and a few others. Basically it was an 8 hour tour and only about 2 hours of it was fun, the rest was just gimmicky stuff.
The trip to the South was a truely memorable experience. We had rented a car from Santiago and gone to Santo Domingo. After a couple of days we took the road to the West, in order to go to Enriquillo Lake. This part of the coutry is much drier, there are no resorts or big industries, so it's considerably poorer than the other parts. That's where you can really get a third world country feeling, but also meet ordinary hard-working and friendly Dominicans. During our 2-day journey we didn't meet any tourists, except a few Spanish people at the lake (which is a must-see!!). We drove to Barahona through what seemd to me a desert, barren land with just cacti and cactus-like trees, a few poor villages(see Local Customs tips) and police stations with machine-gun armed guards. The roads in the country are notorious, but that road was even beyond description, avoiding all the potholes was like playing a fast video game! When I was driving and we went trough some town or village, a lot of people were staring at me, 'a woman driving!'. At these poor places not many people had cars, so I guess if the family could afford one, it was just the man driving it...
We went to a local beach called Playa Najayo, close to San Cristobal and Barahona. to get there we drove past sugar-cane plantations and poor villages.
We went to Jimani, a town at the border with Haiti. We decided to buy some Haitian rum, and were allowed to cross the border to the market on the other side without showing any ID!!
We stayed for two night at the Cacique hotel in Barahona, well, that was part of the experience too!
We saw the Indian cave, iguanas, and crocodiles and birds at Enriqillo Lake, and it was great. But another part of this experience was meeting the poor and friendly people of the Sounth and their way of like.
I would definately like to do that road trip again.
Stayed here for annual holiday in October 2001. First time in carribean and definately not the last....more
Myself and my girlfriend spent 7 miserable days here. We pads for reserve rooms , top of the line...more
I stayed here on a recent business trip in the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. This 6 room hotel...more