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9 days in the Dominican Republic

Updated: Mar 14

January 2020 both Nick and I decided it was time to teach Hailee and Chase a little more about their Dominican roots and what better way than to take a trip to the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominican Republic. We initiated an online search for the most popular cities, restaurants, and museums in the DR. Among the cities were Santiago (our home town), La capital, Samana, and Punta Cana. After days of researching on Google, Instagram and travel blogs we were able to putting together an unforgettable experience.

Day 1: We arrived at the city of Santiago de los Caballeros on an overnight non stop flight from JFK to STI (3 hours 45 minutes). Once we arrived we headed straight to Nicks parents apartment in the heart of Santiago.

Day 2: We explored the City of Santiago including El Monumento, a monument built in honor of the heroes lost during the Dominican war of 1844. We stopped at a local restaurant Noah where we enjoyed a family meal with the view of El Monumento right at the center of the city's hustle and bustle Calle del Sol . Our first full day in DR consisted of visiting friends and family whom we hadn't seen in years, unpacking and enjoying crisp air, warm weather & palm trees.

Day 3: The very next morning breakfast was at Square one , a restaurant with a blend between Dominican and American food with a New York City decor. Breakfast there was just what we needed pancakes with bacon for some and Mangu with Salami for others, the perfect combo to please everyone.

It was soon time to head out to the first city on our list, Puerto Plata a 1.5-hour drive from our home town of Santiago. Along the way, we sure stopped on the side of the road for fresh coconut water, tangerines and mangos and were fascinated by the views along the way. Once in Puerto Plata, we stopped to explore el Museo de la Fortaleza San Felipe, a historic fortress in the city of Puerto Plata for the economic price of 100 pesos ($1.87USD) per person. Our next stop in Puerto Plata was Cabarete, a touristic location with endless numbers of beachside restaurants, shops and beaches ideal for surfing. After a fun beach day and enjoying fresh fried fish by the beach it was then time to head back to Santiago. Later that evening Nick and I stepped away to have dinner at KGB Bistro in Santiago where I had the best Shrimp and sausage Risotto I’ve ever had till this day and Nick enjoyed a freshly made ceviche with shrimp and Calamari. The overall experience at KGB was memorable and a must-visit when in the city of Santiago. And just like that day 3 was over.

Day 4: It was time to continue exploring our beautiful county and today we were off to the city of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Along the way, we stop by cities like La Vega and Bonao Plaza Jacaranda a very popular stop along the road for travelers. We enjoyed sandwiches, desserts and freshly-squeezed jugo de limon (limade). After almost 2.5 hours we were at the historic city of Santo Domingo. There we stopped by the president's house and Visited “Altar de la Patria” where the three founding fathers Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella are entombed. For Lunch, we dropped by Casa Gastronomica by master chef Leandro Diaz. We were a party of 12 just imagine how much fun it was sharing dishes. We then proceeded to walk the La Zona Colonial the oldest city in the new world where we stopped by Lulu's for yummy desserts and cocktails. In the capital, we were fortunate to stay with family and save some cash on a hotel stay for that night. That evening Nicks cousins took it upon themselves to take us out for dinner at Allegra in Santo Domingo where were experienced a diverse menu of Asian dishes from duck dumplings, short ribs, to Korean fried rice that took us all on a ride.

Day 5: This morning we were off to the famous and touristic town of Punta Cana where we booked to stay at Bahia Principe Fantasia all-inclusive resort with our family for the next couple days. The drive to Punta Cana from Santo Domingo is approximately 2 hours, therefore, we took advantage of the drive and made a pit stop at Shish Kebab a Lebanese-Dominican restaurant. There we ate some of the best Kibbeh or Quipes for 90 pesos each ($1.68USD) I've ever had and believe me I've had my fair share. Once we arrived at our destination it was time to kick back, soak up some sun and eat as much as we could lol. Fantasia Hotel is a child-friendly hotel with 6 sister hotels in the vicinity, 5 restaurants, several pools, a water park for kids, a drop off kids club and several other amenities to choose from. At $230 a night for a family of 4 during off-peak season, it was a true steal.

Day 6: Day 2 at Bahia Principe we enjoyed the buffet located at the main lobby and the beach area where grilled meats and an array of sides were available for guests. Hailee took part in decorating a watermelon and baking cookies at the kids club. That night we enjoyed dinner at the Circus restaurant where the menu varied with all sorts of grilled meats and later a glow in the dark show for the entire family to enjoy at the lobby area. Did I mention Bahia Principe is all-inclusive, pass the drinks, please! Overall it was a memorable experience not only for the children but also for us adults.

Day 7: It was time to depart from Bahia Principe but first a quick stop at the breakfast buffet and off we went to the town of Boca Chica. We made our first stop at Boca Marina and like its Instagram bio states "most delicious oceanfront dining & drinking experience" that it truly was. The restaurant sits on the edge of the ocean with views to the Caribbean Sea.

Boca Marina was beautiful and I could almost say there for the remaining of the day but I also wanted to continue exploring and arrive at Samana before sunset. Popular for its humpback whale sighting during mating season, Samana has many attractions such as Cayo levantado, a small island known for its beautiful beaches and the whale museum. Samana was beautiful nonetheless but after a couple of hours it was time to visit our next location, Las Terrenas.

Las Terrenas, is a resort-like town know for its splendid beaches, friendly people and diversity in food. Upon our arrival at the Albachiara Hotel, we were ready for dinner and to our delight nearby lived an authentic Mexican restaurant La Catrina known for its Queso fundido and Tacos al pastor. Hotel Albachiara is not your average boutique hotel it offers balcony beach views, complimentary breakfast, and free wifi all priced at $199USD a night per apartment.

Day 8: The next morning after breakfast it was time to head back to Santiago to enjoy our last couple of days. Along the way, we drove by cities like Nagua, San Francisco de Macoris and La Vega. Less than 3 hours we were back at our beloved Santiago city. Once back home we settled my in-law's apartment and began to look into our next dinner date. At El Tablon Latino we had oxtail croquettes, yes you read that correct oxtail!! I say it's one those dishes you must try before knocking. Nick played it safe ordering skirt steak for the main dish while I enjoyed a surf and turf I highly recommend.

Day 9: Our Final day in the Dominican Republic we decided to stay local. We began our day by having breakfast at Cafeteria Tiffany's located at calle del sol & 30 de marzo. If you're looking for the best tostadas in town, that's where they live at 40 pesos ($0.75) each its a perfect Dominican breakfast. Don't know what a tostada is? Check it out. While in town we decided to visit Los Pedajes a farmer's market which carries every fruit, vegetable, herb and poultry you'll need to cook a fresh and organic meal for your loved ones. There I immediately thought of the best way to end our stay in the Dominican Republic.... making a Sancocho on a wood stove at my parents house.

With the help of Nick Grandma Carmen, I learned how to make the best Sancocho I've ever had on my parent's wooden stove out in the back yard also known as Fogon. That alone was an experience in itself. For the rest of the day, we visited family and later began packing our bags for our flight back to New York City which Hailee was not thrilled about as you can see below.

The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It known for its beautiful beaches, resorts and influenced cuisine. Our 9-day trip there came to a total of $3000 USD included our flights, hotel stays, the food we consumed during our stay and everything else in between. Thank you to the Dominican Republic for an unforgettable experience we hope to visit again soon.

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