Tropical Desires Travel Info

A resource to aide travelers in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

THE PREPARED TRAVELER

FLIGHTS
I have found that it is best to compare airlines rather than being so loyal to just one!
You have to decide if gaining a few frequent flyer miles is more important than saving one or two hundred dollars.

There are several sites that offer such comparisons, Orbitz being one of the better ones (and they're gay-friendly). Newer airlines, such as Spirit Air and JetBlue, are spreading their wings and offering great deals! As of Spring 2013 Southwest Airlines has begun routes to the caribbean, including the Dominican Republic.

WEATHER FORECAST
Once you're ready to travel, be sure to check the forecast so you'll know what to pack. When you click the weather feature to the right it will give you the forecast. --->


AIRPORT TRANSFERS
Once you arrive at Los Americas airport in Santo Domingo you will need transportation to your hotel. It is always best to make these arrangements before your trip. When you step out of the airport you walk into the fray of taxis, publicas and bandits all vying for your wallet (I mean fare). LOL An ex-patriate, Anthony Montgomery, will provide transfers for a more competitive rate. He speaks English and Spanish. anthony.montgomery@gmail.com

April 22, 2017- I also recommend Antonio for a nice, air-conditioned ride. He has proven himself to be reliable and always courteous. He only speaks limited English so you may want to practice your Spanish phrases before arrival.



HOTELS
There are a variety of hotels that can be recommended. A couple of them are listed in the Links section. If your pockets are deep, and you basically want to lock yourself in a luxurious room, there are many 4 and 5 Star hotels on the Malecon. The Jaragua, The Independencia, The Hotel Santo Domingo, The Hilton Malecon Center and The Sofitel. Most of these have casinos and pools, etc.

If you are the adventurous type who wants to explore the city and are easy to make friends, you may wish to stay at one of the linked hotels. The more you pay for a room, the more likely it is that you will have to pay a fee to have guests (whether they stay overnight, or not). Some hotels don't allow guests.

For this reason, it is best to inquire about hotel policy when making reservations. And whenever possible, get recommendations/input from people who are familiar with your hotel of choice.


The relatively new hotel Adam Suites is a comfortable, LGBT-oriented accomodation in the heart of the Colonial Zone, just steps from El Conde, the historic pedestrian street lined with restaurants and shops. It has reasonable rates and offers unexpected services.


SIGHTSEEING
Santo Domingo is a wonderful old city. There are many historic sites and a large number of new attractions that keep the city exciting. You can tour the castle of Diego Columbus (son of Christopher), walk through the old forts and cathedrals, visit the Christopher Columbus Lighthouse or have a drink at the Hard Rock Cafe! (relocated to the Blue Mall summer 2014)

Be careful of people walking up to you and pointing out sites. They may seem very innocent and sweet, but some of them will milk you for cash for providing you a "tour." Official tour guides always have badges, with their pic and government seal. There are also tourist police throughout the Colonial Zone to offer assistance if needed.

Although the Colonial Zone is where the majority of LGBT clubs and places of interest are located, be sure to see the rest of the city. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful. The National Aquarium is a nice surprise. There is also a zoo and you can visit the Olympic Complex if you're a sports fan. Santo Domingo hosted the 2004 Pan Am Games.

Day trips to various areas and towns are a great way to experience true Dominican culture and see the awesome beauty of the country. You may take a bus or arrange for a driver.

Again, to get the most out of your experience you should use a reputable guide and check with someone who is familiar with these services whenever possible. Colonial Tours is a renown company in the Dominican Republic. You may also contact anthony.montgomery@gmail.com or alwaysreadyfreddy@hotmail.com

BEACHES
Never fear, beaches are here! Santo Domingo itself doesn't have much usable beach at all. In fact, you would be hard pressed to locate much shoreline that isn't rocky. However, Boca Chica is just a short 25 minute drive away. This is where the tourists flock and where the locals hangout on Sundays, so get there early.

You may also want to check out Guayacanes, between Boca Chica and Juan Dolio. It is a beautiful area that isn't as populated. If you want a place to get away from it all and not be bothered, this is it!
ALERT: There have been several robberies and attacks involving tourists in this area, usually at night. The US Embassy suggests you never ride alone and that you try to avoid night travel. *June 20, 2012


SHOPPING
There are malls, boutiques, galleries and street vendors throughout the city. Souvenirs are abundant in the Colonial Zone, as well as great artwork. Feel free to haggle, and don't be modest.
For awesome deals on artwork, I recommend going a few blocks over to the Haitian district.

I have enjoyed getting tailor-made apparel on my trips. The fabrics and the labor are very reasonable. I usually take my fabric with me to reduce the cost even further. If you'll be in SD for a week or more I recommend you call Jose Sanchez at 809-473-4859 on your first day. (so your items will be finished when you're ready to leave)


PUNTA CANA

The area is beautiful and is recommended for anyone who enjoys watersports (such as kitesurfing, not the fetish), natures beauty, as well as swanky resorts. There is even a gay lounge/club now open nearby and just a short walk to a beach. Mares Punta Cana promises an authentic Caribbean experience with an international clientele mingling with local muchachos..


http://marespuntacana.com


HELPFUL TIPS
Do NOT carry large amounts of cash. Travelers checks are good, but realize you will lose some value in the exchange. Most credit cards are accepted. Use pesos for shopping, dining, etc. And remember, the dollar value is more than the peso. Only exchange as needed (per day) so you won't lose money when you return pesos for dollars after your trip is complete.

It's best to walk with a companion at night or take a cab. Publicas are cheaper, but you MUST speak spanish.

Don't dress like a tourist and don't appear wealthy. Leave the jewels and the "bling" at home. Sure, it impresses those who are less fortunate, but I'd rather you leave the country in good health! Incidents are not commonplace, but one should exercise caution when visiting areas of the city considered to be "impoverished."

Carry a COPY of your passport with you at all times.

Tourist Police (to file a complaint) 809-686-8639
American Embassy 809-221-2171 or 809-586-8023