Santo Domingo is America’s oldest city. It is inextricably linked with the history of the conquest of the New World. The great discoverer Christopher Columbus found his last refuge here – his remains rest in a giant lighthouse on the Caribbean coast. It is believed that the first paved roads on American soil, the university and the Christian cathedral appeared in Santo Domingo.
The main city of the Dominican Republic is called the gateway to the Caribbean Sea and the cultural capital of America. Check maternityetchic for customs regulations and visa requirements of Dominican Republic.
People come here to get acquainted with the colonial culture – the local architecture retains the features of the Renaissance, Arabic, Gothic and Romanesque styles. This is a place of mixing of European, African and Indian traditions. Bright, noisy, colorful Santo Domingo invites its guests to enjoy tropical beauties, penetrate the mysteries of history, and experience life in the Caribbean style.
How to get to Santo Domingo
Aeroflot, Air France and Jet Blue fly to Santo Domingo. You can get from Moscow Sheremetyevo to the capital’s Las Americas airport in at least 15 hours 50 minutes with one transfer in Madrid, New York, Paris or Milan. Air Europe offers a flight with two transfers in Barcelona and Madrid, the journey takes 18.5 hours.
From airport to city
Las Americas Airport is located 35 km from the capital. You can get to the city by bus, you should look for a stop at the exit from the terminal. Flights are every half an hour, but it’s not so easy to get into the cabin because of the large number of people; travel time 40 minutes. Taxi drivers charge about 2000 DOP for a transfer from the airport to the city. The prices on the page are for August 2021.
In the capital itself, the coast is rocky and there are no beaches, but in its vicinity there are many places for swimming with a typical Caribbean landscape – white sand, azure sea and palm trees. The beaches of the Boca Chica resort are popular, a 25-minute drive from Santo Domingo. The place is suitable for families with children – the depth increases gradually, there are no strong waves. Eateries nearby serve fresh seafood. There is a rental of beach equipment. There are especially many vacationers on weekends.
Entrance to the unfenced part of the beach is free. Sun loungers and umbrellas are paid everywhere – their rent will cost 60 DOP per day.
A 10-minute drive from Boca Chica is Caribe Beach, where, in addition to families with children, lovers of boarding gather. There is always a side wind here. Adults prefer to catch a wave at a depth, while children splash in salty spray in shallow water. The picturesque beach of Guayacanes is suitable for a secluded vacation – usually only locals relax on it. It is a quiet area without tourist infrastructure.
Juan Dolio is a beach in the resort of the same name, about an hour’s drive from the capital. This is a tourist paradise with a lot of entertainment and cafes at every turn. Many coral reefs attract divers.
Diving in Santo Domingo
Diving enthusiasts in Santo Domingo are attracted by the La Caleta National Park. Divers from all over the world come here to visit the Taino cave system, named after the Indian tribe – the ancestors of the modern Dominicans. At a depth of 48 m, divers are waiting for complex transitions, winding tunnels, accumulations of stalactites and a halocline – a place where salt and fresh water meet. The local underwater karst caves are similar to those that exist off the Yucatan Peninsula.
Of particular interest to divers is the accumulation of ships on the seabed. These are Spanish galleons that sank in the 18th century, and a modern 39-meter expeditionary ship. In the waters of Juan Dolio, at a depth of 30 m lies a 65-meter vessel. All objects are covered with a thick layer of coral and algae formations, and among the marine life here you can find beautiful tropical fish, rays, reef sharks, turtles, starfish and urchins.
Many dive centers offer their services to beginners and experienced divers. The warm Caribbean Sea allows you to comfortably dive all year round, excluding the period from September to November, when strong hurricanes occur.
What to bring
The most anticipated souvenir from Santo Domingo is Caribbean rum, and you can surprise your friends with the exotic local tincture Mama Juana. It contains all kinds of herbal ingredients, honey and rum. “Mamajuana” has a strong tonic effect and is considered an aphrodisiac. The drink is sold both ready-made and in the form of a bag with dry ingredients for self-preparation.
El Conde Street is like our Arbat.
Santo Domingo is the birthplace of the coffee variety of the same name. It is very popular in the country and is considered one of the best in the world. A pack of Santo Domingo can be purchased at any grocery store. Local cigars are also valued, they are no worse than Cuban ones.
A large selection of souvenirs, handicrafts, fruits and products – in the oldest metropolitan bazaar El Mercado Modelo, on the beach all this is much more expensive.
The sky-blue larimar stone is a symbol of these places. It looks especially advantageous in silver jewelry. In order not to run into a fake, you should buy jewelry in specialized stores Ambar Tres and L’Ile Au Tresor. In memory of the sunny island, cane sugar and natural cosmetics with cocoa butter and coconut are brought.