Castillo Mundo King en Sosua (3)

Mundo King Art Museum: The weirdest museum of the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, English

People who aren’t interested in culture, history, or science would be challenged to have a pleasant and joyful time in museums. Usually, there is always a more educative approach when spending hours in museums. Missing entertaining factors and few interactions make some museum visits often dull and boring. But there is one museum in the Dominican Republic, that deserves a visit. If you are visiting the northern coast of Sosua, you should visit a non-categorizable and odd museum. Read this article and find out more about Mundo Art King Museum: The weirdest museum of the Dominican Republic.


Approximate reading time: 5 minutes


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Where is Castillo Mundo King?

You can find the museum Castillo Mundo King in Sosua on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It’s easy to find and visible from far distances on the hill. A bit away from the Caribbean turbulences at the beaches, you’ll find it on Calle Camino Libre. That’s somehow the perfect street name for a museum like that if you ask me. It means translated ‘Free Way Street’ and that’s a perfect fit for what expects you there.


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If you can’t find it, you can use as well the following GPS coordinates of Castillo Mundo King:

Latitude: 19° 45′ 51.882″ N
Longitude: 70° 42′ 35.616″ W

It’s also known as Mundo King Art Museum in English. But the original Spanish version is more common. People in Sosua definitely know this place. You can’t miss it. Here is the reason why:



What is Castillo Mundo King?

What it is? Although I’m a travel blogger and I love to juggle with words, I have difficulties shaping a good one-sentence description about Castillo Mundo King. Discover and experience it yourself in the following photos and videos. I could also ask the same question about art. A good idea actually.

What is art? That’s one of the centric questions of philosophy and art itself. Thousands of different answers and definitions to that question exist. All are right and wrong at the same time because it lies in the eye of the beholder. I had the chance to visit a museum in Sosúa which confused, irritated, and disturbed my eyes in a sustained manner. In a way, I haven’t seen any comparable museum with the approach before or after.

In that sense, the presented exhibits, artifacts, and ornaments left a fingerprint on my mind. Something I will never forget and will always be able to remind. Hence, I recommend investing 2-3 of a morning for a visit. Castillo Mundo King is worth the visit. What would you expect from an entrance like this?



I paid about 300 Dominican Pesos (almost $6.00) for admission per person to Castillo Mundo King. That’s pretty much for a museum far away from urban cities. A more difficult question would be, if the money was justified.


Galaxy Gallery?

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A very informal Haitian gatekeeper charged me the price and offered himself as a guide. Already at the entrance, I realized not needing any external help to explain what it’s all about. My first impression was already a punch with a hammer that didn’t need any further explanation.

Thus, I rejected any help from the happy and friendly Haitian guide at the entrance doors. No further details needed, I was already fulfilled with the first impression of what was presented to me.

Do I like or dislike Castillo Mundo King in Sosúa?

That’s difficult to say. But I need to admit, that I neither liked nor disliked what I saw. Maybe, because it exceeded my expectations, respectively showed me things I would never assume exist. Could you ever dream about a museum that interweaves Haitian Voodoo masterpieces, extraterrestrial ornaments, and colorful explosions on walls?



It seems like an architectural timeless masterpiece and a deformity at the same time. Synthesis of a freak show and a nightmare. Fearful anticipations and aggrieving reactions simultaneously. But also, admiration and astonishment as to the sheer dimension and structure of the museum.

Speaking of dimension and structure that is unique: You get lost amongst the different wings and platforms. Don’t expect any rectangular or edgy shapes of its architectonic design. Expect the unexpected in Castillo Mundo King. Or nothing at all. But you will find corridors, hallways, and obstructed floors everywhere. More rule as an exception. I felt somehow reminded to jump and run video games and was challenged to jump and run amongst the different platforms.



One of the cool things is the rooftop view. On the highest accessible platform, you have an ocean view over the whole area of Sosua and can see the Atlantic Ocean. That was pretty impressive for me to see.

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Castillo Mundo King en Sosua (13)
The view over Sosúa from the rooftop of Castillo Mundo King

After the German architect and constructer Rolf Schulz died in January 2018, the museum more and more decays and rots away. He was the proprietor of this museum and designed it as he dreamed about it. Maybe the YouTube-video I linked in the beginning of my article gives a good impression about him as a character. When he died, the museum was semi-professional and informally continued.

Its run-down shape amplifies your visual perception

In a way, the run-down condition of the museum contributes to the certain mood it embodies. If it would be perfectly clean and a professionally guided museum, it’s no fit for Castillo Mundo King. Natural attritions of direct influence of sunshine, rain, and wind deform and bleach out the exhibition and museum as a whole. Water damages due to accumulated rain and foliage from adjacent forests add up to the natural influences.



I visited Castillo Mundo King before the global pandemic. Without any income from visitors or sponsors, I’m not sure in what condition the museum and its exhibitions would be now. When I visited the Mundo Art King Museum, everything was semi-formal and very loosely organized. Chances are high, that the decay of the museum advanced in the meantime or that it is overrun by squatters. Thus, I can guarantee nothing, because all my photos were from before the global pandemic.



It would be worth a try to visit their Social Media channels. Their Instagram account is pretty up-to-date and taking a look at Facebook is also a good idea. In any event: If you like to have an English-speaking guide for in-depth knowledge about that place, I’d recommend you to send them a request.

Maybe you can leave a comment on how the museum is doing now if you were curious enough to visit it. I’d be curious as well to find out if the museum will continue as such. In a certain way, it would be sad and disappointing, if it closes its doors one day.

How would I describe Castillo Mundo King? As an eccentric, odd, disturbing, weird, and uncomfortable artistic synthesis you won’t find elsewhere. Definitely worth a visit. Usually, museums are dedicated to approaching a certain discipline, wisdom, or personality.



But what is the real approach of Castillo Mundo King? You need to visit the museum and find that out by yourself. I can tell, that my visit of Castillo Mundo King was from my perspective a real inspiration and something inconceivable.

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5 reasons to live in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo (April 2021 UPDATE)

5 reasons to live/leave this city, Dominican Republic, English, Insider Report

Santo Domingo is the biggest city in the entire Caribbean and the capital of the Dominican Republic. From an expat point of view, it might be not as attractive to live there as to visit it for a weekend. If you are a foreigner and work in tourism, hospitality, or real estate, probably Punta Cana or Las Terrenas might be your main place of residence in the Dominican Republic. However, there are still a lot of other expats living in Santo Domingo. In addition to that, many foreigners tend to move to the Colonial Zone. I want to help you have a better overview of 5 reasons to live in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone.


Approximate reading time: 15 minutes

(Last update: April 10, 2021)


I lived the expat life in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo for almost one and a half years. This article isn’t by default an homage. You should see it more as a little guide for foreigners who are looking for first-hand information. Whenever you plan, consider, or might even daydream to move to the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo – Here you can find some useful information in this article.


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My intention for this article was to give some insights and guidance about the Colonial Zone you might not find elsewhere. There are plenty of websites regarding tourism, hospitality, or sightseeing in the Colonial Zone. But living there for longer? Not much useful information to be found. I would like to close that gap.

During the difficult times of Covid-19, I moved away from the Colonial Zone. When I left the Colonial Zone, there wasn’t much public life possible as you would expect it from a Caribbean city. Due to restrictions, lockdown, and strict controls, it didn’t matter to me in which neighborhood I lived. Because I could neither enjoy nor benefit from all these arguments that would usually convince someone to move there permanently. Thus, I moved to Piantini to a more central neighborhood. It was at the same time a bit more upscale, green and quiet than the Colonial Zone.


Carnaval 2020 en la Zona Colonial en Santo Domingo (1)
Calle El Conde

My article should be therefore a reference to ‘the normal’ Colonial Zone. Not a Colonial Zone during any political interventions because of a global pandemic. Just a regular Colonial Zone before and after Covid-19. Let’s hope, that things go back to this ‘normal’ I was writing about before on my website.

Are you interested in a broader overview of the expat life in Santo Domingo as a whole city? I would like to recommend you a related article that I wrote before any Covid incidents. With the same structure and 5 good reasons to live in Santo Domingo and 5 reasons to leave it again.


5 good reasons to live in Santo Domingo (04/2021 Update)

The Dominican Republic is a magnificent tourism destination in the Caribbean. Many holidays begin in the capital of Santo Domingo and its Colonial Zone to welcome the visitor with a historical flair. But what about living in Santo Domingo? What are good reasons to live in the Dominican capital?

Read in this article, what life in the oldest city on the American continent really means for a foreigner.


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But this article now is kind of a special edition and focuses on the Colonial Zone with all its interesting facets and peculiarities. It’s more a comparison amongst the different neighborhoods of Santo Domingo. Please follow the link below and get a thorough glimpse about the ‘Zona Colonial’ how Dominicans would call it.

Please let me know in the comment section if you liked the article and what you think about it. You can also send me an eMail to contact@traphil.com and ask your questions in a bit more private manner. I’ll respond to it as quickly as I can.

Click HERE to read 5 reasons to live in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

5 good reasons to NOT live in Santo Domingo (April 2021 UPDATE)

5 reasons to live/leave this city, Dominican Republic, English, Insider Report

Living in the Caribbean must be a dream and full of coconut palms, beautiful beaches and sunshine. Why not living in the Dominican Republic? Santo Domingo is the city with the biggest population in the Caribbean and the capital of the Dominican Republic. Wouldn’t it be a thing to move there to realize your Caribbean dream? Not at all, I would say. There are some very good arguments, why it’s not a good idea to live in Santo Domingo. Would you like to find out more? Read this article with 5 good reasons to NOT live in Santo Domingo.

Welcome back! You successfully clicked your way through and came here from the previous article in which I wrote about 5 good reasons to move to Santo Domingo. In any event, you are curious why it might be a better idea to avoid living in Santo Domingo. There are always tons of positive articles that encourage you why you should go, live, move to, visit, etc. somewhere. But only a few focuses the reverse of the medal to show you some honest counter-arguments. That’s why you are here – You would like to find out more about possible objections, disadvantages and reasons to not live in Santo Domingo.


Approximate reading time: 20 minutes

(Last Update: April 10, 2021)


Read in this article, what life in the oldest city on the American continent really means for a foreigner. And if you should consider to better look for a different city to realize your Caribbean dream.


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Maybe there are some things you might not find in other How-to-Guides that rather want to sell you a candy story. Moving abroad into a strange culture is a big project that involves the danger of making the wrong decision. Not always are expectations met after moving with your whole kit and caboodle to the Dominican Republic.

You want to be sure before you make a big step and assure you about the natural or artificial problems and challenges a new city has to face. I lived for about 1.5 years in Santo Domingo and before in other capital cities in Latin America. Thus I can comprehend all the doubts and hopes any foreigner has before moving to the Dominican Republic.


Carnaval 2020 en la Zona Colonial en Santo Domingo (7)
Weird snapshot, isn’t it? But also Santo Domingo has its own carnival.

And here I am. I would like to give you some more insights about Santo Domingo and share with you my first-hand insights. Not everything is shiny and perfect and Santo Domingo is also far away from that. Please continue reading this article to find out more about 5 good reasons why to not move to Santo Domingo.

Please let me know in the comment section if you liked the article and what you think about it. You can also send me an eMail to contact@traphil.com and ask your questions in a bit more private manner. I’ll respond to it as quickly as I can.


Next page: Worst traffic situation in Latin America

How much weighs a dream?

English, Phil O' Soph

Approximate reading time: 30 minutes

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Setting goals in life is always an ambitious project. I never seriously fought to set new goals, but on the other hand I never shied away from it. After all, I successfully mastered two courses of study and at least learned to speak three foreign languages ​​fluently. Of course, this is quite impressive and at least something to make me say, that I reached my intrapersonal targets.

But I never fulfilled these goals with a feeling of a proud achievement because I couldn’t build up any emotional level to them. Neither before reaching the goal and nor afterwards. During reaching a goal, I also perceived it as a means to an end.

  • Drivers license? Not needed to know how to navigate a car. Annoying social obligation for individual mobility. But I did my license anyhow for car and motorbike.
  • High school diploma? Was funny and joyful, but served at the end only for more qualifications.
  • Apprenticeship? Well, if I have to. Not a bad idea, but not a good or quaint one either.
  • Bachelor title? Cost a lot of time to receive at the end only a colorful certificate and nice ceremony.
  • Master title? Still a realistic goal to skim a bit of my own potential. Literally to do something off the cuff.

I have rarely been fed up or satisfied and have only quickly check marked the goal that has always been reached or sometimes even surpassed. The epigraph was always to hurry on and never rest on own success.

I even wanted to continue after my Master’s with a Doctor degree. But my former university in Spain artificially artificially extended the certification of my master’s degree in an unprecedented act of administrative chaos and professional inability. Hence, after three elapsed registration periods for a possible doctoral program at another university, I finally lost the desire to waste even more patience or time because of some dorks. Funny to mention at this point that I am still waiting for the official title after 2.5 years. Incredible!

Goals only exist to be accomplished. Nothing more. I was much more interested in intangible and immaterial dreams and abstract ideas. Having a dream in life is wonderful. You can color it imaginatively for yourself, always navigate onto it and enjoy it quietly and secretly without being affected by others.


Dudú Blue Lagoon - Stray dog
A dreaming dog at a lagoon

Nobody can take away your dreams. But goals can be. It only needs one arbitrary and unprofessional decision maker or some administrational obstacles to cross your plans. These external factors can jeopardize your idea to accomplish the goal. Perhaps this was the reason why I could always build up a higher emotional level to dreams than goals. Because what is nicer than following my individual and perspective imagination of life?

Certainly not pursuing a goal and sharing a lecture hall with 100 fellow students, only to end up holding the same documentary wipe in my hands. This is more of a collective goal developed by society to create a certain claim against others. I prefer to stay with my individual dreams in me in my own hemisphere.

Of course, there are also people who advocate the exactly opposite perspective and dismiss dreams as lies. There’s nothing wrong or right about that. But if they don’t judge me, I won’t do the same.

I have often wondered how much a dream weighs. In contrast to a goal, a dream leaves a mental fingerprint and thus has a weight somewhere. The dream has to be stamped and located in a distant place in the brain and this naturally carries weight with it. A goal, on the other hand, is only achieved or not. But it has no mental burden comparable to a dream.


A baby sleeps and has sweet dreams
A baby having very active dreams

There are two dreams that I have followed and lived. One was fulfilled and the other was not. Am I physically heavier than before because of the dream came true?

Next page: A dream that luckily didn’t come true

Viceroyalty carnival of the Colonial City in Santo Domingo 2020

Dominican Republic, English, Insider Report

Approximate reading time: 5 minutes

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Whenever you hear about carnival, you might imagine the beautiful Samba dancing women in Brazil with their colorful costumes during mile-long parades. But carnival in not only an exclusive Brazilian invention. In fact, this festivity has religious roots and is celebrated in many catholic countries all over the world. And within the countries, even amongst different geographical regions or even cities very distinct interpretations and variations of carnival can happen. But how do people celebrate carnival in the Dominican Republic? Is there carnival in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo?

The Dominican Carnival is in comparison to other countries not an event that happens for one week. In various provinces of the Dominican Republic, carnival is celebrated during all weekends in February. You can be sure, that if you are traveling through the Dominican Republic in February and are interested in going to the bigger Dominican cities, that there will be a lot of ballyhoo at the weekends.

What I remembered from my time in Peru is the difference between the capital city and the Peruvian provinces in terms of cultural expressions, activities and religious festivities. In 2018, I have had the chance to take part of a very strange dubious Peruvian concept of carnival in Lima:


The peculiar Peruvian way to celebrate Carnival

What do you think, when you hear the word ‘carnival’? But apart from all the Brazilian Samba carnival we imagine, there are several other places in the world where people celebrate carnival.

Read this blog article to find out more about the peculiar Peruvian way to celebrate Carnaval. Yes, written and pronounced with an ‘a’.

I called Lima in one of my older articles the ‘least Peruvian city’, because these type of interesting happenings were rarely. That’s almost the same for the Dominican Republic. You can discover ‘the real Dominican Republic’ out of the capital city of Santo Domingo. All sorts of cultural festivities usually take place in the provinces and other cities.

Thus, I was kind of surprised to see, that there is a carnival in Santo Domingo AND in the Colonial Zone. You would actually expect from the oldest city on the American continent in a strictly religious city some kind of dedication to carnival. But the parade I visited on February 22 in 2020 in the Zona Colonial was in fact the first edition of its kind.

History needs to be written and habits need to be repeated often enough before becoming tradition. This little carnival parade was one of the first attempts for a yearly repeating event. In this case, the carnival in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo was organized by the Pan American Round Table of the Colonial Cit and the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic and got the name “Viceroyalty carnival of the Colonial City”. Very noble.

The First City of the Americas, home of the first Viceroyalty of the New World, will be filled with culture, talent and music with the staging of a colorful parade of troupes and characters, to the delight of the public. The Viceroyalty Carnival of the Colonial City seeks to arouse interest in history, cultural heritage and traditions. It is organized by the Pan American Round Table of the Colonial City and the Tourism Cluster, with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Governor Nicolás de Ovando, Viceroy María de Toledo and Viceroy Diego Colón, accompanied by their court, Buffoon and a troupe that will pay homage to a Dominican painter, will lead the parade. 

godominicanrepublic.com

For me on the first glance interesting to note, that apparently there is no connection at all to the Catholic religion. Instead, it gives more the impression to be announced as a historic masquerade ball. Especially the teaser picture reminded me somehow to the ancient traditional carnival from Venice in Italy:


VICEROYALTY CARNIVAL OF THE COLONIAL CITY 2020
Copyright by MITUR

As always, (valid) information are very difficult to obtain in the Dominican Republic. This concerns all sectors, but especially when you’re looking to find out something about an organized festival. Information usually spread in this country by hearsay and aren’t barely communicated electronically. It was for me even difficult to find out any background information about that festival. There isn’t any website to read a bit more about it. Simply couldn’t tell, which edition it is. According to Instagram Hastag #carnavalvirreinal the first picture was uploaded on March 10, 2018 by stodhohotels. I guess, that’s the 3rd edition of the Viceroyalty carnival of the Colonial City in Santo Domingo.

I was definitely curious about how they want to interpret carnival and if the predicate “Carnival” was even vindicated. So let’s find out!



And the parade is really sweet. Probably the shortest carnival parade of the world:



They were marching through a few streets of Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone and then ended up at Parque Colón, the central square of the city where for example the first cathedral of the is Americas is located.

At the end of the convoy it was quite mixed and it seemed to me that everyone could join and participate. That was quite fun so I decided to join the people:



Many little horse-drawn carriages carried some probably important personalties through the streets of the Zona Colonial. They all seemed to very very happy not having to walk all the way:



Who could afford more than just one horsepower came directly with a motorized vehicle to drive the way:


The prestigous Hotel Billini from the Colonial Zone came with their tiny little transportation vehicle

Those who weren’t equipped with horses or cars have had to walk through the Colonial Zone. Especially the walking orchestra did quite a good workout walking all way AND holding and playing their instruments.



As mostly during events in the Dominican Republic, it can get quite messy and maybe even chaotic. Same happened when I had to stop where I stood at the end of the video and had to wait for minutes. No one was moving forward and a little congestion was created. That’s why I decided to brake out of the convoy and go behind the stage.


Life as a giant dwarf is hard: He simply needed to take a rest after walking the streets on stilts.
Some happy women in their colorful dresses during the Viceroyalty carnival at Plaza Colón

Another funny thing was, that the show officially started and the stage wasn’t even ready and still needed some preparation:



That’s why the sound was at the beginning not the best quality and very quite. It was almost not possible to hear what the woman and the man were saying:



From the little bit I understood, they crowned the new king of the Dominican Republic. And he hold a very funny inauguration speech (in Spanish):



All in all, I must say that this tiny parade was funny to watch, had no religious touch and was not as royal as I expected. Okay, I mean there were the horse-drawn carriages transporting some very important people of high degree. But compared to the dress of the promotional picture, the old king looked a bit more royal than the new king:



That’s how the Colonial Zone interpreted their understanding of a Carnival. I hope to have given some interesting insights into the young carnival culture of Santo Domingo. And that you liked my article. If so and you would like to never miss an update in the future, please subscribe to this blog and follow it on Social Media!

Caño Hondo – A natural waterpark in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, English

I like water and water activities. But I prefer fresh water rather than saltwater. There is a very beautiful construction very close to Sabana de la Mar in the south of Samaná Bay. It’s called Paraíso Caño Hondo and has very inviting installments to discover. Especially the natural waterpark opens up a lot of fun activities for the visitor. I have had a great time there and was surprised, how ample and detailed at the same time Paraíso Caño Hondo was constructed.


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Approximate reading time: 9 minutes

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Where is Caño Hondo?

Caño Hondo can be found inside of the biggest national park of the Dominican Republic, ‘Parque Los Haitises’. It is a constructed eco hotel with a big natural waterpark.



It’s approximately 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) away from the next bigger city called Sabana de la Mar. That will take more or less 30 minutes.



30 minutes for that little bit of distance? Yes, I was surprised as well, that it took so long to get to Paraíso Caño Hondo. Bad road conditions might explain the reason why. You better go there with a SUV or Jeep, alternatively with a stable motorbike.

Next page: The difference between Paraíso Caño Hondo and Altos de Caño Hondo

5 good reasons to live in Santo Domingo (04/2021 Update)

5 reasons to live/leave this city, Dominican Republic, English, Insider Report

The Dominican Republic is a magnificent tourism destination in the Caribbean. Many holidays begin in the capital of Santo Domingo and its Colonial Zone to welcome the visitor with a historical flair. But what about life in Santo Domingo? What are good reasons to move and live there? How is life in Santo Domingo for an expat? I lived an expat life in the biggest city in the Caribbean for 1.5 years and would like to help you with 5 good reasons to live in Santo Domingo. I’m sure that you’ll find all the answers you’re looking for.

Approximate reading time: 20 minutes

Read in this article, what life in the oldest city on the American continent really means for a foreigner. And if you should consider to move to Santo Domingo or to rather look for a different city.


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I think, that it’s a good moment to analyze Santo Domingo as a valuable residence destination for expats and foreigners. Whether you are looking for good reasons to live in Santo Domingo, you will find them in this article. I could obtain some valuable insider knowledge from the perspective of an expat, because I lived there as well. And I am gladly sharing them with you!

Some years ago. I lived in Lima, Quito and Asunción. All these experiences in other Latin American capital cities helped me to analyze and assess Santo Domingo.

The 5 good reasons to live in Santo Domingo don’t come from researching other websites. I am creating the content of my own experiences and all photos I share are my own copyright. You won’t find this content elsewhere, if it was not linked or copied from. It’s nothing less than made by own observations and opinions about what’s good and bad about Santo Domingo.

I was quite surprised, that so far no other expat blogger treated this topic on whether living or not living in Santo Domingo in a thorough manner. It’s a quite big and international city and many expats lived here.


Plaza Maria de Toledo in the Colonial Zone

But I couldn’t find any comparable article by giving this information from the inside to interested readers who look for this kind of expat information. I hope, that I’ll fulfill your purpose and deliver some valuable insights from the life in the capital of the DR.

Alright then, hope you enjoy my article and will find what you were (re)searching for!

Next page: The Colonial City of Santo Domingo

10 insider facts of the Dominican Republic for individual travelers

Dominican Republic, English

Are you looking for some real inspiration for your next big travel adventure? A tropical paradise in a coconut shell? Never considered traveling to the most beautiful and diverse destination of the Caribbean? Maybe the Dominican Republic? I would love to inspire with 10 insider facts of the Dominican Republic for individual travelers.


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

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If you answer at least one of these questions with a “Yes”, you are eligible to become an individual traveler in the Dominican Republic. As you can imagine, I wouldn’t write this article, if I couldn’t present some reasons to emphasize, that the biggest country in the Caribbean has at the same time plenty of opportunities and hidden gems to visit as an individual tourist.


During Canyoning – An offroad excursion at “Cola de Pato”

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Yet it has much more to offer than the usual and expectable things. Naming a few…

  • Big holiday resorts
  • All-Inclusive-vacations in Punta Cana
  • Palms along endless beaches

These are standardized imaginations. Probably these are the imaginations most people expect when it comes to this country.

The Dominican Republic is a paradise for individual tourism

What most people don’t know is the versatility of the Dominican Republic. And that it can satisfy the needs of every ambitious traveler type.

Well, let’s say almost every travel type. Winter sports might be a little difficult to realize because of warm and sunny conditions for all year round. For this reason, the climate of the Dominican Republic is also known as an “endless summer.”



But an endless summer in the Caribbean is probably what you already expected. Rather let us focus on some thrilling and unique features of the Dominican Republic which inspire you to travel instantly.

Did you know, that the Dominican Republic…

  • was discovered during Columbus first expedition?
  • is also home of the oldest (capital) city of the entire American continent?
  • has the highest mountain (10,164 feet – 3.098 m) of the Caribbean?

These are only a few of the triggering facts to create curiosity. Yet, the Dominican Republic has much more to offer.

Read in this article 10 characteristics about the Dominican Republic that might surprise you to create wanderlust and see it with your own eyes.



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1

Columbus landed here in 1492


Christopher Columbus landed during his first voyage first on the Bahamas and later on Hispaniola Island on December 5, 1492. In 1493, the colony of La Isabela was built on the northeast coast on Columbus’ second trip. Even though the Republic itself was founded as a sovereign state much later, Columbus landed on today’s Dominican territory.


La Isabela (Dominican Republic) - Columbus' Landing

Columbus’ Landing in the Dominican Republic

La Isabela was depopulated by 1500 due to a hurricane. Furthermore, the discovery of gold one year earlier in 1499 in the interior of the country made people flee to follow the gold rush. But the footsteps of Christopher Columbus are still present. And even 525 years later, the site of La Isabela can be visited. There are still some relics of the very first European settlement in the Americas.

On the first glance the ruins of Isabella might appear a little disappointing to the visitor.  Before 1986, almost no one was taking care of that place. Unfortunately, a lot of construction material was cleared up by bulldozers in 1952 because of presidential order of the dictator Trujillo. Only the foundation grounds and the reconstructed House of Christopher Columbus are nowadays visible at the excavations of La Isabela.

At second appearance, you can find with a little bit more patience and an informative tour guide a lot of interesting information about the place. Very impressive are the excavations of La Isabela and the items the people from back then were using. They can be seen in the museum. Even recollections from the old Taino people could be found during the excavations. This first European colony was on a very developed state-of-the-art back then, Spanish style.

La Isabela is perfect for a half day trip. And for everyone who would like to follow Columbus’ path seeing the oldest buildings of the first European settlers. Travelers who love to see historical facts with their own eyes will love the colony of La Isabela.


  • Casa del Almirante in La Isabela
  • La Isabela in the Dominican Republic
  • Monument in La Isabela, Dominican Republic
  • Cemetery in La Isabela, Dominican Republic

How much time should I spend here? Not more than 2 – 3 hours

📅 Recommended visit: All year season (Better in the morning hours before it starts to get hot – There is no shade)

💰 Costs: Affordable

  • Admission per person 200 Pesos <-> 3.50 – 4 USD.
  • Spanish speaking local tour guide not more than 500 Pesos <-> 8 – 9 USD)

Suitable for: History lovers, archaeologists

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2

Santo Domingo is the first capital city on the American continent


The colony of Santo Domingo became the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Consecutive upon that, Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the new world. Also at the same time, it is the first capital city, the first place of a Catholic cathedral out of Europe, and has the first university and hospital in Latin America. You can breathe in centuries-old history in the Dominican Republic.



Some of the original buildings have been restored and can be visited in the charming Colonial City of Santo Domingo. For this reason, a visit to the Dominican Republic should always include a few days Santo Domingo and the Colonial Zone with its picturesque and dainty flair which is worth to discover. Additionally, it attracts yearly thousands of visitors for its festivals. Check out the festival schedule – Maybe you can join the local Carnival, Barbarella and Merengue festivals.

Don’t worry too much about not being safe in the Colonial Zone. This neighborhood is one of the most protected areas in Santo Domingo. Next to that, this part of the city is one of the cleanest – Although it might not seem as it is from the perspective of a visitor from a first world country. But compared to many other neighborhoods, the Colonial Zone is in a quite good and clean condition.

To round up your experience in the oldest city of the American continent, I would like to recommend you to visit two more places which are easy to reach from the Colonial Zone. You’ll need a vehicle though, but would be able to get to the destinations in less than 20 minutes driving time.

Columbus Lighthouse (‘Faro El Colon’) – A mausoleum monument, that contains the remains of Christoph Columbus.

The three Eyes (‘Parque Los Tres Ojos’) – An open-air limestone cave with three lagoons. Check also this dedicated article.



Santo Domingo is perfect to start your vacation as an individual traveler in the Dominican Republic. Urban lifestyle and city travelers will love the metropolitan part of the country.

How much time should I spend here? Not more than 2 nights

📅 Recommended visit: All year season

💰Costs: Affordable

  • Discovering the Colonial Zone is of course free. But with a local tour guide much more informative and worth it. Should be available between 25 – 35 USD.
  • Admission for Columbus’ Lighthouse is 200 Pesos <-> 3.50 – 4 USD
  • Entrance for “The three eyes” is 250 Pesos <-> 4.50 – 5 USD

Suitable for: Urban travelers, history lovers

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3

The highest peak of the Caribbean


Contrary to sandy and pristine beaches, the Dominican Republic has the highest mountain of all Caribbean islands. ‘Pico Duarte’ is 10,164 feet (3.098 m) high and was named in appreciation of Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the Dominican Republics’ founding fathers.

The mountainous area offers challenging ascents for hikers. Its peak welcomes yearly approximately 3,000 climbers who like to experience its incredible beauty. That’s less than 10 people every day! As a result of this a real insider tip for everyone who likes to discover nature and be all alone on top of a mountain. And who can claim to have made it to the highest point of a geographic area? If you consider visiting the Dominican Republic, you hopefully have now an additional motivation to hike to Pico Duarte and be on top of the Caribbean!


View from Pico Duarte (10,164 feet - 3.098 m)
Pico Duarte is the highest elevation of the Caribbean with 10,164 feet – 3.098 m
(© Ministerio de Turismo de República Dominicana)

There are several routes with varying difficulty levels from Jarabacoa that lead to Pico Duarte. Depending on your physical condition, you know which routes and which difficult level are best for you. Only experienced ascensionists should consider to do it alone without a tour guide. It’s recommended to climb up the mountain accompanied by pack animals and tour guides with a good knowledge of the area.

Another little recommendation to maximize your individual experience would be to visit it off the high season. You know now, that approximately 3,000 travelers approach Pico Duarte yearly. But almost the half does it only in January and during the Easter holidays! Try to avoid these peak times and reach the peak of the mountain for the rest of the year.

Pico Duarte is the ideal assignment for mountaineers, adventurers and everyone who seeks for an individual challenge.

How much time should I spend here? You should expect 4 days for the standard route. Starting ideally from Jarabacoa in the mountains.

📅 Recommended visit: NOT during January and Easter. Evade the peak times and go in low season

💰Costs: Moderate

Suitable for: Mountaineers, adventurers, nature lovers

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4

Lowest elevation of the Caribbean


Conversely to everything that was written before about the highest peak of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic possesses the exact geographic opposite.

Located in the southwestern region of the country, Lake Enriquillo is the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the whole Caribbean. It covers an area of 145 square miles and the lake level is approximately 140 feet below sea level. Although it can appear seasonable as hypersaline, Enriquillo Lake offers habitat conditions to the largest population of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in the Caribbean.


Lago Enriquillo in the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic

Very unusual as well as the flooding trend: Since 2004 the lake has grown by almost 130% due to increased rainfall and reduced evaporation caused by milder temperatures. This, on the other hand, helps some endangered species who are living in the lake to keep their habitat protected.

Have you ever seen wild flamingos in their natural habitat? At Lake Enriquillo, you’ll have the chance to! You’re a bird watching expert and need some elaborated challenges? As a hint, you should remain patient and wait for the reason number 8 for individual tourism in the Dominican Republic.

If you’re not interested in birds at all, you can also find an endemic iguana species at Lago Enriquillo. The Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta) has its habitat there and welcomes you with its majestic appearance. Insiders’ tip: Bring some fresh fruits and feed them, they love cherries!

Lake Enriquillo is a very suitable destination for wildlife watching and nature exploration. And everyone who wants to see pink flamingos needs to see Lago Enriquillo.

How much time should I spend here? 1 day

📅 Recommended visit: All year season

💰Costs: Affordable

Suitable for: Adventurers, bird watchers, nature lovers

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5

You can defy gravity in Polo


Now to a very magic characteristic of the Dominican Republic that became over the last years more and more a viral trend. Close to Barahona in the southwestern part of the country, a tiny town called Polo can be found. Here you have one of the few opportunities in the world to trick scientific laws and challenge gravity at the Magnetic Pole (El Polo Magnético).

If you are going to stop your car in neutral gear in the downhill section, your car will roll up! You don’t believe it? Please drive to Polo and check out the gravity hill. Your car rolling up is caused by an optical illusion due to the condition of the road and the landscape itself. Still, a nice and unique experience. Don’t forget to take enough convincing photos or even illusory videos as a memory. Most importantly: No entrance fees are charged and you can discover it for free! For this purpose, it might be a good idea to include the magnetic pole into your road trip.



Apart from that, there is not much to see and do in Polo. But you can use this stop in your road trip as a nice stopover to continue to the unknown southwest of the country.

The Polo Magnético is ideal for everyone who wants a self-drive tour across the Dominican Republic. And for those who want to trick laws of nature.

How much time should I spend here? 30 minutes

📅 Recommended time: All year season

💰Costs: Free of charge

Suitable for: Nerds, You-Tubers

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6

You will be able to play presidential Golf at ‘Teeth of a dog’


Did you know, that even former US-presidents are coming to the island to play golf? Furthermore, the Dominican Republic ranks with more than 30 beautiful golf courses among the best golf destinations in Latin America. Swing and no miss in the Dominican Republic! Most were designed by famous designers like Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent, Bobby Jones, Nick Faldo and Peter Dye.

The ‘Teeth of the Dog’ course is the most prestigious Golf course in the Dominican Republic. Feel welcome to spend unforgettable golf holidays in the Caribbean. Nine of the Dominican golf courses are mentioned amongst the “Top 50” in the listing of the magazine Golfweek. Many sports champions, enthusiasts and celebrities from around the world came to the Dominican Republic to play Golf. To emphasize some of them: Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush came to play at the Dominican designer golf courses.


The famous golf course ‘Teeth of the Dog’ in the Dominican Republic
(© Ministerio de Turismo de República Dominicana)

To emphasize the countries status in the golf world: Members of the Global Golf Tourism Organization, IAGTO have voted Dominican Republic as the “2019 Golf Destination of the Year for Latin America and the Caribbean. Not only, but especially these international recognized awards have helped Dominican Republic to maintain its status as the Golf Capital of the Caribbean.

Teeth of the Dog golf course is for everyone who would like to bring his or her own pair of clubs. And for those who prefer having a luxury holiday in a Caribbean destination.

How much time should I spend here? Depends on your budget

📅 Recommended visit: All year season

💰Costs: Expensive

Suitable for: Golfers

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7

Merengue has its cultural origin in the Dominican Republic


Sugar, coffee, and tobacco are the most important economic export products of the Dominican Republic. But it’s the typical Merengue music and dances who made the country internationally popular and famous in cultural aspects.


Don’t miss the following article, that will show you more Merengue dances.

Fast-paced rhythmic music from hand-made instruments in combination with close and graceful dancing moves – nowhere else can the Dominican lifestyle be better observed as during the evenings when the Merengue music is played. The good thing is, that you will find it everywhere in the whole country. Merengue is not only the music and not only the dance, it is a cultural Dominican expression!

In July and August there are several Merengue festivals in Santo Domingo that wait to be discovered from you. They take place around the Malecón and the music beats keep pumping all night. A very special insiders’ tip is the visit of the restaurant ‘El Conuco’. It is one of the most typical Dominican restaurants of the city with traditional decoration, staff in folkloric clothing and typical Dominican dishes. I haven’t seen before anyone dancing as wild but controlled as these two people ON a bottle of rum. Yes, ON a bottle, not with a bottle!



Recently, the UNESCO has declared traditional Dominican merengue music and dance an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A recognition of the beloved cultural value that is part of Dominican identity.

‘Festival de Merengue’ is for cultural explorers, active dancers and such who want to move their hips to Caribbean music.

How much time should I spend here? One day

📅 Recommended visit: Takes place usually late July – early August

💰Costs: Free of charge

Suitable for: Cultural interested people, dancers

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8

Most bird species of the Caribbean have their habitat in the Dominican Republic


You remember the little hint I gave the bird watching experts in chapter 4? Now your time has come to discover why!

Bird watchers have been considered lately with a decent interest from travel destinations. Hence, the Dominican Republic is a pure paradise for bird watchers. Especially Los Haitises National Park, Sierra de Bahoruco and Cordillera Septentrional offer stunning opportunities to observe the winging Dominican wildlife. Amongst tropical trees and many other animals, some threatened, endangered and even endemic species can be seen. Under those circumstances, the Dominican Republic is a pure paradise for ornithologists.



The diversity of bird species in the Dominican Republic is a consequence of Hispaniola’s complex geologic history with various microclimatic zones. In the Caribbean, the island is geographically the most diverse and enables the habitat conditions. As a result, it offers a habitat for 320 birds whereof 32 are endemic bird species.

And the Dominican birds are worth to glass. You should observe them with your own eyes – or your own field glasses. The unknown southwest offers many opportunities for bird watchers and such who want to become it.

📅 Recommended visit: All year season

💰Costs: Expensive

Suitable for: Nature lovers, bird watchers

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9

Neither 99% of the local population nor Trip Advisor know the highest waterfall of the Caribbean


Whenever it comes to really secret insider tips, the following Dominican destination shouldn’t be missed in any anecdotes. Totally disregarded by all guide books and excursions in the country, there is one of these secret insider tips. A waterfall with a single-drop of 390 feet (119 m) can be found in the middle of a green area.

We’re talking about the waterfall ‘Salto de La Jalda’. Truly a travel destination, which is unknown to most of the locals and not even listed on Trip Advisor. A trip to this secret waterfall will take you about 4.5 hours by foot or 2.5 hours on horseback. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit before you go. Chilled water will refresh your mind once you arrive there.



As it can be still considered as an absolute hidden gem, you shouldn’t hesitate too long to go there. See it with your own eyes, before standardized package tour operators will bring thousands of tourists here. Furthermore, this stunning beauty is beside its long hike easy to reach. In detail, it’s just 1.5 hours distance away from Punta Cana and 2 hours from Santo Domingo. For this reason, it would be the ideal destination for an adventurous day trip. 

The top-secret waterfall Salto de La Jalda is perfect for explorers, nature lovers and adventurous travel pioneers.

How much time should I spend here? 1 full day

📅 Recommended visit: All year season

💰 Costs: Moderate

Suitable for: Nature lovers, hikers

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10

Giant humpback whales are born in the Dominican Republic


Especially nature lovers who want to enjoy the diversity of animals will get one’s money’s worth in the Dominican Republic. Each year, approximately 2,000 – 3,000 giant humpback whales arrive in the bay of the peninsula Samaná.

They are migrating seasonally from the Northern Atlantic to the milder Dominican waters for calving and breeding. Their newborns don’t have enough fat reserves to be able to survive the cold winter waters in the northern waters, that’s why they come here to the Dominican Republic. In late March, they are returning to North America, Greenland, and Iceland to their feeding sites to prepare for the next season.


Whale watching in the Dominican Republic

In a wider sense, giant humpback whales are native Dominicans who live abroad for the summer and come back home for winter. Of course, they visit their homeland (or better: “homewater”) every year. How cool is that?

The Samaná Peninsula is ideal for whale watchers, animal lovers and everyone who wants to see whales with their own eyes.

How much time should I spend here? 1 full day

📅 Recommended visit: From January till mid of March

💰 Costs: Moderate

Suitable for: Nature lovers, hikers

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Did you like these 10 thrilling and unique features about the Dominican Republic? Do you feel inspired to plan your next dream holidays there?

As described before, the Dominican Republic has many interesting characteristics that every individual traveler would cherish. If you need more recommendations for your Caribbean dream holiday and some more insiders’ tips, be forearmed for other articles on this blog. You’ll read about some destinations that are hard to find and possibly not even communicated elsewhere in the internet.

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Fiesta de Palos in San Cristobal – Celebrating the traditional Afro-American culture in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, English, Insider Report
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The Dominican culture is hard to find and for foreigners sometimes even harder to detect. In comparison to many other Latin American countries, they spare out some festivities you would expect from a country like the Dominican Republic. Although they perceive themselves as strictly catholic people, they don’t express it with religious festivities during Carnival and with Easter progressions in a collective and colorful way. The national holiday on February 27 is as well barely recognized with organized and widespread festivities or ceremonies. I had the joy to saw a great exception of that rule in San Cristobal. They celebrate annually on the last Sunday in November a ceremony called ‘Fiesta de Palos’ (Translated: Stick party) close to the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Luckily, I could join this racket and was surprised how Dominicans celebrate their culture on a Sunday afternoon in San Cristobal!



Some 20 miles away from Santo Domingo, a village called ‘San Cristobal’ can be found on the map. Neither my Dominican girlfriend nor her parents I was traveling with knew what to expect from this afternoon.

We were visiting some relatives of that village who organize on their street once in a year the ‘Fiesta de Palos’. Although they are living quite close to the capital of the Dominican Republic in San Cristobal, these types of festivities aren’t celebrated in the urban districts of Santo Domingo. Which means, that also they learned and something new about their own country and fellow citizens.

For me as a Super-Gringo, everything was absolutely new and astonishing. Without having a good connection to the family of my girlfriend, I would never have access to a community like them. Thus, I am quite thankful to have obtained this insight to the Dominican culture, which usually is hidden to foreigners. Comparably to my Eminem-experience in Guallupe in Ecuador in December 2017, I was again the only white and foreign stranger in a black community. And again, they welcomed me with very open arms and with a candid spirit that pleased me very much.



I took my GoPro and took a lot of videos, but unfortunately not many photos. To explain these festivities a little bit better, it could help to read the following questions:

What is ‘Fiesta de Palos’?

‘Fiesta de Palos’ is a cultural festivity in the Dominican Republic to honor Catholic saints or anniversaries of the deceased. It usually takes places in rural areas.



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Where does ‘Fiesta de Palos’ has its origin?

‘Fiesta de Palos’ has its roots in Congo, Central Africa. Along with its folkloric African instruments, it’s characterized by its up-tempo rhythms, loud chants, and playful dances.



What instruments are played at ‘Fiesta de Palos’?

Usually, three different long drums are used with a height of up to 3 – 4 feet. The Dominicans call these three drums El Mayor, El Menor and El Alcahuete à The oldest, the youngest and the pimp. And no, that translation is neither wrong translated, nor a joke. They really call this drum a pimp.

Next to the long drums, idiophones accompany the sound to complete the loud noises.



Where is ‘Fiesta de Palos’ celebrated?

Possibly everywhere in the Dominican Republic, but more likely on the countryside and in villages with many inhabitants of Afro-American descent. Fiesta the Palos is not an urban festivity and can’t be found in the touristy areas around Punta Cana. You need to dig a little deeper before finding the true Dominican roots with its culture and music.



How often is ‘Fiesta de Palos’ celebrated?

On a very irregularly basis. ‘Fiesta de Palos’ is associated with the celebrations of virgins and saints. Whenever there is a strong bond between a village and a holy catholic figure, it’s about the villagers to honor them on a yearly basis with this festivity. Depending on which virgin or saint is cherished or adored, the festivity dates also varies. There isn’t any consistent or periodical rule for the entire Dominican Republic. All depends on the favors of the villagers to the saints – Or vice versa as you like.


These types of micro-sized cultural activities aren’t communicated or published transregionally and remain cultural insider knowledge. It’s very hard to find them, even more difficult for foreigners.


What is special about Fiesta de Palos?

One of the most surprising things was for me, that the musicians did not receive any applause. If you carefully watch the videos until the end of their songs, you will notice, that no one of the audience gives applause for the band. It was the first time in my life, that I observed an audience that doesn’t value the performance with clapping their hands although supporting it strongly. I asked a few people, why they don’t applaud to the music. They answered: “It’s not part of this culture and we never do that when someone plays songs like that.”



Another interesting thing is, that each of these long drums is as unique as its creator making it. They are all produced hand-made and never in batch fabrication. Usually, these drums are made from trees hollowed out and covered with goat or cow skins for the head. Each drum makes a different sound.



Fiesta de Palos is a big get together with people drinking, dancing, chattering all day. Not very different to a usual Dominican Colmado at night. But with the desire to maintain the Afro-American culture in the Dominican Republic. As you can imagine, these rural traditions with its music and dances die out, because of the lack of communication and recordings. I hope, that I could contribute at least a little bit to conservate a little piece of the Dominican tradition and publication of this article.



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I couldn’t even tell, which specific Catholic saint was honored that day. The little table with the candles in the videos showed the devotionals. But the whole time I was there, it was not communicated, whom to honor that day. Neither did I really understand what they were singing about, their words were very loud and fast and slang. But it was a very special day for me to see Fiesta de Palos in the Dominican Republic.


Las ventanillas de Otuzco: The beautiful pre-colombian graveyard near Cajamarca

English, Insider Report, Journal, peru

(Approximate reading time: 5 minutes)


Who has ever heard about Otuzco? You probably thought, that in the headline is written “Cuzco” or it could be a typo. But it’s not. Even people from Peru got confused and not anybody knows where or what Otuzco is. Read the story about an insiders’ recommendation and a worthy tourism destination.