An easy twenty-minute drive or a US$1.50 guagua ride east of downtown Santo Domingo — the capital of the Dominican Republic, home to almost three million inhabitants — you’ll find a string of beautiful white sand beaches.
The most popular among them is Boca Chica. Despite its gritty streets and reputation for sex tourism, Boca Chica has a beach worthy of gracing tourism postcards and a Dominican beat that’s hard to resist. City dwellers love to escape here from the urban heat for a day, usually on Sundays, to cool off in Boca Chica’s shallow, reef-facing waters and picnic with family and friends.
Boca Chica’s buzz is also unique in all of the Dominican Republic–it’s difficult to think of a beach strip showcasing as much raw cultural flavor as well as all the quintessentially Dominican cacophony. Vendors, cafes, and fish shacks offering the renowned Boca Chica fried fish and yaniqueques line the shore. Bars and restaurants blast merengue and bachata, while families frolic in shallow waters and friends cool off with an ice cold Presidente after playing soccer on the beach. That’s just a slice of all that goes on on Boca Chica’s fine white sandy miles.
Fifteen minutes farther east on the highway is the Juan Dolio comunity, with nearly six miles of white sands with a quieter, more deserted feel. A handful of bars and restaurants–mostly Italian–dot the beach, along side condominium high rises, small hotels and even the President’s vacation home.
Sandwiched between these two major areas are smaller fishing villages with equally gorgeous stretches and where fishermen and their canoes are a constant presence–like Guayacanes. Or Playa Caribe, a gorgeous cove with waves high enough that surfers flock there on the weekends.
Throw in the capital city’s historic and Colonial Zone, its numerous restaurants, art galleries, local and fine dining restaurants, live music and bustling nightlife, and it’s quite the bang for your buck to stay in Santo Domingo.
For more images of Santo Domingo and my recommended stops, check out my Instagram feed.
You can also now follow my videos on YouTube! I recently launched a series of vlogs as I travel around the DR researching for my first edition of Moon Dominican Republic guidebook.
Last but not least: this coming week, starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting live from the Colonial Zone as well as modern Santo Domingo over the next couple of days, as I travel along on a media trip with the Dominican Republic’s Hotel and Tourism Association (Asociacion de Hoteles y Turismo de la Republica Dominicana, ASONAHORES). From there, we’ll head to the annual DATE 2015 Tourism Conference in Punta Cana.