Travel Tips for Traveling on a Budget

The cost of traveling can add up quickly if you don’t have a pre-set budget. If you are like most and have yet to determine your budget for your upcoming trip to Puerto Plata, take advantage of our travel tips for traveling on a budget and you can soon rest easy. You will be guaranteed a wonderful vacation without having to worry about finances.

First and foremost, avoid restaurants that many tourists flock to.  More often than not, restaurants filled with locals, as opposed to vacationers tend to serve better food and for a far lower cost.  The fact that you will get to sample local Dominican cuisine should be reason enough.

Should traveling during the low season be an option for you, take advantage, as many times you will find better deals. Lower priced airfares, reduced wait times and shorter lines are just a few of the perks when traveling during low season.

Shopping while on vacation is often high on the list. By shopping local businesses in Puerto Plata, you will find a spectacular array of unique items indigenous to this beautiful city and usually at a lower price point. local business owners can sell their goods for lower prices since local gems are not mass-produced. Besides the appealing fact that you will be paying a lower price, you are often securing one-of-a-kind goods and souvenirs, and you are always supporting the local economy. Truly shopping done right!

Secure a credit card that will provide you the best exchange rate, and one that doesn’t charge additional fees to use it when traveling internationally.  There are several credit cards that don’t charge fees when purchasing in different currencies, which is ideal when vacationing in Puerto Plata.  However, if you prefer using cash only you may want to register your debit card prior to going out of the country and use the local ATM machines at your destination. Generally, taking these steps offers the lowest fees and a little bit of research can save you a lot of money in the long run.

If one or two of the many exciting Puerto Plata excursions are on your to-do list, make sure to compare prices before purchasing. Settling on the first excursion can often times prove to be costly. Take the time to do your homework and you will be pleased with the money you save.

Local transportation costs can run high when traveling, so make it a priority to do your homework. Puerto Plata offers several modes of transportation, many more exciting than others. Determine your ideal mode of transportation, and again, shop around. Taxi fares generally run higher than buses, bicycles and motoconchos.  Also, if you’re close to your destination you can always try walking.  Taking in the local sites while breathing in the beautiful Dominican air is a treat that can’t be beat. If your destination is too far to walk to make sure to agree on a price for the transportation services prior to the ride. Often times it is a good idea to write the price on a piece of paper to avoid any confusion at the end of the ride.

Our last tip for you is to barter, barter, barter!  Whether you are shopping, traveling by motoconcho or windsurfing for the day, barter a lower price.  The majority of vendors add a premium when quoting a price. Therefore, when inquiring about the cost, always offer a lower price. Nine times out of ten, the vendor will negotiate with you, which typically results in a fair price that satisfies the both of you.

These valuable travel tips will save you money while helping you stay within budget.  You can soon look forward to a great vacation in Puerto Plata and not have to worry about breaking the bank.

The Best Beer Brewed in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is well known for its rich history, scenic and beautiful beaches, delectable cuisine and even hand rolled cigars. Did you know the Dominican Republic is also known for their local brew?

The first Dominican brewed beer we must pay homage to is Presidente Beer. Presidente is not only the number one beer in the Dominican Republic; it is a popular international label as well. Cervecería Nacionál Dominicana first introduced Presidente to the Dominican Republic in 1935. However, the first formulation of this beer was not a success. A great deal of time re-testing and reformulating the beer was done and several years later the Presidente of today was reborn. The end result is a pilsner beer, pale lager, enjoyed globally by millions of people.

Another delicious beer that is brewed locally in the Dominican Republic is Bohemia Especial. This pale lager was introduced in the early 1980s, 1983 to be exact, and is still going strong today. Known for its body and flavor, Bohemia Especial has earned a gold medal for world-class quality in Spain and Italy. This award winning beer offers a lighter version which is a pilsner and very popular. Although Bohemia Especial is also brewed by Cervecería Nacionál Dominicana, it is still considered a direct competitor to Presidente.

For you dark beer lovers, we love the first Amber/Red Lager beer ever produced in the Dominican Republic. Drum roll please…it’s the world-recognized Ámbar Cerveza Oscura. Brewed in Santo Domingo, this delicious, dark beer is crafted from low temperature active yeast and spicy malt to make the wonderful amber so many enjoy today. It took Ámbar Cerveza Oscura over 40 trials and an extensive research process to perfect the final product, and it was well worth it!

Finally, we have to shine a light on Cerveza Quisqueya. This pale lager is well known for its light taste and crisp bite. It is a pilsner beer and full of body. When crafting Cerveza Quisqueya, the name was chosen based on the Taíno word meaning “Mother Earth.”  Therefore, don’t be confused if you hear native Dominicans referring to the island as “quisqueya”.  This pale and tasty pilsner is popular throughout the Dominican Republic; however, you will frequently find it on the north coast in Puerto Plata as well as in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The next time you are in the Dominican Republic, or wish you were, crack open one of these refreshing beers and enjoy!

Things to Do: Puerto Plata Helicopter Tour

If you’ve always wanted to take a ride in a helicopter, Puerto Plata is by far the best place for this adventure. Wonderment and amazement are two words that immediately come to mind when taking a helicopter tour in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

It’s normal to be slightly nervous but you are in good hands with Puerto Plata’s helicopter pilots. These seasoned pilots have taken this tour so many times that they most likely could do it with their eyes closed. Don’t worry though, they won’t and neither will you because Puerto Plata from these heights will astonish and amaze you.

Start out at the tour’s office in order to review the map that shows you the helicopter’s route. Next, your expert pilot will give you a briefing on safety measures and the equipment used within the helicopter. It’s really that easy. Your takeoff will be over an open piece of land. The pilot you have been assigned will fly you out over the beach and the coastline with excellent views of the long winding, white sand and shallower ocean waters. It’s stunning to see the shades of blue in the water. Puerto Plata’s coastline is absolutely bewildering from a couple hundred feet up in the air.

Your pilot will fly over the city of Puerto Plata and into the mountainous region. Views of the lush green mountain tops will go as far as the eye can see. Changes in topography from these heights is something you cannot experience on any other excursion. Looking out at the mountains and coastline at the same time is both exhilarating and awe-inspiring. It’s like a slow motion video watching from over the mountain top with miles and miles of untouched land out into the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Viewing Puerto Plata from a helicopter is beautiful. You’ll see the coastline, the port and even the downtown area. It is also quite easy to make out the city’s golf courses, beautiful architecture, beaches and resorts.

Puerto Plata helicopter tours offer views of white sandy beaches, palm trees, small lakes, miles of coastline and surf, while expressing the beauty from the ground up. There isn’t much of anything that you can miss from these amazing heights. When in Puerto Plata, head on over to a helicopter pad, load in and get ready for a tour unlike any other.

The Beautiful Larimar Stones of the Dominican Republic

The larimar stone, otherwise known as “Dominican Turquoise”, is a pectolite, which is a stone cultivated from volcanic activity. Initially formed in the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, larimar was referred to as “blue gem” by Dominican natives who widely believed that larimar came directly from the ocean. A Dominican Friar first encountered this beautiful, blue stone in the early 20th century however the stone was not mined during this time. It wasn’t until the 1970s that larimar was ‘rediscovered’ by a Peace Corps volunteer, who combined the name of his daughter, Larissa with the Spanish word for sea (mar) to form the name larimar.

Larimar can be purchased in many Caribbean islands, but the best and most famous craftsmen of the stone are located in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. There are several mines that mine this precious stone and it is considered a local specialty. The color spectrum of larimar stones consist of a range of blues but the stone is most known for its beautiful turquoise color, which mirrors the color of the Caribbean Sea. Aside from its obvious beauty, larimar is thought to have many healing properties. Its main healing power is said to help the throat and assist people in communicating more efficiently.

The largest collection of larimar stones is located upstream of the Bahoruco River near the southern tip of the Dominican Republic. Mining is only allowed during dry seasons, as many of the mines have a depth level in excess of 250 ft. and flood easily during the rainy season.

Larimar has become a strong part of the Dominican Republic backdrop and is featured in Puerto Plata’s Amber Museum.  The museum is situated in an old, two-story, Victorian residence and experts believe this particular museum is home to the most important amber and larimar collections in the world. Local artists express their creativity through the crafting of these precious stones, designing jewelry, such as necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings, all of which are usually set in sterling silver but can be found in gold as well. Prices can range considerably, as the value of the larimar stone is determined by its shape, color and purity.

If you are planning on traveling to Puerto Plata, you must not miss exploring the beautiful larimar this gorgeous and unique country has to offer. While in Puerto Plata make the trip to one of the many specialty shops that sell larimar stones. You will be happy you did!

A Guided Tour Through El Choco National Park in Puerto Plata

El Choco National Park is the Dominican Republic’s beloved and some may argue, most beautiful national park. Spanning 48 square miles and located in Puerto Plata, El Choco National Park graciously offers its visitors many adventures while being surrounded by the most gorgeous fauna and spectacular cave systems in the country. The naturally preserved jungles showcase pristine views of the Dominican Republic’s thriving ecosystem.

This breathtaking national park hosts turquoise blue lagoons and crisp pastures, while being the home to many exotic animals, some only indigenous to the Dominican Republic. If bird watching is your forte, exotic birds can be spotted all around you, including the miniature Verlaine hummingbird. It’s a fact that you can locate 36 species of birds and 12 different species of bats while in the park so bring your binoculars and prepare to be amazed.

The caves within El Choco National Park are very popular and are where many visitors take their time exploring. The caves within the park are known as the Caribbean karst, which is a cave system that has sunken over time and created challenging hiking trails and breathtaking lagoons. Aside from the natural beauty, caves and wildlife, El Choco National Park is also home to natural springs, which are breathtaking and once visited, won’t easily be forgotten. If you are a hiking enthusiast, you will love El Choco National Park and the assortment of trails throughout.

Whether you are visiting El Choco National Park for its breathtaking views, exciting caves, vast wildlife or the challenging hiking, you will not be able to resist its sheer beauty. Enjoy a guided tour or venture out on your own; whatever your choice, you will have a most enjoyable time.

Travel Tips for Traveling Solo

For many, traveling solo for vacation might appear challenging or not as fulfilling as vacationing with another. Well, we are here to tell you that traveling solo can be an exciting, exhilarating and a wonderful experience. We are excited to provide you with a few of our top tips one should use when traveling solo.

First and foremost, safety should be at the top of your list and since you will be traveling alone, you should make safety a high priority. Research your destination choices prior to making your selection, keeping in mind the safety of the area. Once you have decided on your vacation destination or destinations, its time to research some more. Research the resort or hotel you will be staying in, your destination city in full detail and the various forms of transportation offered. Inform your friends and family before you depart to let them know you are traveling and where you will be staying. In addition to briefing your loved ones, program your cell phone with emergency
contact numbers and the number of where you will be staying. It doesn’t hurt to also write the telephone numbers down on a piece of paper and carry it with you as well. Finally, if you are traveling out of the country, familiarize yourself with the location and contact details of your country’s embassy.

When packing for your getaway, it’s helpful to only pack what you will need. After all, you are traveling solo, so there really is no reason to lug several suitcases around as it can be both time-consuming and cumbersome. Remember, less is more!

Try booking your flights so you arrive during the day, which will allow you time to explore and enjoy your destination upon arrival. Make sure to bring both cash and two to three credit cards so you are always prepared for the different restaurant, shop and excursion checkout policies. The cash will come in handy for tipping and paying for transportation.

One of the many perks to traveling alone is that you can literally do whatever you want and whenever you want. You don’t have to answer to your family or friends or compromise with anyone; you can explore and indulge exactly as you please. If you are a photographer, venture out to explore and take beautiful pictures of your destination. If you like to read, grab your Nook or enjoy a new book or two at a local café or beach. If people watching is your cup of tea, head out of your hotel or resort and visit a local destination, take in the surroundings and enjoy yourself. This is a great opportunity to experience life in your destination location as the locals do. If you are a night owl and prefer to venture out and experience your destination’s nightlife, grab a seat at a local bar. Whether you’re at a café or a nightclub, you will be surprised at how fast locals will want to chat, and you could soon make new great friends.

Don’t forget to bring a journal with you on your journey and write in it daily. You don’t have to write a novel, but a paragraph here and there will make for a beautiful documentation of your travels, and memories you can relive.

Take this time traveling solo to get to know yourself, reflect on your life, enjoy this time alone and explore. Make your solo vacation a trip never to be forgotten!

Travel Tips: Eating Healthy on Vacation – Part 2

When dining at your vacation destination, it is best not to skip eating a wholesome breakfast. Like Mom says, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there is a lot of truth to this saying. Not only will it speed up your metabolism for the day, but eating breakfast will also help to ensure that you don’t eat too much throughout the day. Options such as fruits, light toast or hardboiled eggs are a great source of energy. Our personal favorite when traveling is a vegetable and egg white omelet for breakfast. Stay away from heavy meats such as sausage and bacon. Not only will the meat drag you down throughout the morning but also the fat content is extremely high.

When eating lunch and dinner during your vacation, try to always incorporate high protein lean meats with vegetables. Grilled, broiled and steamed options are preferable over fried food. Ask your server not to cook with butter or heavy oils and you will avoid empty calories and fat, guaranteed! Another delicious option is to consume salads. However, you must be careful, as often times the dressing is what makes for the majority of the calories. Ask for your dressing to be placed on the side in a small dish, and try vinaigrette or light dressing. Proceed to lightly dip your fork in the dressing prior to taking each bite of your salad. You will be surprised at how little dressing you use, while still maintaining the flavor and avoiding the calories.

During any vacation, most people participate in excursions and activities and may often treat themselves to the easiest and closest food. This may pose a problem, as this usually is unhealthy and full of fat and calories. Again, pack your healthy snacks, and eat them when you feel a bit hungry. This will keep your energy high and when you do sit down for a full meal, the snacks you ate during the day will have kept the feeling of starvation away, which will allow you to make smart dining decisions.

A tip we can’t stress enough is to do your dining research prior to arrival. Before your trip, review the area restaurant menus on-line, and devise a healthy eating plan. This way, you will be prepared to eat healthy during any morning, afternoon or evening excursions.

With careful planning prior to your vacation, a little willpower and avoiding the convenience of eating food that is bad for you, you will eat healthy during your vacation while also having the energy to enjoy it as well.

Travel Tips: Eating Healthy on Vacation – Part 1

FullSizeRender copyFor most of us, a vacation is a time to relax, have fun and splurge. However, for many, not overindulging and trying to eat healthy can be a concern when traveling. Don’t fret, not only will we show you how to eat healthy, but you are guaranteed to feel great, light and enjoy all of the activities and leisure time without any of the guilt associated with overeating while on vacation.

Inside Puerto PlataPrior to your trip to the airport, eat a light and healthy meal. Start off on a positive note and set the standard for your vacation, keeping in mind that you will eat healthy during your vacation. If it is breakfast, juicing is always an option, not to mention you can take it with you, should you be in a hurry. To fight off the hunger pains during your flight, make sure to pack a few healthy snacks, such as granola bars, nuts, trail mix and dried snap peas. Dried fruit is another very healthy and popular snack as well. Should your flight be later in the day or closer to lunch or dinner, start with a light healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch, such as tuna salad with assorted high protein beans on a pita. Since you will be busy preparing for your flight and vacation, tuna salad is not only healthy and light, but incredibly easy. Take a bit of tuna, mix it with a pinch of olive oil and lemon juice. Add some white beans and tomatoes. Voila! You are guaranteed a healthy, light lunch or dinner. There are many recipes you can find on the web, but the trick is to eat light, high protein foods to keep your energy level high for the trip, while avoiding the distraction of hunger, which inevitably causes temptation and can often times lead to overindulgence.

Upon arrival to youInside Puerto Platar destination, make sure to stock your hotel room with plenty of healthy snacks, such as fruit. Apples and bananas are a great snack. Bananas are full of potassium, apples are low calorie and dried fruit such as apricots are delicious. Whole vegetables, such as carrots and celery are another wonderful option, and can easily be stored in your hotel room or villa refrigerator. A popular vegetable option is dried snap peas, which are both delicious and nutritious. Make sure to avoid chips, candy and soda, which are filled with sugar and empty calories. Stick with a great deal of water, preferably bottled water, especially when traveling. Not only will water hydrate you during your trip, but many times when you think you are hungry, your body is tricking you, and in fact, you were thirsty. Revert back to your flight snacks, as granola bars, trail mix and fiber cookies (if available) are a fabulous snack option when vacationing.

Canyoning and Cascading in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

It’s possible that you’ve never heard of cascading or canyoning. Reading this will quite possibly turn you on to something that you may want to experience more than once as this is an adventure that most never try but definitely should. Cascading and canyoning are fantastic ways to experience more of what the Dominican Republic has to offer.

Unfortunately, not everyone can handle these two sports; you would have to be in somewhat good shape because both canyoning and cascading involve a lot of climbing, rappelling and swimming. There is also some sliding involved but that isn’t something that should rule people out. It can be quite exhausting when climbing up the mountains to the top of the river canyon but well worth the energy and time. A touring company that offers these two sports will give you the best idea of what to expect physically, what safety precautions are taken and what safety equipment is used. In order to gain a better understanding, we will share with you what canyoning and cascading is, what they entail and where you’ll want to go to experience either of these adventures.

It is said that the northern and central regions of the Dominican Republic have the perfect topography and climate for canyoning and cascading. Canyoning can be done in both wet and dry river canyons, however, because you’re in the Dominican Republic, you won’t find many dry canyons. When canyoning, you’ll be in the mountainous region of Puerto Plata and will traverse the canyon by climbing and rappelling. For this sport, you will need a trusty pair of shoes that you wouldn’t mind disposing of at the end of the excursion. You’ll get a secure safety helmet, a harness and a wetsuit, all of which will provide you with protection from everything you might encounter.

Cascading is typically done at waterfalls. With cascading, you have to put forth some serious effort and exert yourself by climbing up to the top of the waterfall. Believe us, this isn’t easy! Once you get to the top all of your hard work is done, so prepare yourself for your reward. You freestyle cascade yourself by using ropes to slide down the waterfall to the bottom. This too requires some great protective shoes and in addition to ropes, you will use a secure safety helmet and a wetsuit.

As long as you have the proper gear and you’re canyoning or cascading in the proper weather conditions, there really isn’t anything to worry about. Touring companies will share with you exactly where to go but one place that we love is Damajaqua Waterfalls. It is one of the most ideal places to cascade since there are 27 waterfalls to choose from.

Cascading and canyoning in Puerto Plata is one of the top excursions for those who like extreme sports and extreme adventure. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at an extreme sport before, don’t be afraid. These two are not dangerous as long as the right safety precautions are taken. People who have gone canyoning or cascading have thoroughly enjoyed this activity. They are both a little break from the norm but will certainly allow you to step outside of your comfort zone and experience something new and different.

Wakeboarding on the Yassica River in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Exhilarating! This is the one all-encompassing word to describe wakeboarding on the Yassica River in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. To kick your vacation off with a bang you have to try it as soon as you arrive in Puerto Plata. In fact, call and schedule your tour before you arrive so there isn’t a chance that you’ll miss out. Locals and visitors alike flock to the Yassica River to wakeboard and take in the beautiful surroundings of Puerto Plata.

If you’ve never been wakeboarding before have no fear because there is a school in Cabarete that can give you the highlights, enabling you to get a grip on what to do so that you’ll enjoy wakeboarding to its fullest potential. Relish in a clean, clear, flat, cool river that eventually opens into the Atlantic Ocean. These types of river conditions are actually perfect for all wakeboarding levels of experience. It allows it to be easier to learn new skills, practice newly learned skills or skim along with the professionals. Don’t worry about having any equipment before you arrive. Your lifejacket, wakeboard, bindings and 30-50 foot rope will all be provided to you by your touring company. These experts are there to help and advise along the way should you need it.

Before you start, practice your stance on the wakeboard before getting on the water. Once you feel ready, get in the chair stance on the board with your rope in hand. Give the driver the sign that you’re ready to go and wait for it. Grasp the rope tightly with both hands and watch as your boat driver slowly reduces your slack pulling you up out onto the water. Wakeboarding is so cool whether you’re sporty or not. If you’re a little daring, try to get a little air between your board and the river. It’s possible and it’s a huge thrill!

In addition, the tropical landscape is amazing and includes beautiful flowers, coconut trees, and palm trees. You cannot ask for a better backdrop. There’s a very good chance you will take snapshots in your mind of what you’re seeing as you wakeboard in order to relive it over and over once you’re back home.

Wakeboarding is one of those sports that everyone can excel at with a little knowledge of what to do beforehand. The reward is immense, and you will be guaranteed the time of your life. When traveling to Puerto Plata, make sure to wakeboard on the Yassica River. It is an experience you will never forget.