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Paradise in the Dominican Republic: searching for deserted beaches, mountain views & lobster lunches on a budget

horses and palm trees on beach in dominican republic
My favourite beach, the wild and rugged Playa Limón

As one of the bigger islands in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has a slight reputation for package holidays and all-inclusive resorts - definitely not my idea fun - but if you head out of the tourist areas you'll find secluded beaches and incredible countryside. Flights to the Dominican Republic are relatively reasonable in price and the year-round sun mean it’s a great option for when you want an adventure that’s slightly more chilled but a whole lot more affordable.

I headed to the island with a friend after picking up return flights to Punta Cana for under £500 each with British Airways. We booked a low-key two-bedroomed beach apartment for £660 for the week on Airbnb, which bought the trip well under £1000 each. Our apartment was super simple but large, and had an outside terrace where we’d drink coffee each morning. There was a pool just next to our terrace and the bright white sand of the beach was a just a few footsteps away, with loungers and sunshades that were free to use. By the pool was a tiny bar that served icy cocktails and simple food, nothing fancy, but perfect for our lazy beach days when we just wanted to relax in the sun with a book.

green bush and palm trees white sand blue sea
Los Corales beach, just five minutes from our apartment

Based in Los Corales and tucked away from the big hotels and resorts, our stretch of beach was pretty quiet most days and within walking distance to some great cafes and restaurants. For incredible lobster lunches and cocktails, Huracan Café, a few minutes down the beach, was our go-to. We went more than once for great lobster and ceviche, but their piña colada and coco loco cocktails are also amazing. Another lobster spot, but a taxi ride away is Lorenzillo’s, this place was pretty quiet the night we tried it but the lobster and king prawn platter was good, although the atmosphere was a little lacking, I much preferred Huracan.

lobster and ceviche huracan cafe dominican republic
Lobster and ceviche lunch at Huracan Café

For breakfast and dinner I loved Taino in Bavaro, we went back a couple of times as the atmosphere and food was so good. For breakfast they serve a whole range of interesting options but I tried the avocado and poached egg on toast with sundried tomatoes and an amazing coconut cream coffee, while my friend had the pancakes with berries and for a light dinner one night we tried their steak tartare with a side order of guacamole and nachos. Another close breakfast option is Dalia’s café and bakery, serving pasties, coffee, fresh fruit juices and eggs, we also liked the chilled vibe here and returned a few times. And, for a little taste of Mexico, Wacamole is a good shout for authentic tacos and margaritas in a very chilled garden setting with reasonable prices.

After a few beach days chilling and eating our way through Bavaro we decided to hire a jeep to go explore a little more of the island, we hired ours through Hello Rent Car who were super friendly and dropped the jeep to our apartment and collected it once we’d finished. It was my first time in a few years driving an automatic but the roads were pretty quiet and it was simple enough to get around. We decided to take a spin up the coast to a lookout point called Montaña Redonda, roughly an hour away. It’s well signposted and there’s a carpark at the bottom of the hill which you can pay a few dollars to park up in. 

mountains and clouds dominican republic
Stunning scenery on the walk up Montaña Redonda

The dusty winding 2km track that leads to the top of the hill is pretty steep at points, you can pay to be driven up there but where’s the fun in that? We walked up in the heat of the day, past papaya trees and grazing cows, but the panoramic 360-degree views are well worth the walk. At the top you can get some incredible photos on the wooden swings that make it look like you’re swinging through mid-air (see my profile image). While up there, we met a Dominican couple who told us we couldn’t leave without having a photo on one of the broomsticks that are stacked at the top in a basket. At first we didn’t understand why the broomsticks were there, but once they got us to jump in the air holding one, we soon realised and the results it made us laugh so, so much...

girl on broomstick in mid air amazing views
The broomstick shot

After a bottle of water and many photos we trekked back down and jumped back in the jeep, I wanted to head to Playa Limón, a wild and rugged beach back on the coast. The unpaved road that leads to Playa Limón is an adventure in itself, we passed pigs and chickens, ramshackle houses and many potholes. The sun disappeared for a while but once we arrived it made the scene all that more atmospheric, the waves picked up and a group of horses galloped along the beach alongside coconut trees, it was pretty magical. We took a stroll and dipped our feet in the ocean before meeting a couple of guys who climbed a tree and gave us a fresh coconut each, the sky was beginning to darken so we headed back to our apartment, high on the sights of the day and ready for another lobster supper on the beach.

palm trees wild beach playa limon
Playa Limón

We only scratched the surface of this pretty country but it was the ideal adventure for a relaxed trip in the sun.

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