Prepping for a trip to the Dominican Republic

I’m a big proponent of the ‘when in Rome’ philosophy towards traveling and vacationing. I think it goes a long way in encouraging people to step outside their comfort zones to try new things. Be it a new drink, dish, activity or even a new way of thinking, there is much to learn from the people and places we visit. Experience is the best teacher, at least in my experience (pun intended).

So, with that in mind I am prepping myself for an up-coming trip to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. A little homework before any trip ensures you don’t miss out on really experiencing a place.

The ‘When in the D.R.’ List

To ensure that while you’re in the D.R., you ‘do as the Dominicans do’, I recommend making a mental list of the things you must see and try while there. Here’s mine:

1. Sip a small glass of Mamajuana, the D.R.’s indigenous drink. This port-like bevvy is made from bark, honey, herbs, wine and rum and is claimed to have both medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. Good to know.

2. Dance the Merengue and listen to a little Bachata. Music is BIG in the D.R. and visiting this nation without appreciating some of its native genres would be a shame. Merengue originates in the D.R. and once you’ve heard it a few times it’s easily recognizable and fun to dance to. Bachata is another D.R. native style of music that covers the heartbreak and blues side of Dominican music.

3. Enjoy a lunch plate of La Bandera Dominicana (literally ‘the Dominican flag’). Made up of bean stew, white rice, meat, fried plantains and a salad, this is  the most popular lunch dish in the D.R. I don’t really like the word ‘stew’ but I WILL try this dish. Lord knows that when it comes to trying the world’s ‘native dishes’, this is a tame one.

‘Must Do’ List for Puerto Plata

I’m going to be visiting Puerto Plata, the “Silver Port”, during my visit. It lies at the foot of the Pico Isabel de Torres, along the beautiful ‘silvery’ shores of the Atlantic ocean. I’ve already been to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo so it only seemed fair to check out the north shore area. Here’s what I hope to do while there:

1. Hang out at Playa Dorada. ‘Playa’ says it all.

2. Ride the aerial tramway up to the top of Pico Isabel de Torres to view the city AND see the replica of Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue at its peak.

3. Surf! Puerto Plata has the perfect combination of wind and swells for wake boarding and all forms of surfing. I hope to finally cross ‘surfing’ off my bucket list here.

4. Visit the colourful town of Puerto Plata itself along with nearby Sousa and Cabarete. Cabarete is something of an adventure mecca in the region offering water sports, mountain-biking and cascading adventures – waterfall tours where you swim, leap, climb & slide your way through waterfalls and ravines.

5. Buy a few pieces of jewellery containing amber. The area around Puerto Plata contains some of the largest deposits of amber in the world. Sounds like the perfect D.R. souvenir.

If I can accomplish all of this I will have truly experienced my destination.  For the record, I was going to add sipping a Mabi, a sweet tree bark-derived bevy, to this list but the laxative affect it’s known to have on newbies compelled me not to.  No need to be anal about doing EVERYTHING that Dominicans do (pun intended).

What’s on your Dominican Republic ‘to do’ list? Let me know if there’s something missing from my list before I go. Thanks!

Image credit: Nightstallion via Wikimedia Commons

4 responses to “Prepping for a trip to the Dominican Republic

  1. Sounds like you are well researched. When we went to the Dominican we stayed in Punta Cana. I’m always a fan of the snorkeling and long walks on the beach. We did an excursion to a game park where the trainers were feeding the tigers chicken mean our of their hands. I was certain this would result in a missing arm, and not that of the chicken. I’d skip that adventure. :)

    • Good advice! I was in Punta Cana a few years ago and Santo Domingo area many years before that. It was actually here in the DR that I rode a horse. I think I weighed more than the horse and we were trotting through fields in the blazing sun. Not fun. This is the first time to Puerta Plata. I tried the mamajuana drink on our first day – I don’t recommend THAT either :)

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