Maybe you live here already and want to get away or maybe you just want a quick getaway to Santo Domingo. Here are my recommendations for some things to do and especially where to stay.
If you want to see the city and some stuff to do. It’s best to stay close or in the colonial city (Zona Colonial). It’s a tourist friendly part of Santo Domingo (lots to do and still be with locals) and it is the oldest city in the Caribbean.
The one hotel that I recommend that is in the colonial city is Boutique Hotel Palacio – it’s a 3.5-star hotel and has free wifi and free parking**. It was originally a mansion and has an indoor patio area in front of a restaurant, rooftop pool, sauna, bar area. Really really nice rooms with AC & mini bars (refrigerators). It’s about $90 USD a night but can find many deals and it’s $10pp for buffet breakfast. **parking is subject to availability and is not guaranteed.
About a block (so well within walking distance) but overlooking the sea in front of a waterfront (Malecon) is one I personally like – Napolitano Hotel. Its a 3 star hotel more like a hotel than Palacio but also has a 2nd floor (rooftop for part of the hotel) pool and it has a big and nice restaurant and bar that brings drinks to the pool area next to it up until 10 pm at night, free wifi, free parking (more room for parking), has a computer room with a PC and a Mac. The rooms are nice, AC, mini and it has a spa and a casino. It usually costs about $70 and includes buffet breakfast (excellent) for up to 4 people. FYI- Much better looking pool than Palacio. Palacio just has a pool. This is a pool lounge area.
Coming out of the Zona Colonial but not too far is one that I liked as well – Jardines del Teatro Aparta Hotel. It’s a 3-star apartment type hotel. A lot like a B&B and an apartment at the same time. The decor is modern n nice, poor wifi, AC, free parking, free breakfast brought to your room each morning. It’s like a mini apartment with a small table for 2 refrigerator sink etc. It usually costs about $60 a night including breakfast for up to 2. This breakfast is not as filling but since this is in an area where there are a lot more foreigners living there…its safe and you can walk to the supermarket. You can reserve online but have to pay at the location. I think the lady/owner knows English. It’s like is was a mansion but not as open and less hotely than Palacio.
There are others really nice ones Embassy (next to Planet Fitness) and Crown Plaza next to Napolitano. Crown Plaza is really nice more expensive and 4 stars but what I don’t like is that they have air fresheners throughout the entire hotel which can be stifling especially in the hallways that are closed but I couldn’t tolerate the rooms. The rooftop pool, gym, and bar area are super nice.
Now, my favorite all time beach with shallow super clear waters in like a very big bay area is Boca Chica. It’s part of Santo Domingo but the area is called Boca Chica like the beach. They have hotels there and even hotels on the beach. The best fried fish is from Boca Chica. It is a public beach so its full, especially on Sundays. Although you could sit anywhere on the sand for free there is usually people selling you a table/lounge for about $8 or free if you buy food/drinks from them (always ask the price of food or drink first…and don’t be afraid to say its too expensive. In fact, make it a habit of asking for the price first before doing anything or buying anything or tasting anything and if you think its too high say it. I usually pay 1/3 of their initial price). They will try to exploit. Boca Chica always has tourists on the beach and will have people selling you stuff (cheese, mamajuana, coconuts, peanuts, conch, skirts, etc), lots of water activities such as the banana boat (don’t bother with the two person couch looking seat ride..its expensive and not worth it) and Haitian women offering you massages or hair braiding. Even if you don’t stay in Boca Chica which has lots of tourists but is more of a beach town you can always buy a day pass to any of the beach hotel and get unlimited food, drinks, and other perks such as bathroom, locker, shower, table etc…
Now if you want another beach about 45 minutes from Boca Chica away from Santo Domingo is Juan Dolio. It’s a newer developed beach the waters go deeper. Still, clear waters may have more seaweed in the water. It used to be more exclusive but more locals are trying to get away from Boca Chica. It is also more secluded and less stuff to do. Getting there, though is another matter.
I read this great article in Lonely planet about the Top 10 Things to do in the Dominican Republic and I am going to make sure I do all 10. Here is the link.
Is there anywhere you would recommend staying at or anything you would recommend doing in the Dominican Republic, if so please add a comment.