One of the things that I have never done was go to an island, an island nation as a matter of fact. Of course, I didn’t want to go to an island that was cold and quite difficult to get to so I picked the Dominican Republic, a country probably better known for its exports of major league baseball players. I highly recommend going to this country if you’re the type to get away from big tourist spots but yet, still want the warm, beach-like atmosphere and also close enough to get something within range because you can’t speak Spanish. The island’s food, lodging and other amenities were cheap compared to the other richer islands in the Caribbean and yet, it has a more relaxed attitude probably due to the people and the culture. The place I went to was called Sosua, a beach town in northern Hispaniola, the island that the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti.
The streets were chaotic, almost like the dirt streets of Peru and Colombia, where many foreigners generally don’t hang out but where the local populace does. The main street was okay but I was told to be careful because there were a lot of potholes and it could suck if you don’t see where your next step would be (especially at night). The beaches were exceptional; just down right relaxing to listen to the waves crashing in and out. I found the food to be good as well – kind of what you’d find in the resort areas of Mexico. One thing that I have to warn people about is that there are and will be some suspecting persons there. I was walking around to get a look around the area so I’d know where everything was around my hotel that some guy came up to me asking if I was a foreigner. I told him that I was and he offered to get me drugs like cocaine, marijuana, or ecstasy. Yeah, that was not going to happen since I am a drug user. Be sure to watch for that in case you get “propositioned” for drugs, illegal stuff (don’t ask me this; a British guy explained to me that some guys sell this drink that is illegal), girls, and even boys. No thanks!
But still, taking out all the minor bad parts of this country, it was like heaven out there. Nice climate, great beaches, a very relaxed, chill-out place of an island-country in the warm Caribbean seas that it should be! Prices weren’t too bad either despite in a tourist zone for a hotel, food, drinks, or even the fun activities so it was pretty reasonable with plenty of opportunities to have a lot of fun. And my choice of fun was diving of course! In a place like this, I was definitely going to have a lot of fun.
One thing I’ve noticed was that the prices for diving was the cheapest I’ve ever seen. Cheaper than Mexico or Costa Rica for that matter. And those places are pretty big on the tourist scene since they cater to foreigners well using their natural resources to their fullest extent of selling potential.
And the great thing about all this diving was that it was quite like Mexico and Honduras since the waters of the Caribbean Sea flow around in circles spreading its plant and animal species. So whatever I’ve seen in one Caribbean nation while underwater, I should see in another Caribbean country. And being underwater while diving is just a great feeling especially in warm waters. You get to see all sorts of cool things like spiny lobsters, lion fish (even though they’re not native), coral, colorful fish, and sometimes something strange once in awhile.
I recommend doing some research before you go to the Dominican Republic as this country is a Spanish-speaking one so it’s vitally important you want what you really want to do. Sure, you can wing it but I find that the islander Spanish (Cuba, D. R. Puerto Rico) is quite different and sometimes downright impossible to understand compared to main lander Spanish (Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, etc.).
One of the things that I suggest that you pick up before you leave the country is its rum. Like Panama, D. P. can produce some great sugar cane which can result in the awesome production of its great alcoholic rum. The bottles sell for $5-25 in the country but in the U.S. or elsewhere, they can fetch 5 or more times that price. Make sure you bring something you can pack it in. I was lucky enough to bring them into the country as a carry-on and then I put them snuggled up against my diving wetsuit so the bottles didn’t break and if they did, they would be contained within the wetsuit itself making it easier to clean.