Dominican Republic // Santo Domingo //

Juan Dolio and Guayacanes

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Just east past Boca Chica begins a 25km-long stretch of rocky coast that holds a strip of holiday homes and all-inclusives collectively referred to as JUAN DOLIO. This package resort area was created in response to the wild success of Playa Dorada in the early 1980s, but has never quite matched its northern rival. There has been some recent investment in the area and although a couple of new resorts are the equal of any all-inclusives in the country, the quality of the beach lets the side down. Though the sand here is perfectly acceptable, the expanse of dead coral under the water makes swimming and walking in the water uncomfortable, and the private hotel beaches are isolated, small pockets of sand – simply no match for what you’ll find further east at Punta Cana and Bávaro. The sands are significantly more appealing in the nearby hamlet of GUAYACANES, Juan Dolio’s next-door neighbour, with two nice beaches and one of the best restaurants on the island.

Juan Dolio does have a few advantages over its regional competitors. There’s none of the large-scale harassment of Boca Chica and wandering around the strip is relatively hassle-free. Unlike Bávaro, there are a number of quality restaurants and budget hotels geared towards independent travellers, the nightlife is good and the strip is still in shouting distance of Santo Domingo.

If you’re up for some out-of-the-way natural beauty, head 3km further west of Guayacanes (the spot is marked by a highway overpass on your right) and you’ll find a long-abandoned beach home with a natural swimming pool that was carved into the rock by its former owners. It’s perfectly safe to swim in the pool, which has rough-hewn steps leading into it from the ground and from here you can look out onto the Caribbean crashing against high, jagged cliffs.