The Dominican Republic is renowned for its beautiful beaches — from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata, stretching all the way to the country's most remote corners in the northwest and southwest. But what about the capital city, with its modern hotels, cultural institutions and captivating colonial city? Are there also beaches in Santo Domingo?
In a short answer, no. There are no tourist beaches within the city proper that you could walk to, for example.
Luckily, there are several nearby beach options that you can reach in under an hour. A taxi or public transportation from Enriquillo Park can get you to Boca Chica in about half an hour. This beach is frequented by both locals and tourists, and features a shallow, crystal-clear cove and hard-packed white sand. Music is loud, the beer is flowing, and fried fish shacks are aplenty.
A little further east lies Playa Guayacanes, a relaxing stretch with lots of palm trees, a few food vendors and chairs for rent. It's not as well-known as its neighbor Playa Juan Dolio, a family-friendly spot with calm waters and pillowy white sand, which only fills up on weekends.
Have another beach in mind? Bus routes crisscross the entire country, and from Santo Domingo you can arrive to Punta Cana, Samaná, Barahona or Puerto Plata in the same day. (Caribe Tours and Metro are two reputable bus companies with comfortable coaches.)
Or you can arrange for a day-long excursion from the city to Isla Saona, part of a natural park, through a tour operator. It's here you'll find the most quintessential Caribbean beach scenes, including aquamarine water, blue skies and endless greenery. Your photos and selfies will be the envy of all of your friends.
And just because there aren't beaches in Santo Domingo doesn't mean the city doesn't offer wonderful views of the Caribbean Sea. Its Malecón promenade hugs the rocky coast, and if you walk along it heading west, you'll pass several oceanfront hotels and restaurants, plus the family-oriented Plaza Juan Barón and the local hangout of Playa Güibia, a tiny stretch of sand with an overwater gazebo (swimming not recommended).
So if you're stuck between a Dominican beach escape and exploring the first city in the Americas, rest assured that with a little planning, you can easily do both.