Seven friends, one destination – Las Galeras, Dominican Republic

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to travel to a new country with two Dutchmen, a Swede, an Irishman and three Americans? Well, needless to say it was quite the adventure with plenty of mishaps and hilarious moments. And it was probably the most vacation-y vacation I’ve ever had. Myself and six friends – David, Ton, Dennis, Sierra, Kris, and JP – left Haiti for a week-long sanity break in Las Galeras, Dominican Republic.

On Monday morning the seven of us headed out early to catch our 8AM bus to Santo Domingo. Everything was going smoothly until we reached the Haiti/Dominican border (an hour or so into the trip). I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that one of the seven wandered off the bus while we were stuck in traffic at the border crossing, and didn’t make it back onto the bus before we had to continue our journey. So, we were now a group of six. After a few more hours on the bus we made it to Santo Domingo. We had been unable to reach our runaway friend for hours since most of our Haiti cell phones did not work after crossing the border, but we decided to head to the Colonial District of the city anyway to have dinner and plan our next move. Turns out our missing friend found an internet cafe, saw our message to him on Facebook with the phone number for one of our phones that did work, called it, and before long he was walking right up to our dinner table as if everything was completely normal. The man who had given him a ride the entire way was also with him. We bought him a couple of beers for returning our friend to us, and we were all happy to be able to continue our adventure without any worry.

After spending the night in the city, we took another bus to our final destination. It really can’t get much more perfect than a bus ride that literally ends at the beach. But then we checked into the house we’d rented for the week (through Juan y Lolo Vacation Rentals) and things actually did get more perfect. For $570 we had an amazing house all to ourselves. Complete with hot showers, comfy couches, a huge yard, and a barbeque.

And it just kept getting more perfect as the week went on.

We were a five minute walk to the beach, restaurants, and a grocery store, and the closest restaurant to us was a pizzeria. Um, hello? Is this for real? Our first morning in Las Galeras, a fisherman came by with an enormous squid that he had just caught. He cut us a huge slice, and normally I’m not really a squid person, but that was some of the best fried calamari I’ve ever had. The same fisherman also brought by fresh fish and lobsters throughout the week. It had been my intention to go to the beach every day, and that is exactly what I did. Most of our time on this vacation was spent moving between the couches on our front porch and the beach, always with our pet for the week, Patches. She was a stray dog who adopted us and by the third day, she was following us everywhere. Even on a two-hour hike to a secluded beach called Playa Fronton.

This was probably the highlight of the trip for me, if I had to choose one. From the main beach in Las Galeras you can see a small mountain to the right, and we decided we wanted to hike it. After doing some research, we found an easy hike that ended at a small beach known to be a great snorkeling spot. To say that Playa Fronton was secluded was a bit of an understatement. The last section of the hike was very steep and rocky, and at the bottom was this perfect looking beach with not a single other person there. There were half-finished structures made of wood that looked like they’d been there for a long time, and it was hard to decide if they were abandoned or if someone was still working on them. The whole scene looked like something out of a Pirates movie. The water was perfectly clear and the snorkeling was amazing. Even just standing in the tide pools, you could see bright blue and yellow fish and sea urchins. We left Fronton wishing that we had brought the supplies necessary to spend more time there, i.e. food and rum… after all, what good is a deserted pirate beach without rum?

Aside from Playa Fronton, most of our beach time was spent at the main beach in town. It was hard to beat the closeness of it to our house, and the fact that there were little shack restaurants where we could get a Rum Punch to drink on the beach.

We ventured over to Playita, which was another short walk away. The beach was nice but I actually enjoyed the walk to get there more – quiet, red dirt road with cute little houses and tons of land for sale (future retirement location, perhaps?).

Have I sold you on this place yet? I pretty much fell in love with it the second we arrived. We made friends with some of the locals, ate fresh seafood, finished eight cases of Presidente beer, and swam every day. It was perfect I tell you! I was so sad to leave that it actually hurt a little.

Now for a funny coincidence: during our one night stay in Santo Domingo on our way back to PAP, we stayed at a hostel owned by an older expat lady from Tennessee. One of the other guys staying there for the night had just returned from Haiti. He had spent five days with GRU and had heard about us, “the seven”, and how we had lost someone on the way into the DR. It’s a small world out there!

After a frustrating and very long bus ride, we are finally back in PAP. I’m happy to be back and am missing the DR, but at least now I can look forward to my next visit to the other side of the island.

3 Responses to “Seven friends, one destination – Las Galeras, Dominican Republic”
  1. Mom says:

    YUP… SOLD!!! Easy to see why you loved it… just gorgeous!

  2. Sue says:

    It looks like a fantastic place!! I love the beach pictures! The one looks like the screen saver that Nick had….except you were really there!! Sounds like you had a great time….glad whoever it was that was lost…..was found again! It wasn’t David, was it? lol

  3. Devon says:

    Looks like you guys are having a blast!

    p.s. – I believe I drunkenly left you a nice new year’s eve message 🙂

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