The Dominican Republic is a rather large island in the Caribbean Sea, just southwest of Cuba, north of Venezuela. The DR shares its borders with Haiti which, as I learned during my travels, comes as a surprise to more than a good percentage of Americans. Most everyone I asked knew the island was in the Caribbean, but few knew that one half of the ocean landmass is the DR, the other, Haiti.
Together, the Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago
Anyway, I recently visited the island and came home with a new personal-favorite recipe, marmitako aka Basque fish stew, which I’ll share in my next post … but for now, here’s more about my visit to the region and the paella I was lucky enough to enjoy everyday.
Arriving in a foreign country you know little, if anything, about can be more than a bit nerve racking. And although I’ve traveled outside the U.S. before, I admit I was a little nervous about visiting the DR … but, once we were safely on the ground it was clear that some of my preconceived notions were inaccurate. Clear, like CRYSTAL. Not kidding, the airport’s bathrooms are as pristine and fancy as most upscale restaurants. Like seriously, ORD has nothing on PUJ.
Within minutes of walking through security, we were greeted by a friendly, but professional man who would be our private driver for the day. I highly recommend using DAT … sure, he might drive like a taxicab in NYC, but hey, he was courteous, safe and the Cadillac Escalade we were picked up in was super clean. NOTE if you go, heed the directions from the company: ask for identification, make sure your confirmation numbers match theirs, and do not interact with any other drivers.
The drive to the resort was hot, humid and sticky, but I loved seeing the “real” DR, not just the resort. And hey, get this, there’s even an IKEA there. Yea. Who knew.
I’m not going to sugar coat this … the resort wasn’t fabulous. Yes, it was nice … I mean come on, we were in the tropics with wild peacocks and flamingos and beaches and plush gardens, BUT, the layout, the amenities, and the rooms were marginal. Clean, but not updated. The service was outstanding and the people were friendly but because I’ve heard of so many great places in the DR I wouldn’t go back here. But hey, if you have any recommendations for fabulous stays in the DR, let me know.
All in all, like the resort, what was offered was marginal. But, there were some highlights: fresh mango every morning, passionfruit juice, rum (lots of rum) and plenty of flavorful seafood options–like FRESH paella (seen above) for lunch every single day!
Along with the main courses, most everything I ordered was served with mangú (mashed plantains). They aren’t sweet like bananas, but rather mild and bland. Occasionally there were a few tostones, twice-fried plantains, on the plates as well … these crispy rounds resemble a round tortilla chip but like the mangú really didn’t have much flavor. And … if you want to know more about my favorite dish, stay tuned … I’ll share the recipe in my next post.
By far the best time had by all, yes even me, and yes, I went down the slide … was the afternoon spent with Beach Fun 809. We rented the boat (and the guys, wink wink) for four hours. They took us out snorkeling, provided some wicked rum and passion fruit concoction, and we tooled around the ocean and bays for most of the afternoon. And though you can find plenty of “booze-cruises” in resort areas, this one was a notch above the rest not only because they were beyond professional and safe. Listen, when there’s an ocean and drinking involved, safety is equally, if not more, important than than anything else. So yeah, I highly recommend this group. DM them on IG next time you visit the DR 🙂
And that’s my five-minute wrap up of the Dominican Republic. Will I go back, eh, for the authentic food, the because, the people and the fun, yes. But I need some recommendations for places to stay. Anyone??
Coming up NEXT on the blog … an amazing recipe for a traditional Dominican seafood stew. Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews | @shaunanosler
DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox