Ázua de Compostela
- Where to Go
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- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
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- 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
Although Ázua (as it is commonly referred) is a bustling and fairly large town, it doesn’t have much to offer tourists and isn’t as charming as Baní. It is an agricultural town that has a healthy watermelon and honeydew melon crop. Most who pass through simply use Ázua as a pit stop.
Even though there isn’t much by way of tourism here, Ázua has an compelling history, having briefly been a home base for three infamous Spanish conquistadors.
Ázua was founded in 1504 by Diego Velásquez, who came to Hispaniola with Columbus in 1493 on Columbus’s second voyage. He later was instrumental to the brutal conquering and governing of Cuba. At one time Ázua was also home to a notary public, Hernán Cortés, who fought alongside Velásquez in Cuba and was later key in the conquest of the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. And the third Spanish soldier, Juan Ponce de León, also lived in Ázua; that is, before he went off to look for the fountain of youth in what is present-day Florida. Ázua was demolished by fire three times by Haitian soldiers in 1805, 1844, and 1849.
Modern-day Ázua has missed its opportunity, unfortunately, to be a location of interest to tourists as there is only one small monument in the Parque Central commemorating a battle that took place 16 kilometers away at Puerto Viejo, where the great Taíno leader Enriquillo is said to be buried.
Playa Río Monte, while popular with locals, is not a very pretty beach. It has food stalls, is a rather stony beach, and is quite crowded on the weekends.
Playa Blanca is about a kilometer west of Playa Río Monte and has a sandier beach but is best for its vantage point; offshore, dolphins play and manta rays hang out skimming the surface for food. These beaches are in the Bahía de Ocoa and are reachable from a marked turnoff six kilometers off the main highway.
Accommodations and Food
Ázua is not a good place to stop for the night. It simply doesn’t have adequate hotel accommodations. You should plan ahead carefully to at least make it to Baní instead.
Food is only somewhat easier to find in Ázua, and most of the restaurants are inexpensive and specialize in true Dominican fare.
El Meson Suizo (Calle 19 de Marzo 121, tel. 809/521-9821, US$5–11) serves both comida criolla and international dishes along with desserts and seafood fresh from the ocean in a pleasant atmosphere.
Restaurante Francia (Av. Francisco del Rosario Sánchez 104, tel. 809/521-2900, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) will give you a good sampling of tasty Dominican traditions, especially their rendition of la bandera.
Quaint Comedor Dilone (Av. Francisco del Rosario Sánchez 77, tel. 809/521-3431, 8:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) is especially affordable.
Getting to Ázua de Compostela
Azua is located 100 kilometers west of Santo Domingo and 47 kilometers east of Barahona on Carretera 2. Guagua departures to and arrivals from Santo Domingo (US$3) occur every 15 minutes from the corner of Calle Duarte and Miguel Angel Garrido 5 a.m.–6 p.m. You can also catch a guagua to San Juan de la Maguana and Barahona every hour.
Caribe Tours (N.S. Fátima, tel. 809/521-5088, www.caribetours.com.do) buses run between Santo Domingo and Barahona, making a pit stop in Ázua. The stop is near the Parque Central, with buses departing from 7:15 a.m. until 6:25 p.m.
Walking in Ázua is easy because of its small size. Motoconchos are easily found. They usually all hang out together in front of colmados (corner stores).
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition