As penny-pinching beach lovers know, a hundred bucks doesn't go very far in most tropical destinations. In fact, that amount would barely cover the cost of dinner and drinks in certain super-luxe Caribbean islands (we're looking at you, St. Bart's.)
But in the Dominican Republic — especially in lesser-known beach towns like Boca Chica and Juan Dolio — your hard-earned dollar stretches surprisingly far. How far, exactly? On a recent trip, I was able to cover a hotel stay, plus all my meals, drinks and snacks for a 24-hour period, for under the $100 price point.
Watch the video to see why Boca Chica, located less than an hour east of the capital city of Santo Domingo, might be the best budget beach destination in the DR. And read below to see a breakdown of costs for the trip (shown converted to American dollars).
Meals = $25.70
Aromas of pescado frito (fried fish) and tostones (fried yellow plantains) waft through the streets in Boca Chica, where rows of ramshackle frituras serve sizzling plates known to draw residents all the way from the capital. Vegetarians will find an affordable feast at the beachfront Boathouse, the only overtly American bar in town. Order a plate of tostones, red beans and white rice for just $5.30.
Once the sun sets, most visitors flock to Duarte Street, just behind the beachfront. By then, the busy avenue has transitioned into a twinkling pedestrian thoroughfare, where locals and travelers dine alfresco-style between a row of Italian restaurants and Dominican cafes. For a more sophisticated vibe, walk east on Duarte Street until you reach a small grouping of upscale overwater restaurants. Enjoy a dinner of spinach and ricotta ravioli at Neptuno's Club Restaurant, which also serves seafood dishes, sliders, steak and lobster. The decadent plate, smothered in cheeses and bathed in a garlicky red sauce, will only set you back $16.
For breakfast in the morning, find your way to Pequeña Suiza's street-facing back window, lined with a few bar stools. Order toast and jam and a cappuccino, a steal at just $4.40 total.
Snacks are a must on any beach trip — they keep you fueled for hours lying supine under the Caribbean sun or splashing around in the water. Refresh your palate with a plate of freshly sliced, super juicy mango for just $1, or sample yaniqueque, fried dough discs ubiquitous in Dominican beach towns, for just $.50. Allay your sweet tooth with a sugary coconut pop, just $.20.
Drinks = $10.00
You'd be remiss to forgo a Presidente beer while on a trip to the DR — it's an essential part of the experience. Get an ice-cold bottle of the crisp, lager-style local brew for $4 and enjoy the sweeping sea views at El Pelicano, one of the overwater restaurants mentioned above. Or seek shade under the thatched-roof bar at Village on the Beach, just steps from the water, where a generously sized piña colada ($5) is sure to bring your temperature down. Later, rehydrate with a fresh coconut water ($1), sliced open with a machete on the spot.
Hotel = $42.00
Budget hotels abound in Boca Chica. In fact, ritzy accommodations are almost non-existent here. Prices will be slightly higher for beachfront digs, but so will noise levels. For a quieter option, book a room at tucked-away Hotel Mango ($42 per night) on verdant Valenzuela Street, just a few blocks north of Duarte Street. This cheery hotel features simple rooms overlooking a tropical garden and a small lagoon pool, plus a lobby bar and a play area for kids.