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Dominican Republic Travel Guide 8 Ways to Save

Dominican Republic Travel Guide 8 Ways to Save

Welcome to the Dominica Budget Travel Guide. Looking for a Caribbean adventure but can’t quite squeeze together the dough for a trip to Antigua or Grand Cayman? Dominica could well be the perfect compromise! The beaches are just as magical (if a little more ‘tropical’ in places), there’s tons to keep you busy without blowing through your budget, and everything is just a little more laid back and unhurried. Anyone looking for a Caribbean getaway that will be genuinely refreshing, easy-going, and surprisingly affordable should definitely place Dominica towards the top of their list. The Dominica Budget Travel Guide will discuss not just the best places to see, but also provide plenty of handy tips that should help you save a lot of money in the process. Sounds good? Let’s get to it!

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Things To See & Do

One of the best things about Dominica is that it offers not just masses of gorgeous scenery to explore but also provides plenty of fascinating – and sometimes thrilling – secondary attractions. The beaches and landscape are certainly the largest draws but you’ll find plenty else to occupy your time when you need to lay up and relax for a little while. Rather than just provide a massive list of all the cool sights and attractions in Dominica we’ll highlight a selection that better demonstrates this variety. You really can spend a long time here before getting close to becoming bored.

Be Dazzled By Batibou Beach

Dominica has many wonderful beaches – and Batibou is probably the most famous of the bunch. We would recommend trying to visit here on your first or second day because it highlights exactly what you’ll discover when venturing out to more distant and quieter spots. Batibou beach is the kind of place you could expect to see a 17th-century pirate ship anchored just offshore! The palm tree fringes, magnificent shallow waters, and ultra-laid back beach bar (offering sensationally cheap and delicious cocktails!) sits quietly at one end. You’ll notice that many of the beaches here are much quieter and far more chilled-out than other Caribbean islands – so savor it up and rest your bones.

Hike To Middleham Falls

Dominica’s rockier landscape offers some sensational hiking and a trip out to Middleham Falls is pretty much essential for anyone’s itinerary. The 200ft falls are staggeringly beautiful and it is an easy-moderate hike alongside up to the top. Breakthrough the rainforest and you can take in some wonderful views around the area as well. Allow for a couple of hours to cover the hike to and from the falls, and perhaps the same amount of time again if you fancy braving the rather cool waters! If you are visiting during the peak season and want somewhere more tranquil and less crowded, both the Trafalgar and Victoria Falls are excellent alternatives and worth a visit in their own right.

The Boiling Lake Or The Freshwater Lake?

There are two other hikes worth mentioning more specifically as they are both very popular for rather different reasons. The Freshwater lake is extremely accessible and the highest body of water on the island. There’s kayaks for hire (the views from the middle are breathtaking) just be wary that the lake is very popular with passing cruise liner visitors. Try and visit for dawn or dusk and you’ll have it pretty much to yourself. Should you want something more challenging instead (or as well) a trip out to the Boiling Lake – an enormous body of water in the volcanic mountains – is a much tougher proposition. Allow around six hours each way unless you are super-fit and some rough trails. Once you make it you’ll be glad of the effort.

Hop Along The Waitukubuli Trail

If you attempt to cover the whole length of the Waitukubuli Trail expect to take around about two or three weeks! The trail passes through the majority of the key attractions and many barely visited places along the way. You’ll see the diversity of the rain forest animal and birdlife, some epic cliffside views, staggering waterfalls, and much more. Unless you are looking for a proper expedition we would recommend checking out the trail in some detail and looking out for it any time your travels take you close. It was laid because it does literally showcase the best in the country and you really cannot go wrong! We would rate this as one of the best experiences in the whole of the Caribbean – and it is totally free as well.

Visit The Kalinago Reserve

The Kalinago are the original inhabitants of the island and this reserve should again feature on anyone’s travel plans. It presents a ‘living history’ village where visitors are free to join tours of the community and understand how ancient traditions and practices till survive to this day. The tour also explains the murkier parts of Dominican history through the colonial mirror glass and the role of slavery within that story. Use this as a launchpad for exploring the rest of the protected Carib Quarter – there’s some beautiful scenery laying within those sheltered coves and bays.

Bird Spotting Along The Syndicate Nature Trail

Dominica is fabulous for bird spotting but even the keenest eyes sometimes need some guidance with where best to look. The Syndicate Nature Trail is regarded as the best national route in the country for bird spotting and as you may expect, takes in some pretty magnificent scenery along the way. You’ll need a guide (who will handily supply your binoculars) to make the most of this and the good news is that they are well worth the outlay. Expect a full-day group tour to set you back about the equivalent of $30-40/person and to be blown away by not just the natural life but also the ongoing history and cultural lessons along the way.

Go Whale Spotting!

Dominica is fortunate to have one of the world’s with a permanent sperm-whale population and there is no shortage of tours that will take you out for a ride at reasonable prices (look around and haggle where possible). Most tours last a good three or four hours and you’ll almost certainly spot whales – and masses of dolphins – along the way. The ride out is typically pretty easy-going once you are past the tidal surf – so don’t worry if you don’t have the steadiest sea-legs! Try and look for tours that perform round-trips so you can see different stretches of the island from the sea.

Take A Picnic To Cabrits National Park

You’ll find that Dominica oozes historical charm but doesn’t tend to make all that big a deal about it. Even the National Museum is pretty lightweight – it tends to prefer people to discover those sites and relics under their own steam. The good news is that for openminded visitors that is actually rather fantastic fun – and a trip up to Cabrits National Park is one of the handiest introductions. Although the park is pretty compact by Dominican standards it is well paved and the short track leads up to a well preserved 18th-century British garrison. There’s not many better spots for a relaxing picnic!

Check Out Rousseau

Aim to spend a full day exploring Rousseau – not because it is especially large but more because people like to do things a little slower and easier around these parts! Rousseau is rather smart with a good selection of classic colonial-era buildings with the national Cathedral standing out as the most visited attraction. Hike up to well-monied or Morne Bruce to take in the views over the city (really just a small town), pick up some bargains at the local markets (avoid those near the cruise line ferries) and lounge around the rather glorious Botanic Gardens. Enjoy a drink or two at the many bars along the coast – remember tp order ‘local’ for a generous serve and more modest tab.

These are just a tiny selection of the kind of things you will be able to see and do in Dominica. Hopefully, you will also have noticed that a good proportion of these are either free or still represent excellent value given the quality of the experience. The Dominica Budget Travel Guide could have discussed diving and sailing at length – they are both very popular here – but are likely going to be beyond the means of most budget visitors. We’ll discuss our suggested budget shortly but if these are the kind of activities that you will want to do in Dominica it is worth setting around designated funds to cover these. Both will cost at least $100 per session – although there are certainly bargains out there during the less busy times of the year too.

Dominican Republic Girl On the Beach

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Typical Costs

Dominica uses the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) that exchanges at around EC$ 2.7 = 1 USD. Both currencies are widely accepted although most ATMs only dispense EC$. In the experience of the Dominica Budget Travel Guide, it is handiest to try and stick to local dollars as these are almost always what you’ll receive in change anyway.

For the sake of convenience, we will quote all estimated prices in USD throughout the Dominica Budget Travel Guide.

Cards are widely accepted and remember that there is a tipping culture within the country. Expect to leave around a 10-15% gratuity on restaurant meals, some small change on cabs, and some tour guides may also request a modest donation of about $5/per half-day.

Comparatively speaking Dominica can be significantly cheaper than many other Caribbean islands. Expect the prices of most things to be roughly quite similar to what you would expect to pay in the USA. There are certainly plenty of ways you can spend big – we would say most visitors spend around $200/day here in total – but budget visitors are absolutely not priced out of the market. That being said, budget-friendly accommodation is not a large part of the sector so you should try and make sure you book as far ahead as possible. People are wising up to how affordable Dominica can be – so be on your toes!

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Budget Hotels & Ecolodges

Let’s begin with the positives – there are some outstanding budget accommodation options on Dominica. Shop around and you will find beds in eco-lodges up near Rosalie for around $40/night, basic guest house beds for around the same figure, and pricier but somewhat smarter budget hotels for closer to $80/night per double. Something to be aware of when perusing the budget-friendly options is that the prices really do not tend to vary very much between seasons. They will be booked up for long parts of the year, and that high turnover of guests does mean that the quality can also suffer a little. But if you are only looking for a place to rest down for the night they are certainly one of the handiest options. The eco-lodges in the north are fantastic value so book them up early.

Hotels

Unlike the budget end of the market, the resort-style hotels do have massive fluctuations in price depending on the time of year. During peak season a standard double could easily cost around $180-200/night, yet a couple of months outside of those busier months you’ll find it listed for closer to $80-100/night. Hotels also tend to throw in handier than they may sound additional extras such as complimentary bike hire, snorkel gear, meals and so on. Our advice would be to research how those prices change around the time you are planning to visit before booking up with one of the budget options. You’ll never kick yourself harder if you spot a fancy yet heavily discounted hotel room going for the same price as a shared bed in a dorm!

Airbnb

Dominica is pretty good for Airbnb and this is probably your best place to look if you are wanting to secure good quality self-catered apartments or somewhere a little more interesting/varied to stay. There are certainly some gems here although do not expect the prices to deviate much from those already mentioned above. One of the advantages of Airbnb is the best-reviewed options usually always quote the quality of the host – and a little local knowledge can be really handy here. Even simple extras such as help with bus timetables, recommendations on where to eat/drink on a budget, and so on can make all the difference. Take a good look at these before settling on where to stay – the prices may not be amazing but the experience can be a lot better.

Dominican Republic Travel Guide 8 Ways to Save

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Dominican Food

These prices are broadly similar to what you’d expect in the USA with some occasional discrepancies. A week’s worth of simple groceries does not need to cost more than around $60-80/person making self-catering a fantastic way of saving money throughout your trip. Saying that; eating out isn’t as insanely expensive as it can be elsewhere in the Carribean. Street food -especially locally caught fish – can be as little as $10 for a very large portion (cheaper than a burger at the local McDonalds!). Cafeteria-style meals are about $20/person with a drink, whereas more upscale places you can expect those costs to start at $50 and head rapidly north. Remember that tipping is obligatory and does add up if you eat out every day.

As mentioned earlier do your best to drink ‘local’ wherever possible as domestic hooch (rum and beer) is considerably cheaper than anything imported. Happy hour promotions are common throughout the early evening and it is not difficult to find bars where a beer costs $2 around the clock. Cocktails start at about $5 in a side-street bar and easily hit $15+ if you ask for them brought to you on the beachfront.

Providing you stay smart you really do not need to budget a huge amount of money for your daily eating and drinking expenses. Obviously, this is going to vary by day and whether your accommodation has any provision for self-catering, but we would suggest a reasonable outlay of $30/day should be more than adequate on average.


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Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Dominican Rum

Dominican Republic travel guide top 5 Dominican rums and why we love them all.  First, a little more about rum and its history.

Rum is a liquor made by fermenting then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels. Most rums are produced in Caribbean and American countries, but also in other sugar-producing countries, such as the Philippines and India.

Rums are produced in various grades. Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas “golden” and “dark” rums were typically consumed straight or neat, iced (“on the rocks”), or used for cooking, but are now commonly consumed with mixers. Premium rums are made to be consumed either straight or iced.

Rums are produced in various grades. Light rums are commonly used in  cocktails, whereas “golden” and “dark” rums were typically consumed straight up. spiced, or used for cooking, but are now commonly consumed with mixers. Premium rums are made to be consumed either straight or iced.

Brugal XV

The oldest Dominican rum on our list was made in 1888 by Don Andres Brugal Montaner in Puerto Plata, Dominica. It was the first aged rum made in Dominica. He began exporting and quickly became the first rum to be the number 1 brand in Spain. The Brugal XV is the favorite worldwide of all of the Dominican rum products. This blend is aged in oak casks for 3 to 8 years and then transferred to cherry wood barrels for another 2 to 3 years. This gives it a unique taste that nobody has yet duplicated. Be sure and take a tour of the factory in Puerto Plata.

Bermudez 1852 Aniversario

The Bermudez is one of best know family names in the entire Dominican rum industry. The godfather, Don Diego Bermudes was a traveler to Hispaniola with Christopher Columbus. He brought the first sugar cane to the island and all Dominican rum products are a direct result of his efforts. He established his brewery in 1852 and one of his first rums was Amargo Panacea which was the first alcohol product make in Dominica.

The Bermudez 1852 Aniversario was created to celebrate the great history of the brewery. Aged for 12 years it has a fruity taste with the addition of island staples such as banana, rasin and coconut. It is a very dry smooth rum and has a vanilla and peppery after taste.

Ron Barcelo Gran Platinum Rum

Ron Barcelo Gran Platinum Rum was the product made by Julian Barcelo and came about when he decided ot make the best rum in the world in 1929. He arrived from Spain in 1929 and immediately opened the Barcelo & Co brewery and set out on his brewing adventure. He began making different rums and eventually settled on his choice products the Barcelo Blanco and Dorado varieties. While his first Dominican rums were a bit hit he kept trying to make better Dominican rum product and his next was the Ron Barcelo Imperial to hit the market. It began winning awards worldwide almost instantly. The Barcelo Gran Platinum was the first white Dominican rum. It was made by filtering a Gran Anejo rum until it became crystal clear but with not ill effects to the taste. All of the Barcelo wines have distinct tastes which are the results of citrus, vanilla, pepper and dried fruits for a taste that is hard to beat.

Siboney Reserva

The Siboney rum was first opened by the Cochon family in 1920 and is one of the Dominican rums on the island. This rum is only made in limited amounts and only uses local products. It is the most authentic of the 5 Dominican rum products. Siboney is well known for have an almost toffee or caramel taste with a fruity or nutty after taste.

Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21

The last though not the least is Vizcaya VXOP and found its roots from Cuban traditional methods and has been made since the 19th century. This Dominican rum is made from local grown sugar cane only. Vizcaya VXOP ferments that sugar cane juice in very small quantities and all of it must age for 8 years in real oak casks before being allowed to be sold. The oak casks give the rum an warm smoky flavor. This rum also uses cinnamon, clove and ginger and vanilla in the aging process and has a bit of tropical fruit taste as well. Vizcaya VXOP Dominican rum has one many awards in the largest rum competitions held yearly around the world. Try this one and you may forget the other 4 options.

These are just a few of our top picks, there are many more to find on the island.. There are so many Dominican rums, so if you are a connoisseur, or find a new one not on our list please let us know.

Spend as much time as your budget will allow sampling these 5 and others to get a true taste of Dominican rum, you be glad your did.

Dominican Republic Travel Guide 8 Ways to Save Mangu Seafood Dish

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – Suggested Budget

No Dominican Republic travel guide would be complete without a number of sources for budget while you are vising.  Here are just a few for you to consider.

Some people are going to be more willing to make compromises than others – but we would suggest that a daily budget of between $80-100/day is about right for most budget-visitors. You could certainly do it cheaper but that is enough to cover whatever form of basic accommodation takes your fancy, plenty to enjoy a variety of food and drinks, and some cash left over to put towards tours and organized travel/experiences. There will inevitably be days where you spend more but the good thing about Dominica is that these are easily offset by the island enjoying so many ways to spend your days cheaply as well.

If you can stretch your budget further then look to spend those additional funds wisely. As discussed above, accommodation is a very fluid market in Dominica and better quality places to stay not always massively more expensive. Good quality double hotel rooms (in decent locations) should not usually cost more than $120 ($60/person). Eat out somewhere fancy each night with a few sundowners ($50), take excursions/trips every other day (budget for a $50 average outlay), and you should easily have change left from a $160/day budget.

One thing to be aware of is that upgrading your accommodation towards the ‘luxury’ end will become significantly more expensive. Top hotels start at $200/night and specialist guided tours ($70), fine dining ($75+), airport transfers ($30) and perhaps even car hire all substantially increase your daily budget. A good proportion of visitors to Dominica spend about $250-300/day so we’ll leave it up to you to consider who is getting the better value for their money.

Money Saving Tips

You can have a wonderfully varied and pretty lavish time in Dominica without needing to spend excessively – providing you fix up good value accommodation before go. We would really recommend trying to find somewhere that allows a degree of self-catering. Being able to prepare some meals – even if it is just your daily picnic – massively reduces weekly costs. Mix that up with some street food and occasional bar/canteen meals and you’ll be set. Take advantage of drinks promotions and remember that it is always cheaper to take your own to the beach (be discreet and remember to tidy up after yourself).

Buy your own snorkel gear and take it with you to Dominica. There are some amazing places to snorkel here and you don’t need a tour to do it. Hire costs do mount up quickly – about $20/time depending on where you are – while your own kit should not cost more than $50 anyway. Try and pick hotels that offer complimentary bike hires (many do) as these are a cool way of seeing large parts of the island and can cost from $25/day otherwise.

There is more of a haggling-culture on Dominica that many other Carribean islands although you should be careful where you try and negotiate a little discount. Listed prices are usually set in stone although there is often some wriggle-room when booking tours/experiences especially if you are a larger group or have special requests. It is not a bad idea to ask locals where to find the best deals for these. Everyone will know/recommend someone and may be able to negotiate for you if you ask nicely.

Where To Stay

As discussed throughout the Dominica Budget Travel Guide take your time deciding what accommodation best suits your requirements and keep an eye out for discounts according to the time of year you intend on visiting. Airbnb can offer the best overall value although prices can be lower booking the cheapest hotels (and those amazing eco-lodges are very highly recommended indeed). We would highly recommend trying to split your time between perhaps one week in the south and one in the north of the island. You’ll notice prices change quite substantially to factor that into your plans.

Good value accommodation doesn’t often include a sea view (with a couple of exceptions) but it is more important to find a good overall location to keep down your reliance on public transport or pricy cabs. If the difference is $20/night on opting for somewhere 500m from the sea or five miles then we’d suggest that spending the extra is actually a smart investment.

How To Get Around

We always want to offer you the a wide variety of prices at the Dominican Republic travel guide for ways to more around a destination. Here are a few for Dominica.

Government-run buses (with an H sign) operate between 6am and 7pm-ish along most of the major roads. They’ll stop anywhere providing they are not already full. Prices are sensationally low – you should not pay more than around $6 for a long trip, and many short fares are less than $2. Hitchhiking is relatively common although obviously comes with associated risks.

The problem with the buses is that they close for the night so early. Cabs do not use meters or follow ‘standard fares’ so make sure to agree a fair price with the driver and in a specified currency. Prices are often quoted per-person.

Car hire is an option but should be approached with a degree of caution. Roads are average quality and can be quite challenging throughout more mountainous terrain. Providing you are a confident driver hiring your own vehicle can be a great way to save money. Standards sedans cost around $25/day + gas and a small administrative local license fee. If you are part of a group and want to enjoy extra freedom to explore the island while saving money, this is the way to do so. Just take care and drive slow.

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – When To Go

Dominica enjoys a long peak season that stretches between February and late June and is the choice time to visit for reasers of the Dominican Republic Travel Guide. Expect fantastic weather besides the occasional short downpour, quite significant crowds, and the highest prices. Many businesses close between July and September over hurricane season which is usually still very wet even in a quieter year. Things reopen again for the World Creole Fair in October.

We would strongly advise travelers with a tighter budget to look at visiting Dominica sometime between October and December. prices can be fantastic value over ‘shoulder season’ and Independence Day (November 3rd) is obviously a wonderful time to visit. Try and avoid the festive holidays as those prices will go through the roof again, but any other time around these dates is a great time to visit.

Dominican Republic Travel Guide – How To Stay Safe

The Dominican Republic Travel Guide would rate Dominica as one of the safest and friendliest of all the Carribean islands. Crime does happen but is rarely anything serious – petty theft, car break-ins, casual scams – are by far the most common. Local people here actually do keep an eye out for tourists (they are essential for the economy) and tourist areas are very well policed. Still practice basic common sense as you would anywhere else – lock hotel rooms/balconies, use safes, avoid unlit ATMs at night, etc. But unless you go looking for trouble in Dominica (getting involved in the drug scene for instance) you will be very unlucky indeed to fall victim to any crime during your stay. Most trouble on the island is either local vs local or visitor vs visitor.

Dominican health care is a mixed bag. If you become seriously sick or injured you’ll likely be taken off the island to be treated in superior facilities. Needless to say, that is an expensive process and you must make sure your insurance covers such eventualities. Minor complaints can be treated but you will likely need to pay for this upfront and claim against your insurance afterward. We would recommend comprehensive insurance for your visit that includes supplemental costs such as repatriation and transportation. Make sure it covers water sports and adventure trails (such as hiking those amazing waterfalls).

Tap water is officially safe to drink although it often tastes a little ‘off’ and some visitors swear it gives them an upset stomach. Approach this with caution and stick to filtered water wherever possible. Check what vaccinations are recommended before you visit and remember that these can take a few weeks before they are effective.

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