Castillo Beach

Castillo beach in La Isabela, Dominican Republic

If you are having your Dominican Republic vacation planned out by a travel agent you will likely be hitting the larger beaches and resorts like Punta Cana, Boca Chica, La Romana, Las Terrenas or Puerto Plata. These are all larger beaches and towns and like most tourist locations are probably going to be packed with people. Sometimes though, it is nice to hit one of the “off the beaten path” locations. One of my favorites is Castillo Beach in La Isabela in the northern part of the Dominican Republic.

Like most of Dominican beaches Castillo Beach is pretty crowded on the weekends, to us, when is really shines in during the week. On most weekdays the beach is pretty close to empty and doesn’t start picking up until the late afternoon. That makes it a nice quite beach to relax on, but is still has the advantage of having services right on the beach (unlike most of the other quite beaches we go to). One thing to point out though is that I am not talking about “resort quality” services. You should be expecting a laid back atmosphere with beach huts for the services. However you can find most of the necessities there are “flush” bathrooms (fairly clean), changing rooms, a few small restaurant / bar combinations and lots of sand and water!

Snorkeling and Shell hunting

One of the reasons my family likes to head to different beaches is the variety of shells and fish. Each beach we go to has something different. One item that is unique at this beach are the unusual sand dollars. You can walk (with water shoes, there are urchins) out onto shelves and pick up sand dollars. As you can see from the pictures these sand dollars are a little different. They  are much thicker than most sand dollars I have seen and they have a cool star pattern that is raised up from the shell. You also find a lot of different colored urchin shells on this beach. Most of the fish I have seen are pretty small, although I haven’t went very far out. There are areas of deeper water, but you would have to get out past the shelf to see larger fish.

Shade on the Beach

Shade on the Beach

Swimming Conditions

Castillo beach is a good beach for children. So far I haven’t seen much in the way of waves (very poor surfing beach) and the water gets deeper very slowly in most areas. This beach also has plenty of trees fairly near the water so you can get out of the sun if you like.

 Castillo Beach Restaurants and Bars

Well, they are not exactly restaurants, although the Piez de Colon does have a covered sitting area with tables. Two of these restaurant / bars are more like beach huts. However they do have drinks, both alcoholic and sodas, various snacks, and sell fried fish and fried chicken plates served with tostonies or French fries. If you have a group of people they will usually work with the price a little. The fish or chicken plates are usually around 200 pesos with tostonies or fries and a large plate of French fries alone is about 150 pesos. Especially if you have a group it is a good idea to let them know as soon as you get to the beach what you want so that they can be sure they have enough fish etc on hand. You can tell them when you want to eat and they will try to have it ready around the time you specify. There are three beach bar / store / restaurants.  (more…)

Cofresi Pearl

Cofresi Pearl

Food is usually one of the highlights when you are vacationing and there are plenty of options to choose from when you head over to the Lifestyles Resort. While there are still a few of them that my family and I haven’t tried this should help you to get started. There are two main buffets a couple smaller ones and at least 8 other locations that serve A-la-cart Items. You can go to the buffets at any time that they are open without reservations but you need to get reservations for the A-la-cart (regular, sit down, order and they bring the food to you) restaurants.

Other Lifestyle resorts Articles

All of the restaurants and bars are available to both guests of the Colfresi Palm and the Tropical resorts. With few exceptions all food and drink are included with the price of the room. Tips are not required but it doesn’t hurt to be friendly with the staff and leave a dollar or two for tips once in a while.

Lifestyles buffet restaurants

Both the Lifestyles Tropical Resort and the Lifestyles Colfresi Palm resort have large buffets. The Casablanca is located in the center of the Tropical resort and the Pearl is located in the center of the Colfresi Palm resort. This is where you will likely get most of your meals. In addition to the mail buffets the Tropical resort has a burger and snack place that is open from 11pm to 5pm and the Colfresi Palm has a Dominican food buffet down near the beach and lower pool. (more…)

Those of you who like to frequent Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic probably remember the fire that took out at least 15 beachside businesses in Pueblo de los Pescadores. I’ve got some videos that were taken right after the fire on my “Fire at Pueblo de los Pescadores” page.I spent the last weekend in Las Terrenas with my family and it looks like the businesses are about ready to reopen.

Pueblo de los Pescadores

Pueblo de los Pescadores, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Beach Side Restaurants

While Las Terrenas has quite a few great restaurants Pueblo de los Pescadores was the only area where you could eat, dance and buy a drink to kick back on the beach with. Unlike some of the other Beaches like Boca Chica where you are catered to by businesses right on the beach, most of the businesses in Las Terrenas are located on the other side of the road from the beach. This means you cross the street and head into the bar or restaurant if you want to get something.

Before the fire we would kick back at one of the beachside lounges and have a drink while listening to the waves (or music depending on which lounge we were are) and watching the sun go down. There was also (more…)

Sambil Mall in Santo Domingo will finally be opening up. After years of delays the new mall is scheduled to be inaugurated on October 30th, 2012. This new mall will not only be bringing in quite a few foreign stores of interest to both ex-pats living here but also to locals looking to be able have a wider selection of American and other foreign products to choose from. Sambil Mall is also expected to in time bring over 10,000 new jobs to the Santo Domingo area.

Sambil Job Openings

Of the over 10,000 new jobs about 4,000 are expected to be directly related to the mall while 6,000 are expected as indirect mall related jobs. The new Sambil Mall Job Openings will be in a large variety of different skills. Along with the usual food, (more…)

The Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo has a new American Food Restaurant. Denny’s is one of the largest family restaurant chains in the United States and at least one can be found in most of the larger towns in California.

Denny’s is working with one of the more experienced hotel franchise groups, the same one that has brought the Holiday Inn and Intercontinental Hotel into Santo Domingo. The new restaurant location was officially opened on June 26 2012 in the food court of the the Las Americas (Santo Domingo) Airport making it the first airport location worldwide. (more…)

There is a new American food restaurant in Santo Domingo. The “Home of the Original Hamburger” Johnny Rockets has opened a 6,000 square foot restaurant in the Poligono Central district of downtown Santo Domingo, and there was dancing in the streets (well at least in the restaurant, see videos)

A grand opening celebration was held on Tuesday, June 5 at 6:00 p.m., and featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, appearances by local dignitaries, menu sampling, and performances by Johnny Rockets dancing servers. If you are looking for more restaurants in Santo Domingo check our Santo Domingo Restaurants page.

More Johnny Rockets Videos

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Warehouse shopping at its best! If you find yourself missing wandering through the isles checking out bulk items while you are here in the DR, you should be happy to know there is a little taste of warehouse comfort in Santiago, the Dominican version of Costco, PriceSmart.

As you walk in the feeling is almost exactly the same. The food court is near the entrance which offers much of the same food like (more…)

Over the last week there have been more cases of Cholera reported in the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains caused a sewage pipe to break affecting a several communities in Moca near Santiago.

Unfortunately even in the industrialized nations like the United States it is not uncommon to see people head straight out of the public bathrooms without washing their hands. That means if they have some infectious disease (like Cholera in the DR) this will be spread from everything they touch (shopping carts, door handles etc.)

While this isn’t new news, it does reinforce the need to clean your hands frequently while visiting public locations during your travels here in the DR. It is not a bad idea to keep hand sanitize with you so you can easily disinfect your hands before eating and other activities.

Other tips to remember while traveling here.

  • Always drink Bottled water
  • Avoid using ice if you are not sure how they make the ice in the restaurant you are eating at.
  • Thoroughly cooked foods are far safer than salads and other raw foods, even in resorts this can be a problem
  • Resist the urge to touch your face, especially near your mouth when you are out and about, in particular when shopping.
  • Clean your hands frequently
  • Try not to touch door handles when leaving public bathrooms (use a hand towel or tissue).

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Seems that people moving to the DR like to take their favorite comfort foods and favorite restaurants with them. Head down the streets of any of the larger cities and you are sure to find McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and even some of the “Gourmet” Burger joints like TGI Fridays. One of the latest additions is the Krispy Kreme store that was opened in Santo Domingo. One store that you seem to hear a lot of requests for is Starbucks (personally I like Dominican Coffee). If you are looking for more restaurants in Santo Domingo check our Santo Domingo Restaurants page.

A year or so back it appeared that Starbucks might be opening a store in the new Agora Mall in Santo Domingo. Unfortunately from the latest bulletin from Agora Mall (Dec 2011), it looks like they are still far from completion and no word of this can be found on Starbucks website.

So what do you think? Are you going to be one of the first sipping on a Caramel Macchiato or Strawberry Smoothie if they do open a store in the Agora Mall?

On another interesting note about Starbucks, apparently in the past they have been using a red die that is made from crushed insects (cochineal). This buggy food coloring gave those lovely strawberry drinks (and other food items) that inciting color. Over the last few days it has been released that they will be phasing out this particular food coloring to be replaced by a more “vegan” friendly food coloring. So I suppose one advantage of the delay from Starbucks reaching the DR is we missed the great bug scandal.

Guess while we’re waiting we have to be satisfied with blending our own coffee and fruit smoothies using the locally grown Cafe Santo Domingo and fresh island fruit instead of Starbucks famous blends

There’s Chicago style pizza, New York style pizza, California style pizza and then there is Dominican style pizza…….. There are many things that Dominicans do great, but sorry guys pizza isn’t one of them…

Casa Asup Pizzeria

Casa Asul Pizzeria - Our New Pizza Favorite

Casa Azul

Then we come across Casa Azul in Las Terrenas. Well, it was made by Dominicans and very friendly ones but the result? Well, let’s say I’ve found a new favorite place to get a pizza! This pizza was made in an actual stone oven giving it a slight smoky flavor and as to be expected with stone oven pizzas you get the small close to burnt spots on the crust (something that many feel marks a truly great pizza) which actually adds to the flavor.

The sauce was flavorful pizza sauce not the ketchup sauce that is frequently found in many pizzerias in this country. It was layered on a relatively thin, crisp crust that took in some of the smoke flavor from the oven.

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