One of the first things I do after I get home from a trip is to go through my photos and see what I was able to capture. Many of these images are also shared on Instagram, and since not all of you follow me on that platform I thought I’d share some of the stories and photos I have either shared or will soon publish. Although my time in the Dominican Republic was brief, it was an ideal first introduction as I hope these moments demonstrate.
Iberostar Grand Bavaro
There are few experiences I love more than being near the water, which is one reason of many why I was so happy to visit the Dominican Republic. My temporary home was at the luxury hotel the Iberostar Grand Bavaro near Punta Cana – the ideal place to relax in comfort. This all-suite, all-inclusive hotel has everything I love, from personal butlers to anything I want on demand all the time. Diet Coke? No problem? Bottle of Champagne and potato chips, covered there too. It was also my first time visiting the Dominican Republic and I was excited not just for some R&R on the beach, but to also explore some other areas around the country.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
I’m an explorer at heart and when I learned that a day trip down to the capital of the Dominican Republic from Punta Cana was possible, I jumped at the opportunity. Santo Domingo is a surprisingly large city, home to around 3 million people and it’s been a quietly important city for centuries. When Spain enjoyed dominion over the New World, Santo Domingo was its capital city; the base from which they took control of a continent. Founded by the brother of Christopher Columbus in 1496, Santo Domingo is home to the first: university, cathedral, monastery and fortress in the New World. It’s been so important for so long that the colonial zone is even a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, forever protecting this special place. A highlight was walking from the Parque Colon where a statue of Christopher Columbus stands down along the Colonial Zone, a pedestrian walkway through the heart of the old town. It was an active afternoon with a mix of locals and tourists all out enjoying the weather. Artists lined the street and hawkers were selling all sorts of delicious snacks. It was a fun way to get to know the city, a place I surely have to visit again and experience even more.
Dining Experiences at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro
This is NOT a tomato, it’s actually a delicious cheesecake made to look like one. Normally, the terms “all-inclusive” and “fine-dining” don’t usually collide in the same sentence, but then again I’d never stayed at a true luxury all-inclusive resort before my recent trip down to the Iberostar Grand Bavaro in the Dominican Republic. Even knowing the reputation of the chefs at this 5-star resort, I was still dubious until my first meal at this remarkable getaway. Led by master chefs, the cuisine is as good as I’ve every enjoyed, delivered with a kind of flair one normally expects at a Michelin star restaurant. No, this definitely was NOT your average all-inclusive hotel.
Relaxing by the pool
Sometimes we all just need some time to decompress and relax when we travel, even an active independent traveler like myself. I have to be honest though, I usually like the idea of relaxing by the pool much more than the actual practice, but I couldn’t resist this massive oasis while staying at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro. An all-inclusive luxury hotel, there wasn’t a kid in sight, making it the perfect place for me to finally relax a little bit before continuing my exploration of the area.
I’ve did a lot of walking around on my visit to the Dominican Republic and one of my wanderings took me here to a small public beach next to the Iberostar Grand Bavaro Hotel. There a group of locals have set up shop, selling everything from souvenirs to artwork and yes, even coconut based drinks. These colorful stands remind me of some other favorite spots I’ve found around the Caribbean, adding color both literally and figuratively to the travel experience. Even better was spending a few minutes chatting with the owners, learning more about their lives and why they love this sunny part of the world so very much.
There’s something special about being on the water that never fails to thrill me. I’m not sure why that is either. I grew up in the mountains, far from any beach and honestly, it’s rare that I find myself in as tranquil a setting as this one I found while staying at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro. But even if it’s many months between visits, it feels like a homecoming, and the first thing I always do is to spend some time quietly walking along the beach. Although the weather was a little moody the day I took this photo, it didn’t diminish that feeling of peace and calm and that, more than anything, was a highlight of my stay. Where are some places that do the same for you?