Planning Your Time
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The South-Central Coast is a manageable area situated perfectly for lots of excursions within the region or to neighboring areas. The areas best suited for home base are Boca Chica (because of its lagoon-like waters and proximity to Santo Domingo) and Guayacanes and Juan Dolio (because of their beaches and numerous resorts).
All the towns listed in this chapter are, more or less, between Las Américas and San Pedro de Macorís, making arrivals and departures a breeze and keeping travel time within the area down to less than a couple of hours by car. In addition, Santo Domingo is within a convenient distance for a weekend of shopping, clubbing, cultural events, and sightseeing. No matter what you are calling home base, excursions can be arranged to Santo Domingo or other sites by your hotel.
Should you dare to drive on the highway (it can be a truly hair-raising experience), Highway 3 is well marked and is the spine from which these towns and sights emerge, making navigation uncomplicated.
Just 22 kilometers outside of Santo Domingo is Parque Nacional Submarino La Caleta, which is a protected coral reef where you can spend your time diving and exploring the purposely sunk shipwreck of the Hickory. Nearby, other shipwrecks include El Limon, a tugboat, and The St. George, a freighter that was sunk 100 feet below sea level. Divers can explore these wrecks and snorkelers can swim among reefs around the park’s beach./
Unfortunately, due to laid-back environmental attitudes and as the result of a hurricane in 2004, the fish sightings are somewhat minimal. However, the Ministry of the Environment is striving to change this through government funding for conservation. Dive shops in Boca Chica go to La Caleta regularly, and it’s reachable by boat in about 17 minutes.
About 15 minutes farther east by car is Boca Chica, where the waters are shallow, warm, and clear like bathwater. Partying is a way of life in Boca Chica, but folks here also enjoy the long lazy days of basking in the sun and eating fried fish. It’s a perfect afternoon getaway if you’re staying in Santo Domingo or if a beach vacation with a little bit of city mixed in is for you.
Within a half an hour from Boca Chica, you will be in the areas of Guayacanes and Juan Dolio. Guayacanes was an old fishing village that has a lovely beach where the locals tend to hang on Sundays, and Juan Dolio and Villas del Mar (a small area of Juan Dolio) are really a long strip of hotels and resorts. Picking a resort along here boils down to what you want your vacation to be like. If you require a lot of lying around on the beach time, then choose wisely, because getting to anything outside of what is offered in your hotel will require a small effort of travel and ingenuity on your part. If you want a little of both, be sure to pick a resort that offers lots of excursions. Many of them do.
San Pedro de Macorís is best left for the months of October through January when it is baseball season in the Dominican Republic. Games are mostly at night. Other than the stadium, tourism isn’t developed in this town, unfortunately, but you will pass through to get to Cueva de las Maravillas, one of the best sights that this coast has to offer.
Many of the resorts in this area offer excursions to the cave at an extra cost, and you will not be sorry you took the time away from sunbathing to go deep underground and see cave paintings that look as though they were drawn yesterday. About three hours are needed for a visit to the cave since a one-hour tour is given and travel time from either Juan Dolio or nearby La Romana.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition