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  • Writer's pictureNaureen Chhipa

Dominican Republic Road Trip - Exploring the Island in 2-Weeks

Updated: Feb 18

We're landing in Santo Domingo (the capital,) renting a car, and going on a 2-week road trip exploring the Island. This blog post will share highlights and a complete itinerary of where you should go in the Dominican Republic. This Caribbean Island is packed with epic tropical views, daring adventures & top secluded beaches urging you to pack up and go explore.

Infinity Pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Dominican Republic best beaches.
Tracadero Beach Resort

The Dominican Republic is only a 4-hour plane ride from NYC, making this tropical destination the ideal off-the-beaten-path getaway. Diverse enough to fit any personality, the Dominican Republic is perfect for beach lovers, sports enthusiasts, and nature worshipers.

The Dominican Republic Has It All!

Table of Contents:

Before you go:

When traveling to the Dominican Republic, you must complete an electronic E-Ticket to enter and leave the country. I recommend doing this ahead of time to speed up the immigration process. Upon completion, you'll receive a scannable QR code on your mobile to show authorities along with your passport. It's super easy and saves time!

A Brief Dominican History--

Colorful Doors in Santo Domingo
Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

I'll keep this brisk since this is a travel guide. However, I encourage you to learn about the culture and norms of every place you visit. It will change how you travel and experience a country. Here's what you must know about the Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic was the site of the first European settlement in the New World, explored by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Formerly named La Hispañola, the Dominican Republic's culture is a mixture of the cultures of Spaniard Colonists, enslaved Africans, and Taino Natives. The Spanish ruled the Island for two centuries. In 1697, the French gained control of the western side while the Spanish remained in control of the east, creating a divide on the Island today as Haiti (west) and Dominican Republic (east.) Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Americas. The flag of the Dominican Republic is the only flag in the world that features a bible. Europeans, Africans, and Tainos heavily influenced Dominican food, culture, religion, and music. The Dominican Republic is renowned for its beautiful virgin beaches stretching along its extensive coastline. The Island also produces some of the world's best rums. The Dominican Republic got its name from the Latin name for the Island of Hispañiola, "Dominicus."The residents are called "Dominicans" (Dominicanos.)

Best time to visit the Dominican Republic--

The Dominican Republic has warm beach water and excellent weather year-round (except for hurricane season), making it a great tourist destination anytime. However, after living on the Island and exploring on this road trip, I do have some preferences. Here's what to expect when you visit, depending on the time of year.

Mid-December to Late March: This is whale season in the Dominican Republic. If you want to see humpback whales surrounding the shores, mating, and calving, head on to the Samana Peninsula on the northeastern part of the Island. We found an amazing open-air Airbnb (Casa el Paraiso Airbnb - read more about our stay here) where you can see the bay from your room! It's one of the most beautiful places to stay on the Island. You can experience the best weather during this time, but this is also high season. Many travelers flock to the Dominican Republic to escape the cold winter months.

April to May: Enjoy pleasant weather with fewer tourists during this time.

June to August: This is prime summer time for vacationers in the Dominican Republic, and the weather is scorching! Prices are also high due to summer break, and all-inclusive resorts are overcrowded; It's my least favorite time to visit. We also found a lot of seaweed in Punta Cana; the rest of the Island was clear and seaweed-free.

Mid-August to November: This is the low season to travel to the Dominican Republic. During this time, you'll find the best airfare for international travel (we've paid $188 r/t from JFK to Santo Domingo) with reasonable hotel accommodations. However, this is also the rainy season. How bad the weather gets depends on whether or not a hurricane is approaching. I traveled to the Dominican Republic in November, and during my trip, only experienced heavy rain in the morning that dissipated by noon.

On the beach in Dominican Republic
November Weather in Dominican Republic

Transportation in the Dominican Republic--

Flying to the Dominican Republic: For international travel, I prefer flying to the capital, Santo Domingo - (Las Americas International Airport.) You can find better flight deals at this airport, and it's an excellent mid-point location for traveling through the rest of the Island. If you're looking for a quick getaway at an all-inclusive resort, I recommend flying to Punta Cana - (Punta Cana International Airport.) By doing so, transportation will be easy as you can get a shuttle service for pick-up/ drop-off to and from your hotel and Uber or book excursions during your stay through the resort directly.

Other airports available on the island:

La Romana - La Romana International Airport

Samaná - Presidente Juan Bosch International Airport ( Private )

Puerto Plata - Puerto Plata International Airport

Santiago - Aeropuerto Internacional del Cibao

Barahona - Maria Montez Airport

Hiring a Private or Group Travel Host in the Dominican Republic: I always enjoy booking excursions and guided trips with locals who can explain the history of the places I visit. A host is an excellent option if you want to experience a carefully curated and exclusive Caribbean trip by staying at some of the top boutique hotels and visiting the most secluded beaches on the Island, having everything arranged for you.

Renting a car in the Dominican Republic: I recommend making car rental reservations beforehand. Suppose you're planning a solo road trip. You can arrange for car pick-up and drop-off in different parts of the Island; this is hugely beneficial and time-saving when flying in and out of different airports. I often get asked whether it is safe or not to drive in the Dominican Republic. The truth is, there's always a risk attached when renting a car in a foreign country. So, driving with caution and obeying the country's traffic regulations is crucial. Many travelers fear being stopped by corrupt police, and while you can get stopped, it's just like any other checkpoint. Stay calm if you get stopped by the police, as random patrols are standard, especially when getting off a highway. While traveling and renting cars in the Dominican Republic, we've only gotten stopped once. They asked to see our driver's license, and that was it! They can also ask where you're going and coming from, but that's standard unless you violate common traffic rules, such as speeding. We rented our car from Discover Cars and had a great experience.They offer competitive rates, as they search all the big car rental companies and find the best price. I always love using this site to find cheap car rentals worldwide. You'll need a credit card to rent a car in the Dominican Republic, but you don't need an international driver's license. Once you receive your vehicle, check all dents/scratches and take pictures/ videos of them before leaving the agency. We always do this when renting a car, and it saved us big time when we were in Sicily! For the most part, we found driving in the Dominican Republic easy and comfortable as the highways are well-kept. However, if you can, I would avoid driving in the capital (Santo Domingo) as it gets chaotic, and there seem to be no rules, with drivers just throwing themselves on the road. We recommend parking your rental car at the hotel and using Uber, walking, or biking instead to explore Santo Domingo. It will help you be stress-free during your travels. Tip: If you're picking your car up from the airport right after landing, ensure you have Dominican pesos to pay for tolls as you will pass some exiting the airport. They have cash exchange booths at the airport. Check the rate, and if it's too high, only change enough to get by-- around $10 to be safe (you'll only need $3.) Be careful with speed bumps when driving as they are very high, and if you rent a low car, they will hit the road pretty hard; we almost had to go at no speed passing them!

Taxi & Uber in the Dominican Republic: Uber is only available in the major cities of Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Santiago, and Puerto Plata. But taxis can be found throughout the Island, usually outside major bus stations and hotels unless you're on a remote part of the Island. If that's the case, you must walk to the town center. You can also ask your hotel to call a local cab for you; make sure to negotiate a price before getting in and ask for an estimated wait time so you know what to expect. After all, the Dominican Republic is an Island, and the term "Island time" is accurate here!

Local & Public Transportation in the Dominican Republic: This is the most affordable way to travel and the best way to "people watch" and experience local Dominican culture.

The Santo Domingo Subway / Metro operates two lines: line 1 runs north to south, and line 2 runs east to west. A road-trip subway fare costs RD $15 ($0.26) for a rechargeable metro card, plus RD $40 ($0.68) for a roundtrip or RD $80 ($1.36) for a day pass. The subway operates daily from 6 am-10:30 pm. Coach Bus Service For long-distance travel within the Dominican Republic and Haiti, you have several options: Metro Tours, Caribe Tours, and Express Bavaró (ideal for those staying in Punta Cana and looking to make a day trip to Santo Domingo.) Bus fares range between RD$200 ($3.41) and RD$500 ($8.53) one-way.

How Long Should You Stay in the Dominican Republic--

Beach Bugalows in Dominican Republic
Punta Rucia Lodge

The length of your stay in the Dominican Republic depends entirely on how much time you have. I recommend staying for 3 to 4 weeks to see the entire Island. If you want to add Haiti to your Dominican Republic trip, 4 to 5 weeks will do.

For quick trips, I recommend the following routes:

Weekend getaway in Punta Cana: 3 days.

Punta Cana + Bayahibe + Isla Saona: 5 days.

Santo Domingo + La Romana + Bayahibe + Isla Saona: 5 days.

Santo Domingo + Samaná: 7 days

Santo Domingo + Cabarete + Puerto Plata: 7 days

Santo Domingo + Barahona + Pedernales: 6 days

Safety in the Dominican Republic--

From the local perspective of living on the Island for most of my childhood and returning several times thorough family travel, girl's trips, and fun weekend getaways for couples, I have never found the Dominican Republic to be a dangerous country. But, I was born there and speak the language (Spanish.) I've always traveled to the Island with other Dominicans, and my husband and I blend in. We're also conscious travelers; and don't put ourselves in danger or risky situations. We don't drink and drive, we don't drive late at night, and when we rent cars, we look for one that's not too flashy. The key is blending in as much as possible on all international travel destinations you want to visit. Blending in was difficult for us when we went to Japan , but Japan was also super safe. We respected their customs, culture, and traditions, not to be "those rude tourists." Do the same, and you should be ok anywhere you travel. If you get pulled over by a cop (which happened to us once during our road trip--they were doing checks on the highway,) stop, pull your window down, be friendly and they'll let you pass. Water: Tap water is not safe to drink in the Dominican Republic. Most resorts/hotels will provide you with bottled water, and in communal areas, they have "aqua de botella," which is filtered water that is safe for drinking. Be careful when consuming mixed drinks on party boats and excursions. We always opt for a cold beer. The Dominican Republic has some of the coldest beers-- there's even a local name for them, "ceniza" or "velo de novia" (bride veil.) That's when the beer bottle is so cold there's a layer of frosted ice covering the bottle, resembling that of a bride's veil or waterfall. It is also beneficial to learn some basic words and phrases in Spanish when visiting the Dominican Republic, but you can use your Google translator and get by just fine.

Dominican Currency--

The local currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (Peso.) As of winter 2024, the conversion rate is as follows:

1 USD = 58.63 DOP (Dominican Peso)

5 USD = 293.16 DOP

10 USD = 586.31 DOP

25 USD = 1,465.79 DOP

I always round up to remember in a snap and make things easier for myself when I'm on-the-go price haggling. Here's my conversion cheat sheet:

1 USD = 50 Pesos

5 USD = 300 Pesos

10 USD = 600 Pesos

25 USD = 1,500 Pesos

When traveling, I always take a credit card with no foreign transaction fee and my regular ATM card. I use my credit card to pay everywhere they accept cc as there's no additional usage fee; plus, it is safer than carrying excessive cash with you. With my regular bank card, I withdraw money from a local ATM outside a bank branch to pay for "cash-only places." By doing so, I only pay a small bank fee instead of a high exchange rate. Using an ATM has worked the best for me In International travel, and it's the system I still use. TIP: Avoid using private ATMs unless it's an extreme emergency. The fees tend to be triple the regular bank fee, with greater chances for theft. Important: A daily cash limit of 20,000 Pesos is available for withdrawal from an ATM dispenser. If you input a greater amount, you will not get cash back, and the bank will track your card as having had the daily amount already withdrawn, not letting you take more money out until the following day. You won't get charged, but you must also look for a different ATM, which can be time-consuming.

Dominican Republic Road-Trip - Exploring the Island in 2 Weeks

Watercolor map of the Dominican Republic with top things to do.
Day 1 - Travel Day

Santo Domingo and Bayahibe

Today, we're flying into Santo Domingo (the capital.) We landed in Santo Domingo at 12:30 pm. After customs check and baggage pick-up, we found ourselves at the car rental office inside the airport. The rental car companies are together in an office space a short walk from Santo Domingo's main airport area. Tip: Remember to carry some Dominican pesos to pay for the toll outside the airport. Occasionally, you can also pay with dollars at a higher rate (up to the cashiers' discretion.) Car Rental in the Dominican Republic.

Sample Itinerary -- You can adjust this to fit your landing time.

12:30 pm- We're landing at Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo.

1:45 pm- Car Rental Pickup

3:00 pm- Stop for lunch at Gran Parador Bellamar before hitting the road to Bayahibe.

Dominican Ribs Restaurant in Santo Domingo
Gran Parador Bellamar

Food Coma! My favorite place to eat when landing and departing from the Santo Domingo airport. This Buffet-style restaurant is a local gem! Located only a 16- minute drive from the airport, this is the ideal foodie spot for meat lovers wanting to have a first or last authentic Dominican cuisine bite before heading to their next destination. This place is located inside a gas station, so it's convenient for those needing to fill their tanks before returning their car rental. *Please note this place is cash only, so keep this in mind if it's your first time in Santo Domingo. There's an ATM available inside, but I recommend taking cash out of a bank ATM for a lower fee before arriving. Thanks, Zai, for showing me this spot!

4:00 pm- On the road to Bayahibe (1hr 28 min drive.)

5:30 pm- Arrive at Tracadero Beach Resort - We will spend three nights there.

Resort in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic.
Tracadero Beach Resort

We found Tracadero Beach Resort to be chic, luxurious, and breathtaking! Boasting five seawater infinity pools overlooking the Caribbean Sea, a top-notch restaurant serving everything from the land and sea, and villa/apartment-style accommodations, this resort is perfect for those looking to relax with style and ambiance at their fingertips. We stayed in the Romance Suite, which featured a queen-sized bed, a dining area, and a private patio with garden views. Hotel tour of Tracadero Beach Resort and Isla Saona day trip.

8:00 pm- Head to the main restaurant and enjoy dinner with live music. Tracadero Beach Resort offers concerts and events throughout the month; check their calendar and make sure not to miss the epic fun overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea!

10:00 pm- Ready for a nightcap? Grab a drink at their open-air bar facing the Caribbean Sea. They'll deliciously make you anything you want! A traditional Dominican drink to try is Mama Juana, a concoction made with rum, red wine, cinnamon sticks, raisins, and honey. The ingredients are combined in a bottle and soaked with tree bark and herbs over time. Invented in the 1950s to cure flu-like symptoms, Mama Juana became a very popular aphrodisiac amongst the locals.Fast-forward to today It's mostly enjoyed after a meal as a digestive; you can't leave the Island without trying it! It tastes like a port with a little kick!

Day 2 -Relax and Enjoy the Views

Tracadero Beach Resort, Bayahibe, and Bayahibe Beach

Sleep in and relax after a day of traveling and perhaps dancing. I recommend taking the day off and enjoying all the beautiful amenities Tracadero Beach Resort offers.

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00 -11:00 am- Have breakfast. Tracadero Beach Resort's breakfast hours are from 8 am to 11 am. Traditional Dominican Breakfast to try- Mangú (matched plantains.)

12:00 pm- Book a massage at the spa and pamper yourself! You serve it! * I recommend booking this ahead of time so they're ready for your arrival, especially if booking a couples massage, as space and staff might be limited.

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic Caribbean Sea.
Tracadero Beach Resort

1:30 pm- Go for a swim. Tracadero Beach Resort is home to 5 seawater infinity pools! Each one is more epic than the last. There's also a natural water pool by the main entrance and various stairs leading inside the Caribbean Sea! If you're up for the challenge, swim in the open sea. This spot reminded us so much of our trip to Kusadasi, Turkey. The Caribbean Sea water, however, is much warmer and calmer than the waters of the Aegean Sea, so enjoy a relaxing swim! *Beware of little crabs surrounding the area. They're everywhere; especially by the steps leading to the beach and the infinity pool edges.

3:00 pm- Grab some lunch! Try the Pizza spot at Tracadero.

4:00 pm- Head into town. The small village of Bayahibe is only a 5- minute walk away. There's little to do in the area; it's more of a general information center with a bank/ATM, a pharmacy, and bodegas/colmados to grab beer and snacks. Bayahibe is also where all tourists go to book last-minute excursions. *Tip: If the bank's ATM is not working, there's an additional ATM inside the pharmacy, but the fees for withdrawing currency there are high, so I recommend sticking to the bank one. There's a daily limit on how much cash you can take out, and you can take out a max of 20,000 Dominican pesos daily at most ATMs in the Dominican Republic.

5:00-7:00 pm- Head to Bayahibe Beach for beach time, or return to the hotel and enjoy the spectacular sunset while sipping cocktails. Tracadero Beach Resort doesn't have a beachfront area; it overlooks the open Caribbean Sea with available stairs for jumping into the sea. I recommend using one of the many pools if traveling with kids.

Infinity pool at Caribbean Resort in the Dominican Republic.
Tracadero Beach Resort- Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

Top Dominican Foods to Try
Fried Fish and Tostones

8:00 pm- Dinner time! Dine with the most impressive sea views at Tracdero's Beach Resort's main restaurant. Elegant and with refined style, this restaurant entwines the best of Italian culinary tradition and Caribbean influences. The restaurant's dinner hours are from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. *Tip: Make it an unforgettable private romantic dinner. For an additional cost, you can rent out one of the three gazebos adjacent to the sea and have a private romantic dinner there.

Day 3- Isla Saona Day Trip

Isla Saona

Isla Saona (Saona Island) was one of my favorite beaches in the Dominican Republic. Tracadero Beach Resort is only a 20 minute boat ride away, making this Island the perfect day trip from this resort. Here's your guide to Isla Saona and an additional blog post where I share The Best Beaches in Dominican Republic that are still under the radar with the pros and cons of visiting each. You can also watch my Isla Saona Vlog on YouTube.

Day 4- On the Road to Santo Domingo

Half-Day Santo Domingo

Today, enjoy an early last dip inside one of Tracadero's many seawater infinity pools and have a laid-back breakfast overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Today is our last day in Bayahibe, and our next destination- Santo Domingo, is only a 2hr 10 min drive away.

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00 -11:00 am- Have breakfast. Tracadero Beach Resort's breakfast hours are from 8 am to 11 am. After breakfast and that last swim, book out and drive to Santo Domingo.

Dominican Street Snack- Local Fruit
Limoncillo / Quenepa / Mamon

*Tip: While on the road, plenty of street vendors sell local fruits. Do grab some limoncillos- a local Caribbean fruit! We paid 100 DOP ($2) for five bunches of these! A great deal, and they're so good. To eat a limoncillo, rinse the fruit, remove each individually from the bunch and lightly bite into the center to peel off the outer layer. The fruit (found inside) has a large pit in the center. You want to suck around the pit for the fruit's flesh without cracking. If you break the pit accidentally, it's not toxic, so you'll be ok, but it tastes bitter. After removing the flesh, disregard the pit and repeat!

3:00 pm- Arrive and check in at your hotel in Santo Domingo. We Stayed at the Luca Hotel by The Oxo House. The Oxo House has three hotels located in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo. I love this collection of hotels because they cater to every type of traveler. For a budget hotel stay in Santo Domingo, check out Hostal La Colonia by The Oxo House, with private rooms ranging from $43-59 per night, plus amazing shared balcony views of La Zona.

Budget accommodations in La Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
Hostal La Colonia by The Oxo House

For a mid-range hotel stay in Santo Domingo, check out Casa Sanchez, an adults-only hotel by The Oxo House (this one has a pool) with rooms ranging from $71-120 per night.

Mid range Accommodations in La Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
Casa Sanchez by The Oxo House

We recommend staying at Luca Hotel for an upscale yet still budget-friendly hotel stay in Santo Domingo. Luca Hotel by The Oxo House stands on a 16th- century renovated house, has a great rooftop bar, and despite not having a pool, you can request a private hot tub for a romantic dinner for two, free of charge. Now, keeping it real, my only complaint with this "private dinner" is that it's not that private... we found out about this "amenity" because we were at the rooftop bar having drinks and had a birds-eye view of the couple there. There was not much romance going on as they were both on their phones the entire night-- The morale of the story: if you're on a romantic dinner or getaway, PUT THE PHONE AWAY and interact with the person in front of you instead. I'm just saying! The average price for a room at Luca Hotel can range between $95-170 per night.

Accommodations with Parking in Santo Domingo, La Zona Colonial.
Luca Hotel by El Oxo House

After staying at all three hotels, I would stay at all three again. I would choose according to my type of travel for that specific time. For example, If I'm backpacking and need a place to lay my head at night without spending too much time at the hotel, I would choose Hostal La Colonia! I traveled as a solo female traveler and felt safe when I stayed there. My days were packed with things to do and this hotel was perfect for my budget-saving plan. I prioritized indulging in fine dining in Santo Domingo, so having a more budget-friendly hotel accommodation fit the bill. If I'm traveling during summer, I lean more towards Casa Sanchez because they have a pool, and that, my friends, is the best way to end an adventure-filled day-- cooling off with a cold Presidente (Dominican beer) or a mojito in hand. If I'm backpacking through the Island and have a car rental, I would automatically choose to stay at Luca Hotel. They have an underground parking garage free of charge for all the guests at the hotel. Finding parking in La Zona can be a headache, so pay a little extra to park. It's a nice-looking hotel with a rooftop bar; It's the more upscale of the three.

3:00-8:00 pm- Half-day exploring La Zona Colonial For lunch, head over to La Alpagateria (One of our stops on the walking tour.) For dinner, dress up and hit up the trendiest restaurant in La Zona Colonial -- Maraca. When visiting Maraca, remember to take a photo with the giant painting in front of the restaurant; it's iconic, powerful, and striking.

La Alpagateria | Restaurants in La Zona Colonial | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Maraca | Restaurants in La Zona Colonial | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Day 5- Exploring Santo Domingo Beyond La Zona Colonial

Los 3 Ojos National Park

Today, we're taking our time and traveling slowly. Taking my time is my favorite form of traveling; by doing so, I fully experience where I am. We're visiting Los 3 Ojos National Park. Los 3 Ojos (The Three Eyes National Park) is a must-see when visiting Santo Domingo. Los 3 Ojos is only a 20- minute Uber ride from La Zona Colonial. This massive jungle-like park is an oasis in a bustling city like Santo Domingo. Many Hollywood films like Tarzan, Anaconda, and Jurassic Park showcase some areas of this park. If you have the extra time, add it to your list of places to visit in Santo Domingo.

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00 -11:00 am- Have breakfast.

Restaurants in La Zona Colonial. Delicious Dominican breakfast.
Breakfast menu at Hostal La Colonia by The Oxo House

All three hotels offer the same breakfast, and prices will vary depending on where you're staying. The most affordable Dominican breakfast can be found at Tribu restaurant, right around the corner of Hostal La Colonia in Plaza Colon. If it's your first time in the Dominican Republic, I highly recommend getting the Dominican Breakfast. Dominican breakfast is more traditional to the Island and delicious!

Casa Sanchez and Luca Hotel offer the same breakfast (at a higher price) directly on-premise, overlooking the pool (Casa Sanchez) or in the patio area (Luca Hotel.)

9:00 am-12:00 pm- Take an Uber and visit Los 3 Ojos National Park (Three Eye National Park)

Los 3 Ojos National Park is 5 miles east of Santo Domingo and is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. I recommend visiting the park early in the morning to avoid crowds. The entrance fee is 100 DOP ($2), and tour guides are available for an extra charge (recommended but not mandatory to enter.) Despite its resemblance to a Mexican Cenote, swimming is not allowed at the Three Eyes National Park. When visiting Los 3 Ojos, bring hiking sandals/shoes with good grip, plenty of water (it's very humid and hot down there,) and sun protection as most areas are open-air. The Tainos once used these underground caves for rituals and spiritual purposes. After exploring all three lakes at Los 3 Ojos, there's a 4th lake available (at an additional fee of 50 DOP ($1.) This lake is accessible via a wooden raft; I think it's a must-see! It was my favorite lake in the entire Park.

4th Lake at Los 3 Ojos National Park

1:00-3:00 pm- Lunch at Meson de la Cava

Top restaurants to visit in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Where to eat in Santo Domingo.
Meson de la Cava | Cave Restaurant in Santo Domingo

Meson de la Cava is a fine-dining cave restaurant in Santo Domingo. The food is delicious, boasting authentic Dominican flavors. It is one of the best restaurants to eat at in the capital.

4:00-7:00 pm- Head back to La Zona, a souvenir shop, and indulge in local sweets. The Dominican Republic is known for its dark chocolate and candy bars. Head to Casa de Los Dulces, where you can find some delicious treats. Then visit el Museo de Larimar. Larimar stones can only be found in the caves on the south of the Island, and they make a great souvenir to bring home to loved ones.

Dominican candy store in la Zona colonial, Santo Domingo.
Casa de los Dulces

8:00 pm- Have dinner at Valiente Restaurant

Valiente Restaurants is slick, bold, and sexy. They are located right in the heart of La Zona.

Day 6- On the road to Samana

El Valle, Samana

Samana is hands down my favorite town in the Dominican Republic. This secluded little gem of a town brings you a slice of paradise in its rawest form. Samana is also home to some of my favorite beaches in the Dominican Republic.

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00 -11:00 am- Have breakfast before hitting the road. The drive from Santo Domingo to Samana is approximately 3 hours.

12:00-3:00 pm- Drive from Santo Domingo to El Valle, Samana.

Beach House in Samana, Dominican Republic.
Unique Exotic Hotel Beach House

You can stay in the beach house or the main hotel (5 min walk from the beach.) Breakfast and dinner are included with your stay.

More Accommodations in El Valle, Samana, Dominican Republic.

Tree House Hotel in the jungle in Dominican Republic.
Dominican Tree House

4:00 pm- Lunch at Valley Beach- A local restaurant located on El Valle Beach.

5:00 pm- El Valle Beach

Caribbean travel. Amazing beaches in Dominican Republic.
El Valle Beach, El Valle, Samana

After lunch, make sure to make a splash in the water. El Valle Beach is one of my favorite beaches in the Dominican Republic. This coastal beach is almost always secluded, so chances are you'll have the entire beach to yourself!

8:00 pm- Dinner at Unique Hotel

Day 7- Samana

El Valle, Samana

Today, you can relax and have an entire beach day or book an adventure excursion. You can go zip lining in the jungle, visit a refreshing waterfall, or take a boat to a remote island. Playa El Ermitaño, another favorite beach of mine, is only a 20- minute boat ride from El Valle Beach. You can hire a local guide directly from your hotel.

Awesome beaches to visit in Dominican Republic.
Playa El Ermitaño, Samana, Dominican Republic
Day 8- Whale Watching in Samana Bay | El Valle to Las Galeras in Samana

Las Galeras, Samana

Las Galeras is about a 30-minute drive from El Valle. If you're visiting the Dominican Republic during whale season (mid-January to late March), I recommend going whale watching in the morning before checking into your Airbnb. There are so many amazing whale-watching excursions with additional add-ons in Samana Bay. The adventure of whale watching in the Dominican Republic can be a half-day or full-day activity. We'll be staying at Casa el Paraiso in Las Galeras. Casa el Paraiso is one of our favorite Airbnbs in the Dominican Republic. Make sure to book dinner with Chef Mirko, the on-site chef.

Eco-Friendly Accommodations in Las Galeras, Samana, Dominican Republic.
Casa el Paraiso, Las Galeras, Samana

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00- 11:00 am- Breakfast at Unique Hotel (If staying there.)

12:00-2:30 pm- Visit Playa Playita or Playa Fronton on your way to your Airbnb

La Playita, Las Galeras, Samana, Dominican Republic

Playa Fronton, Las Galeras, Samana, Dominican Republic

3:00 pm- Check-in at Casa el Paraiso

Open-air hill-top bungalow in Las Galeras, Samana, Dominican Republic. Best Airbnb in Dominican Republic.
"Africa" Room no.5

7:00 pm- Enjoy a sunset dinner overlooking the Samana Bay at Casa el Paraiso

Day 9- On the road to Cabarete

Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Cabarete is one of the world's top places for kite surfing. Therefore, this is the perfect town to check off learning how to surf from your list! The drive from Las Galeras to Cabarete is about 3 hours and 45 minutes. So, after watching the sunrise from your room at Casa el Paraiso and having breakfast, it's time to hit the road in search of adventure. We'll stay at Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel and Spa, in Sosua, about 10 minutes from Cabarete.

Swimming pool at eco-friendly boutique hotel in Cabarete Dominican Republic. Epic Jungle accommodations in Sosua Dominican Republic.
Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa

Day 10 & 11- Exploring Cabarete

Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Cabarete is a town for adventure seekers in the Dominican Republic. We had so much fun exploring around. The Dominican Republic is such a diverse island; there's something for everyone to do here. If you have more time, we recommend staying in Cabarete 3 to 4 days. Here's our guide. If you only have a day or so, choose your favorite activities from our guide.

Horseback ridding in Dominican Republic. Caribbean horses. Outdoor travel.
A day packed with adventures in Cabarete, Dominican Republic

Day 12- On the road to Punta Rucia

Punta Rucia, Dominican Republic

Today, we're leaving Cabarete and driving to Punta Rucia (about 2 hrs and 30 min.) Punta Rucia is home to shallow, clear waters, epic sunsets, and some of the best locations for snorkeling on the Island. We'll be staying at Punta Rucia Lodge in Punta Rucia.

Hammock inside a beach. Best summer one piece swimsuit. The most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic.
Beach at Punta Rucia Lodge in the Dominican Republic

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

8:00-11:00 am- Breakfast at Natura Cabana

11:00 am- On the road to Punta Rucia

2:00 pm- Eat lunch in town before arriving at the hotel

Authentic Dominican restaurant with delicious local eat.
Restaurante Martire, Punta Rucia

The restaurant at Punta Rucia Lodge is only open for breakfast and dinner, so I highly recommend grabbing lunch at a local restaurant in town before checking in. Just stop on the way to any small local spot. We were in the mood for authentic local Dominican food, so we visited Restaurante Martire for lunch. This restaurants food is delicious and super cheap compared to the in-house restaurant at Punta Rucia. The restaurant owner, Martire, also hosts day trips to Cayo Arena, where we're headed tomorrow. When visiting Punta Rucia, try chivo liniero (stewed or oven-baked goat,) fried fish with tostones, and pollo guisado (chicken stew.) Eat at this rustic local restaurant throughout your stay in Punta Rucia if you want to save some cash without compromising taste and flavor.

3:00 pm- Check-in at Punta Rucia Lodge

Beachfront boutique hotel in Punta Rucia, Dominican Republic
Punta Rucia Lodge, Punta Rucia, Dominican Republic

4:00 pm- Settle in and enjoy the beach and view

Eco-Friendly Accommodation in Punta Rucia. Lodging luxury travel.
Beachfront Boutique Hotel Punta Rucia Lodge

7:00 pm- Beachfront BBQ Dinner at Punta Rucia Lodge

Delicious seafood and meat BBQ in Dominican Republic.
Parrillada para 2 at Punta Rucia Lodge

Day 13- Half-day Trip to Cayo Arena

Cayo Arena & Punta Rucia

Cayo Arena is little Island in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean with the best waters in the Dominican Republic for snorkeling. We couldn't believe the amount of fish we found without trying too hard. This islet is also perfect for kids to visit as the waters are shallow.

Beautiful Caribbean Beaches in the Dominican Republic. Paradise Island .
Visiting Cayo Arena, The smallest Island in the Dominican Republic

Sample Itinerary- Adjust depending on how you feel and your day.

9:00 am- Breakfast at Punta Rucia lodge

10:00 am- Half-day trip to Cayo Arena

3:00 pm- Lunch at Restaurante Martire

5:00 pm- Pre-book a beachfront spa massage at Punta Rucia Lodge

Beachfront Spa in Dominican Republic
Spa at Punta Rucia Lodge

8:00 pm- Dinner at Punta Rucia Lodge

Restaurants in Dominican Republic Punta Rucia Lodge
Pool Restaurant at Punta Rucia Lodge
Day 14- Travel Day

Home, Sweet Home

If you're ending your road trip in Punta Rucia, the best airport to fly out of would be the Puerto Plata International Airport, about 2 hrs away. But, if you, like us, got a super affordable plane ticket and thought, "I can make the drive back to Santo Domingo," then your drive will be more like 4hrs 20 min without traffic. Hey! Sometimes, you can't say no to a super cheap flight to the Dominican Republic--guilty! You should take the day off to sleep in, have a relaxed breakfast, and perhaps swim before hitting the road. Leave enough time to return your rental car and grab lunch in Santo Domingo because we all know there's nothing worse than overpriced airport food!

If you love fried chicken, then give Pollo Victorina a try! Yes, it's Dominican fast food. Nevertheless it is a staple to hectic Dominican on-the-go eats! I always ate this when I lived in DR, and I still daydream about that chicken platter and fries-- it's that good! Then, head over to Helados Bon, another Dominican ice cream staple.

If you are running out of time, and can't make multiple stops, then I recommend eating at Gran Parador Bellamar. I've visited this gas station restaurant a few times now, and the food is so delicious; it never disappoints! Gran Parador Bellman captures the authentic flavors and taste of Dominican Cuisine exquisitely. It's my favorite spot for yummy food on the go! The best part is that it's only a 16 minute drive from the Santo Domingo Airport.

This Concludes our Dominican Republic Road Trip Guide. I hope you have an amazing time on your road trip, and please leave a comment if you enjoyed reading our guide!

Till next time, and as always, thanks for reading!

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