SOUTH CENTRAL REGION
While the Dominican Republic's coasts provide relaxation at every turn, Santo Domingo and the South Central Region are all hustle and bustle. With just over three million people, Santo Domingo serves as the Caribbean's most diverse destination and, arguably, the most vibrant. The city itself displays contrasts at every turn. Contemporary hotels sit on ancient cobblestone streets, luxury cars park beside well-worn scooters, and eclectic cuisine at hip restaurants is served next to street vendors serving traditional Dominican fare.
As the oldest city in the New World, Santo Domingo features the first cathedral, first university and first hospital of the Americas. In fact, visitors often note that the well-preserved Zona Colonial makes them feel as though they've been transported in time.
Despite all this history, Santo Domingo is quite modern and very continental. The city's restaurants offer just about any cuisine in the world, boutiques and major chain retailers from the U.S. and Europe have set-up shops, and a wealth of museums, galleries and theaters ensure countless cultural events.
Conveniently located near Santo Domingo's airport, Boca Chica is a resort town bustling with activity. The beach is actually a reef-protected lagoon characterized by powdery sand and turquoise waters. And because of its conditions - calm, warm waters - the area is a popular destination for Santo Domingo residents and their children on the weekends.
Considered a shopping beach, vendors set-up shop up and down the main street that runs parallel to the beach. Visitors, many of whom come from the wide array of the hotels and resorts in the area, can buy everything from jewelry and artwork to food and drinks.
Hotels and resorts fitting any budget are located here, as well as an array of nightlife and restaurants.
Located halfway between Santo Domingo and La Romana, Juan Dolio is a perfect escape for couples and families. While the town is calm and peaceful, excitement is only minutes away in the form of an excursion to La Romana or Santo Domingo. Other excursions include scuba diving, a baseball game at San Pedro Tetelo Vargas stadium, or one of the many other day trips available from tour operators.