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Hello everyone! If you have been following my Instagram, you must have realized that I just got back from the beautiful Dominican Republic. And if you are not following me, c’mon! After an amazing solo trip to one of the most popular island in the Caribbean, I am ready to share my 5 day itinerary for the Dominican Republic. Everything from what I did to where to eat and even how much all of the fun in the sun cost me!
Before you go, I want to make sure you have all the essentials for your next vacation, shop my Amazon recommendations
Nervousness and excitement! Yes this is true, I was nervous before this trip mainly because I was traveling to a brand new destination solo! I have traveled alone in the past but had someone waiting for me at the other end. Not in this case though. To be honest, I almost didn’t go but thank God for friends who push you out of your comfort zone. What about you guys? Do you usually get nervous when you are about to do something crazy?
My initial thoughts about the Dominican- Punta Cana, beautiful beaches, sunshine and all-inclusive resorts. Sadly, that’s all I knew about the place before I started researching. Keep in mind, my flight had already been purchased at this stage because I found a great deal ($265 round trip). Those deals by Frontier Airlines always get me! Also, in case you are wondering whether flying with Frontier is a good idea, then read my honest review on them here. How much research do you do before buying your flight? I typically buy a ticket as soon as I find a good deal and then figure out the rest.
A few minutes of research and voila, I have learned about the historical capital of Santo Domingo. The stunning architecture certainly caught my eye and I added it to my list.
Dominican food is delicious! Definitely wanted to try some mofongo and their typical rice & beans. Lastly, I wanted to visit Saona Island also known as Starfish Island.
PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
If you know anything about me, you’d probably know that I don’t plan out my entire vacation upfront. I typically look up a few must see or things to do and go with the flow. Also, I am the BIGGEST procrastinator when it comes to packing and unfortunately that didn’t change before this trip. I literally finished packing at 3:30 AM and had to leave my house at 5:30 AM (good bye sleep!), oh and I had to drive 2 hours to get to the airport too!
Anyways, I chose to travel only with a carry on so space was limited. Here are a few things that came in my carry on:
- Clothes- all my outfits are planned, I carry only what I will wear and wear only what I have.
- Makeup- bare minimum, whatever fits in this bag . I have the gold colored one. Click here.
- Skin care- travel size only, the Origins travel skincare set was perfect, I use most of their products at home too. Click here.
- Sunscreen- again travel size only, I like the Neutrogena stick version which works for face & body. Click here.
- Camera- I have the Canon EOS T7i, there is a great bundle deal on Amazon. Click here.
- Waterproof camera- under $50, loved it! The quality is pretty good for the price. Click here. I also purchased a wide angle lens. Click here.
- Tripod- solo traveler problems. Get something sturdy and lightweight, especially if you plan on taking pics when it is windy. Click here.
- Shoes- 2 sandals and 1 pair of inexpensive rubber flip flops for the beach.
- Packing cubes- to keep things organized especially when you have limited space. Click here.
As mentioned, I was traveling only with a carry on, so all liquids had to be TSA approved. Try traveling light, you’ll enjoy it once you get the hang of it, I promise!
PIN ME– 5 DAY ITINERARY DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
ABOUT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to its West. Spanish is the main language and the currency used is called Peso. However, most places accepted the U.S. Dollar. Check out the Dominican Republic tourism website to learn more about the country. Click here.
DAY 1– 5 DAY ITINERARY DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Usually, I like to take it easy on my first day as I familiarize myself with the place and my surroundings. I put my bathing suit on, grabbed my beach towel & hat and after a short 3 mins walk, there it was my first sight of the serene, turquoise blue ocean of the Caribbean, my first beach vacation of 2019! You won’t believe how magical that moment was.
PRO TIP: Get there early to get a good spot! The beaches start seeing crowds as soon as the sun rises.
For breakfast, I headed to Las Lenas Cafe located in the Princess Punta Cana resort. I enjoyed my coffee and sandwich. They also offer a wide selection of pastries. Lunch was some light snacks by the beach with some fresh coconut water. And for dinner, it was home delivery. Yes I know a very happening night, but hey it is okay to take it easy sometimes. My Airbnb host had recommended this place, it served authentic Dominican food. It is called Restaurante Delicias de Bavaro. Click here.
Today’s Agenda ——->>> #Relax
-Watch the sunrise at Cortecito beach
-Back to the beach to catch up on your favorite book.
-Sip on some fresh coconut water
-Parasail or jet ski
-Enjoy your first dinner at home!
Need More Reasons to Travel?
This is where all the fun activities began! I had initially scheduled a full day tour of Santo Domingo, however, due to it being the Independence day, most of the attractions were closed. I was able to reschedule and switch it with a tour of Saona Island as they were both booked with the same company.
PRO TIP: Contact your tour companies 24-48 hours in advance to confirm the details to ensure everything goes as planned. Had I not contacted them, I would have missed out on a full day of activities!
I pre-booked my tour through Tripadvisor, my full day trip to Saona Island which included pick up/drop off from my airbnb, catamaran and speed boat ride, lunch, drinks, stop at a natural pool and visit to Saona Island, cost me $72. This is the tour I booked, click here. By the time I got home, it was almost time to get ready for dinner, which was perfect as I was able to get a quick change and dine at Blue Grill + Bar located at Eden Rock Beach Club. The food was good, however, the view of the ocean was the best part of my dinner. I wish I could have had a chance to have lunch there, I am sure the views would have made it unforgettable. Click here for the restaurant.
Today’s Agenda ——>>> #Explore Saona Island
-Early start at 7:00 AM
-Breakfast from a gas station (at your own risk)
-Spend a full day enjoy the beautiful Saona Island
-Quick change for dinner and head to Blue Grill + Bar
A new day and another early morning start and here I thought I was on vacation! My ride arrived around 7:00 AM, after picking up a couple more people, we were transferred to a larger bus which took the group to Santo Domingo. During this 3 hours ride, we stopped at a local cafe and souvenir shop. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with the local coffee and their famous drink, mamajuana. The cafe offered a small selection of sandwiches and snacks for purchase.
After refueling, back on the bus and to the city. Initial thoughts, Santo Domingo is crowded! It is the most populated city in the Caribbean and one of the oldest. First, was a quick stop outside the National Parliament where you were encouraged to take photos with the guards. Then we headed to the Columbus Palace and explored the surrounding areas before lunch.
Lunch was included with the tour, which was a typical Dominican style buffet. We also got to enjoy a local dance performance during lunch. The food was just okayy, I only ate there as it was part of the tour, I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.
After lunch, we stopped at Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor and the Columbus lighthouse which was built in 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in the New World. Keep in mind, we did not go inside the lighthouse as stated on the Tripadvisor listing. I personally was exhausted and ready to be home so it did not make a difference to me.
Lastly, we toured the 3 caves known as Los Tres Ojos. The tour of the caves lasted less than an hour, you basically follow a guide. As you go deeper into the ground, it gets very humid. A bottle of water will be your best friend. We also stopped by the oldest streets of the Western Hemisphere located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone which gives you plenty of time to shop for souvenirs and jewelry.
PRO TIP: This tour involves a good amount of walking in the sun, carry water and wear comfortable walking shoes.
If you are planning to visit the caves outside of a tour, I would recommend setting aside no more than 2-3 hours. There is a garden outside to walk around or have a lunch picnic.
Overall, it was a good tour, unfortunately some members of the group were not happy campers making the guide’s job more difficult. The city itself is very crowded and disgustingly hot. I did hear that it does have beautiful beaches and the nightlife is a lot more happening than Punta Cana. Click here for the tour I booked. It cost me $82 which was again not bad for a full day of tour.
By the time I got home, I think it was past 8 PM, however, my Airbnb was only a few minutes walk from the Punta Cana Princess resort which had an excellent buffet! I am typically not a buffet type of person, however, the $20 price and close proximity made it the best choice for the night. To my surprise, they had a large selection of delicious international foods and I loved every bite of it. Click here for the buffet restaurant. Who else here enjoys buffets?
Today’s Agenda ——>>> #Santo Domingo
-Early start to Santo Domingo
-Lunch provided in tour
-Feast like a king at a buffet
Arguably my favorite part of the trip! After another early morning start, we made our way to the amazing countryside. Yes, the D.R. is known for it’s stunning beaches, however, your opinion of the country will change once you visit the mountains.
We were picked up in a safari type of vehicle, once again before 7:30 AM. As we made our way to the mountainous region, I couldn’t stop staring in awe at how beautiful this country was. The guide did an excellent job describing the daily life there. I learned that kids didn’t go to school the usual 8 AM- 4 PM, their schedules were split 4 hours in the day and 4 hours in the evening, and they worked in between those hours,
I know to some it sounds harsh especially since young kids are put to work, unfortunately, that is the way of life there, the families work together to make ends meet.
Our first stop was at a local farm where we did some horse riding. It was such an amazing experience for me! It was my first time on a horse, the countryside views are simply stunning, I was scared because the horse started moving with me on it and no one to guide us (ahhh) and we met some friendly locals. We were also shown how cigars are made and had the opportunity to try the different flavored ones such as vanilla, chocolate, etc. (I opted not to try it). Next stop was at a local family’s house in the mountains where we were shown how cacao from the trees was transformed into delicious chocolate. As we continued the tour, we learned about the lifestyle of the locals. Then we made our way to a market, and boy let me tell you it does not get more real than that! Last stop was Macao Beach which is another stunning beach, however, unique in it’s own way. In between all this, we also had lunch which was cooked by a local chef. It was again a typical Dominican style buffet but when I tell you the food was good, I think this one satisfied my soul! (If that is a thing even). Imagine this scene, you have been stunned by the beauty of nature in the mountains, the weather is perfect, it is quiet and peaceful, all you hear are birds chirping and the wind blowing, you are seated on the second floor of the restaurant where there are no windows, and then magician aka chef serves you one of the best cooked meal of your life. You look out to the mountains, enjoy your meal in silence and all you can think is of how amazing life is.
This is why this tour was my favorite part of the trip. I booked this tour through a local agency at the beach on my first day, it cost me $70. Lastly, for dinner head to Jellyfish Restaurant. Another amazing night by the beautiful ocean. Click here for the restaurant.
Today’s Agenda ——>>> #Explore the countryside
-Leftovers for breakfast
-Prepare to be stunned by the countryside of D.R.
-Test your horse riding skills
-Try some hand made cigars
-Learn about cacao plantation
-Lunch by an amazing local chef
-Explore a local market
-Visit another stunning beach, Macao Beach
-Dinner @ Jellyfish Restaurant
I hope you have been enjoying reading about my trip. This is the last day of my 5 day itinerary of the Dominican Republic. I definitely wanted to set aside a day to just relax before getting back to reality. I usually like to get a massage or have a spa day . Click here to for the spa that I went to.
I started my day with a cup of coffee and breakfast at Las Lenas Cafe again. Then I went to the beach to soak in a little more of the sunshine, and then my massage. I highly recommend setting getting one on your vacations, it helps you relax and fully enjoy your time. Lunch was at the buffet because I wanted to feast like royalty one more time before I started regretting my food choices. After lunch I went to a local mall to pick up some gifts, the mall is called Blue Mall Punta Cana, click here.
Dinner was at La Yola Restaurant which served Mediterranean cuisine and seafood in an elegant setting. The décor was very elegant perfect for a date night or girls’ night out. Click here.
Today’s Agenda ——>>> #Spa day
-Breakfast @ Las Lenas Cafe
-Enjoy a much needed spa day
-Buffet style lunch
-Gift shopping time
-Dinner @ La Yola Restaurant
Sadly, this amazing trip had to come to an end too. I enjoyed every minute of my time there, even though it was a solo trip. Travelling solo definitely has taught my so much about myself and how beautiful the world is. I highly recommend you take atleast one solo trip in your life, even if that trip means going to another city in your own state, renting a hotel for the night and exploring it.
I hope this trip has inspired you to travel to Dominican Republic and explore it outside the resorts. The D.R. has so much to offer and locals are so friendly that you will feel welcomed no matter where you go.
What was your favorite part of the trip? I would love to hear your thoughts on this post 5 day itinerary Dominican Republic.
SAVE ME- 5 DAY ITINERARY FOR DOMINICAN REPUBLIC