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Trip Ideas

Dominican Republic, Two Ways

Powdery beaches, mountainous backdrops and palm trees swaying in the breeze can all be found in the Dominican Republic, but there's more to the island than sunning and swimming. Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial stands as a glorious reminder of the country's golden rich culture. Karen Berliner shows us how to get the best of both worlds.

FRIDAY

Start with a stroll through Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial (the colonial zone), located where the west bank of the Rio Ozama meets the Caribbean. Its 11 square blocks are a mix of cobblestone and paved streets that marry old and new; the cathedrals, the art museums and the Plaza España dining district (set in warehouses built in the 16th and 17th centuries) all date back to Christopher Columbus’s arrival on the island of Hispaniola. Check into the Casas del XVI, a gorgeous collection of historical houses that perfectly showcase the architecture and culture of the Spanish colonial era. We love the four-room Casa del Arbol, with its charming interior courtyard and decor inspired by the pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. Once you’re checked in, the real sightseeing begins. Take a stroll to nearby Duarte Park, the Dominican convent and the first cathedral in the Americas. Next, head to Plaza España, with its fabulous multi-ethnic restaurants. Stop at El Conuco for a plate of ceviche and cheese-filled empanaditas before a visit to Alcázar de Colón, a palace turned museum that was originally the residence of Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus’s son. On your way back to the hotel, do some shopping on Calle Isabel la Católica or Calle El Condem, filled with small boutiques selling traditional wares.

SATURDAY

After all of that sightseeing, it’s time to switch gears and hit the beach. On the Samaná Peninsula, the Sublime Samaná Hotel & Residences is a collection of 27 private suites and casitas built with natural materials such as indigenous palm wood, cane and straw, and set among lush green hills with a private stretch of sand. Book a relaxing and scrumptious spa treatment at Sublime Spa, then kick back with a cocktail or cold Dominican beer and watch the sunset.

SUNDAY

Start your morning by venturing inland on horseback to the Cascada El Limón waterfall and its spectacular swimming hole (arranged by the hotel). Or if you happen to be there between January and March, sign up for a whale-watching excursion. Then make your way to the town of Las Terrenas to explore the quaint shops, authentic dining spots and lively fish markets, where fishermen ride straight up to the sand with the freshest catch of the day. Come evening, head to dinner at Restaurant Mi Corazon (we recommend the fish carpaccio with pumpkin flower or the grilled pork tenderloin with pea foam), then hit Locura for some late night dancing.