Santo Domingo is one of the best places to spend a holiday in, irregardless if your interest lies in the historical values or the social aspects of the city. Here are some of the places that you can visit to make a good holiday in Santo Domingo.
The Diego Columbus House
One of the best places you should visit when in vacation in Santo Domingo is the Diego Columbus house. Known in Spanish as Alcázar de Colón, the house served as the governor’s mansion during the time of Diego, the son of Christopher Columbus. Diego was the first governor of the Indies and, upon taking office, his first action was to build the house: a 50-room mansion made of coralline blocks from the sea. The house was first built in 1510 and finished in 1512.
From Columbus’ time as governor and onwards, the house was an important seat of power when Spain was a major strength in the Old World. Spanish governors pondered and planned their conquests and invasions from the house. It fell into the hands of the English under Sir Francis Drake in 1586, barely 70 years after its construction. As years passed, the house’s importance steadily decreased until it was nothing more than a remnant of the Dominican Republic’s colonial past.
It was however rescued and restored, but about half the original size of the house was lost to ruin and could not be saved. Nowadays, the house built by the son of the discoverer of the Americas is once again important, not as a seat of power, but as a public museum. Visitors can view some items of colonial age such as weapons that belonged to some of the inhabitants and some artifacts.
The Amber House
For those interested in natural history, you can go and check out the amber house. This is a natural history museum located right at the heart of the capital of Santo Domingo and is very near to the House of Diego Colombus.
The Amber House is more than just a gift shop. It is a house and museum that resulted from the passion of several people including the most recent owners of Villa Bentz, the building where the Amber House is located. The museum showcases real amber, a prehistoric resin that the Dominican Republic is a big manufacturer of. In case you don’t know, amber is the gold resin that entraps insects and preserves their bodies perfectly for millions of years. It is derived from tree sap.
Didi Costa, one of the owners of the Bentz Villa, is an avid fan of Dominican amber. The pieces that are viewed in the Amber Museum are her own collection which she opened to the public.
Of course, if you want to bring home a souvenir, the Amber House has a gift shop that is more than happy to serve you. Admission costs one US dollar.
People will surely love this. The national aquarium of Santo Domingo is just a short drive away from the heart of the city, and you have a lot to enjoy in return for that small effort to drive a short distance away from the city. In the National Aquarium, you can enjoy treats including:
• Underwater Plexiglas tunnel similar to the one in Hong Kong
• A tortoise tank
• A dolphin show
The Acuario Nacional is ideal for families traveling together. Kids will love this show of marine biodiversity. Much of the species in this aquarium are exotic Caribbean marine life, which number over 3000 species.
Since you’re on holiday in the Caribbean, it makes sense to visit one of the beaches in Santo Domingo. There is, however, no other beach in Santo Domingo. None, except for Boca Chica. It happens to be only 10 minutes from the airport. You simply hop a cab, ride east and you’re there. The area is pretty small; you can walk around and find what you need easily.
In Boca Chica, you get to enjoy good beach, complete with glassy blue waters bordered by real white sand. Get yourself a good tan while sunbathing on a clear, sunny day. Taking a dip in the waters of Boca Chica is something you won’t forget. The sand beneath the waters is soft and free of rocks. The best thing is, the water doesn’t get any deeper than your waist. The waters are practically safe for taking a dip in.
Even when the sun sets, you still have something to enjoy as there is a vibrant night life scene in Boca Chica. There are a lot of hotels, restaurants and bars you can choose from in Boca Chica.
A few vendors would probably approach you to sell an item or two. You can even get your manicure done or your hair braided for a fee. Don’t worry, these vendors are polite and won’t force you to buy what they are selling.
A party animal in vacation should not miss the chance to sample Santo Domingo’s life. It offers you a rare look into how the locals have fun and party. Notable bars and nightclubs in Santo Domingo include:
• La Guacara Taina
This discotheque has both locals and tourists for its regular visitors. It is in every ways unique. You get to dance in an underground setting. It is in no way small. There are three bars and two dance floors; there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re there for the drinks or want to enjoy serious dancing – Latin music is the forte here – La Guacara Taina has something for you.
• Fantasy Disco
The Fantasy Disco is considered one of the most famous of its kind in Santo Domingo. Its security staff is very strict; you’d feel very safe in the club whether you’re a local or a tourist. The dance floor is small, but it makes up for it with a lot of corners where you can have a little privacy. This is perfect if you want to hook up with someone and have some fun.
• Jet Set
If you’re into formal or less casual dancing, you’d surely find Jet Set to your liking. You should have someone with you if you plan to sample its offerings; it accepts couples only. It has a few rare features: its dance floor is oriented like an amphitheatre, and its features live orchestras every now and then.
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