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Beaches in Santo Domingo: Top 15 Must-Visit Spots

Ready to escape to a beach paradise? Look no further than Santo Domingo, one of the cities to visit in the Caribbean for cheap !

This vibrant city not only offers rich history and culture but also boasts stunning beaches. Additionally, it is home to a beautiful coral reef, making it a paradise for snorkelers and divers. We have compiled the must-visit beaches in Santo Domingo.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure and discover the sandy beach paradise that awaits in Santo Domingo!


Top-rated beaches near Santo Domingo

If you’re looking to experience the best sand beaches near Santo Domingo, you’re in for a treat!

This vibrant city is not only known for its rich history and culture but also for its stunning coastal gems, including the beautiful sand beaches and beach bars.

Let’s dive into the top-rated beaches near Santo Domingo and find your perfect slice of paradise!

Santo Domingo beach

Experience the best beaches

Santo Domingo boasts a variety of beautiful beaches that cater to different preferences. One popular choice is Boca Chica , located just 30 minutes from the city center.

With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft white sand, it’s no wonder why this beach attracts both locals and tourists alike. You can soak up the sun, take a dip in the refreshing water, or indulge in water sports such as snorkeling and jet skiing.

If you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience, Playa Caribe is worth exploring. Located on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, this hidden gem offers tranquility and natural beauty.

Surrounded by lush vegetation and pristine waters, it’s an ideal spot to unwind and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Juan Dolio Beach

Find your perfect beach getaway

For those seeking a vibrant atmosphere with lively entertainment options, Juan Dolio Beach is a must-visit. Just a short drive from Santo Domingo, this beach offers a mix of relaxation and excitement. You can lounge on the sandy shores while sipping on tropical cocktails or partake in thrilling activities like banana boat rides or parasailing.

Another popular destination near Santo Domingo is Playa Guayacanes . Known for its picturesque palm-fringed shoreline and gentle waves, this beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the coast. It’s also home to several beachfront restaurants where you can savor delicious seafood dishes while taking in the breathtaking ocean views.

Playa Blanca

Discover the top-rated coastal gems

If you’re up for a day trip, Playa Blanca is an excellent choice. Located in the Juan Dolio area, this stunning beach offers powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters. You can relax on sun loungers, swim in the calm sea, or explore the nearby coral reefs through snorkeling or scuba diving.

For those who enjoy a bit of adventure, Playa Palenque is a fantastic option. This beach is known for its strong waves, making it popular among surfers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, you’ll find the perfect wave to ride here. There are also local surf schools that offer lessons for those looking to learn this thrilling sport.

Guayacanes Beach

Guayacanes Beach: Unspoilt public beach

If you’re looking to escape the crowds and indulge in the natural beauty of Santo Domingo’s coastline, Guayacanes Beach is the perfect destination. This unspoiled public beach offers a serene and untouched environment where you can relax and unwind.

Enjoy a Pristine and Unspoiled Public Beach at Guayacanes

Guayacanes Beach, also known as Playa Guayacanes, is a hidden gem located just east of Boca Chica. Unlike its more popular neighbor, this small beach remains relatively uncrowded and retains its natural charm.

The pristine white sand stretches along the coast, inviting visitors to bask in its beauty.

Relax on the Untouched Shores of Guayacanes Beach

One of the highlights of Guayacanes Beach is its tranquility. With fewer tourists compared to other beaches in Santo Domingo, you can find your own secluded spot to unwind without any disturbances.

Whether you want to soak up the sun or take a leisurely stroll along the shore, this beach provides an idyllic setting for relaxation.

Guayacanes Beach

Immerse Yourself in the Natural Beauty of Guayacanes Beach

Surrounded by palm trees and bordered by turquoise waters, Guayacanes Beach offers breathtaking views that will leave you in awe.

The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming or snorkeling, allowing you to explore the vibrant marine life beneath the surface. If you’re an avid surfer, head further east towards Juan Dolio for some fantastic waves.

Experience Authentic Dominican Culture in a Fishing Village Setting

Guayacanes itself is a charming fishing village that exudes authentic Dominican culture .

As you stroll along the shoreline, you’ll witness local fishermen preparing their boats for their daily catch while friendly locals engage in lively conversations at nearby beach bars and restaurants. Immerse yourself in this vibrant community and get a taste of the local way of life.

Indulge in Beachfront Restaurants and Bars

When you visit Guayacanes Beach, don’t miss the opportunity to savor delicious seafood dishes at the beachfront restaurants.

From fresh lobster to mouthwatering ceviche, you can treat your taste buds to an array of culinary delights while enjoying stunning ocean views. After a day of sun-soaked relaxation, unwind with a refreshing cocktail at one of the beach bars and soak in the laid-back atmosphere.

Punta Torrecillas

Punta Torrecillas: Hidden gem in Santo Domingo

Uncover the hidden gem of punta torrecillas in santo domingo.

If you’re seeking a slice of paradise away from the bustling city life, look no further than Punta Torrecillas. Tucked away on the southeastern coast of Santo Domingo, this secluded spot offers a tranquil escape that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Escape to the secluded paradise of Punta Torrecillas

Punta Torrecillas is like a secret tip passed down among locals who want to get away from it all. This hidden gem boasts pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand. As you step onto the shore, you’ll feel like you’ve entered your own private paradise.

Experience tranquility at its finest at Punta Torrecillas

One of the most captivating aspects of Punta Torrecillas is its serene ambiance.

The absence of crowds allows for moments of pure relaxation and peace. Whether you want to bask in the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or simply sit back and enjoy the gentle ocean breeze, this spot offers tranquility at its finest.

Punta Torrecillas

Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty

Surrounded by lush vegetation and swaying palm trees, Punta Torrecillas provides an idyllic setting to connect with nature.

Take a moment to appreciate the vibrant colors of tropical flowers or observe local wildlife as they go about their day. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.

Explore beyond the beach

While Punta Torrecillas is primarily known for its stunning beaches, there’s more to discover beyond the shoreline. The nearby Colonial City (Ciudad Colonial) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases Santo Domingo’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Take a walk through cobblestone streets, visit historic landmarks, and indulge in delicious local cuisine.

Punta Torrecillas

How to get to Punta Torrecillas

To reach Punta Torrecillas, you can take a short drive from Santo Domingo’s city center. It’s recommended to rent a car or hire a taxi for convenience. The journey will be well worth it once you arrive at this hidden paradise.

Tips for visiting Punta Torrecillas

  • Pack essentials such as sunscreen, towels, and water to ensure a comfortable beach day.
  • Consider bringing snorkeling gear to explore the underwater world teeming with marine life.
  • Don’t forget your camera! Punta Torrecillas offers breathtaking views that you’ll want to capture and cherish.

So, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Santo Domingo, make sure to add Punta Torrecillas to your itinerary. This hidden gem promises a peaceful retreat where you can unwind, connect with nature, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Saona Island

Saona Island: Best island near Santo Domingo

Embark on an unforgettable adventure to Saona Island from Santo Domingo. This tropical paradise, just off the coast of Santo Domingo, is a must-visit destination for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Discover the beauty and charm of Saona Island

Saona Island is renowned for its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes. As you step foot on the island, you’ll be greeted by a picture-perfect scene straight out of a postcard.

The beaches of Saona Island are simply breathtaking. With powdery soft sand that feels like silk beneath your toes and gentle waves lapping at the shore, it’s the ideal place to unwind and soak up the sun. Whether you’re looking to relax in a hammock under swaying palm trees or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, there’s no shortage of idyllic spots to enjoy.

But it’s not just about lounging on the beach; Saona Island offers plenty of opportunities for adventure as well. Snorkeling enthusiasts will be delighted by the vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and discover a whole new world beneath the surface.

Saona Island

Indulge in a tropical paradise

Saona Island is more than just beautiful beaches and underwater wonders. The island is home to an incredible array of flora and fauna that will leave nature lovers in awe. Take a walk through its lush jungles and encounter exotic plants, birds, and other wildlife species.

One of the highlights of visiting Saona Island is exploring its famous natural pool known as “Piscina Natural.” Imagine standing waist-deep in warm turquoise water surrounded by starfish – it’s like something out of a dream! You can even sip on refreshing coconut water or indulge in freshly caught seafood while enjoying this unique experience.

A must-visit from Santo Domingo

If you’re in Santo Domingo, a trip to Saona Island is an absolute must. Luckily, getting there is relatively easy. You can take a boat tour from the capital city and enjoy a scenic journey along the coast before arriving at this tropical paradise.

Once on the island, you’ll have plenty of options for activities and relaxation. Whether you prefer to simply bask in the sun, explore the underwater world, or immerse yourself in nature, Saona Island has something for everyone.

So pack your sunscreen, put on your swimsuit, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure to Saona Island. It’s time to experience the beauty and charm of this hidden gem just off the coast of Santo Domingo!

Saona Island beach

Recommended tours from Santo Domingo

If you’re looking to explore beyond the beautiful beaches of Santo Domingo, there are plenty of exciting tour options that depart from this vibrant city. These recommended tours will enhance your trip and make your stay even more memorable.

Explore the Countryside on a Day Tour

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty and culture of the Santo Domingo area is by taking a day tour. Hop on a comfortable ride and embark on a short drive to discover the hidden gems that lie just outside the city.

  • Visit picturesque villages : Immerse yourself in local life as you explore charming villages that showcase traditional Dominican culture. From colorful houses to bustling markets, these villages offer an authentic glimpse into everyday life.
  • Discover stunning landscapes : Journey through lush countryside, rolling hills, and scenic valleys as you soak in breathtaking views along the way. Capture Instagram-worthy photos against backdrops of mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.
  • Sample local cuisine : Indulge in delicious Dominican food during your day tour. Taste mouthwatering dishes like mofongo (mashed plantains), sancocho (hearty stew), or fresh seafood caught right off the coast.

Colonial Zone

Take a Day Trip to Historic Sites

Santo Domingo is rich in history and boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Make sure to include these historic landmarks in your itinerary for an enriching cultural experience.

  • Colonial Zone : Step back in time as you wander through cobblestone streets lined with colonial-era buildings. Marvel at architectural marvels like Alcázar de Colón, Fortaleza Ozama, and Catedral Primada de América.
  • Taino Caves : Delve into pre-Columbian history by visiting Taino Cave Park. Explore ancient cave paintings that depict the indigenous Taino people’s way of life before Christopher Columbus arrived.
  • Columbus Lighthouse : Pay homage to the great explorer at Faro a Colón, a massive monument and mausoleum dedicated to Christopher Columbus. Learn about his voyages and their impact on the New World.


Experience Adventure with Outdoor Activities

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Santo Domingo offers thrilling outdoor activities that are just a short drive away from the city.

  • Ziplining : Soar through the treetops on a zipline adventure in the lush Dominican rainforest. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide from platform to platform, taking in panoramic views of nature.
  • Cave Exploration : Embark on an underground adventure by exploring fascinating caves like Los Tres Ojos or Fun-Fun Cave. Marvel at stalactites, stalagmites, and underground rivers as you navigate through these natural wonders.
  • Snorkeling or Scuba Diving : Dive into crystal-clear waters and discover vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there are options for everyone to explore the underwater world.

With these recommended tours from Santo Domingo, you can go beyond its stunning beaches and uncover the diverse attractions that make this region so special. From cultural immersion to outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during their visit.

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Insider tips for visiting Santo Domingo beaches

Get insider tips for making the most out of your beach visit in santo domingo.

You can’t miss out on its stunning beaches. But to truly maximize your enjoyment and make the most of your beach visit, it’s essential to have some insider tips up your sleeve. Here are a few helpful suggestions to ensure you have an unforgettable time exploring the beaches of Santo Domingo.

Plan ahead with these helpful insider tips for exploring Santo Domingo’s beaches

  • Timing is everything : Avoid crowded beaches by planning your visit during weekdays or early mornings on weekends. This way, you can secure a prime spot without jostling with hordes of tourists.
  • Pack smart : Don’t forget to bring along essentials such as sunscreen, towels, hats, and sunglasses. It’s also advisable to carry some cash for any unforeseen expenses like renting chairs or purchasing snacks from local vendors.
  • Choose the right beach : Santo Domingo offers a variety of beaches catering to different preferences. If you’re seeking tranquility and relaxation, consider Playa Boca Chica or Playa Juan Dolio. On the other hand, if you’re looking for vibrant energy and water sports activities, head over to Playa Guibia or Playa Montesinos.
  • Stay hydrated : The Caribbean sun can be scorching, so it’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout your beach excursion. Remember to drink plenty of water and avoid excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to dehydration.
  • Embrace local cuisine : Don’t miss out on trying delicious Dominican food while at the beach! Indulge in mouthwatering dishes like fresh seafood ceviche or traditional mofongo served with plantains and meat.
  • Respect nature : Show respect for the environment by avoiding littering and picking up after yourself. Help preserve the pristine beauty of Santo Domingo’s beaches for future generations to enjoy.
  • Engage with locals : Interact with the friendly locals to get insider tips on hidden gems, local traditions, and the best spots for snorkeling or diving. They can provide valuable insights that guidebooks may not cover.
  • Capture memories : Bring your camera or smartphone to capture stunning beach vistas and memorable moments during your visit. Don’t forget to take a few selfies against the backdrop of crystal-clear turquoise waters!
  • Explore beyond the beach : While the beaches are undoubtedly captivating, don’t limit yourself to just sunbathing and swimming. Venture out and explore nearby attractions like historic sites, vibrant markets, or nature reserves to make your trip even more enriching.
  • Safety first : Always prioritize your safety by following any posted signs or warnings at the beach. Pay attention to lifeguards’ instructions and be cautious when swimming in unfamiliar waters.

With these insider tips in mind, you’re well-equipped to embark on an incredible adventure exploring Santo Domingo’s breathtaking beaches. So pack your bags, slather on some sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable beach getaway!

Unforgettable beach experiences in Santo Domingo

Congratulations! You’ve just uncovered the best beaches near Santo Domingo. From the unspoilt beauty of Guayacanes Beach to the hidden gem of Punta Torrecillas, and the breathtaking Saona Island, you’re in for a treat. But before you pack your beach essentials, let me give you some insider tips to make your visit even more memorable.

Firstly, don’t miss out on taking a tour from Santo Domingo. Whether it’s exploring the vibrant marine life or indulging in water sports, these tours offer an incredible adventure. Secondly, make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of it! The Caribbean sun can be unforgiving, and you don’t want to end up looking like a lobster.

Lastly, embrace the laid-back island vibes and immerse yourself in the local culture. Take a stroll along the sandy shores, sip on a refreshing coconut water, and let all your worries wash away with each crashing wave. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to pack your flip-flops and embark on an unforgettable beach getaway in Santo Domingo!

FAQs on Beaches in Santo Domingo

What is the best time to visit Santo Domingo’s beaches?

The best time to visit Santo Domingo’s beaches is during the dry season which runs from November to April. During this period, you can expect sunny skies and warm temperatures perfect for enjoying the beach.

Are there any water activities available at these beaches?

Yes! Many of the beaches near Santo Domingo offer various water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. You can rent equipment or join guided tours for an exciting aquatic adventure.

Can I find food and drinks near these beaches?

Absolutely! Most of these beaches have restaurants or food stalls nearby where you can grab delicious local cuisine or refreshing tropical drinks. Don’t miss out on trying some fresh seafood dishes while enjoying the beach views.

Are these beaches suitable for families with children?

Yes, many of the beaches near Santo Domingo are family-friendly. They offer calm waters and shallow areas perfect for kids to swim and play. Just make sure to keep an eye on them and follow any safety guidelines provided.

Can I bring my own beach equipment?

Yes, you can bring your own beach equipment such as umbrellas, chairs, and towels. However, some beaches may also provide rental services if you prefer not to carry your own gear. Check beforehand to see what is available at each location.

What are the most popular beaches in Santo Domingo?

  • Some popular beaches in and around Santo Domingo include Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, and Guayacanes. Each beach has its own unique charm, whether it’s the calm waters of Boca Chica or the relaxed atmosphere of Juan Dolio.

How far are the beaches from the city center?

  • Boca Chica is about 30 km east of Santo Domingo, while Juan Dolio is around 50 km away. Guayacanes is situated between them.

Are the beaches safe for swimming?

  • The beaches have relatively calm waters, especially Boca Chica, making them safe for swimming. However, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to local advisories and weather conditions.

Is it safe to visit the beaches in Santo Domingo?

  • While the beaches are generally safe, it’s always advisable to exercise caution, keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid isolated areas, especially after dark.

Are there amenities and facilities available on these beaches?

  • Yes, the more popular beaches like Boca Chica and Juan Dolio have a range of amenities including restaurants, restrooms, and loungers for rent.

Are there water sports and activities available?

  • Yes, you can enjoy a range of water sports and activities such as snorkeling, windsurfing, and jet skiing at these beaches.

Do the beaches get crowded?

  • Boca Chica tends to get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, as it’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Juan Dolio and Guayacanes might offer a quieter atmosphere.

What is the best time to visit the beaches in Santo Domingo?

  • The best time to visit is during the dry season from December to April when the weather is pleasant and rainfall is lower.

Are there any private beaches or resorts in Santo Domingo?

  • Yes, there are several private resorts and beaches around Santo Domingo where you can enjoy a more exclusive beach experience.

What should I bring to the beach?

  • Essentials such as sunscreen, bottled water, beach towels, and snacks are recommended. It’s also advisable to have some local currency for any beachside amenities you may wish to utilize.

Is there a dress code for the beaches in Santo Domingo?

  • There isn’t a specific dress code, but it’s advisable to dress modestly when not on the beach, especially in rural or less touristy areas.

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santo domingo tourist beaches

1. Boca Chica


2. Playa de Guibia


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Beaches & Islands

Six Beautiful Beaches near Santo Domingo

Playa Hemingway beach near Santo Domingo

Photo: Angel Rosario

Take a Tropical Beach Detour from the Busy Streets of Santo Domingo

Touring the capital city of Santo Domingo and its historic Zona Colonial can be an exciting experience for curious urban explorers - but after a day of scouring the streets for National treasures and visiting the local shops - you'll be left to wonder.... where's the beach?

A great question! Which prompted us to put together this shortlist of the most convenient beaches to bury your feet, in and around the greater Santo Domingo area. And don't forget your flip-flops.

Playa Punta Torrecillas beach, Santo Domingo

Photo: Anton Lau

1. Playa Punta Torrecillas

Crossing the Rio Ozama from the Port of Santo Domingo, Punta Torrecillas (little towers) beach is an excellent place to drop by if you're on the move downtown.

Located at the Sans Souci Lighthouse Park, Torrecillas is a clean and pretty little beach with lots of personality and that much-needed Caribbean vibe your vacation demands.

It's also the safest beach in the city, right next to an official Naval Academy, so I guess that has something to do with it.

2. Playa Hemingway

A 50-minute drive west of Playa Punta Torrecillas, Playa Hemingway (unrelated to the author) isn’t a secret, but it’s definitely clean and well-kept. This beach is mostly exclusive to residents within the Club Hemingway area, but open to the public.

This spot has beauty and relaxation all over it, as there’s plenty of security to ease your mind as you take a tan-nap in the sun. And if you want to make this a habit, you can stay a few nights at the Hotel Casa Hemingway, where you’ll be catered with excelency.

Boca Chica beach near Santo Domingo

3. Boca Chica

No other beach better represents the province than the ultra-popular destination of Boca Chica. 

One of the most excellent parts about going to Boca Chica is the ride. Driving along the straight Las Americas Highway, you'll be able to appreciate the waves of the Caribbean Sea crashing against the coast. Nothing but you, the ocean's mist, and the open road.

Once you get there, you'll immediately feel the energy of the beach's transparent shallow waters drawing you inward. The sea remains waste-high for about a 1/2-kilometer radius, with a rocky tropical oasis called La Matica or little tree, where lovers have been known to escape.

Playa Guayacanes beach, Juan Dolio

4. Juan Dolio: Playa Guayacanes

Taking the same Las Americas Highway - headed 14-minutes east of Boca Chica - you can enhance your visit by discovering the much sought-after Guayacanes Beach in Juan Dolio. 

This beach really tones down the temperature and offers a more relaxed "getaway" environment - fit for travelers who don't want to be all packed together.

Here, you'll encounter other tourists and foreign nationals that visit Juan Dolio from all over for the fantastic resorts and impeccable turquoise-sky blue water. Snorkeling is on another level at Guayacanes.

Playa Caribe beach near Santo Domingo

5. Playa Caribe

Now, to get that extra anonymity on your trip - it's best we mention this hidden beach, barely noticed in between the rocky coast, and just minutes before reaching Juan Dolio.

Its narrow volcanic rock entrance from the Caribbean Sea creates the perfect environment for large waves that attract surfers from across the southern coast.

So, if Boca Chica or Playa Guayacanes seem too busy for your travel taste, this lovely little beach has just the correct elements to make for an exquisite afternoon with the sun, sand, and tropical breeze.

Playa Najayo beach, San Cristobal

Photo: Playa Najayo

6. Playa Najayo

Approximately 1-hour west of Santo Domingo in the neighboring province of San Cristobal, Playa Najayo is the closest beach outside of the capital with a different domestic atmosphere, as the people of San Cristobal tend to be more "down-to-earth" and welcoming.

The beach itself provides a massive natural pool area, enclosed by a thin coral-reef barrier that keeps the tide low enough for people of all sizes to enjoy.

Plus, you won't be far from the main town for a quick trip through the city if you've got the time.

Written by Omar Guzman.

Published November 2022.

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6 Best Beaches in Santo Domingo

Last Updated By VacationIdea Staff on March 30, 2024

Santo Domingo Beaches

Playa de Guibia

Playa de Guibia

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Playa Boca Chica

Playa Boca Chica

But don’t worry, even on the busiest of days, you can always usually find a spare beach umbrella and a few sun loungers to enjoy your time, or you can simply walk further down the beach to find a quiet spot on the sand. Either way, when you do find your place on this beach, you'll be able to make the most of its soft white sands and calm, reef-protected waters. Snorkeling, diving, swimming, sunbathing, beach games, and more can all be enjoyed at Playa Boca Chica , and there are a lot of good bars and restaurants to be found along the edge of the sand as well.

Juan Dolio

Juan Dolio is one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic. Tall, towering coconut trees line the sand, offering nice little shady spots for people to cool off on the sunniest, warmest days, and there's a lot of space here for people to really spread out and not feel crowded at all. You can simply lie back, close your eyes, and listen to the gentle hum of the waves, not having to worry about a single thing. There are some good restaurants and bars in the area too, but this is one of the most untouched beaches in the Santo Domingo area, so you won't have to worry about music or parties ruining the peaceful atmosphere.

Playa Najayo

Playa Najayo

Playa Najayo is a popular beach on the Dominican Republic's Caribbean coast, located just west of Santo Domingo in the San Cristobal province. Featuring small pebbles and greyish sand, this beautiful beach consists of two different areas. One of these beach areas is much larger and has many bars and restaurants. Playa Najayo is one of the area’s most visited beaches, however, it’s primarily visited by locals. While the waters typically have strong waves and little stones, there is a small backwater in the central area of the beach that’s fenced off from the open ocean by a breakwater. Map

Guayacanes Beach

Guayacanes Beach

Guayacanes Beach is located a bit off the beaten path in Guayacanes, a small fishing village in the Dominican Republic. Locals come to the beach to relax in the turquoise blue waters and enjoy the waves, while fishermen frequently come to the beach as they venture out into the sea and back. The beach features a white sand beach that’s particularly scenic and great for an easy stroll during sunrise or to sit and watch the sunset at the end of the day. It’s recommended that visitors wear good water shoes due to some parts of Guayacanes Beach being rocky. Map

More Info About Santo Domingo Beaches

More Info About Santo Domingo Beaches

In any list of ‘Best Vacation Destinations’, the Caribbean and its various islands and nations are always guaranteed to appear. The Caribbean Sea offers some of the clearest, warmest, most beautiful waters anywhere on Earth, and the beaches of the various islands have the softest sands and warmest weather. A typical Caribbean beach offers optimal conditions for all kinds of activities from swimming and sunbathing to surfing, snorkeling, water sports, and more. These beaches are the best in the world, and the Caribbean has countless miles of coastline and hundreds of different beaches to choose from.

  • 1. Playa de Guibia
  • 2. Playa Boca Chica
  • 3. Juan Dolio
  • 4. Playa Najayo
  • 5. Guayacanes Beach
  • 6. More Info About Santo Domingo Beaches

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Discover Santo Domingo Best Beaches: Top Tropical Getaways

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When it comes to tropical getaways, Santo Domingo offers some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. From luxurious beach resorts to pristine sandy shores, this Dominican Republic city has it all. Whether you’re looking for a party atmosphere or a peaceful retreat, there’s a beach in Santo Domingo that will meet your every desire.

Boca Chica, located east of the city, is a popular choice for beachgoers seeking a lively atmosphere. With its clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and vibrant nightlife, this picturesque destination attracts both locals and tourists alike. There are plenty of beachfront hotels and activities to enjoy in Boca Chica.

If you prefer a more tranquil beach experience, just a short 20-minute drive east of Boca Chica is Juan Dolio. This hidden gem offers a peaceful retreat with its narrow white-sand beach and serene atmosphere. Here, you can relax and unwind away from the crowds while enjoying the beauty of nature.

For a true paradise escape, Saona Island is a must-visit. Closer to Punta Cana , this island sanctuary is known for its crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, and tranquil ambiance. You can easily reach Saona Island from Santo Domingo , making it the perfect day trip option. Explore the island’s top attractions and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

During your visit to Santo Domingo , don’t miss out on the best beach activities and nearby destinations. Whether you’re a beach lover, a party enthusiast, or a nature seeker, this city has something to offer everyone. So pack your swimsuit, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to experience the tropical paradise that awaits you in Santo Domingo .

Boca Chica: A Party Atmosphere with Clear Waters

Nestled on the eastern coast of Santo Domingo , Boca Chica is a vibrant beach destination known for its crystal-clear waters and energetic ambiance. This beautiful beach is a popular choice for both locals and tourists, offering a combination of natural beauty and a lively party atmosphere.

With its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, Boca Chica is a paradise for beach lovers. The beach is dotted with beachfront hotels and resorts, offering a range of accommodations to suit every budget. Whether you’re looking for a luxury resort or a cozy guesthouse, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

For those seeking adventure, Boca Chica is also home to a natural coral reef, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and diving. Explore the underwater world and discover colorful marine life, including tropical fish and coral formations. After a day of sun and sea, enjoy the lively nightlife scene with beachfront restaurants and bars offering live music and entertainment.

Boca Chica Beach Guide:

  • Crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches
  • A wide range of beachfront hotels and resorts
  • Opportunities for snorkeling and diving
  • Lively nightlife with beachfront restaurants and bars
Experience the vibrant energy of Boca Chica as you soak up the sun on its pristine beaches. Indulge in delicious seafood, dance to the rhythm of merengue, and create unforgettable memories in this lively beach paradise.

Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled beach vacation or a relaxing getaway, Boca Chica has it all. From its stunning natural beauty to its lively party atmosphere, this beach destination offers something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to explore the crystal-clear waters, indulge in delicious local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Santo Domingo’s Boca Chica .

Juan Dolio: A Peaceful Retreat with a Pristine Beach

If you’re seeking a serene escape, Juan Dolio is the perfect destination with its pristine beach and peaceful ambiance. Located just a 20-minute drive east of Boca Chica, Juan Dolio offers a more tranquil beach experience away from the crowds. Its narrow white-sand beach stretches for miles, inviting you to relax and soak up the sun.

One of the highlights of Juan Dolio is the crystal-clear turquoise waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The calm waves make it an excellent spot for beginners to try their hand at water sports such as paddleboarding or kayaking. You can rent equipment on-site and explore the gentle waves at your own pace.

For those looking to explore beyond the beach , Juan Dolio offers a range of activities and attractions. Take a stroll along the Malecon, a seaside promenade lined with shops and restaurants, and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor fresh seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants, where you can indulge in local specialties while enjoying breathtaking ocean views.

Top Activities and Attractions in Juan Dolio

  • Relax on the pristine white-sand beach and soak up the sun.
  • Swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters or try your hand at water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the Malecon and explore the shops and restaurants.
  • Indulge in delicious seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants.
  • Visit the nearby Guavaberry Golf and Country Club for a round of golf.
“Juan Dolio’s tranquil beach and peaceful ambiance make it the ideal destination for those seeking a serene escape.”

Whether you’re looking to unwind on the beach, engage in water sports, or explore the local attractions, Juan Dolio offers a peaceful retreat amidst natural beauty. With its pristine beach, warm hospitality, and tranquil atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Juan Dolio is one of the top beaches in Santo Domingo .

Saona Island: Natural Beauty and Tranquility

Experience the natural beauty and tranquility of Saona Island, a tropical oasis just a short distance from Santo Domingo . This idyllic island, situated closer to Punta Cana , offers a paradise-like setting with its crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, and serene atmosphere. Saona Island is a popular destination for day trips from Santo Domingo , providing a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Once you arrive on Saona Island, you’ll be captivated by its pristine beaches and breathtaking landscapes. Take a leisurely stroll along the powdery white sands or simply relax under the shade of a palm tree, allowing the island’s tranquility to wash over you. The azure waters invite you to swim, snorkel, or partake in other water activities, giving you the opportunity to explore the vibrant marine life that calls these waters home.

There are several ways to reach Saona Island from Santo Domingo , including organized tours and private boat transfers. These options provide a seamless and convenient journey, ensuring that you can fully enjoy your day in paradise without any worries. Once on the island, you can join guided tours to explore its hidden gems, visit the nearby natural pools, or indulge in a delicious beachfront lunch of fresh seafood.

Explore Saona Island’s Natural Wonders

  • Discover the incredible diversity of marine life while snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters surrounding Saona Island.
  • Take a boat tour to explore the nearby natural pools, where you can swim alongside friendly starfish.
  • Embark on a scenic hike to explore the island’s lush tropical forests and discover its unique flora and fauna.
  • Unwind on the pristine beaches, where you can bask in the sun, build sandcastles, or simply enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
  • Indulge in a beachfront feast of fresh seafood, accompanied by refreshing tropical cocktails, at one of Saona Island’s many beachfront restaurants.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a day in paradise, Saona Island is the perfect destination for your Santo Domingo beach vacation . With its natural beauty and tranquility, this picturesque island will leave you with unforgettable memories of your tropical getaway .

Santo Domingo’s best beaches provide the perfect combination of natural beauty, relaxation, and excitement, making them ideal tropical getaways. Whether you’re seeking a vibrant party atmosphere or a peaceful retreat, the beaches of Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, and Saona Island have something to offer.

Boca Chica, located east of the city, is known for its clear turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and lively nightlife. It attracts both locals and tourists alike, offering a vibrant atmosphere for beachgoers. The beachfront hotels in Boca Chica provide easy access to the beach and a range of amenities for a memorable stay. Whether you want to relax under the sun or indulge in water sports, Boca Chica has it all.

For a more tranquil beach experience, head to Juan Dolio, just a short drive east of Boca Chica. Its narrow white-sand beach offers a peaceful escape from the crowds. Here, you can unwind and soak up the sun in a serene setting. Juan Dolio also boasts a variety of beachfront activities, including snorkeling, fishing, and beachside dining options.

If you’re up for a day trip from Santo Domingo, Saona Island is a must-visit. Closer to Punta Cana , this paradise island features crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, and a tranquil atmosphere. You can take a boat tour to explore the island, swim in the turquoise lagoons, and relax on the pristine beaches. Saona Island is a true tropical oasis that should not be missed during your visit to Santo Domingo.

In summary, Santo Domingo’s best beaches offer a diverse range of experiences for every type of traveler. From the lively ambiance of Boca Chica to the peaceful retreat of Juan Dolio and the natural beauty of Saona Island, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in beach activities, exploring nearby destinations, or simply relaxing under the sun, Santo Domingo’s beaches are the perfect choice for an unforgettable tropical vacation.

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There ARE beaches in Santo Domingo but the BEST beaches near Santo Domingo are a bit outside the city limits.

9 Best Beaches Near Santo Domingo By A Travel Expert (2024)

There are beaches in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, but the city beaches are not what you dream about for a tropical Caribbean holiday. They look inviting from a distance, but up close, there is quite a bit of rubbish and debris lying around.

Ask the locals, and they will cringe at the thought of taking a swim in one of the littered beach bays along the capitol boardwalk. I used to go running there when I stayed in Santo Domingo for a while.

The BEST beaches near Santo Domingo are a bit outside the city limits.

My best advice is to get out of the city and find the most beautiful beaches near the capital. These are the 9 best beaches in decent proximity to Santo Domingo.

Affiliate disclosure: I only recommend tours, services and purchases I know and love on this website.

Map Of Best Beaches Near Santo Domingo

Quick tour guide: 3 top-rated tours from santo domingo.

  • Romana Cave of Wonders and Country House
  • Punta Cana ATV Buggies from Santo Domingo
  • All-Inclusive Cayo Arena Day Boat Trip

Here Are The 9 Best Beaches Near Santo Domingo!

1. boca chica beach santo domingo.

Stunning photo of the clear waters and white sand at Playa Boca Chica Beach outside Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic

Situated in San Andrés Bay, only 20 miles and less than half an hour from Santo Domingo’s city center, lies the stunning Boca Chica Beach. Popular with travelers and locals due to its shallow waters and sandy flooring, it is a great place for an outing.

It has also become quite a tourist attraction due to the wide array of vendors offering services ranging from massage to jewelry and seafood. So, to enjoy this beach, you probably need to appreciate life more than tranquility.

There are plenty of eateries boasting delicious dishes from all around the world.

Around 400 meters outside the beach is a semi-circle-shaped coral reef, which is the main reason this beach has such calm waters and gentle waves.

2. Juan Dolio: Playa Guayacanes

Playa Juan Dolio, Playa Guayacanes, Dominican Republic

Just a short drive from Santo Domingo lies Playa Guayacanes, a small beach renowned for its white sand beaches and lush, tropical atmosphere.

Guayacanes Beach is a modest and less visited beach with calm waters and fine sand. There are not many hotels or restaurants here, but there are a few beach bars where you can try the local cuisine.

This is the perfect place to spend a quiet day on your stay in the surroundings of Santo Domingo.

Book Your Beach Roadtrip Rental Car Here !

3. macao beach.

A stretch of Playa Macao Beach consisting of a mix of soft white sand kissed by the water, to the rocky cliffs stooping into the sea!

Located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, a bit north of Punta Cana and 25 miles from Santo Domingo (just under a 3-hour drive). Macao Beach has a unique mix of white sand and dark volcanic rock that makes it so special!

This magnificent spot is one of the Dominican Republic’s most picturesque beaches, with its shimmering golden sands and vibrant palm trees. Due to the large waves, Macao Beach is renowned for its surfing, windsurfing, and parasailing opportunities.

In addition, you can sample some of the tastiest fish plates in Punta Cana from any of Macao’s local restaurants. Surfers flock to this destination due to its perfect swells and refreshing trade winds, which are great for water sports.

Year-round surfing classes for all skill levels are available on-site, mainly during weekends.

4. Playa De Guibia

Playa de Guibia is situated along the Malecon in Santo Domingo

Guibia Beach is a city beach situated along the Malecon in Santo Domingo, and according to the locals, no one is swimming from the city beaches!

I did not try it, but other travelers claim that the water contains sharp stones and sea urchins and occasionally causes skin irritations. Apparently, only surfers with special permission are allowed in the water.

What is nice , though, is to walk (or run) along the Malecon at sunset or early evening; there are a lot of people and life along the whole area at this time!

On the plaza behind the beach, you will find some activities, like free Wi-Fi, a playground, an outdoor gym, and a volleyball court; a pizza joint and an ice cream parlor serve snacks and drinks.

You can also find a variety of restaurants and bars to enjoy along the Malecon beachfront!

5. Playa Hemingway Beach

Playa Hemingway, just 15 miles from the Dominican Republic's capital of Santo Domingo

Playa Hemingway, just 15 miles from the Dominican Republic’s capital of Santo Domingo, is an idyllic beach with dazzling blue water and snowy sand coastlines with a green frame that seems to go on for miles.

This spot is renowned as one of the best beaches in the country and attracts countless travelers looking for leisure time by the shore. Playa Hemingway is a highly-rated beach offering a myriad of activities, from swimming and snorkeling to fishing or kayaking.

Here, you can also enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere amidst stunning views while taking advantage of the abundance of nearby seafood restaurants for local delicacies!

6. Playa Punta Torrecillas

You see the narrow peninsula across the bay with Playa Punta Torecillas beach! Photo taken from Plaza Juan Baron

Punta Torrecillas beach is just across the Rio Ozama from Santo Domingo’s Port. This sandy escape is situated at Sans Souci Lighthouse Park and offers clean waters, stunning views of the Zona Colonial, and the sunset!

Plus, it’s extra secure due to its location near a Naval Academy, which also takes care of it. The beach is lined with palm trees and has a serene atmosphere that makes it perfect for relaxation.

Punta Torrecillas Naval Club has a restaurant that is open to the public, which might be a perfect place to toast as the sun sets!

7. Playa Caribe

Illustration photo: Playa Caribe is a small beach located meters off the highway!

If you’re in search of extra privacy on your journey, we highly suggest visiting this tiny secret beach tucked away between the shoreline and highway, just a few minutes before reaching Juan Dolio.

Its entryway, shaped by volcanic rocks from the Caribbean Sea, creates exceptional waves that draw surfers from all over the southern coast.

Boca Chica or Playa Guayacanes are more bustling, while this tranquil little getaway provides an ideal atmosphere to bask quietly in sun-kissed sand accompanied by a pleasant tropical breeze!

There are a couple of restaurants nearby, but Playa Caribe mainly offers a tranquil atmosphere, making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the Caribbean scenery. Bring lunch!

8. Playa Najayo

Playa Najayo is a stunning beach located near Santo Domingo. It is adorned with striking greyish sands and small pebbles!

Here, you will come across two distinct sections: one larger than the other, and the larger one is filled with restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for an opportunity to get away and find tranquility, the small part of the beach is ideal.

It’s not swarming with tourists like other Caribbean beaches, thus enabling you to take in the crystal clear water without interruption or crowds.

9. Bayahibe Beach

The lighthouse at Bayahibe beach, aerial photo, beautiful view of the lighthouse and the beach formations and waves of the clear waters hitting on the shore.

Playa Bayahibe Beach is located near Los Melones. It is a quiet and intimate beach far away from crowded places. Surrounded by coconut and palm trees, restaurants and bars are close by.

It is also close to the starting point for boat trips out to the stunning islands and is known for its fishing, snorkeling, and diving possibilities.

In these Caribbean waters, you can observe starfish, cuttlefish, and manta rays, or visit the Naufragio del Capitán Kidd Shipwreck off Catalina Island!

My Favourite Trip: Day-Tour From Santo Domingo to Isla Saona!

The palm-strewn beach at Isla Saona!

First, I want to tell you about this day tour I did from Santo Domingo to the amazing island Isla Saona , with even more amazing beaches – but you do need a boat to get out here!

Luckily, you can join the day trip from Santo Domingo that I did, with everything included, to experience this magnificent place!

Catamaran to Isla Saona

The downside is that you need to get up really early and meet your tour guide in the park before you set off towards the little village of Bayahibe further south, which is the home of the boat!

Halfway out, you will stop at the beautiful natural pool called the Blue Lagoon, a sandbank where you will be at the foot of the sea, and the water only has a maximum depth of 1 meter to basque around!

Welcome to Isla Saona and the beach!

Once you arrive at the beach on Isla Saona, you have a bit under three hours to swim, have lunch, and chill in the hammocks.

Then occasionally head over to the bar (the tour is all-inclusive all the way), before you head back to shore with the catamaran with sun-kissed cheeks (remember sunscreen!) in the afternoon.

Day-Tour to Isla Samoa from Santo Domingo!

Although I hate getting up super early, this trip was definitely worth it, and I don’t think you will regret spending your day at Isla Saona.

Other Great Beaches In The Dominican Republic (A Little Further Away)

10. playa moron beach el limon.

Playa Moron outside El Limon is one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, Although not near Santo Domingo!

Take the bus to Samana Peninsula and then a taxi for an hour to the north coast in the direction of Puerto Plata and Cabarete Beach, and you will first arrive in El Limon, a small fishing village.

Then, drive on for around 15 minutes, and you will end up at an amazing spot called Cap El Limon and Playa Moron.

Out here are only private luxury villas (that you can rent), a stunning secluded and quiet beach, and a restaurant where you can have lunch, dinner, and a nightcap with the sunset.

EpicNomadLife Tip : Join the whale-watching tour that I did when I was visiting, and see the majestic humpback whales between December and April each year.

11. San Rafael Beach

Playa San Rafael a few hours south west of Santo Domingo

Although not really NEAR Santo Domingo, Barahona’s is home to an iconic pebble stone beach you quite possibly will love.

The San Rafael River weaves its way through cascades across the coastal highway until it reaches the Caribbean Sea, where early-morning surfers catch some of the best waves along this stretch of coastline.

It has breathtaking mountain vistas on one side and an unforgettable natural environment around it. And along the beach, the waves are fierce, and the greyish stones are almost blurred in the sea haze. This beach is different, buy beautiful!

There are also lots of laid-back restaurants and booths with a wide variety of food and drink options here.

12. Caleton Beach

Playa Caleton Beach aearial photo Dominican Republic

Lush vegetation, jagged cliffs, and artifact-like rock formations of ancient Taino Indian chiefs – Playa Caletón is an enchanting beach situated between Río San Juan and the renowned Playa Grande Beach & Golf Complex.

Often part of a boat trip exploring Laguna Gri Gri and its captivating coastline, these crescent-shaped soft sands will bring you zen with its alluring atmosphere.

Getting here is simple from the fishing village of Rio San Juan, as it’s along the highway!

13. Las Terrenas Beach

Playa Las Terrenas Beach Dominican Republic

Located between Las Ballenas Beach and Punta Popy Beach, it is a five-kilometer-long stretch of white sand that welcomes travelers to dreamy Las Terrenas.

Parts of the shoreline are filled with fishermen’s canoes, and you’ll find several seaside bars, luxurious hotels, and even boardwalks for those who prefer not getting their feet wet!

Ultimately, this paradise connects to both Playa Las Ballenas (the favorite swim spot) and Pueblo de Los Pescadores towards the west—talk about an idyllic destination!

14. Guayacanes Beach

Local fishermen! Istock photo.

The tranquil fishing village of Guayacanes is a paradise shrouded in greyish, warm sand and turquoise waters.

Aside from the few restaurants and houses, it’s visited by fishermen who come to cast their lines out into the horizon, as well as locals eager for fun-filled days spent splashing around with waves or simply lounging away beneath the sun.

Water shoes are recommended due to some rocky patches on this beach, which is a secluded spot and an ideal destination for a romantic walk at sunrise or a peaceful stroll during sunset all by yourself if you are a solo traveler !

15. Punta Cana Beaches

Among the best beaches near Santo Domingo, you find the beaches at Punta Cana if  you dont mind traveling for a good two and a half hour! It might be worth it!

On the east coast of the Dominican Republic, you find Bavaro and Punta Cana, an area famous for its stunning soft beaches surrounded by all-inclusive resorts, bars, and restaurants. It is a vibrant Caribbean paradise with a fun vibe.

Punta Cana is two and a half hours from Santo Domingo, so you can go here for a day trip with a rental car or even the bus.

You can also stay at one of the holiday homes or large pampering resorts in the region called Bavaro. If you want to go all in on the luxury side, travel a few miles south of Punta Cana to Cap Cana.

This is where you find the super luxury resorts in gated communities where the rich and famous of the world come to enjoy the Caribbean vibe of the Dominican Republic!

FAQ’s Beaches Near Santo Domingo

Here is the answer to some of the most common questions travelers have about beaches near Santo Domingo.

Are There Nice Beaches In Santo Domingo?

Along the Santo Domingo Malecon just after sunset!

There are beaches in Santo Domingo, along the Malecon boardwalk, that actually look really nice from a distance.

But they are generally considered dirty and polluted, and the locals would never swim there. You can enjoy the sound of the waves though, and the amazing view of the sea from the Malecon.

There is a myriad of fishermen along the Malecon in the afternoon, so you can stroll along and just take in the views and the ambiance (lots of locals, too, having romantic walks or running in the cooling air).

Just keep your feet dry within the city limits!

How Far Is The Nearest Beach From Santo Domingo?

Venture around half an hour outside the Santo Domingo city center and head out for the beach that everyone seems to love, like Boca Chica !

Wrap-Up Beaches Near Santo Domingo!

So now you know that there are beaches in and near Santo Domingo, but that you better stay out of the actual water within the city limits!

The closest beach is around half an hour away, and there are a decent number of really nice beaches near Santo Domingo that are perfect for a day trip.

And if you start really early or make it a multi-day tour, the Dominican Republic is not that big—there are even more amazing beaches if you are okay with driving 4-5 hours in any cardinal direction!

As a fun fact at the end here, did you know that the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, is as far away from Havana and Cuba as Cuba is from Key West and Miami?

Related blog posts:

Incredible Solo Travel Dominican Republic From An Expert

7 Top-Rated Best Punta Cana Day Trips By An Expert Traveler!

Best Samana Whale Watching Tour DR: Humpback Whales! (From An Expert)

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Hege Jacobsen is a solo female traveler and the founder of Epic Nomad Life. She is also a former military officer, veteran and Master of Political Science. She has traveled solo all her life, the last four years as a full time digital nomad. A life long solo and slow traveler, Hege also did a TEDx talk in 2023 about how to communicate better with A Traveler's Mindset!

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This Rare Earth

A travel resource for the adventurous and often-solo female

Santo Domingo Beaches to Visit

Dominican Republic , Blog , Caribbean / February 16, 2023 by Monica / Leave a Comment

So you are wondering which Santo Domingo beaches to visit? This guide to the best beaches near Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic will lay out all of the options. Let’s dive into which Santo Domingo beach you should visit!

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Santo Domingo Beaches to Visit Pinterest pin.

Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone is lovely, to say the least.

It is the city of “Firsts” for the Americas. The first city of the New World (founded by Christopher Columbus’ brother Bartholomew), is also home of the first university, first cathedral, first monastery, and more. It offers visitors and amazing walk through history.

But if you are anything like me, after your brain has soaked up all it can handle in historical beauty, you may need a break. Cue, some relaxation in nature.

You undoubtedly know that the Dominican Republic is famous for its aqua blue ocean and white sand beaches. And, even when visiting Santo Domingo, beaches are never too far. But, with limited time here, which Santo Domingo beach should you visit first?

Table of Contents

A Santo Domingo Beach Guide

Here are my three favorite Santo Domingo beach options to choose from: Juan Dolio, Boca Chica, or Saona Island. Here I will break down the pros and cons of each to help you choose the perfect one for you!

You May Also Like: What to Wear in the Dominican Republic: A Packing List for Women

Boca Chica, one of the best Santo Domingo Beaches to Visit.

1. Boca Chica Beach

Get the Location

Your first Santo Domingo beach option is Boca Chica. Boca Chica is fairly close to the Colonial Zone, at roughly 30 minutes away. The waters are clear and stunning, and you’ll find long stretches of sand for relaxing and lounging.

Boca Chica seemed to be the most well known beach in the area. But, I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is the prettiest. When compared to Juan Dolio below, Boca Chica is a bit more crowded, with more of a party atmosphere.

The upside to Boca Chica is that there are many hotels and resorts nearby, so you can easily turn your day trip into an overnight here. It is beautiful! It just really depends what you are looking for.

You May Also Like: Is Santo Domingo Safe?

Juan Dolio, one of the best Santo Domingo Beaches to Visit.

2. Juan Dolio Beach

From Santo Domingo, it takes under one hour to reach Juan Dolio Beach by car. if you are not planning on renting a car (I get the best prices here ) then Uber is a pretty reasonable option. From the Colonial Zone, it should cost around $20USD for the 45-minute drive, depending on traffic, of course.

Juan Dolio is a small six-mile stretch of stark white sand, lush green palm trees, and clear blue water. I mean, do you see the picture above?!

While I was there, most beach-goers were locals, so I was able to chat with them and get a feel for the area. The east side of Juan Doilio seemed more lively, with lots of loud music and bars and food vendors. The farther west I walked, it was more quiet and peaceful.

I was visiting the Dominican Republic solo , and Juan Dolio felt safe. I walked many miles on the street as well as on the beach alone, both in the morning as well as at sundown. Nobody hassled me in the slightest, other than a few random catcalls.

There are two reasons I chose to stay overnight at Juan Dolio over other Santo Domingo beach options. First, the area is populated by locals, with a few small hotels and guesthouses rather than large resorts.

And second, Juan Dolio has far fewer beach touts selling items up and down the beach then elsewhere. If you are looking to relax, then this trip to the beach from Santo Domingo might be the one for you.

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Three Eyes National Park in Santo Domingo

Monica underneath the palm trees on Saona Island - a Santo Domingo beach trip worth the trek!

3. Saona Island

Saona Island is a beautiful island paradise off of the mainland. It is closer to the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, near Punta Cana.

If you thought Juan Dolio waters were clear, these Caribbean blues will leave you absolutely stunned. They are so crystal clear that you can see everything while you walk or swim.

And, side note – I visited in February, during the off season. The waters will still warm enough to swim quite comfortably.

Saona Island is easy to explore by foot. There are plenty of palm trees with hammocks hanging as well as beach chairs for lounging. Massages and jewelry are all available (and will be offered over and over again if you use the main row of beach chairs.) Or, walk a short way down the beach to find solitude.

Today, only about 300 people live on Saona Island, and I have to say, that sounds like a dream! As a visitor, you will get a taste of the simple, tropical island life.

Pro Tip: To reach Saona Island, you need to book a day tour . It will include round trip transportation from your hotel, boat rides to the island and back, and a tasty lunch buffet! Saona was one of the most beautiful spots I saw. Book your tour here!

Here are your best tour options for booking a trip to Saona Island in the Dominican Republic:

Note that these tours depart from various areas, like the Colonial Zone or Juan Dolio / Boca Chica. Be sure to read the fine print before booking!

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Which Santo Domingo Beach Trip Should You Choose?

Here is my best recommendation, if you are staying in the Colonial Zone.

If you have only one day to spare at the beach:

  • Choose between either one day at Juan Dolio or Boca Chica. These are the easiest options, since ou are limited on time. The adventurous could choose a day trip to Saona Island .

If you have three days to spare at the beach:

  • Stay two or three nights at Juan Dolio, and take a day-trip to Saona Island from there. That way, you get to experience two completely different beaches near Santo Domingo.

Whatever you choose, I am sure you will have a wonderful time!

Saona Island, one of the best Santo Domingo Beaches to Visit.

When is the best time to visit Santo Domingo beaches?

The best time to visit Santo Domingo and its nearby beaches is between November and March. The city will be experiencing its best weather. In February, the crowds will start to thin, in my experience.

Does Santo Domingo have good beaches?

While you won’t find any beaches directly within the city, stunning beaches with sparkling blue waters are just a short drive from Santo Domingo. Both Boca Chica (30 minutes by car) and Juan Dolio (45 minutes) make great day trips.

Is Santo Domingo cheaper than Punta Cana?

Yes! Since Punta Cana is more famous, Santo Domingo is easier for budgeting. In fact, a recent study showed that the cost of living is roughly 10% cheaper in Santo Domingo than in Punta Cana.

What is the prettiest beach in Dominican Republic?

In my opinion, that award goes to the beaches on Saona Island. Saona Island is such a tropical paradise, and is difficult to top.

And there you have it! The three best beaches near Santo Domingo, all accessible on an easy day trip. So tell me below – which one will you choose?

santo domingo tourist beaches

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santo domingo tourist beaches

About Monica

Monica has been a solo female world traveler for over 15 years. She is an expert on outdoor adventures, solo female travel, and off the beaten path destinations. She is the founder of This Rare Earth and is a firm believer that the world is not as scary as the media might have you think! Learn more about her here . Connect with her on Instagram .

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santo domingo tourist beaches

The Dominican Republic is a popular Caribbean destination for its coastal towns, beautiful beaches, and five-star beachside resorts. But Santo Domingo, the country’s capital founded in 1498, is the oldest colonial city in the Americas, and remains the epicenter of the Dominican Republic’s rich history and culture. Follow this guide to make the most of your weekend. (Note: this itinerary is best followed on a Saturday and Sunday, so if your trip is during other days of the week, find even more things to do here .)

Day 1: Morning

10 a.m.: Upon arriving in the city, make your way to the JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo to check in at the fifth-floor reception, or at least drop off your luggage until a room is ready. Once you’ve handed off your bags—keep a day pack with you, packed with a swimsuit, sunscreen, and sneakers for the next few hours—spend a few minutes relaxing before departing for the day. Have a seat in the lobby and admire the artwork on the walls, or step outside for panoramic views of Santo Domingo from the glass-bottomed terrace. If you look to your right, you’ll spot the hotel’s infinity pool overlooking the city’s skyline. 

10:30 a.m. Grab your day pack, and head to Boca Chica , a white-sand beach that’s about an hour away. (Unless you rented a car, the easiest way to get there is by hailing an Uber.) Once there, you can spend your time relaxing or walking along the beach, shopping or sampling food from local vendors, or going for a swim through the multi-hued blue waters. Or before your trip, book a table at one of the seaside restaurants or beach clubs, like Neptuno’s, and enjoy the view and breeze with table-service lunch and drinks, and take a dip in the water from one of the ladders hanging over the docks.   

Day 1: Afternoon

2:30 p.m. After a few hours at the beach, pack up your things, and head to Parque Nacional de los Tres Ojos (Three Eyes National Park). The park gets its name from three main underground caverns, each housing a magnificent blue lagoon. Historically, the caves were used as places of residence and ritual by the indigenous Taino people of the Hispaniola island. It only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to explore the park, as it’s fairly small; however, note that to reach the lagoons, you must ascend and descend several flights of stairs.

4 p.m. Wrap up your time at the park, and go back to the hotel (it’s a 30- to 40-minute drive) to check in and settle into your room. Once there, you have several options of things to do over the next few hours! If you still haven’t had enough time in the sun or water for the day, head out to the fifth floor for a dip in the hotel’s infinity pool overlooking the skyline. If you’re staying in an executive-level room, take advantage of the complimentary happy hour in the Executive Lounge on the 21st floor, where you can also take in the sweeping city views. If you want to leave the hotel for a bit, take the elevator to the ground floor of the building to access the attached Blue Mall Santo Domingo , a multi-story mall where you can shop for designer goods, local coffees and teas, artisan chocolate, and more; or hail a ride to Avenida Malecón a few miles away, a seaside boulevard that’s popular for sunset walks. Whenever you’re ready, head back to your room to freshen up for dinner. 

Day 1: Evening

8 p.m. For dinner, make a reservation at Winston’s Grill & Patio, located on the fifth floor of the hotel. The menu comprises dishes from around the world, and the steak and lamb are popular choices. Sit inside the restaurant for an elegant ambiance, or in nice weather, ask for a table outside on the terrace. Afterward, head back to your room to relax, or continue to enjoy the nighttime views of the city with a drink at the nearby bar, Vertygo 101.

Day 2: Morning

10 a.m. The first item on today’s itinerary is a visit to the Dr. Rafael Ma. Moscoso National Botanical Garden . At more than 400 acres in size, this is the largest botanical garden in the Caribbean. You can explore at your own pace by walking through the many gardens and attractions (don’t miss the exhibit showcasing 300 types of orchids or the traditional Japanese garden), or if you’d prefer to stay off your feet to save your energy for the day ahead, you can take advantage of the trolley that will shuttle you around the grounds.

Day 2: Afternoon

12 p.m. The gardens merit a few hours of wandering, but once you’ve had your fill of all the beautiful flora, head straight for Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone where you’ll spend the rest of the day.

1 p.m. First stop: lunch at El Patio Culinario , which is essentially a food truck park , but instead of trucks, it’s stationary booths. Order a variety of plates to share if you’re with a group, but save room for dessert, which you’ll get at your next stop. 

2:30 p.m. Arrive at Kah-Kow Experience on Calle Las Damas. As soon as you walk in, you’ll likely get a whiff of chocolate wafting through the air—don’t worry, you’ll get to taste it soon enough. Chocolate is a major industry in the Dominican Republic, and this attraction offers a variety of tours that teach visitors about the cacao plant (how it’s harvested and where it grows), the history of chocolate, and the entire process of making chocolate from bean to bar. Watch a multimedia presentation to learn essential context for the rest of the visit; step into the tasting room to sample different types of chocolate (from white to dark) and learn what goes into each; and finally, craft your own chocolate bar in the glass-enclosed factory. (These can all be booked online in advance .) There’s also a soap lab onsite that allows you to make your own bar of soap using cacao butter combined with your preferred fragrance. At the end of your visit, walk through the gift shop to buy any other chocolate treats you might want for the rest of your trip.

5 p.m. Meet at Trikke República Dominicana for your next activity, a Trikke tour of the Colonial Zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trikke is a three-wheeled scooter, and this experience allows you to roam around the historic district while learning all about the city’s history and culture (via a headset) from your guide. You’ll ride past and stop at several major landmarks and historic sites in the area—such as the National Pantheon, Museum of the Royal Houses, and more, some of which date back to the 16th century—while your guide explains the significance and history of each. The evening tour is especially fun because lots of people are out enjoying the sunset and nightlife in the area, so you’ll also see glimpses of the local lifestyle.

Day 2: Evening

7 p.m. For dinner, make a reservation at Lulú Tasting Bar , a popular tapas-style restaurant also in the Colonial Zone. Request a table in the indoor courtyard, and choose a few dishes to split with the group—this place is best experienced by sharing and sampling many different items. 

9 p.m. After your meal, go out to experience the nightlife! Several streets in the Colonial Zone (such as Calle Hostos or Calle Isabela Catolica) are lined with bars and nightclubs to grab a post-dinner drink. And if you're here on a weekend, making your second day a Sunday, you’re in luck because every Sunday night, you can go see free musical performances of merengue and jazz at the Ruins of the San Francisco Monastery from 6 to 10 p.m. When you’ve exhausted all your energy, make your way back to the hotel for a good night’s rest before departing the city in the morning.

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Beaches in Santo Domingo

Take a walk on santo domingo’s fine sand beaches and swim in the pristine waters of its tropical shores. .

Guayacanes Beach

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The 9 best beaches in santo domingo.

Monica Sanchez Updated on 07/03/2016 11:23

Best beaches in Santo Domingo

We all need a break from time to time, a free time to be able to dedicate time, to do what we like the most. And what better than to do it in the Caribbean? Beaches with crystal clear water, coconut palms whose leaves move in the breeze, a warm and mild climate that invites you to relax ... What more could you want?

However, in the Caribbean there are many places to have a great time, so sometimes it is not easy to decide. To make your task easier, we are going to tell you which are the best beaches in Santo Domingo , in the Dominican Republic.

But first, I must confess something to you: choosing the best Dominican beaches is a task that takes time. Why? Because they all have the perfect ingredients to make you spend an unforgettable vacation. Some we have already mentioned (climate, crystal clear waters ...), but there is much, much more that you are going to discover when you are going to spend some day in one.

Despite everything, I think that more or less has been achieved, and we can provide you with our selection:

El Macao Beach

Playa de El Macao

If you have ever dreamed of a tropical beach, and surely you have, then El Macao beach will make you think that you are in one of those dreams. It is the typical landscape that more than once has 'crept' through our mind. It has fine white sand and is surrounded by coconut trees. It is so spectacular that even UNESCO has declared it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean Sea . Without a doubt, a place that you cannot miss ... and enjoy.

This beach is located in the Andrés de Boca Chica town. It is one of the most popular destinations because you can enjoy the sun, the soft white sand and the warm blue Caribbean Sea. The beach is protected by a coral reef, so this way you will not have problems with the waves when swimming. Do not miss the opportunity to practice some snorkeling. It will surely fascinate you.

Bayahib Beach

Would you like to spend a night at the beach? Then do not hesitate: go to the Bayahibe. During the day, you can swim in its turquoise blue water, and savor the food and drinks that are served to you; at night you will only have to rent a cabin to contemplate one of the greatest night shows: the starry sky, while you hear the sound of the waves breaking. You will find it about 20km east of La Romana.

San Rafael Beach

Playa de Santo Domingo

This is a beach a little different from the ones we have seen so far, because unlike the others, it has thick sand and is surrounded by mountains of the Bahorouco mountain range. It is located in the province of Barahona, about 20km south of this city. It is the most suitable if you do not want to spend so much heat, then a river of very cold water flows from the mountains where, of course, you can bathe . Of course, be careful if the wind blows as large waves will form. Regardless, the landscape is amazing, and very, very peaceful.

Caleton Beach

For many it is better known by the name of »La Playita». It's just wonderful, well is near the mangroves from the Gri Gri lagoon, southeast of Sosúa. It is very busy, but it is well worth going, and coming back. And come back again 🙂.

Las Terrenas Beach

To the north of the Sierra de Samaná you will find this beautiful cream-colored sand beach. It is located west of Las Terrenas. It is perfect for practicing water sports, or to spend the day with the family.

Juan Dolio Beach

Playa de Juan Dolio

This incredible beach offers a long stretch of sand and coral. It's great for enjoying the sun while playing volleyball or beach soccer. In addition, you will find a very lively nightlife if you are one of those who wants to stay late.

Guayacanes Beach

Playa Guayacanes

Es very little frequented . For this reason, it is one of the most ideal places to spend an unforgettable day with the family. Its waters are calm, and the waves are fine, smooth. It has many palm trees, so if you get sleepy, you can always take a nap under its long leaves.

Caribbean beach

Turismo en Santo Domingo

Also known as Embassy beach , it's for you, surfer . From noon the waves are activated to welcome you, and all lovers of this type of sport. Of course, in the morning the beach is quiet, but time will pass very quickly in this place, and there are many things you can do!: Dive, sunbathe, play with friends, read a book ... Whatever you prefer.

As you can see, there are many beaches in this part of the world, and they all seem out of a story . We hope we have helped you, at least a little bit, to choose. And if you still have doubts, you can always visit the 3 or 4 that make you most excited this year, and come back the next and see the others 🙂.

Enjoy your days at the beach!

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santo domingo tourist beaches

Hello good Morning!! I am Mexican and they have spoken to me beautifully about the Beaches of Sto. Sunday. They recommended a place that is known as Carreras, does it exist? And if I don't want to spend about 2 to 3 months in a paradisiacal place, with quiet beaches, a beautiful view, that the sea is not at all violent, and a place for rent during this time ??? Obviously, it is neither so expensive nor so cheap, and it is very comfortable. Please, I hope you can help me with that info and suggest me information on web sites to see pictures and information? Nicolás, Greetings !!!

I will be with my family in a sporting event in Santo Domingo for 8 days, my daughter will participate for about an hour a day in the Olympic Pavilion in the center of the city and then we will be free the rest of the day.

The host hotel is the Barcelo but even if I had to travel up to an hour one way and another I would like to stay in a less central hotel with access to the beach. Any recommendation??

Hi, I'm going to Santo Domingo next month, could you recommend the best beaches near Santo Domingo? Thank you.

Hello, I am Peruvian, they tell me and I see in some photographs of the beaches of Santo Domingo it is apparently very attractive. It would be interesting to publish complete and high resolution photographs to verify and take interest to travel on my vacations.

Excellent contribution, it would also be good to know how deep these beaches are and what the waves are like, especially for those of us who want to go with children.

I have a doubt, those beaches shown in the photos in this publication, are in the capital city or in Santo Domingo or are far from it, because by google maps it can be seen that although the city is on the seashore Caribbean can not be appreciated or see if they are or not those beaches, I hope my question has been understood, best regards

Some beaches in santo santo domingo bone in my country I recommend them all the beach well not all but if you are going to have a good time enjoy my country

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Beaches in Santo Domingo

The Dominican Republic has some great beaches, but they aren't in Santo Domingo. The principal beach resort near the capital is at Boca Chica, about 3km (2 miles) east of the airport and about 30km (19 miles) from the center of Santo Domingo. Here you'll find clear, shallow water, a white-sand beach, and a natural coral reef. The east side of the beach, known as "St. Tropez," is popular with Europeans. In recent years, the backdrop of the beach has become rather tacky, with an array of pizza and fast-food stands, beach cottages, chaise lounges, watersports concessions, and plastic beach tables.

Long a favorite of Santo Domingo's city dwellers before its discovery by foreigners, Playa Boca Chica is one of the grand beaches of the Caribbean, very wide with white or golden sands set against a backdrop of coconut palms. The beach is fronted by the shallow Bahía Andrés. Unlike the north coast, with its turbulent waters, this beach is the most tranquil in the country.

Slightly better maintained is the narrow white-sand beach at Juan Dolio or Playa Esmeralda, a 20-minute drive east of Boca Chica. Several resorts have recently located here. The beach used to be fairly uncrowded, but with all the hotels now lining it, it's likely to be as crowded as Boca Chica any day of the week.

There are three major beaches spread along the Caribbean Sea, beginning with Playa Guayacanes in the west, Playa Juan Dolio in the center, and Playa Real in the east. These beaches are often referred to collectively as Playa de Villas del Mar. Our favorite of these is Playa Guayacanes, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and home to a little community of locals called Guayacanes.

As you move east from Guayacanes, the sands are better than the water, the latter filled with wide expanses of dead coral, making the swimming less than desirable. Many of the best sandy beaches are maintained zealously by the all-inclusives.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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Santo Domingo 101: Your Ultimate Travel Guide

santo domingo tourist beaches

Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is a vibrant and historic destination that holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas.

Located on the southeastern coast of the country, the “Prime of the Americas” is a bustling metropolis with a rich cultural heritage, a vibrant local scene, and a fusion of old-world charm and modern development.

In this ultimate travel guide, you’ll learn everything that you need to know before visiting this great city.

Table of Contents

A brief history of Santo Domingo

Founded in 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, Santo Domingo served as the springboard for Spanish colonization in the New World.

The city’s colonial zone is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcases well-preserved architectural gems from the 16th century. Within this area, visitors can explore landmarks such as the Alcazar de Colon, the former residence of the Columbus family, and the Catedral Primada de América, the oldest cathedral in the Americas, and the Monasterio de San Francisco, the oldest monastery in the New World.

Throughout history, Santo Domingo has experienced significant events, which have shaped the city’s culture and heritage, making it a melting pot of European, African, and native Taino influences.

Beyond its historical significance, Santo Domingo is a megacity with a vibrant culture and lively atmosphere. In recent years, Santo Domingo has experienced significant urban development, with modern infrastructure, luxury hotels, shopping malls, and a booming business district.

Whether you want to explore the cobblestone streets of the Colonial Zone, savoring the local cuisine, or enjoying the lively nightlife, you’ll be captivated by the city’s charm and warmth.

Where is Santo Domingo located?

Santo Domingo is located on the Caribbean Sea, in the Greater Antilles. The city is situated on the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, on the banks of the Ozama River. The coordinates of Santo Domingo are 18° 30′ N, and 69° 56′ W.

Originally established on the east side of the Ozama in 1496, it was founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1498, by order of the Catholic Kings. As the capital of the first Spanish colony in the New World, the original city site was located on the left (east) bank of the Ozama River and was called Nueva Isabela in honor of Queen Isabella I of Spain

In 1502, Governor Nicolas de Ovando transferred its institutions to the west bank and decided to provide the city with a grid pattern from the Grand Place.

Built in the Renaissance style during the 16th century, this building was the longtime seat of Spanish authority for the Caribbean region, housing the governor’s office and the powerful Audiencia Real (Royal Court) from Spain.

How to get to Santo Domingo?

The easiest way to get to Santo Domingo is by flying into Las Americas International Airport (SDQ), which is located about 20 miles from the city center. From there, you can take a taxi, bus, or rent a car to get into the city.

From Las Americas to Santo Domingo - Dominican Travel Pro

  • Do I need a passport to go to Santo Domingo?

Yes, you need a valid passport that’s valid for at least 6 months to enter Las Americas International airport, the closest one to Santo Domingo.

  • Do I need a visa to visit Santo Domingo?

If you’re a citizen of the United States, Canada, or Europe, you don’t need a visa to enter the Las Americas International Airport or any other in the Dominican Republic.

Citizens of other countries should check with the Dominican consulate to see if they need a visa.

Related – Consultations of requirements for foreigners to enter the Dominican Republic

  • Customs regulations in Las Americas International Airport

When traveling to Santo Domingo it is important to be aware of the customs regulations.

Travelers are allowed to bring up to $USD 10,000 worth of goods into the country duty-free.

You also need to fill out an electronic ticket to arrive and depart the country.

Related – How to fill out the E-Ticket for the Dominican Republic

  • What should I pack for Santo Domingo?

Besides basic toiletries, packing to visit Santo Domingo should include the following:

Clothes and accessories

  • Water Shoes

Other travel essentials

  • Water Bottle
  • Passport/Visa/ID
  • Credit/ATM Cards
  • Insurance Cards
  • List of Medications
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Copies of Documents
  • Smart Phone
  • How do I call Santo Domingo from the United States?

Long-stay tourists purchase a SIM card upon arrival, in order to make or receive local calls at a much lower rate than roaming (to call a taxi or other services).

If a family member, spouse, or a friend wants to make a direct call to your temporary Dominican phone number from the USA, they just need to perform three steps:

1- Dial +1, the country code for the Dominican Republic.

2- Dial the corresponding three-digit area code (809, 829, or 849).

3- Then dial the seven-digit local phone number.

The same process applies to those calling from Canada.

  • What is the currency in Santo Domingo?

The most used currency in Santo Domingo is the Dominican Peso (DOP). American dollars are also widely accepted, although you will usually get a better rate if you pay in pesos.

ATMs can be found at Las Americas International Airport, shopping malls, at your hotel, pharmacies in the local community, and banks.

When visiting, be prepared and bring money in singles and other small denominations, and always try to exchange your currency at local banks.

  • What language is spoken in Santo Domingo?

The most spoken language in Santo Domingo is Spanish, just like in the Dominican Republic, however, English is also widely spoken.

In tourist areas, the hotel staff, tour operators, and regular businesspeople speak English, as well as French and German.

What is the weather like?

The weather is tropical, with an average temperature of 27°C (80.6°F). The wind is usually from the northeast and the humidity is around 66%.

  • When is the rainy season?

The rain season in Santo Domingo is from May to November, with the heaviest rains in August and September.

  • When is the hurricane season?

Hurricane season in the Dominican Republic runs from June 1st to November 30th but these natural phenomena are rare in this area, they usually skip and head south.

  • What is the hottest and coldest month in Santo Domingo?

The coldest months are from December to February when the average temperature is 23°C (73.4°F). The hottest months are from May to September when the average temperature is 29°C (84.2°F).

  • Are there mosquitoes?

Yes, but mosquitoes are not usually a big problem in Santo Domingo unless you are in an area close to the woods or rivers. If you are in a hotel in the city center, this is not something to worry about. However, to avoid mosquito bites, we recommend using mosquito repellent and wear long pants and long sleeves at dawn and dusk.

What are the peak tourist seasons?

The peak tourist seasons in Santo Domingo are from December to April, and June to August. These are the months when the weather is the nicest and the most events and activities are happening.

  • How much should I tip?

In Santo Domingo, it is customary to tip 10-15% in restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotel maids. Keep in mind that the applicable sales tax in all commerces is 18% by law.

  • What should I do if I get sick while in Santo Domingo?

If you get sick while in Santo Domingo, the first thing you should do is to seek medical attention if needed. Here the pharmacies sell antibiotics, flu medicine, and antiallergics without prescription.

If you need to see a doctor, the capital city is a hub of dozens of world-class private hospitals with international departments ready to serve tourists.

  • Can I drink the tap water in Santo Domingo?

Never. The tap water in Santo Domingo is NOT safe to drink. Everybody prefers to stick to bottled water, which is widely available and cheap.

  • Is it safe to rent a car in Santo Domingo?

Yes, it is safe to rent a car in Santo Domingo and there are dozens of options to pick from the most convenient one is the airport, so you can pick up and drop the car over there.

If you choose to rent a car in the capital city, almost all global brands are available as well as local businesses.

  • What do I need to rent a car in Santo Domingo?

To rent a car in Santo Domingo, you’ll need the following:

  • Your passport
  • Your voucher
  • Each driver’s driving license
  • The main driver’s credit card (some rental companies also accept debit cards, but most don’t).

To book the car, you just need a debit, credit card, or cash.

Which are the most important avenues?

The most important avenues in Santo Domingo are:

  • Av. 27 de Febrero
  • Avenida Abraham Lincoln
  • Avenida George Washington
  • Avenida Winston Churchill
  • Avenida Máximo Gómez
  • Avenida Tiradentes
  • Avenida Independencia

Which are the best theaters in Santo Domingo?

The best theaters in Santo Domingo are:

  • Teatro Nacional – National Theatre
  • Teatro La Fiesta
  • Casa de Teatro
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Jazz & Blues Club
  • Comedy Club
  • Piano Bar at the Sheraton
  • Microteatro Ensamble

Top Attractions

Santo Domingo boasts an impressive array of attractions that cater to a wide range of interests.

The top attractions of the city include:

  • Zona Colonial
  • Catedral Primada de America
  • Alcazar de Colon
  • Museo de las Casas Reales
  • Parque Los Tres Ojos
  • Museo del Hombre Dominicano
  • National Botanical Garden

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Santo Domingo is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C). The dry season is also the peak tourist season, so be prepared for higher prices and larger crowds.

The rainy season in Santo Domingo typically runs from May to November, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in May, June, and October. While the weather can be unpredictable during this time, enjoying the city’s many attractions and activities is still possible.

Best Beaches

Santo Domingo has a couple of beaches where visitors can soak up the sun, enjoy water sports, or relax in the sand. Some of the most popular beaches in the area include Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, and Guayacanes, these last two are not within the province, rather within 20 minutes past its limits.

Boca Chica is the closest beach to the city and is known for its calm waters, making it perfect for families and those looking to unwind.

Juan Dolio is a more upscale beach destination featuring luxurious resorts and a pristine stretch of sand. Guayacanes is a quieter, more secluded option, perfect for those seeking a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.

Best Hotels

Santo Domingo offers many accommodations, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious five-star resorts.

Santo Domingo holds world-renowned brands with impeccable service and dozens of amenities.

Some of the top-rated hotels in the city include:

  • Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo
  • JW Marriott Hotel
  • Hotel Sheraton Santo Domingo
  • Hotel El Embajador a Royal Hideaway
  • Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino
  • Radisson Hotel Santo Domingo
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo
  • Monaco Residences Piantini
  • Casas del XVI Boutique Hotel
  • Hampton by Hilton Santo Domingo Airport
  • Holiday Inn Hotel
  • Hodelpa Caribe Colonial Hotel
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo
  • Novus Plaza Hotel
  • Hodelpa Nicolás of Ovando
  • Quality Real Airport Hotel
  • Courtyard by Hilton Santo Domingo Hotel
  • Catalonia Santo Domingo Hotel
  • Dominican Fiesta Hotel
  • Barceló Santo Domingo Hotel
  • Gran Hotel Europa
  • Napolitano Hotel
  • Weston Suites Hotel
  • Aladino Hotel

Top Things to Do

The city of Santo Domingo provides tourist with one of the most complete array of things to do.

Here are some of the most popular things to do in Santo Domingo, for you to visit, explore, tour, and trip:

  • Ciudad Colonial (Colonial City).
  • Three Eyes National Park
  • Alcázar de Colón
  • Columbus Lighthouse
  • Calle Las Damas
  • Columbus Park
  • Plaza España
  • Puerta del Conde
  • Take a trip to Boca Chica
  • Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor
  • Saona Island Tour

What is the voltage in Santo Domingo?

The standard voltage in Santo Domingo is 110 volts. If your devices use a different voltage, you will need to bring a power converter with you.

What are the best wedding venues in Santo Domingo?

Santo Domingo is a popular destination for weddings. The Dominican Republic has world-class facilities, gorgeous scenery, and experienced wedding planners.

The best wedding venues in Santo Domingo are:

  • JW Marriott Santo Domingo
  • Casa Real Hodelpa Event Center

Getting around: Transportation Tips

Santo Domingo features a variety of transportation options for getting around the city.

The Metro is a convenient and affordable way to navigate the city, with two lines covering essential areas.

Buses and minibusses, known as guaguas, are another budget-friendly option, although they can be crowded and less comfortable than other modes of transportation.

Taxis and ridesharing services like Uber are widely available in Santo Domingo and provide a more convenient and comfortable way to explore the city. However, agree on a fare before starting your journey, as some taxi drivers may try to overcharge tourists.

Santo Domingo’s Food and Restaurants

The culinary scene in Santo Domingo is a delicious mix of traditional Dominican dishes and international cuisine.

Be sure to try local favorites such as mangu (mashed plantains), sancocho (a hearty stew), and la Bandera (rice, beans, and meat). To taste the city’s fine dining options, head to restaurants like Meson D’Bari, which offers upscale Dominican cuisine, or Pat’e Palo, a European brasserie in the Zona Colonial.

For a casual dining experience, visit one of the city’s many food trucks or street food vendors, where you can indulge in delicious empanadas, chicharron (fried pork), or fresh fruit smoothies.

Santo Domingo is known for its lively and diverse nightlife scene.

From trendy bars and lounges to pulsating dance clubs, there is something for everyone in this historic city. The Zona Colonial is a popular nightlife hub featuring a mix of stylish bars, live music venues, and energetic dance clubs.

Most of the high-scale clubs and bars are located within its financial district called Piantini.

For a more laid-back evening, head to one of the city’s many rooftop bars, such as the Lulu Tasting Bar or the Mamey Libreria Cafe, and enjoy stunning city views while sipping on a refreshing cocktail.

There are several scuba diving operators in Santo Domingo that offer day trips and certification courses. The best place to go diving near Santo Domingo is La Caleta Underwater National Park in Boca Chica, featuring shipwrecks, coral reefs, and abundant tropical fish.

In the city center, you can find a handful of businesses that offer diving tours to any location and courses for novices and experienced divers.

  • I’m not a certified diver. Can I still go diving in Santo Domingo?

Yes, most dive centers offer courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced, and excursions to the most emblematic diving sites in the Dominican Republic.

Diving businesses also offer excursions to other snorkeling sites in the Dominican Republic, among are:

  • Playa Magallanes in Bayahibe
  • Playa Dominicus 
  • Isla Catalina
  • Isla Catalinita

In La Romana, there are artificial reefs have been installed in front of several hotel beaches like Be Live Collection Canoa, Catalonia Royal La Romana,  Dreams Dominicus La Romana , and Iberostar Selection beach.

  • Can I go deep sea fishing when I visit Santo Domingo?

Yes, you can go deep-sea fishing while you visit Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic is a world-renowned destination for deep sea fishing, with many charter companies offering half and full-day trips.

The most popular areas for deep sea fishing that depart from Santo Domingo are:

  • Puerto Plata

Adventure Activities and Excursions

Santo Domingo’s diverse landscape provides ample opportunities for adventure and exploration.

From hiking and mountain biking in the nearby mountains to white-water rafting and zip-lining through lush forests, there is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities for thrill-seekers.

For a more leisurely excursion, consider taking a day trip to the stunning Saona Island or the Los Haitises National Park, where you can explore mangrove forests, caves, and pristine beaches.

Santo Domingo offers a variety of shopping experiences, from local markets to upscale boutiques.

The Mercado Modelo is a popular destination for tourists seeking souvenirs and authentic Dominican goods.

Also, the Blue Mall and Agora Mall offer a more upscale shopping experience featuring international brands and high-end stores.

Be sure also to explore the many art galleries and artisan shops in the Zona Colonial, where you can find unique and locally made crafts, jewelry, and artwork.

Safety Tips for Travelers

While Santo Domingo is generally safe for tourists, taking precautions and remaining aware of your surroundings is essential.

Avoid walking alone at night, particularly in unfamiliar areas, and keep your belongings secure at all times. Be cautious when using public transportation and only use licensed taxis or ridesharing services.

It’s also a good idea to register with your country’s embassy or consulate upon arrival and have a working knowledge of basic Spanish phrases to help navigate potential situations.

Tips for Planning Your Vacation

When planning your vacation to Santo Domingo, consider the following tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:

  • Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly, considering the possibility of rain during the wet season.
  • Research and book accommodations in advance, particularly during the peak tourist season.
  • Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette, such as appropriate dress and tipping practices.
  • Create an itinerary that includes a mix of cultural, historical, and recreational activities to experience all that Santo Domingo offers fully.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance for added peace of mind during your trip.

Wrapping up

Santo Domingo is a captivating destination filled with history, culture, and natural beauty.

From the significance of its celebrations to the city’s lively nightlife scene, there is something for everyone in the Prime of the Americas.

With its stunning beaches, fascinating museums, and delicious cuisine, it’s no wonder that Santo Domingo continues to draw millions of travelers from around the world.

Book your next vacation to Santo Domingo and experience its magic for yourself?

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Cathedral of Santa Mari­a la Menor, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, or ‘La Capital’ as it’s typically called, is a collage of cultures and neighborhoods. It’s where the sounds of life – domino pieces slapped on tables, backfiring mufflers and horns from chaotic traffic, merengue blasting from corner stores – are most intense. At the heart of the city is the Zona Colonial, where you’ll find one of the oldest churches and the oldest surviving European fortress, among other New World firsts. Amid the cobblestone streets it would be easy to forget Santo Domingo is in the Caribbean. But this is an intensely urban city, home not only to colonial-era architecture, but also to hot clubs, vibrant cultural institutions and elegant restaurants. Santo Domingo somehow manages to embody the contradictions central to the Dominican experience: a living museum, a metropolis crossed with a seaside resort, and a business, political and media center with a laid-back, affable spirit.

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Must-see attractions.

Catedral Primada de America (First Cathedral of the Americas), Zona Colonial (Colonial District, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, West Indies, Caribbean, Central America

Catedral Primada de América

The first stone of this cathedral, the oldest standing in the Western hemisphere, was set in 1514 by Diego Columbus, son of the great explorer (the ashes…

Museo Alcázar de Colón

Museo Alcázar de Colón

Designed in the Gothic-Mudéjar transitional style, this was the early-16th-century residence of Columbus’ son, Diego, and his wife, Doña María de Toledo…

Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana

Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana

For those interested in the details of one of the darkest periods of Dominican history, this austere memorial honors Dominicans who fought against the…

Parque Mirador del Sur

Parque Mirador del Sur

A long tree-filled corridor atop an enormous limestone ridge, this park is riddled with caves, some as big as airplane hangars. One of the caves has been…

Charles III gate with Tower of Homage in background, Fortaleza Ozama.

Fortaleza Ozama

This is the New World's oldest colonial military edifice. The site, at the meeting of the Río Ozama and Caribbean, was selected by Fray Nicolás de Ovando…

Containers for ingredients in colonial drugstore, Museo de las Casas Reales, Santo Domingo, Zona Colonial, Dominican Republic

Museo de las Casas Reales

Built in the Renaissance style during the 16th century, this building was the longtime seat of Spanish authority for the Caribbean region, housing the…

Palacio Nacional

Palacio Nacional

The Dominican seat of government, which occupies most of a city block, was designed by Italian architect Guido D’Alessandro and inaugurated in 1947. Built…

Jardín Botánico Nacional

Jardín Botánico Nacional

The lush grounds span 2 sq km and include vast areas devoted to aquatic plants, orchids, bromeliads, ferns, palm trees, a Japanese garden and much more…

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Experience the real Dominican Republic

Let a local expert craft your dream trip.

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Latest stories from Santo Domingo

santo domingo tourist beaches

Oct 28, 2016 • 4 min read

A sprawling urban hub of nearly three million people, the capital of the Dominican Republic is the country’s cultural center. It’s a place where old and…

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Jun 3, 2016 • 5 min read

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Santo Domingo   Travel Guide

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santo domingo tourist beaches

8 Best Things To Do in Santo Domingo

Updated February 11, 2021

Despite its location on the Caribbean Sea, Santo Domingo is far from a beach town. Instead, you should expect to spend some time at historically significant sites like the Catedral Primada de América or the Fortaleza Ozama . Make sure to allot an hour

  • All Things To Do

santo domingo tourist beaches

Zona Colonial Zona Colonial free

Partially barricaded by stone walls, accented with baroque architecture and lying on cobblestone streets, Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial marks the area where Columbus settled in the New World. Visitors say it's definitely a must-see, considering the city's best known historic sites are located here. But this UNESCO World Heritage Site also shelters many hotels, bars and restaurants. Best of all, you can explore the area entirely on foot: For all that's crammed inside, there's really only 11 blocks worth of sights.

So where should you start? Perhaps the Catedral Primada de America , which is located near the heart of the zone (look for the statue of Christopher Columbus). From there you can trek a little farther west to Fortaleza Ozama , located along the mouth of the Río Ozama in the southeast quadrant. Next, walk along the Calle Las Damas (the oldest street, a pedestrian-only zone) to the Alcázar de Colón palace and museum.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Catedral Primada de America Catedral Primada de America

Some people refer to this church by its official name, Catedral Santa María La Menor, but it's probably best known as the first cathedral of the Americas. Whatever you call it, visitors agree: This coral-limestone building is magnificent inside and out.

Showcasing elements of Gothic, Baroque and plateresque architectural styles, the Catedral Primada de América still holds Sunday afternoon mass. If you're not interested in services, plan your visit from sometime between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And remember to bring some Dominican pesos since the cathedral costs RD$60 (or about $1.33 USD) for adults to enter. Kids, though, get in free of charge.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Alcázar de Colón Alcázar de Colón

Once the home of Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus' son, this 16th-century viceregal palace (or residence of the governor/viceroy) was the nucleus of the Spanish court for more than 60 years. Inside, you'll find a museum housing an impressive collection of late medieval and Renaissance art. The house itself is also a work of art, featuring Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance touches.

Recent visitors praise this historic property, insisting that a tour of the Alc á zar de Col ó n is a must for anyone who wants to learn more about the city's rich history. And be sure to pick up some headphones to take advantage of the museum's self-guided audio tours. Even though the headphone line can get a bit long on busier days, most travelers note doing this tour is well worth the wait.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Popular Tours

Private Transfer between Santo Domingo Airport and Punta Cana

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Private transfer from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana & Viceversa (one way)

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Full Dominican Adventure: Zipline, ATV Buggie, Horseback & Safari

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Malecon Malecon free

This picturesque part of Santo Domingo is where the new overshadows the old: Nowhere in sight is the crumbling cobblestone of the Zona Colonial ; in its place are shiny waterfront casinos and hotels that sit beside a handful of cafes and nightclubs. Even if your hotel isn't located in this part of town (on George Washington Avenue, southwest of the Zona and parallel to the Avenida Independencia), you should still come down at least once for some sightseeing and gambling, a delicious meal, or a little nighttime merengue and bachata dancing.

Just keep in mind: Though it's by the water, Santo Domingo's Malecon has more of a look-but-don't-touch type of beach. According to some former visitors, the coastline is polluted with all sorts of trash, to the point where a few travelers wonder what the Malecon's appearance says about the country itself. You should also keep your wits about you when moving around at night; this area is prone to pickpockets, according to recent visitors.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Fortaleza Ozama Fortaleza Ozama

The Fortaleza Ozama is the oldest formal standing fort in the Americas — reason alone to swing by for a visit — but travelers also describe it as a great place to learn a bit of local history while snapping photos of Santo Domingo. Built in 1502, the fort served the military interests of Spain, England, France, Haiti, Gran Colombia, the U.S. and, of course, the Dominican Republic until it was decommissioned and reopened for public use in 1970. Once you've soaked up the landmark's rich history and are ready to take in the view, just climb to the top of the coral rock Torre del Homenaje (or Tower of Homage) that stands in the center.

Prior travelers said the views offer the perfect backdrop for top-notch photographs, although some caution that the lack of consistent maintenance leaves this fort looking dirty and uncared for at times.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Los Tres Ojos Los Tres Ojos

For those looking to take a break from the city's rich history, consider exploring Santo Domingo's tranquil Los Tres Ojos (which translates to "The Three Eyes" in English). This national park — which sits about 5 miles east of the Zona Colonial and is best reached by taxi — houses three limestone caverns, each of which features a lake. (Just keep in mind, though, that swimming is not allowed in any of the lakes.) Once inside the caves, you can either explore by foot or by boat (an additional $0.55 USD fee applies).

However, claustrophobic travelers may want to skip a visit to Los Tres Ojos. Although the caverns are quite spacious upon arrival, the deeper you venture into the caves, the more compact they become. Additionally, if you have mobility issues, traversing the entrance's long staircase may be troublesome.

santo domingo tourist beaches

Columbus Lighthouse Columbus Lighthouse

There's a chance that you won't be blown away by the beauty of the Columbus Lighthouse. El Faro a Colón, as the locals call it, is built in the shape of a cross, and some former visitors described it as downright ugly.

Still, this is a historically significant attraction that houses the purported remains of Christopher Columbus. Additionally, travelers can also find various exhibits — like a vehicle once used by a former pope — as well as several libraries. (Much of the interior, though, lies unused.)

santo domingo tourist beaches

Monasterio de San Francisco Monasterio de San Francisco free

During the day, this Zona Colonial ruin isn't much to look at. After all, the Monasterio de San Francisco has been steadily crumbling since a 16th-century demolition squad and a 17th-century earthquake practically decimated it. But your opinion might change when you see how nighttime floodlights illuminate its cracks and crevices. Definitely swing by for a picture or two if you're in the Zona Colonial in the evening.

And if you're into odd history, you may want to make a special visit to this site. Although used mainly as a monestary, after it was rebuilt following a second earthquake in the 18th century, officials decided to convert the space into a mental asylum. Once again, though, Mother Nature intervened (this time in the form of a hurricane), resulting in the mental asylum's closure in the 1930s. To this day, portions of chains used to secure inmates are still visible.

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Half Day Historical Tour of Santo Domingo

(30 reviews)

from $ 89.00

Half Day Excursion Colonial Zone Lighthouse to Colón and Tres Ojos from Santo Domingo

Half Day Excursion Colonial Zone Lighthouse to Colón and Tres Ojos from Santo Domingo

(35 reviews)

from $ 85.00

Historical Tour of Santo Domingo and 3 eyes Caves with Lunch

Historical Tour of Santo Domingo and 3 eyes Caves with Lunch

(12 reviews)

from $ 94.00

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  • Santo Domingo Real Estate

The Caribbean's First City!

  • Colonial Zone
  • Cathedral and Churches
  • Streets, Squares, Ruins and Monuments
  • Museums and Historic Buildings
  • Parks and Gardens
  • Santo Domingo City Hotels
  • Colonial Zone Hotels
  • Juan Dolio Beach
  • Boca Chica Beach
  • Santo Domingo City Restaurants
  • Colonial Zone Restaurants
  • Dance Clubs
  • Emergencies
  • Money and Tipping
  • Safety and Health Concerns
  • Santo Domingo Maps
  • Shopping Malls


One-day itinerary – explore the colonial zone.

If you only have one day in Santo Domingo, visit the Colonial Zone. This is where most tourists spend their time, and with good reason. The area boasts many of the “firsts” in the new world: the first cathedral, the first paved street, the first university, and much more.

Two-Day Itinerary – Explore more of the city

On your first day in Santo Domingo, explore the Colonial Zone as described in the One-Day Itinerary above. On the second day, spend at least half of the day visiting modern Santo Domingo. Depending on your interests, there are many options to choose from.

Three-Day Itinerary – Explore the surrounding area

Four days or more – explore more of the country.

Santo Domingo Travel Guide

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SANTO DOMINGO is the biggest and most interesting city in the country, with impressive historic and cultural sites that make an arresting counterpoint to the beaches. Most visitors therefore make a beeline for the Zona Colonial , the city’s substantial colonial district, with dozens of wonderful old buildings and a dramatic setting right on the Río Ozama. In fact, many never bother to venture outside this neighbourhood, but while it obviously merits the most attention there’s plenty more to see and do. As you might expect, the capital also has the country’s best restaurants and nightlife and serves as its cultural centre, with two wonderful museums, the Museo del Hombre Dominicano and Museo Prehispánico , dedicated to preserving the artefacts of the Taino civilization that thrived here before Columbus; the Museo de Arte Moderno ’s display of contemporary Dominican visual art; and a thriving music scene that focuses on the down-and-dirty merengue, bachata and son played in the clubs.

Around Santo Domingo

Dominican syncretism, drinking, nightlife and entertainment, jardín botánico, los tres ojos, february 27, last two weeks of march, variable (usually in april), seven weeks after semana santa, first sunday before june 13, last two weeks of july, september 15–24, september 29, shops and galleries, sports and other activities, the centro olímpico, the malecón, the plaza de la cultura, the zona colonial.

Santo Domingo’s night activity is centred on its Malecón – a breezy, palm-lined promenade that runs parallel with the Caribbean Sea – and there are plenty more places to party further inland. Modern Santo Domingo also hides some open spaces offering relief from the gridlock, including the expansive botanical gardens , the wooded sports complex Centro Olímpico and a set of tropical cave lagoons called Los Tres Ojos . If visiting in winter, check out the spirited professional baseball games of Santo Domingo’s two teams, Licey and Escogido, at Estadio Quisqueya.

Brief history

The Río Haina, which borders Santo Domingo to the west, was once the site of a Taino village discovered by Spaniard Miguel Díaz, who fled Columbus’s first settlement, La Isabela, after stabbing a fellow colonist in a drunken brawl. Locals gave him a gold nugget found near the river, which he brought back to the Spanish outpost where Christopher’s brother Bartolomé Columbus was in charge while his brother was in Spain. The La Isabela outpost had been a complete disaster and most colonists who hadn’t already died of yellow fever had mutinied and abandoned the town. Spurred on, however, by dreams of gold, Bartolomé set sail with his remaining men in 1496 to establish a colony on the eastern bank of the Ozama. When Columbus returned in 1498, he took command of the new town, but had trouble controlling the colonists and was recalled by Spain two years later. His replacement, Nicolás de Ovando , moved the city to the western bank and began the monumental stone construction that remains to this day, work that was continued by Columbus’s son Diego when he took over in 1509. During their rule the city was a satellite capital of Spanish possessions, from which conquistadors set out to colonize and rule the rest of the Caribbean and the American mainland.

Once Spain found greater wealth in the silver mines of Mexico and Peru, Santo Domingo’s power and influence quickly eroded. An earthquake in 1562 destroyed much of the town and in 1586 Sir Francis Drake captured Santo Domingo, looted it and burned it down. Once rebuilt, the city failed to regain its strategic relevance and instead became subject to more attacks by the British and French over the next century until finally, in 1801, Haitian Touissant L’Ouverture took it without a fight. A succession of short-lived occupations followed, including the French in 1802, the British in 1803, the French again in 1804, the British again in 1809 and the Spaniards in the same year. By the time this spate of invasions was over, the city was economically devastated.

A much longer occupation was to follow – the Haitian domination from 1822 to 1843. They quickly alienated the Dominicans by implementing a land reform programme that robbed the Church and many wealthy white colonists of most of their land. As a result, Spanish merchants in the capital joined with the Catholic hierarchy to form the Trinitarian movement – named for its three leaders, the “Trinity” of Duarte, Mella and Sánchez – that led to independence after a long partisan war. But self-determination immediately devolved into internal strife as the city was besieged and captured again and again by competing Dominican caudillos , a cycle that ended only with the brutal regime of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo , who renamed the capital Ciudad Trujillo in 1936 (though it was changed back immediately on his death in 1961) and transformed it from a mere administrative capital to the national centre of shipping and industry. A military coup and American invasion in 1965 were the last major battles to take place here, during which the Americans cordoned off the city along avenidas Mella and Independencia; the pro-democracy demonstrators were kept in check within it, while the Dominican military controlled the territory outside it and butchered hundreds of their enemies. Since then, industrialization and urban migration have forced the city outwards and, though the last forty years have been the longest stretch of peace Santo Domingo has seen in two centuries, the tough living conditions of many inhabitants make it less than idyllic.

Top image: Historic City Center Plaza with Skyline of Colonial Buildings and Church (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) © Daniel Andis/Shutterstock

There’s a wide variety of accommodation in the city, but budget rooms in decent neighbourhoods are hard to come by. Most expensive are the high-rises along the Malecón , which offer great rooms and decent service, though the restaurants attached are generally sub-par; prices here are typically US$50 cheaper on weekends, when there are fewer business travellers. Given the exorbitant rate at these hotels, you should demand a room with an ocean view; initial protestations that they’re all booked are best treated with a dose of scepticism. If you’ve got this kind of budget, though, the smaller luxury pensiones tucked away in the Zona Colonial , some of them in sixteenth-century mansions, are really worth considering.

The Zona Colonial also has a few mid-range options, but keep in mind that they’re set amid the centre of city activity and thus can get a bit noisy at night. If you want peace and quiet at a more reasonable rate, head to one of the small hotels in residential Gazcue , all of which come with hot water, TV and optional air conditioning. Be sure to see your bed before paying for it; room quality can vary widely within a single establishment. There are also plenty of less expensive, basic rooms available in the shopping district around Avenida Duarte, but that neighbourhood gets very dicey at night. Wherever you go, you may want to check that your hotel has a generator that provides power during the frequent city blackouts and that the management is willing to run it 24 hours a day.

Beyond the belt of industrial barrios that encases Santo Domingo are a variety of day-trips within easy striking distance, none of them on a list of top must-dos, but good diversions nevertheless. History buffs will enjoy scavenging the western barrios for the impressive bits of colonial architecture that still stand, mostly in the form of the substantial ruins of four separate sixteenth-century sugar mills . You’ll need your own wheels to get there, though, tucked away as they are in relatively out-of-the-way places. Those looking for a slice of Caribbean beach life should head to Boca Chica , an overcrowded resort town 10km east of the airport, about halfway between Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macorís; you might do better continuing along the highway to Juan Dolio , where there is more beachfront albeit dominated by all-inclusive hotels and its sister town Guayacanes , with its great beaches and lack of tourist development.

BOCA CHICA , 25km east of Santo Domingo, curves along a small bay protected by shoals, with wonderfully transparent Caribbean water lapping at a long line of beach shacks serving excellent food. It used to be one of the island’s prime swimming spots, but the town that surrounds it has unfortunately become so crowded with freelance guides, sex workers and persistent touts that it’s impossible to walk more than a few feet without being accosted by some enterprising individual hell-bent on attaching themselves to you for the duration of your stay.

On weekends the beach is jam-packed with thousands of day-tripping city-dwellers swimming in the sea and dancing to a cacophony of car stereos – which does make for an unforgettable beach party scene. At night, after the Dominicans leave, it devolves into little more than a gringo brothel. Sitting on the beach is the main attraction and the waters are low and calm enough to walk out to the bird-inhabited mangrove island La Matica just off shore. If you tire of swimming and sunbathing, you could opt for a more rigorous activity like scuba diving . Regular trips are led by Caribbean Divers at Duarte 28 ( t 854-3483, w ; US$30–65), a PADI- and PDIC-certified outfit. Dives head out to La Caleta Submarine National Park , a protected nearby coral reef at the bottom of which lie two sunken ships: the Hickory , once a treasure-hunting ship that salvaged two Spanish shipwrecks but now home to thousands of tropical sea creatures; and a bizarre-looking vehicle called “The UFO”, which is touted on the tour as being potentially extraterrestrial, but in fact is an old oil rig. Other diving excursions go to the waters off Bayahibe, Isla Catalina and a cave dive near Santo Domingo; they also do deep-sea fishing excursions and watersports such as sailing, surfing and snorkelling.

Juan Dolio and Guayacanes

Just east past Boca Chica begins a 25km-long stretch of rocky coast that holds a strip of holiday homes and all-inclusives collectively referred to as JUAN DOLIO . This package resort area was created in response to the wild success of Playa Dorada in the early 1980s, but has never quite matched its northern rival. There has been some recent investment in the area and although a couple of new resorts are the equal of any all-inclusives in the country, the quality of the beach lets the side down. Though the sand here is perfectly acceptable, the expanse of dead coral under the water makes swimming and walking in the water uncomfortable, and the private hotel beaches are isolated, small pockets of sand – simply no match for what you’ll find further east at Punta Cana and Bávaro. The sands are significantly more appealing in the nearby hamlet of GUAYACANES , Juan Dolio’s next-door neighbour, with two nice beaches and one of the best restaurants on the island.

Juan Dolio does have a few advantages over its regional competitors. There’s none of the large-scale harassment of Boca Chica and wandering around the strip is relatively hassle-free. Unlike Bávaro, there are a number of quality restaurants and budget hotels geared towards independent travellers , the nightlife is good and the strip is still in shouting distance of Santo Domingo.

If you’re up for some out-of-the-way natural beauty, head 3km further west of Guayacanes (the spot is marked by a highway overpass on your right) and you’ll find a long-abandoned beach home with a natural swimming pool that was carved into the rock by its former owners. It’s perfectly safe to swim in the pool, which has rough-hewn steps leading into it from the ground and from here you can look out onto the Caribbean crashing against high, jagged cliffs.

The sugar mill ruins

Of the four colonial ruins that lie hidden among the rambling, semi-rural barrios west of the city (and nearly impossible to reach via public transport), a couple are particularly worth seeking out. West of barrio Manoguayabo, the ruins of the grand Palavé manor , a typical sixteenth-century sugar hacienda, are the best maintained of the bunch. Named Palais Bel during Haitian rule, its masonry and brick facade were restored in the 1970s and still boast bits of the old Andalucian whitewash and a prominent parapet. Three Romanesque portals lead into the large, central room; the beam above the doorways once supported a second-floor balcony. The easiest way to get there is to take the Autopista Duarte and turn left at the Manoguayabo turnoff. Just past the town, take the right-hand fork in the road and head 3km beyond Hato Nuevo to the village Buena Noche; a left at the kerosene station leads 100m to the ruins.

The extensive remains of another sugar mill, Engombe , on the Río Haina, are overgrown with weeds. Mentioned by Oviedo in his 1534 History of the Indies as the colony’s leading mill, the manor and adjoining chapel are for the most part still intact. The mansion’s militaristic, rectangular facade was originally fortified to protect against slave rebellion – here and there along the wall you’ll see foundations of the spiked limestone barrier. The double Romanesque portals on both floors lead to the open main room, which is connected to two galleries and an interior staircase that now leads to nowhere. Beside the house is the large chapel with two frames – a polygonal apse and a leaning sacristy. A brief spate of renovation by Santo Domingo’s Catholic University in 1963 restored its original Moorish tiled roof, but the buildings have since fallen back into neglect. Fifty metres further down the road you’ll find the scattered ruins of the slave barracks and the mill in a family’s garden. The easiest way to Engombe is to take the Carretera San Cristóbal west from Santo Domingo and make a right turn on an unmarked dirt turnoff just before the Río Haina (for which you’ll have to keep a very careful eye out), then a left at the fork in the road.

Syncretic religion – the mixing of European and African religions in South America and the Caribbean – is very much a part of Dominican culture, though Eurocentrism and official disfavour make it an object of shame. Cousin to Haitian Voodoo, it came about during the colonial era, when European Christianity was imposed on African slaves from the Congo and West Africa; the slaves mixed Catholicism, along with elements from European paganism, freemasonry and Taino religion, with their own belief system. Over time, various Christian saints came to be linked to deities imported from Africa, allowing the slaves to practise their religion in peace. St Patrick, for example, was the equivalent of Damballa, a powerful Dominican Vodú deity, because both were associated with snakes; St Elias was identified with Samedi, guardian of the cemetery; while St John the Baptist’s association with water has connected him to Chango, Dahomeyan god of the ocean, lightning and tempests.

Vodú practice involves private ceremonies using large altars covered with depictions of saints, offertory candles, plastic cups of rum and numerous crosses honouring the gedes , bawdy cemetery spirits known to spout lascivious songs when they possess humans. Possession is an integral part of Vodú ceremonies, both by saints and the spirits of dead Taino warriors. You’ll see Vodú paraphernalia, including love potions, spray cans that impart good luck in the lottery and Catholic icons at the many botánicas throughout the country. For more intractable problems, followers will consult a brujo , or spiritual medium, who offers herbal healing remedies and acts as a go-between in barter deals made with the saints; in exchange for good health, for example, you might trade daily prayers for a year, a week-long pilgrimage to Higüey on foot, or a direct cash payment to the brujo .

All the aspects of Dominican syncretism can be witnessed at the fiestas patronales . These festivals vary quite a bit in the amount of folk religion they exhibit (some have had most of the religion leeched out of them). In Nigua, 12km west of Santo Domingo, you may also stumble onto a rosario , a penitent procession entreating the Virgin of Altagracia in times of drought or distress, with townsfolk marching behind the banner of their patron saint, singing folk songs structured in the manner of the Catholic “Hail Mary” (sung fifty times each in three sessions) and playing tambourines and drums; some devotees carry boulders on their head as an act of penance.

Santo Domingo’s Malecón is the traditional focus of nightlife ; along with some of the city’s finest dancehalls, the promenade is crowded with outdoor restaurants and food shacks that slowly start getting crowded around 10pm and stay open into the early hours of the morning. Less known to outsiders are the nightclubs along Avenida Venezuela 1km east of the Río Ozama and Avenida Abraham Lincoln north of 27 de Febrero, easily the most popular clubs with locals but a bit intimidating for foreigners. In addition to the discos listed below, Avenida Venezuela boasts a host of smaller beer halls, pool halls and colmados that attract huge crowds nightly. There are also several clubs across the city that specialize in son – a slow, melodious Cuban groove with acoustic guitars and percussion that many Dominicans claim was born here – long popular and enjoying unprecedented respectability, highlighted by a citywide festival in March.

Keep in mind, though, that in 2007 due to an increase in night-time crime across the country, a strict curfew on drinking was imposed that shut all bars and dancehalls down at 11pm every night. These restrictions had the desired effect of lowering the crime rate significantly and have since been informally relaxed to the point where you can expect bars to stay open until 2am on most nights.

For some informal Dominican entertainment, check out the merengue périco ripao bands that wander the crowded colmados along Avenida Duarte in the early evening. A popular tradition with the local middle class is open bars , where the drinks are free once you pay the cover charge; check the Spanish-language website w for open bars across the city.

There are several Spanish-language websites devoted exclusively to covering the latest events in Santo Domingo nightlife; particularly well worth checking out before you arrive is .

Bars and cafés

The Zona Colonial is the place for bar-hopping: at night the ruins are particularly atmospheric and dotted around them are a variety of working-class neighbourhood joints, jazz bars and slick clubs. The other major centre of activity is the Plaza Central shopping district in Arroyo Hondo , where most wealthy young Dominicans hang out. It’s counter-intuitive, but the busiest night for heading out to these bars is Monday, perhaps because locals need to fortify themselves in the face of a new week at work. The Malecón also has a number of popular informal shacks, with a few chairs and tables, that sell booze to the sound of blaring merengue.

Discos and live music

Weekends see plenty of activity, but the busiest night for local clubs is Monday, when most are booked with big-name acts; street-side banners across the city advertise any notable concert, which will raise the cover charge by RD$200.

Gay clubs and bars

Gay clubs come and go in Santo Domingo so it’s often best to check in first at Friends for information on the current scene, or take a look at Keep in mind you’ll be accosted by local hustlers in most places. Male clubs are often a target for assault; unfortunately, it’s safest to arrive and depart by taxi.

Most Santo Domingo cinemas focus on first-run American action flicks, which hit the screens at the same time as they do in the States; unfortunately, almost every theatre in the city shows the same two or three Hollywood blockbusters. You’ll be able to check at the ticket booth whether the film is in English with Spanish subtitles or dubbed. Either way, expect the audience to be as much a part of the show as the movie – locals often derive most of their pleasure from making fun of the action on screen.

Dining options in the capital range from the small family comedores and pica pollos present in every neighbourhood to gourmet restaurants with ethnic cuisines as diverse as Basque, North African and Japanese. At the more expensive restaurants, expect to spend about US$25–40 including tax and tip (but not drinks); phone numbers are given in the listings below where reservations may be necessary. Gazcue is the city’s top restaurant district, but there are plenty of great places within the Zona Colonial and in the smarter parts of the Arroyo Hondo district as well. Much cheaper fare can be found in the many informal food shacks and stands that dot the Malecón, where you’ll be able to pick up pulled-pork sandwiches, grilled chicken with rice and beans or a burger for as little as RD$60.

There are plenty of good grocery stores spread throughout town, including Nacional, 27 de Febrero and Lopé de Vega; Supermercado Casa Pérez, Arz. Nouel and Hincado; and Supermercado Olé, Av Duarte 194. Otherwise, you can get basic food supplies and cooking ingredients at the numerous small colmados spread throughout the city.

The botanical gardens, on Av Jardín Botánico and Los Próceres (daily 9am–6pm; RD$50;, has samples of flora from every part of the island, a pavilion with three hundred types of orchid (most endemic) and greenhouses for bromeliads and aquatic plants. Less indigenous but quite striking is the manicured Japanese garden with a maze of shrubs and a pagoda with shaded benches beside a babbling brook. An RD$15 train ride will take you through the length of the park with a stop-off at some of the highlights, but it’s far more pleasant to wander about the grounds at your leisure.

El Faro , the controversial Columbus Lighthouse (Tues–Sun 9.30am– 5.30pm; RD$100; 591 1492), towers over the western end of Parque Mirador del Este , a pleasant stretch of manicured woodlands spanning the length of the barrios east of the Ozama. At the park’s far eastern tip is a series of large caves dotted with freshwater lagoons. Known as Los Tres Ojos , or “The Three Eyes” (daily 9am–5pm; RD$25), the caves were used by the Tainos for religious ceremonies; more recently they’ve been the setting for no less than six Tarzan movies. Walkways lead you to three of the lagoons and a manually powered pulley conducts a ferry to a fourth.

Carnival Partying, live music and elaborate costumes along El Conde and the Malecón every Sunday, especially the last of the month. Expect to be pelted with inflated sheep bladders and balloons.

Independence Day A citywide celebration on the final day of Carnival, with a raucous re-enactment of the Trinitarians’ 1844 torch-lit march to El Conde, to the tune of the 1812 Overture , accompanied by live cannon. Afterwards, head to Puerta San Diego where you’ll hear big-name merengue acts.

Son Festival Dozens of events celebrating this popular Cuban musical form that many Dominicans claim as their own. Mesón de Bari posts a list of all events on its wall in early February.

Semana Santa In Haina, on the city’s western outskirts, you’ll find a Hispanicized version of the Haitian Semana Santa festivities also found in the bateyes . On the morning of Ash Wednesday, go to the Zona Colonial’s Iglesia del Carmen, where a statue of Christ is paraded through the streets, serenaded and draped in money.

Espíritu Santo A full week of religious processions and conga drums in Villa Mella, certainly the most spirited and visually interesting of the local festivals.

San Antonio Large, culturally authentic festival in the rural northern suburb of Yamasá. The Hermanos Guillen pump a lot of money into this festival (including free food and drink for everyone) with the purpose of preserving traditional rural Dominican musical forms gagá , gajumbe and bambulá .

Merengue Festival Loud outdoor concerts on the Malecón by big-name merengueros , plus traditional accordion merengue groups performing at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and merengue-based “folklore” shows at the National Theatre that feature the Vodú -based palos musicians of Villa Mella with the National Folklore Ballet.

Virgen de las Mercedes Syncretic religious ceremony and neighbourhood street party in Mata Los Indios near Villa Mella. Famous for its African-style drumming and music.

San Miguel Fiesta patronal in honour of one of the country’s most important saints, celebrated in Villa Mella and the Zona Colonial’s barrio San Miguel. A large procession carries an effigy of the saint accompanied by drums and gagá band.

Fiesta Oriental The eastern side of the city had the first recorded Dominican Carnival (1520) and in recent years the Zona Oriental now finally has its share of festivities again. This massive Carnival in honour of the barrios east of the Ozama is heavier on the African syncretic elements of Dominican culture than the February event, including traditional local dances like the mandinga and bailan pri-pri , as well as guloya performances from the Cocolos of San Pedro. Runs the length of Av Venezuela and ends up in Parque Mirador del Este.

High-end boutiques and shopping plazas spread outward from the Plaza Central at 27 de Febrero and Troncoso, marking the city’s main shopping district. More tourist-oriented shops can be found along El Conde in the Zona Colonial, which is also home to the city’s best bookstores . Most Dominicans shop for clothing and electronics at the budget stores that line Avenida Duarte , especially La Sirena, Mella 258 and Duarte, which has inexpensive counterfeit designer clothes purchased en masse at the markets along the Haitian border. Art galleries are spread throughout the city; of special note is Galería Elín, the outstanding Haitian art gallery in the Zona Colonial. Hours for stores and shops in Santo Domingo are typically Mon–Sat 9.30am–noon and 2.30–5.30pm. Most (though not all) are closed on Sunday.

Baseball is the most exciting spectator sport in Santo Domingo. Two separate professional teams, Licey and Escogido , play in the winter professional league between mid-November and early February; games are at Estadio Quisqueya, Máximo Gómez and Kennedy. Tickets are generally available on the night of the game, or you can purchase in advance on Wednesday for the weekly Sunday games at locations across the island – see local newspapers for up-to-date ticket purchasing locations. Though more and more Dominican major-leaguers are opting out of the winter season, you’ll still find a few famous Dominican players along with some of America’s top minor-league prospects.

Most foreign visitors find cockfighting , the other local obsession, less easy to stomach, but it’s a central part of Dominican culture. The city’s grand Coliséo Gallístico , Zona Industrial Herrera, Av Luperón just south of the Autopista Duarte, practically transforms this traditionally rural pastime into something of an upper-class diversion; indeed, semi-formal dress is required. There are plenty of other, smaller venues spread across the city’s outer barrios, but this is by far the best place for visitors to come.

Finally, the entire city is dotted with pool halls . The best places to shoot a few games are the second-floor halls that you’ll find along El Conde – though as with most male-dominated Dominican hangouts, the atmosphere is hyper-macho.

Head north on Máximo Gómez from the Plaza de la Cultura to visit the Centro Olímpico on Avenida Kennedy and Máximo Gómez, a wooded public park with basketball and tennis courts, Olympic swimming pool, pavilions for gymnastics and volleyball and three baseball fields that are heavily scouted by America’s Major Leagues. Only Dominican citizens are supposed to use the facilities, but you’re unlikely to be challenged except at the pool.

The capital’s famous oceanfront promenade, known as both the Malecón and Avenida George Washington, is best enjoyed on Sundays, when all motorized vehicles are banned and it becomes a broad pedestrian-only thoroughfare. It starts within the Zona Colonial at the large industrial port at the mouth of the Río Ozama, where an intact section of the old city wall follows it for 100m to the seventeenth-century San José Fort , built on a strategic oceanfront promontory after an attempted invasion by the British in 1655. The cannon that remain appear to point across the street at a 50m-high statue of Fray Montesino , a sixteenth-century priest who preached against the Taino genocide, his legendary rage manifested in the flame-like spikes of his hair. This section of the boardwalk is extremely popular at night, with massive crowds and live music on weekends at the commercial port below Puerta San Diego and a lively crowd at D’Luis Parrillada , an outdoor restaurant with dancing at night right next to the Montesino statue.

Well west of the Zona Colonial and north of the Malecón is rambling, tree-shaded Gazcue , the city’s prettiest residential district, a mostly middle-class neighbourhood highlighted by the Plaza de la Cultura , Máximo Gómez and Ureña, a complex of four museums alongside the National Theatre and Library. While southern Gazcue is in easy walking distance of Parque Independencia and the Zone, the Plaza is far enough away that you’ll need a taxi or a guagua to get there.

Museo de Arte Moderno

Of the museums in the Plaza de la Cultura, the first stop should be the Museo de Arte Moderno (Tues–Sun 10am–6pm; RD$20; 685 2154), four storeys dedicated to modernist and post-modern Dominican art, with a magnificent permanent collection on the second and third floors, temporary exhibits on the first and fourth and installation art in the basement. At times the assemblage can seem a bit random, exacerbated by the frequent rotation of pieces within the museum space, but certain themes, like a reliance on Taino influences, can be spotted. Notable in this regard is Clara Ledesma’s Casetas, in the first floor’s first room, in which Taino-rendered campesinos peek out of a colmado and several mud huts at two gringo tourists lying on the beach.

The next room holds the arresting El sacrificio del chivo, Elegio Pichardo’s dark depiction of a family meal that interprets the everyday ritual of dinner as a pagan rite – note the shrunken head in the hand of the child as he waits for the mother to carve the goat. The third room is dominated by another piece incorporating native art, Junior Mendoza’s Ritual de Iniciación, a mixed-media burlap canvas with a malevolent Taino head – half-painted, half-stitched together with bone and shell fragments – surrounded by nails with a circle of straw dolls tied to them by rope. Equally disturbing is the borrowed Roman Catholic iconography of Rincón Mora’s Rito in the fourth room, his blood-smeared Christ peering through a glass window with smouldering red eyes.

The most highly regarded proponent of a more pastoral strain in modern Dominican art is Candido Bidó, whose stylized idealizations of campesino life have won international acclaim. Bidó’s father was a Carnival mask maker in Bonao – the influence is apparent in the faces with hollowed-out eyes, straight noses and exaggerated lips. The museum owns six Bidós, all of them in the second floor’s fifth room, including his most famous, El Paseo a las 10am, a painting of a Dominican woman in a sunhat with a handful of flowers. The pigeon fluttering by her side is a typical Bidó gesture, as is the use of colour: his serene, distinctive world contains a generous application of indigo blue and almost no green, with yellow fields, black mountains and the sun surrounded by a subduing, dark cyst.

Climb to the second floor to get a look at Alberto Bajo’s La Vida del Domini- cano en Nueva York, an enormous triptych in the fourth room depicting a family divided by American immigration. The first panel is of a sleepy Dominican fishing village, the second of the emigrant’s cramped Manhattan apartment (with a letter home in the typewriter) and the third of the alien, neon rumble of Times Square. Around the corner in the fifth room are Frank Almayar’s Composición Gráfico de Duarte, a dot-matrix Warhol rip-off that draws attention to the country’s unreflecting obsession with the image of its liberator and Silvano Lora’s Flor Endemica, a mixed-media commentary on the bombed-out urban environment that many of the country’s children live in. Lora is known locally as an outspoken defender of the oppressed – in 1992, when replicas of Columbus’s three ships tried to dock in Santo Domingo in honour of the 500th anniversary of his voyage, Lora dressed up like a Taino, paddled out to the boats in a canoe and fired arrows at them until his vessel was capsized by the Coast Guard.

Museo del Hombre Dominicano

The Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; RD$50; English language guide RD$50; 687 3622) holds an extraordinary collection of Taino artefacts and an anthropological exhibit on Dominican fiestas patronales. The ground floor is mostly concerned with the gift shop, but does display a dozen stone obelisks and Taino burial mounds found near Boca Chica in the 1970s. The first floor is office space; the second floor consists of one large room bearing display cases of Taino sculpture, beginning with seated human figures and cemis – small stone idols that stood in for the gods during rituals, possessing large, inward- spiralling eyes and flared nostrils. Further down the room is an extensive collection of flints, hatchets and stone spearheads, which can be scanned over before passing to the two cases bearing beautiful animal sculptures and ceremonial daggers. At the far end of the room you’ll find jewellery with incredibly intricate carvings made from coral, tooth, stone and conch shell, a case filled with spectacularly nasty-looking death heads and a few examples of the artwork created by the Tainos’ ancestors in the Amazon basin.

The third floor moves to Dominican culture after Columbus, with emphasis on the African influence. The first room focuses on the slave trade; the next room is taken up by a comparison of the rural dwellings of African peasants and Dominican campesinos. These are followed by a terrific exhibition on syncretist religious practices in the DR, including photographs of various rural fiestas patro- nales and a Dominican Vodú altar, with Catholic iconography standing in for African gods, votive candles and a sacrifice of cigarettes, a chicken and a bottle of rum. From here walk past the display of local musical instruments that originated in Africa to three large glass cases depicting costumed Carnival celebrations in Monte Cristi, La Vega and Santo Domingo.

Museo Prehispánico

The Museo Prehispánico , San Martín 179 and Lopé de Vega (Mon–Fri 9am–5pm; free), is a private collection of Taino artefacts housed in a large room within the Pepsi-Cola corporate building, rivalling the display at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Gazcue. At the entrance are a few Venezuelan pieces (the Tainos’ ancestral home) to provide historical context, a prelude to the fossil- ized mastodon and armadillo remains, animals the natives hunted to extinction on the island. Further on stand display cases outlining the history of indigenous ceramics, followed by intricate tooth and bone sculptures used in necklaces – one is so small you need a magnifying glass to see the carving. At the far end of the room you’ll see jewellery made from conch shells, coral, teeth and clay, before turning left to the opposite end of the room for a view of an intact wooden duho – a chair carved with the face of a Taino god, used by caciques as a throne during religious ceremonies. Along the wall beside it is a collection of clay animals that represented various deities, including a dozen frogs, a few turtles, a crocodile and two owls, which were believed to ferry souls to the afterlife. The exhibit turns to more practical items as you double back towards the entrance, but the intricate ornamentation on the pots, cassava grinders and ceremonial axeheads keeps your attention from flagging. Especially arresting is the jet-black monolith of a Taino deity with an ostentatious phallus – originally meant to guard the entrance to a cave.

The Zona Colonial – a square-shaped district straddling the western mouth of the Río Ozama and encircled by the ruins of the original city walls – is crammed with monumental architecture, and yet it’s very much a living neighbourhood, thanks to the trendy cafés, local bars and rows of clapboard houses where thousands of people live and work. A multimillion-dollar renovation, begun in the 1970s in preparation for the Columbus Centenary, has brought a number of the historic buildings back to their original state, giving you a real sense of how the city looked when first developed and the piecemeal renovation continues as new businesses occupy the stone mansions and set up shop. Many of the important monuments can be seen in a single day if you keep to a brisk pace, although thorough exploration requires at least two or three. Chances are that you’ll pass through the district nearly every day while in town, since it holds many of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Wandering about you’ll no doubt be accosted by freelance guides, who are generally very friendly and sometimes quite knowledgeable; if you tell them you don’t want assistance ( no gracias ) they’ll leave you in peace.

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2 Days in Santo Domingo — Sample Itinerary + Travel Guide

By: Author Emily

Posted on Last updated: January 26, 2024

We recently spent a long weekend in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The city is jam packed with history, as you would expect from the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas. In this post, we share what Santo Domingo is like, what there is to do there, and how you can plan a perfect trip to this Caribbean capital. Read on to learn more about planning a trip to Santo Domingo!

santo domingo tourist beaches

In this post

Here’s what we’re covering in this post. We invite you to read the full guide or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.

About Santo Domingo

Planning a trip to santo domingo.

  • Things to do in Santo Domingo
  • 2-day Santo Domingo Itinerary

Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. It’s located on the south side of Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Santo Domingo was the first European settlement in the Americas. Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492, and it was colonized by the Spanish shortly after. His son Diego arrived as Viceroy in 1509 and built the first European palace and military construction in the Americas.

Santo Domingo was strategically built on a grid, with roads running parallel to each other and crossing at perpendicular intersections. This grid system would become the model for most future cities in the New World. Many cities today continue to use the grid system (including Chicago as a famous example ).

Later, in the 1700-1800s, the city changed hands from Spain to France to Haiti. The Dominican Republic achieved independence in 1844 and Santo Domingo named the capital city.

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The central district of Santo Domingo, which was once protected by the Walls of Santo Domingo, is now called Zona Colonial. It has been a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Zona Colonial is the main tourist district in Santo Domingo. In addition to many historical sites and museums, the area is also now home to modern comforts like bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

The city extends far beyond Zona Colonial, though, with a metro area population of over 3 million people.

What is it like to visit Santo Domingo? (Zona Colonial specifically)

Santo Domingo is a Spanish Colonial town filled with history and culture. A trip to Santo Domingo will be spent walking past centuries-old buildings, popping into many different small museums and people watching in lively squares. It is a historic, city destination, not to be confused with the sandy beaches of nearby resort towns like Punta Cana.

Zona Colonial — the historical district — feels vibrant but lived in. There are colorful buildings dripping with bougainvillea, but mixed in with that are crumbling apartment buildings and hole-in-the-wall bodegas. You’ll see the beautifully preserved sections of the city walls at Ozama Fortress, but then you’ll walk along the city wall at Plaza de la Hispanida and mostly find broken beer bottles. That dichotomy creates the feeling of a city that has grit and charm all at once.

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While Zona Colonial is not as manicured as Cartagena’s old town, that’s where my mind went for comparison. Both are formerly walled cities with similar architecture and culture. The energy, lifestyle and even weather felt similar in both places.

As you walk down the bumpy sidewalks, you’ll see locals sitting in lawn chairs on sidewalks outside their homes or corner markets, drinking beer and listening to loud music. The parks and squares are filled with kids chasing pigeons, sales people hawking light up toys and guitar players trying to entertain diners for tips.

There’s a palpable easiness about Santo Domingo — a lack of hustle that I admire. We’re from New York, where it feels like people are always trying to get somewhere. But in Santo Domingo, it feels like everyone — tourists and locals — are enjoying where they are.

There is also very little English in Santo Domingo. Our hotel staff spoke English, but nearly everyone else we talked to did not. Most signs and menus were only in Spanish. If you do speak Spanish, the Spanish spoken in Santo Domingo is quite different than other Spanish dialects.

Let’s jump into planning at trip to Santo Domingo. Here’s the practical information you’ll need to know to book your trip.

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Visa Requirements

Travelers from most countries (including the US, Canada, Great Britain and the EU) do not require a visa for visits less than 30 days. All that is required is a valid passport and a “Tourist Card,” which is essentially a $10 fee that will most likely be tacked onto your airfare.

In addition to the Tourist Card, all visitors (regardless of age) will need an eTicket. The eTicket is a digital form that you fill out online before your trip. (You can find more information and a link to the form here .)

Once you submit the completed form, you will immediately receive a QR code. You should be prepared to display your QR code when you enter and leave the country. In our experience, we were only asked to show the code one time in the US before we boarded our flight to Santo Domingo.

How to get to Santo Domingo

To get to Santo Domingo, you will need to fly to Las Américas International Airport (SDQ). The airport serves around 30 different international airlines, including many major US (JetBlue, Delta, United Airlines), European (AirFrance, Iberia) and Central/South American (Avianca, Copa) airlines. (Just to name a few.)

The airport is also a hub for a few Dominican airlines (including Arajet and Sky High), which operate flights across the Dominican Republic and surrounding islands.

We chose to fly JetBlue out of JFK. As the largest operating airline at Las Américas International Airport, it’s no surprise that they had the best times and ticket prices. We have flown JetBlue with a toddler a handful of times, so we knew what to expect.

For our flight from JFK to SDQ, we booked three regular economy seats. Our flight was early and we live in Queens, so we spent a night at TWA Hotel the night before. The flight was fine, but when we saw that there was a full row of JetBlue Even More Space seats available on our return flight, we took the bait. We used our Ritz Visa credit card and were able to use our travel credit to pay for the upgrade.

Delta Comfort Plus would have been another good option for a similar seat upgrade and price point.

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Where to stay in Santo Domingo

We recommend staying in Zona Colonial. This is where most of the sites and museums are located and it has the densest concentration of hotels, bars, restaurants and other amenities. For a quick reference point, that’s going to include the area between Independence Park, Plaza de la Hispanidad and the water.

We personally stayed at Casas del XVI , which is one of the more luxurious accommodations in the area. While we enjoyed our stay at this hotel, we definitely had a few complaints, so we can’t say it was necessarily worth the splurge.

For a look at some other hotel and accommodation options, we found this guide really helpful.

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How long to stay in Santo Domingo

Two full days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Santo Domingo. Zona Colonial has a lot of little things to do, so you can actually fit in a lot over a short period of time. With two full days, plus travel days on either side, we were able to see and do everything we wanted to.

If you’re traveling from fairly close by (flight times under 4 hours or so), Santo Domingo is a great option for a long weekend. If you have more time or are traveling from a further distance, we suggest pairing a few days in Santo Domingo with a few days at a resort. Punta Cana is a popular Dominican option. If you were flying anyway, though, you may want to consider Puerto Rico or Jamaica, too.

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When to go to Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo has a tropical climate, meaning it’s warm and sunny most of the year. Temperatures typically hover around the 70s and 80s F, with summers being slightly warmer and rainier.

The Dominican Republic as a whole is hurricane prone, but Santo Domingo specifically is rarely directly hit. Hurricane season falls between June and October, with the risk peaking in late August and early September.

The most popular tourism season in Santo Domingo is between November to March. That also aligns with winter in the northern hemisphere, which has people itching for a Caribbean getaway.

So when should you go to Santo Domingo? We’d recommend visiting in January or February. It is peak tourism season, but the crowds aren’t really an issue. If anything, the higher crowds will add to the experience. If you’re looking to save money on your hotel stay though, consider shoulder season in April/May or October/November.

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Getting to Zona Colonial from the airport

To get from the airport to Zona Colonial (or anywhere in Santo Domingo), take an Uber. When we arrived midday, Uber prices were around $20 USD (DOP 1,162 for an UberX and 1,819 for an UberXL).

Taxis are also available, but are usually more expensive. There is no public transportation (buses or trains) at Las Américas International Airport.

Alternatively, you can schedule a shuttle service. The easiest way to do that is to work with your hotel directly. They will be able to coordinate and translate, and then they can be your point of contact if you run into any issues.

If you’re visiting Santo Domingo with kids, you may need to plan for car seats. If you are traveling with your own car seat, installing it in an Uber is the easiest and cheapest option. Alternatively, car seats are not required in the Dominican Republic, so you could technically go without one.

We personally didn’t feel comfortable with that, but we also prefer not to travel with a car seat. That ruled out Uber and taxis for us. Instead, we worked with our hotel to have a driver pick us up in a vehicle with a car seat. It was much more expensive, but the easiest option for us.

Getting around Santo Domingo

Once you’ve arrived in Zona Colonial, the main sites are all walkable. Nothing in Zona Colonial will be more than a mile away. The attractions are all centrally located and close to one another.

If you’re traveling outside of Zona Colonial, use Uber.

Again, unless you’re traveling with kids and require a car seat. You can still install your own car seat in an Uber, but then you’ll be stuck carrying the car seat at your destination. For transit around the city, it’ll be easiest (but unfortunately more expensive) to work with your hotel to schedule a car service with a car seat.

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Things to do in Santo Domingo (Zona Colonial)

Santo Domingo is a large city that sprawls far beyond the city walls of Zona Colonial. While there is a lot to do in the city, this section and our sample itinerary focuses primarily on Zona Colonial. We assume most tourists will be keeping to this general area, so here’s some of the best things to do there.

Museums & Historical Sites:

  • Alcázar de Colón (Columbus Alcazar): This palace built for Diego Columbus (the son of Christopher Columbus) is the oldest European palace in the Americas. The palace is now the most visited museum in Santo Domingo. There are no posted signs, but audio guides in a variety of languages are included in the price. Closed on Mondays.
  • Fortaleza Ozama (Ozama Fortress): Preserved castle-like fort and city walls from the 16th century which you can explore inside and out. Signs were posted in English and Spanish, and audio guides were available. Closed on Mondays.
  • Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses): Dominican Republic history museum inside a 16th century palace. The building was once the Palace of the Viceroy of Santo Domingo and was Spain’s first government building in the Americas.
  • Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (The Cathedral of Santa María): The first and oldest cathedral in the Americas. It’s open to the public everyday except Sunday.

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Squares & Walks:

  • Plaza de la Hispanidad: The main square and heart of Zona Colonial in front of Alcázar de Colón. Popular place for people watching, enjoying an overpriced touristy meal and city events.
  • Parque Colón (Columbus Park): Lively square near the cathedral. It’s a popular place for people to hang out and children to play. It’s busy at all types of day, but it really shines in the early evening.
  • Calle El Conde: Pedestrian street with quick-service restaurants, shops, and street vendors. It really gets going in the evening and on weekends.
  • Waterfront Path : Paved oceanfront walking path that extends from Monument to Friar Antonio of Montesino to Plaza Juan Barón. There are a couple restaurants, several monuments, and lots of seating and green space.

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And a few other things ….

  • Los Tres Ojos National Park: Open-air cave with three crystal clear blue lakes. The caves are located about 4 miles from Zona Colonial, so you’ll need a car (Uber or car service) to get there. We also have a full guide to Los Tres Ojos here.
  • Plaza Juan Barón (Olimpyc Park): Small amusement park with a few rides, quick-service food stands and carnival games. I wouldn’t go out of my way to come here, but it was a hit with our theme-park loving 2-year-old, so you do what you gotta do to get through sometimes.

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Complete 2-day Santo Domingo Itinerary

Two full days in Santo Domingo is the perfect amount of time to explore Zona Colonial. It will give you time to see some of the most important historical sites at a reasonable pace. This itinerary outlines how we’d recommend filling two full days, assuming you will have travel days on either side.

Arrival Day: Get Acquainted

By the time you land at Las Américas International Airport, transit to Zona Colonial and check into your hotel, there’s a good chance it will be late afternoon or early evening at best.

If you’re ready to hit the ground running, we suggest heading out to Plaza de la Hispanida. It’s a great place to start your trip, especially if it also involves a short walk through Zona Colonial to get there.

Relax, take in the energy of the square, and enjoy a Presidente (local Dominican pilsner). There’s a handful of restaurants along the square. They are all touristy and overpriced, yes, but we say just do it on your first night. It’s an easy meal option in the heart of the old town. We personally ate at Morrofino Bar de tapas.

Alternatively, if you get in late or are just zonked, enjoy the evening at your hotel — especially if it’s a nice one.

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Day 1: Caves & Old Town Sites

We recommend starting your trip with a visit to Tres Ojos on your first morning. While it’s hard to leave Zona Colonial when you feel like you just got there, it’s a good idea to try this activity on your first day. That way, if the weather happens to be bad or if you run into issues, you still have another day to try again.

Not all 2-day trips will be on a weekend, but we know a lot of them will be. For that reason, we prioritized the Cathedral on the first day (assuming there’s a good chance that’s a Saturday) because it’s closed on Sundays.

Okay, let’s get started.

Breakfast & Coffee at Casa Barista & Co.

This trendy coffee shop and cafe is located just steps away from Parque Colón. They have an entirely gluten-free menu, but I wouldn’t have noticed as a gluten-eater. They have a solid breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a pretty extensive coffee menu.

We ended up here twice during our visit and would personally recommend the Coffee Tonic and dark chocolate pancakes. Our toddler would also like to recommend the Babyccino (unsweetened hot cocoa in a demitasse) and the Fresa Limonada(strawberry lemonade) to fellow baby travelers.

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Lago Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes)

Tres Ojos is an open air cave with three crystal clear cave lakes, or eyes. After you go down the winding stairs into the caves, you can follow a handful of paths with different views of each of the three lakes. For a few extra pesos, you can take a small boat across the third eye for an incredible view of a fourth lake (not technically a cave lake so it’s not counted as one of the three eyes).

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It’s an incredibly beautiful and unique nature reserve that is surprisingly easy to experience. There is no hiking required, but it does require a lot of stairs. They’re well-maintained, but you’ll still want shoes with decent traction.

By the way, don’t let the term “cave” scare you. While that’s technically what it us, it feels more like taking stairs down into an outdoor basement. You will always be able to see the daylight and it’s not claustrophobic at all. If you take the boat to the fourth eye, you will walk through an underground cave, but it’s very short and you’re right back outside.

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  • Price: 200 DOP (~ $3.50 USD) + 50 DOP (~ $1 USD) for the optional boat ride to the 4th lake
  • Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM every day
  • How long does it take: 2 hours
  • How to get there: Take an Uber for about $4 USD
  • Tip: Arrive early to beat the tour groups. Also bring extra cash for drinks and snacks at the cafe.

Lunch near your hotel

If you’re taking an Uber from Tres Ojos, you’ll probably want to have them drop you off at your hotel. Odds are you’ll be sweaty and want to freshen up a bit, but you’ll also be pretty hungry. This is a good time to grab a quick and easy meal nearby.

We personally got lunch at our hotel, which we loved for its convenience. If your hotel doesn’t have a restaurant (or one that interests you), head back out into town. Maybe grab a quick slice of pizza at Curcio Pizza al Taglio or enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of Buche Perico.

Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (The Cathedral of Santa María)

After you’ve refueled, it’s time to see some of the historical sites in town. The Cathedral of Santa María is located right beside Parque Colón. This church is famous for being the first and oldest cathedral in the Americas. It was built in the 1500s in the Gothic style.

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The entrance to the cathedral is on back side of the church (east side).

  • Price: Free
  • Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM. Closed to the public on Sundays.
  • How long does it take: 30 minutes

Museo de las Casas Reales (Museum of the Royal Houses)

This museum is built inside a Spanish government building from the 1500s. Wandering through the historical building is worth the small entry fee alone. Inside though, you’ll also find a variety of authentic objects and replicas that span the Dominican Republic’s history from colonialization to present.

Most of the signage is in Spanish, but audio guides are available in a variety of languages and are included in the ticket price.

  • Price: 100 DOP (~ $2 USD)
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays.
  • How long does it take: 1 hour

Dinner at Time Creative Vegetarian Kitchen

We are vegetarians, so of course this restaurant stood out to us. However, it was honestly so good that we would recommend it to everyone regardless of their meat preferences. Not only was the food incredible, but they had a delicious cocktail menu too. (Notably no beer though.)

There’s a lot of variety on the menu, but I cannot stop thinking about the arepa de choclo. I also got their version of a spicy/smoky margarita which was also incredible.

Enjoy the atmosphere at Parque Colón

After dinner, take a stroll around Parque Colón. The square is always lively, but really gets going in the early evening and during weekends. There’s kids chasing pigeons, people dining al fresco in the nearby restaurants, and street musicians playing guitar.

If you’re in the market for something sweet, pick up a paleta at Paletas Bajo Cero or a crepe from Zona Creps and enjoy it in the square.

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Night cap at SugarCane

Wrap up your day with a cocktail at this chic rooftop bar. They have a deep cocktail menu, specifically focusing on rum-based drinks.

We personally didn’t make it here (because #toddler), but it looked beautiful, has great reviews, and always looked fun when we walked past it.

Day 2: Old Town Sites & Water front

Today’s itinerary starts with some of the most popular historic sites in Santo Domingo. Then in the afternoon you’ll have a chance to venture out and enjoy some different views along the waterfront. This itinerary doesn’t pack in too much, so you have some time to wander. See a cute street? Head down it for a bit. Interested in picking up a souvenir? Stop in any of the shops you’re sure to walk by.

Enjoy taking in the sites and sounds of Zona Colonial on your last full day.

Breakfast & coffee at Affogato Café

Guess what? You’re on vacation, so if you want to start your day with ice cream in your coffee, this is the place to do it! But don’t worry, you won’t have to. This cute cafe is a popular spot and they offer a full menu of sweet and savory items.

The namesake affogato comes with espresso, a shot of whiskey and a pretty big ice cream sundae. Or you can go with a more basic espresso or coffee beverage. We enjoyed the strawberry crepes (though they also came with ice cream) and strawberry stuffed french. Our favorite thing though, and I know it’s not breakfast, was the pesto pasta.

This cafe is closed on Tuesdays.

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Alcázar de Colón (Columbus Alcazar)

Next up is the most popular museum in all of Santo Domingo. This small museum is set inside of the palace built by Diego Columbus, the son of Christopher Columbus. It’s the oldest European palace in the Americas and the only known residence of any family members of Christopher Columbus. While the palace itself was built in the early 1500s, most of the objects inside are not from that time period.

There are no signs posted inside the museum. Instead, audio guides are available in a variety of languages and are included in the price of admission. I loved that the audio segments were short – only about 40 seconds for each location.

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The museum is located on the main square, Plaza de la Hispanidad. It’s a popular photo spot for tourists and locals alike, particularly at night.

After the museum, you can also check out Fuerte el Invencible, and walk along a portion of the old city walls. (However, I will say that it was kind of gross up there. It smelled like pee and was full of beer bottles. But still I’m glad we did it!)

  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays

Fortaleza Ozama (Ozama Fortress)

After leaving Plaza de la Hispanidad, take a short stroll down Las Damas on your way to the fortress. This notable street has a few historical sites along the way, most notably the National Pantheon.

After a few blocks you’ll arrive at the Ozama Fortress. You can explore the castle-like fortress, visiting different rooms and passages along the way. In addition to the fortress itself, you can also walk along another preserved section of the city walls and rows of replica cannons.

Audio guides were available and included in the ticket price. However, all of the posted signs were in English and Spanish, so you might not need them.

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Ozama Fortress was one of our favorite things in Santo Domingo. It was not crowded and pretty spacious, and we really enjoyed taking our time here.

  • Price: 70 DOP (~ $1 USD)

Lunch at El Buho Eatery

If you’re looking for a cute cafe with a wide variety of menu options, look no further. El Buho is a bit tucked away on a side street, but it happened to be really close to our hotel which is how we found it. They offer classic Dominican cuisine as well as a variety of western and international options.

Do note that they don’t open till noon most days and are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Walk along the waterfront

For a change of scenery, head toward the ocean on the south side of Zona Colonial. There is a paved walking path that runs from Monument to Friar Antonio to Plaza Juan Barón. The walk offers great views of the ocean and rocky coastline. The pathway is dotted with monuments, with a few restaurants and outdoor seating areas. (I do NOT recommend sitting on the grass. I swear I can still feel the ant bites.)

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The path is about 1 km and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. At Plaza Juan Barón at the end, there is a small amusement park called Olimpyc Park. It’s really just a crappy carnival, but our theme-park loving two-year-old had the very best time there. I wouldn’t recommend it for adults, but it’s a fun thing for kids if you’re traveling with little ones.

Calle El Conde

Instead of walking back down the waterfront to where you started, head straight north from Plaza Juan Barón to Independence Park. This marks the start of Calle El Conde, a popular pedestrian street that runs all the way to Parque Colón.

This street is lined with shops (mostly souvenir shops and street art vendors) and restaurants (mostly quick service). It’s often quite busy, but it really got going in the evening.

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Dinner at MIX Empanadas

While you’re walking down El Conde, stop for dinner at MIX Empanadas. This place was very popular and very delicious. They had a wide variety of empanadas available, including several vegetarian and vegan options. Their juices were also very popular and came in a variety of flavors (one of which was called cerveza but was very much not beer).

The empanadas are pretty big and most people ordered two per person. We got seven for two adults and a child, and it was definitely too much.

Parque Colón and/or Plaza de la Hispanidad

El Conde will end (more or less) at Parque Colón. We really loved the squares (both Parque Colón and Plaza de la Hispanidad) and tried to swing by them each night. If you’re not in a hurry, stroll through both.

If you didn’t get a paleta last night, get one tonight. The coconut with dulce de leche filling was truly what dreams are made of.

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Craft beers at Republica Brewing Draft Room or La Cacata Brewing

Close out your visit with beers one of the two main beer bars in Zona Colonial. Republica Brewing will have the best beer selection, while La Cacata has a more relaxed beer garden vibe.

Departure Day

Depending on when you depart, you may have time for one final stroll through the old town. We had a few hours on our final morning and got another round of coffees at Barista & Co. and then wandered the squares.

We had planned to visit the cathedral — which should have been open on a Monday morning — but it was closed for a local holiday. That’s a good reminder to never save things for the last day of your trip.

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Closing Thoughts on Santo Domingo

We loved our visit to Santo Domingo. It had a good mix of history, energy and grit — all things we love about a city. It was a perfect destination for a long weekend and a great escape from New York City in the winter.

There’s enough to do to keep you busy, but not so much that you need to stress about it. Zona Colonial covers a small area, and I liked that I could just meander without a plan. Not many things require advance planning and you don’t really have to worry about heavy crowds impacting your trip.

We’d definitely recommend Santo Domingo as a short trip on its own or paired with a resort stay in Punta Cana or other nearby island.

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Dominican Today News - Santo Domingo and Dominican Republic


Last update on April 9, 2024, 5:59 pm

Economy April 7, 2024 | 12:40 pm

The benefits of protecting beaches from erosion

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Beaches are the main attraction of our tourist destination.

Santo Domingo – The Sustainable Coastal Management Program (Beaches) and the “Dominican Republic 30×30” program will change how we manage the country’s coastal zone.

Just as we were beginning to rest our fingers on the keys to flesh out this story, prompted by the announcement by the local representation of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that the country will begin the execution of the Sustainable Coastal Management Program (Beaches) with a US$70 million loan from that organization and technical support over five years, this other announcement was made, to which we turn our attention: the Dominican Government will implement the “Dominican Republic 30X30” program, an initiative aimed at protecting 30% of its oceans, lands, and ecosystems, to guarantee biodiversity, preserve natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Both, produced separately and on different dates, are complementary, and we hope that they will lead to a transcendent change in the management of our natural resources because, as President Luis Abinader stated in the act launching the initiative, “if natural resources are not preserved, there will be no economic development in the country.”

Information provided by the local representation of the IDB reveals that of the more than 200 beaches we have, distributed over 1,600 kilometers of sandy coastline, 70% suffer erosion. This is a worrying situation that should be reversed with the implementation of these two programs, as well as others that should be implemented in the future to give sustainability to our development.

The Dominican Republic has a condition that obliges it to undertake this task with more urgency, determination, and continuity than any other country in the region, and that is that in a few years, the number of tourists residing abroad that we will receive annually will exceed the local population, which will exert strong pressures on our natural resources that could bring us to the brink of sacrificing the wealth that nature has given us to enjoy forever for the sake of producing the transient.

Let us not forget that corals and mangroves give stability to beaches. They naturally contain the force of the waves and the wind while ensuring the lives of fish and marine animals that are always replenishing the sand.

In several points of the coastal zone, this ecosystem is being lost in a process that must be reversed because beach erosion increases the areas’ vulnerability to extreme phenomena such as cyclonic and winter storm surges.

Undoubtedly, the cost of preventive action is far outweighed by the benefits of having stable ecosystems, and they are even more significant in the case of a country like the Dominican Republic, which has a multimillion-dollar tourism real estate infrastructure.

This cost-benefit relationship varies from one case to another, but to get an idea of this relationship, we know of a case of intervention to correct a beach’s erosion, in which each dollar invested in recovery guaranteed a benefit of seven dollars, only taking into account the value of coastal properties and without including other benefits for coastal communities.

On the other hand, an acceleration of beach erosion increases the vulnerability of these areas to the impact of extreme phenomena such as storm surges. If not corrected, this could cause a depreciation of the properties established in the coastal zone and negatively affect the standard of living of the Dominican population living in the area.

But more important than the economic value is the intangible value of our beaches, for whose enjoyment time is never enough.

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Te damos la bienvenida al Aloft Santo Domingo, un moderno y elegante hotel que goza de una práctica ubicación en la zona Piantini, a corta distancia de inspiradores rincones, como la Ciudad Colonial. A tu disposición tendrás lo último en comodidades tecnológicas, entre las que no pueden faltar el acceso gratis a Internet de alta velocidad o servicios como estacionamiento en el hotel u otras comodidades de lujo. Si deseas mantenerte en forma durante tu viaje o simplemente relajarte, tenemos lo que tu necesitas. Puedes renovar energías en nuestro gimnasio totalmente equipado, abierto las 24 horas, o puedes darte un chapuzón refrescante en nuestra piscina al aire libre de la azotea. Nuestra estación abierta las 24 horas ofrece refrigerios para llevar frescos, deliciosos y recién preparados, mientras que nuestros restaurantes mexicanos, libanés y asiáticos le ofrecen deliciosas opciones para la cena. Cuando llegue el momento de relajarse y de hacerlo en compañía de tus amistades escuchando música y tomando cócteles exclusivos, no dudes en acudir a nuestro W XYZ Bar. Si tienes que cumplir con tus obligaciones laborales, nuestro hotel en Piantini cuenta con elegantes salas de reuniones y un centro de negocios. También proporcionamos paquetes especiales y servicios de banquetes para darle a tu evento un toque de mayor distinción.

Habitaciones y suites

Servicios destacados del hotel, información sobre el hotel.

Registro de llegada: 15:00

Registro de salida: 12:00

Edad mínima para el registro de llegada: 18

Se aceptan mascotas

Only dog friendly

Cargo no reembolsable por mascota Per Night: $50

Peso máximo de la mascota: 20.0kg

Número máximo de mascotas en la habitación: 1

Estacionamiento gratis en el hotel


Experience the vibrant flavors of Asia in a spacious setting, our menu features authentic dishes made with proximity ingredients and served with well-known Dominican hospitality.

Cueva Siete

Get a taste of Mexico right here! Our menu showcases authentic Mexican dishes made with original recipe. Come, enjoy the lively atmosphere and delicious flavors.

Discover the vibrant spirit of our W XYZ Bar, where mixology meets modern style. Sip on handcrafted cocktails, enjoy lively atmosphere and mingle with friends. Unwind, socialize, and make unforgettable memories at our trendy bar. Cheers!

Rooftop Bar

Entrenamiento físico



Piscina en la azotea

Piscina en la azotea

Cómo llegar, aloft santo domingo piantini.

Av Abraham Lincoln esquina Andrés Julio Aybar, Piantini, Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominikanische Republik

Detalles del hotel

Acepta: Tarjetas de crédito

Cambio de moneda

El hotel cuenta con ascensores

Idiomas que habla el personal: Inglesa, Española

No dudes en llamarnos si deseas más información sobre las características físicas de nuestras habitaciones y áreas comunes con instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales o servicios especiales relacionados con una discapacidad concreta. +1 809-262-9600

Ascensor automático o entrada inclinada en las piscinas del hotel

Estacionamiento en el hotel con instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

Se aceptan animales de servicio

La entrada a la piscina en el hotel tiene instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

La entrada al centro de negocios en el hotel tiene instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

La entrada al gimnasio en el hotel tiene instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

La entrada principal tiene instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

Los restaurantes en el hotel tienen instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

Ducha con acceso para sillas de ruedas

Duchas de transferencia en las habitaciones

Habitaciones con instalaciones para personas con necesidades especiales

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Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominikanische Republik

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Camila Cabello Named New Face of Bacardí: Behind the Scenes at Her First Commercial (Exclusive)

santo domingo tourist beaches

Rahul Bhatt/BACARDI

Cheers are in order: Camila Cabello has a new gig.

The pop star is the new global face of Bacardí, the brand announced on Tuesday — and her first commercial for the rum empire just dropped.

In the commercial, which is dubbed a “Do What Moves You” production and directed by Nicolás Méndez, Cabello’s new hyper-pop-inspired single “I Luv It” plays, making waves around a Caribbean city, from a bar and a strip mall to the beach and a rooftop party.

Cabello shot the new campaign in February in the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo. PEOPLE was invited to be on the ground for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look as the commercial came together at multiple locations.

After a long shoot day, Cabello sat down with PEOPLE in her trailer, where she opened up about why becoming the new face of Bacardí “feels amazing”— and teased her next musical era.

Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Cabello, 27, felt an affinity for Bacardí because “they have a very closely linked Caribbean background,” says Cabello, who collaborated with the brand on a signature cocktail (recipe below). “My grandma’s favorite drink is the cuba libre — a rum and coke — and growing up in Miami, you just are surrounded by Bacardí, so I was just super excited to collaborate with them. And also I feel like Bacardí has such party energy — I feel like their vibe is always about partying and having fun and music, so it just feels like the vibe.”

Since Cabello carved her path as a solo artist, her music has been informed by her Latin heritage, so this latest move is in sync with her personal brand. 

“I think where I’m from just influences me a lot,” she says. “I’ve also never really left Miami. I’ve kind of always been surrounded by that culture out there, which is its own kind of little, unique microcosm. It’s Latin but also Latin immigrants but also a melting pot of different cultures. I think that’s just influenced me, and it’s influenced my music, too. It kind of just comes out of me.”

Matthew Canals/BACARDI

Though she’s from Cuba, filming in the Dominican Republic felt familiar to Cabello.

“My best friends are actually Dominican, so I told them hearing the Dominican accents and everything really feels like I’m home,” she says.

When it came time to film for the commercial, Cabello was prepped because the work is similar to performing onstage or shooting a music video.

“It’s just less time. This was just kind of a day, a few hours, of learning choreo,” says Cabello. “But it’s fun to be moving.”

Because “I Luv It” had yet to be released when they shot, the track wasn’t played on set as Cabello and performers from La(Horde) dance collective filmed.

“Nobody’s heard the song yet, so we’re not playing it out loud, so it’s all to count,” Cabello said at the time. “So it’s, like, very mysterious.”

Indeed, locals were likely left wondering what was happening in the city, as Cabello quite literally stopped traffic as she shot scenes in downtown Santo Domingo and off the DR-2 highway, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Earlier in the day, Cabello shot multiple takes as she strut down a shut-down city street, whipping her newly platinum tresses around with ease. After the shoot wrapped for the day, the Grammy-nominated star joked she “might honestly” need a chiropractic adjustment from the “hair-ographry.”

“I’m feeling the soreness come on for sure,” she said at the time. “I definitely will take a hot bath or something. I feel like the adrenaline of being on camera numbs out pain; during it, I was like, ‘This is fine,’ and right now, I’m like, ‘I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow with some limited movement.’ But it’s all part of the job.”

And the job comes with some risks. At one point, as the crew was racing against the clock to shoot Cabello in front of a seaside high-rise apartment during the “blue hour” (which is just after sunset), the singer-songwriter experienced a near-accident during a choreographed fall with the dance troupe — but Cabello brushed it off like a pro, of course.

“I wasn’t terrified until one time, where I felt like I came really close [to falling]. Then I was scared for, I think, six takes after, I was kind of like, ‘Okay, I’m feeling some fear!’ But that’s one of those things, you’ve got to just kind of be confident, or else it’s worse,” Cabello says. “So I just was like, ‘Go for it, and focus.’ And I’m still here, not a scratch on me.”

Cabello’s glam squad was also along for the ride to achieve the perfect look on set.

On the beauty end, “we really wanted the look to embody a street grunge vibe, with a sexed-up edge to it,” says makeup artist Ash K Holm, who gave Cabello a smoky eye and over-lined lip and worked with cool, matte shades.

Cabello's longtime hairstylist Dimitris Giannetos says, “we wanted her hair to be a little more edgy and cool — and effortless at the same time,” which he executed by giving her a locks a wet look all day.

And celebrity stylist Jared Ellner dressed Cabello in a knit and crocheted top with a denim skirt and black boots. “Camila right now wants everything to be a little bit mismatched, a little bit chaotic, in a fun, sexy way,” he says, adding that the look of the day was “unified but still hit a few different vibes all at once.”

As for the vibe of her new era, Cabello kept mum, other than to say “it definitely feels like… ‘signed by me.’”

But her new ’do may hold a clue, too.

“I just feel like this next chapter for me is so different, and I just like the idea of shedding your identity,” she says. “I feel like my dark hair was such a part of how I saw myself and how other people saw me, so it’s kind of nice to be like: palate cleanser.”

Camila Cabello’s I Luv It Punch

1 oz. coconut water

1/2 oz. elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz. passion fruit nectar

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

1 lime wheel, for garnish

Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Add rum, coconut water, elderflower liqueur, passion fruit nectar and lime juice to an ice-filled rocks glass; stir to combine. Garnish with a lime wheel and coconut flakes; serve immediately.

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