Santo Domingo sits on rocky bluff overlooking the Caribbean Ocean. While this makes for wonderful views of the Caribbean while having a great dinner or walking along the melacon (seaside), the city itself doesn’t have much Beach (playa) access to speak of. If you want to enjoy the sand on your feet, the sun on your head, a nice Caribbean breeze on your face, and a wonderful view of the water, you need to head to either Boca Chica or Juan Dolio.
Boca Chica is the closer of the two locations to Santo Domingo and is the preferred location of Dominicans living in the capital. The beach at Boca Chica is protected by a lagoon that makes for calm waters. You can also walk out far without much change in the depth of the water.
Boca Chica is known for its restaurants and bars which vary from very casual to high-end. A very popular high end restaurant is Neptunos. In my opinion this restaurant is best enjoyed while the sun is up as the views from the restaurant are the best part.
Many restaurants/bars are right on the beach and allow you to enjoy your day or night eating, drinking, listening to music, dancing, and swimming in the lagoon. These restaurants/bars are lined up one after the other in a section of the lagoon and have sturdy plastic tables and chairs along the water and the beach. This area can be a lot of fun, but you have to be in the mood for this type of place. This is not the tranquil beach experience. This is more of the party at the beach experience. On the weekend, the bars and restaurants will be full of Dominicans from the Capital unwinding from their week.
There are also many of your standard watersports that you would expect along any tourist area: parasailing, kayaks, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skis, boats, and tubes towed behind a boat, etc.
Note: Boca Chica is known as a place where prostitutes and drug dealers can be seen, but that doesn’t mean the whole area is bad. If that were the case, we couldn’t go to New York, Sydney, London, etc. When you are in the tourist areas, you are fine, but if you wander down the local streets at night, you might see a person or two working in the night. They will leave you alone, if you leave them alone. Also, you will see a lot of people trying to sell you stuff on the beach and panhandlers during the day.
This is one of my favorite parts of the country and defiantly my favorite part on the southern side of the island. Juan Dolio is about another 10-15 minutes past Boca Chica but to me it is well worth the additional time and cost of the taxi. Juan Dolio is divided into two sections, old Juan Dolio and new Juan Dolio.
Old Juan Dolio
For a day trip, you want to spend your time in old Juan Dolio (in my opinion) where there is wonderful partial cove with plenty of clean white sand. You can walk up and down this beach for miles and you won’t have a problem finding a piece of the beach to call your own for the day.
In the central part of the cove, there are several restaurants and bars to choose from. Some are high end and some more basic. Most of the restaurant menus are loaded with fresh fish and seafood and is what I suggest you eat while you are there, but there is also an Italian restaurant named Suenos (dreams) that has excellent food for reasonable prices. A little walk (about 10 minute) from the central part of the beach is Café del Sol. This is a very nice restaurant where not only you can eat and drink at but they also have a great beach in front of it with chairs, loungers, day beds, etc., on the beach for you to use. You can walk here either on the beach or on the road. When you walk on the beach there will be spots you will have to wade through shallow water.
The central part of the cove is full of activity and music, but is a much tamer place than Boca Chica, and once you walk 5 minutes in either direction of the center of the cove, you will have a more tranquil experience.
New Juan Dolio
New Juan Dolio has a more limited access to the beach and, in my opinion, is not as pretty. While there are many high-end condos and hotels to rent along the water, unless you are staying in one of them, I would suggest you enjoy Old Juan Dolio. There is however an excellent little restaurant/bar that on most nights has a live English band made up of 2 American Expats and a few Dominicans. Here you will find a lot of English speakers enjoying the food, music and cold beers. The wait staff speaks English, their food is great, and most of the patrons are English speakers. This restaurant/bar is located across from Marbella Condos and is called the Chili Deck. In Club Hemmingway, a condo resort, there is a restaurant at the end of a dock on the water that is a nice place to eat at as well.
I have become a creature of habit when I visit Juan Dolio for the day. It’s because I have enjoyed this routine. I start out in the center of the cove at a little bar called Don Pedros. This is not a fancy place, but is perfect for board shorts and a t-shirt. You have a view of the beach, the palm trees, and the Caribbean Ocean, all while enjoying a great breeze, which is very important in the hot and humid months here. I have a few beers and then swim for a little bit. Afterwards, I go to Suenos (the Italian restaurant) for lunch. They have great pizza and I usually order that. Later, I usually walk around a little, enjoy the beach and listen to the music with a cold beverage in my hand. From there, I will walk up the street to Café del Sol and relax there for a little while. As the sun starts to come down, I will walk back via the beachfront to the main part of the beach (the central cove). From there, I will pick one of the several fine seafood and fish restaurants to enjoy a classic Dominican dinner on the beach consisting of whole fried fish (pescado frito) and a side order of fried plantains (fritos). Once the sun has gone down, I will either decide to go over the new side and listen to the English band at The Chili Deck or head home.
Need Help Getting There
If you need help getting from the Santo Domingo Airport to your destination, please contact us for pricing and availability. Our reservations department and many of our drivers speak English.
American Phone: 1-305-204-6504
Dominican Phone: 1-829-994-5150
Email: [email protected]