Great Escape – Dominican Republic
Get wet and wild on a waterfall adventure in cabaret, before exploring a coffee plantation in the Jarabacoa mountains; next, dance to merengue and join a baseball game in Santo Domingo, explore the swampy islands of Jaragua National Park, and finish on a secret beach near the Haitian border
How to Get Around
Cars can be rented from various airports but caution is advised as roads can be poorly lit at night and many drivers tend towards reckless. Caribe Tours runs daily air-conditioned buses connecting the country’s main cities and towns, including Cabarete, Jarabacoa and Santo Domingo and as far as Barahona on the southwest coast. After that, to reach Laguna de Oviedo and Pedernales, you’ll be reliant on the guaguas – local minivans that are crammed and mostly without signage or regular timetables.
How Long to Spend
Occupying two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is surprisingly large and its mountain and coastal roads can be long and winding. It’s possible to complete this route in just 10 days, but that would be an unnecessary rush: the Caribbean runs on beach time and things move at an unhurried pace, especially along the north coast. Consider a fortnight, but ideally extend that to three weeks or more to allow time for activities such as hiking, surfing and – of course – late nights practising those merengue moves.
What to Budget
Apart from the more expensive tourist resort of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic is very affordable compared to other Caribbean countries. Expect to pay around £20 for budget accommodation, but up to £175 for an upmarket jungle cabana with all mod-cons, infinity pool and beach views. Excursions and day trips rarely cost more than £70. Budget-conscious travellers will love the inexpensive yet tasty street food; roast pork belly chicharrones (fried pork bits) and a frosty Presidente beer, for instance, total a bargain £2.