Having traveled to Haiti several times, my fiance and I decided to take a trip east of the border to explore the Dominican Republic (DR). We planned to stay a few days in Santo Domingo, and continue to Punta Cana for the grand finale of our trip. As Santo Domingo and Punta Cana offered such contrasting experiences of DR, I wanted to share to help others travel based on the different cultural aspects each city shares; something I've found to be important in any country you are visiting.
Santo Domingo is a lively city with much to do and lots to explore! We went to see Zona Colonial which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Old ruins and cannons that decorate the city truly take you back to the colonial era of the island. We also visited the government palace, which shares similar architectural structure of the US White House. Lastly, we enjoyed an interesting mixture of island food that could best be described as a mix of Spanish and Asian fusion. Muy deliciosa!
From there, we hopped on a bus to Punta Cana. The ride took close to 3 hours, and as we got closer I began noticing an interesting change of scenery: the city seemed more traditional and closed when compared to the open layout of Santo Domingo. Upon arrival, we were welcomed at our beach villa that was located right on the ocean!
Though the architectural and geographic layout is more traditional than the capital city, Punta Cana is much more tourist friendly, bearing brand name stores that many American & European travelers will be familiar with. With no shortage of resort options, this is definitely a great location to visit if one is looking for a no fuss, relaxing experience.
Depending on what you are looking for, there is an experience waiting for all. If you seek authentic immersion into local history, sights and culture, Santo Domingo should be your next stop while Punta Cana offers unparalleled food, shopping and leisure opportunities. With such variety between cities, exploring the whole island gives you a chance to experience different vibes within the country and helps you find areas that best suit your #travelgoals.
Which Caribbean island is your favorite? Did you prefer one city more than another? Share in the comments below!