A few nights ago we finished our week-long stay there in Puerto Plata where we hung out with Shawn’s sister, Tanya, who was enjoying some time off work… she works a few hours from there in the center of the country.
Like most of the Caribbean Islands, the Dominican Republic has beautiful beaches, amazing weather & friendly people so if a relaxing week in the sun is in your books, then the Dominican Republic is a place that may be perfect for you.
A couple of facts we learned about the Dominican Republic that surprised us:
1. Although the Dominican Republic is around 200 times smaller then Canada, where we come from, it still has a population of around 10 million people… around 1/3 of what we have here in Canada… that’s a lot of people in one place!
2. The Dominican Republic is located on the Island of Hispaniola which it shares with another Country… Haiti. The Dominican Republic occupies around 2/3 of the Island.
3. It’s easy to feel rich in the Dominican Republic. Whether you come from Canada or the United States, your money, depending on the day’s exchange rate, is worth around 35-40 Dominican Republic Pesos for every one of your dollars, so it’s common to walk around with “thousands” in your pocket… nice!
Now like many who visit the Dominican Republic, we went the All-Inclusive route which is popular to do in Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, Samana, etc.
For an inexpensive week of eating, drinking, relaxing at the pool & beach and being entertained every night… you can’t go wrong!
But on a couple of days during our week we did get out and explore the surrounding areas a bit, and we always recommend you do that too if visiting an all-inclusive…
…spend a few extra bucks and get out and see how the locals live, try some food, do some shopping, etc.
It’s a big part of the experience when you travel to a new place!!
Get out of your Resort for a day or two when visiting the Dominican Republic!
So, the first day we headed right into the city center of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic… our resort was about 20 minutes away.
One thing we strongly recommend when there is use a tour guide! Right in the city’s center where the main Cathedral is, you’ll find these guys hanging out and offering their services.
Now these guys have ids showing they work for the city, so it’s a perfect combination as you know they can be trusted as they’re authorized to do what they’re doing but the other good part is they do this for 100% Free… the only thing they ask for is a nice tip if you liked their services.
So we hung out with a guy named “Francisco” and it was perfect as he took us to all the good local spots for shopping, picking up supplies, etc.
Now you can go on your own but keep in mind there isn’t much English spoken in the Dominican Republic and some of the parts of town that looked shady AKA where we wouldn’t have normally went, turned out to be great areas with the best shopping for unique things.
Nancy for example found one of the prettiest pair of earrings she’s ever bought… for all of $1.75… and found a great shirt to go with it for $6.75.
Tanya found a super unique bracelet that we hadn’t seen anywhere before so that was a great find!
Overall, using Francisco was perfect. We simply told him our interests and what we liked to shop for, and he took us to the best locations and he’d wait outside till we were done and simply asked, “Where to next?”.
Best part. We didn’t have to go to the stores he wanted us to which happens all the time on organized tours… and he saved us tons of “wandering aimlessly” time!
Well worth it for the $20 tip we gave him at the end and as always, it felt good to help someone make a few bucks and to support the local economy!
Now our 2nd adventure in the Dominican Republic a few days later was a truly unforgettable one!!
Tanya had been told through co-workers to visit “Playa Grande” Beach to enjoy a Lobster lunch.
Now being born & raised in Newfoundland we were all a little skeptical of what it would be like as the Atlantic Lobster where we come from is known to be “the best” but we figured, let’s give it a try as it’s an excuse to check out a beautiful Dominican Republic beach.
Tanya’s co-workers figured the drive from our resort was around 45 minutes, but it actually took 1.5 hours… so by the time we got there we all said to each other “it better be good for that long of a trek”.
Well, by the time we were done we all agreed, very passionately, that the lunch we just experienced was worth a 2-3 hour drive each way… no kidding!!
As you know, we’ve traveled a lot in different parts of the world and with that, has come some pretty amazing meals in some pretty awesome settings.
Well, this Dominican Republic meal ranked up there with the best!
As soon as we pulled into the beach’s parking lot our “host”, Daniel, was there to greet us. (Tanya had called ahead the night before and let him know the 3 of us would be coming the next day)
From there, Daniel walked us to the beach where he had a table for 3 set up on the beach, feet in the soft sand… awesome!!
After bringing us icy cold, local “Presidente” beer, he brought us down a tray of fresh seafood (caught that morning) to see what we wanted for lunch.
Without hesitation, we all chose a humongous Lobster each… his estimate was around 6.5 lbs of meat between us so it must have been 10-12 lbs of Lobster if you weighed these monsters in full… again, awesome!
Anyways, while Daniel and his staff grilled our fresh seafood we enjoyed the amazing weather & some people watching at what was a very gorgeous beach… one of the highest rated in the Dominican Republic.
After enjoying our beers and the beach for a while, Daniel and his gang showed up with our “Grilled to Perfection” Lobsters along with some sides of rice, salad & fries.
To say it was “to die for” is a major understatement!!
Tanya & Shawn, who neither remember ordering a full lobster in their lives as it isn’t their favorite meal, both loved it and ate every ounce…
…and Nancy said it was by far the BEST Lobster she’s ever eaten in her life… and for those of you who know Nancy, you know that’s a serious statement coming out of her mouth!
So when you’re in the Dominican Republic, if you even remotely like Lobster, make sure to head to “Playa Grande” Beach for an amazing lunch… even if it’s a 2 hour drive each way to do so… it’s well worth it!
By the way, there are several vendors selling food at this Dominican Republic beach but we definitely recommend to eat with Daniel who runs “Cesar Restaurant”… you can’t miss him as he always wears a “John Deere” hat. But best to call ahead at 809-602-6402 so he’ll have his best stuff waiting for you.
FYI, he does speak a little English but if you know a few Spanish words even better… as long as you know how to say “Perfecto” and “Excellente” though, that’s the 2 main words you’ll be using during your meal!
Oh ya, pricing for this meal… around 1/3-1/4 what you’d pay in Canada or the US.
Our big beers, which had almost 3 regular beer in it, were only $2.65 each and the Lobster was around $15/lb and he only charged us for the meat’s weight… many fine-dining quality restaurant’s “Market Price” can easily be 3-4 times that shell in, plus they also charge “a-la-carte” for sides, whereas he charged nothing.
Let’s just say, for one of the best meals you’ll ever experience you won’t be “breaking the bank”!!
So as we said, if you visit the Dominican Republic and stay in an All-Inclusive for a week of relaxation… that’s all good… but make sure to get out for a day or 2 to see what else this country offers…
…we know you won’t regret it!
Nancy & Shawn
P.S. Want to see some more pics of our time in the Dominican Republic? Here are all of our Dominican Republic pictures.
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