The Dominican Republic is one of the top Caribbean destinations, especially if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort getaway.

I’ve been there … and all-inclusives are great but I was looking for an entirely new experience this time.

The thing is I missed out on so much simply by “enjoying” the resort experience. To be frank, it seemed as watered down as some of the beverages there. Do you really experience much more than the beach, a pool and a hotel room?

I partnered with Spirit Airlines to explore another side of the Dominican Republic. With new daily direct flights to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from my home airport, MCO, Spirit’s making it easy for you to get off the couch and GO without depleting your entire travel fund!

Here are just a few of the places to experience on your trip to the Dominican Republic.

Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo

Known as the oldest district in the New World, Zona Colonial is packed with European architecture, cobblestone roads, museums, markets and tons of bold-colored walls. Staying in “La Zona” is convenient since the area is very walkable–a perfect way to wander and explore.

I’m convinced wandering is how you stumble upon some of your most memorable spots. I’m a newbie vegetarian so I was a bit worried I wouldn’t find too many veggie-friendly meals. While wandering, however, we stumbled upon a vegetarian restaurant called Time Vegetarian Kitchen right on Calle Padre Billini. We enjoyed beet ravioli and a veggie burger. Delicious!

Beet Ravioli | Photo Credit: Time Vegetarian Kitchen



Cecci Burger | Photo Credit: Time Vegetarian Kitchen



Playa Juan Dolio

Less than an hour from Santo Domingo is Playa Juan Dolio. We enjoyed a peaceful afternoon on the white sand beach, reading, swimming and enjoying rice and beans and piña coladas. After a gorgeous sunset, we got rained out. It wouldn’t be the island without a little unexpected rain.

Dominican Tree House Village – Samana Valley

This was the part of the trip I was anticipating the most. We were gonna stay in a TREE HOUSE! We drove the 2-3 hour trip from Santo Domingo to Samana. It was one of the most beautiful drives ever. The mountains and the countryside were breathtaking. It was the perfect prelude to our stint as rainforest residents.

The Dominican Tree House Village was everything I expected and much more. From the moment we arrived, we were immersed in nature. A nearby waterfall contributes ambient sound to the village, adding an extra wave of relaxation. Not to mention hammocks and the sweet pups living on property.

Our tree house was one of the VIP tree houses. It takes a VIC (very intense climb) to get to it but it is 100% worth it and it’s only bad on the first couple of times. We were probably 500 feet up above the river and the serenity and views were worth the climb every time.

Samana Zipline

Who doesn’t love a zipline adventure? I’ve ziplined plenty of times now, including excursions in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica but my partner had never gone ziplining so naturally, we had to go. Flying through the rainforest canopy is just liberating. The Samana Zipline team was wonderful and even recorded our flights and taught us tricks – I went upside down! It was conveniently located minutes from the tree house village, too, which was also a plus.

Cascada Lulu

This small, secluded waterfall was great for a cool, afternoon dip. It was late afternoon so we pretty much had the entire spot to ourselves. There was a rope swing that I couldn’t resist (and also pressured my partner to swing from). So what if my clumsy self banged my elbow on the way down? The swing was a thrill!

Playa El Valle

A quick bike ride from the treehouse village is Playa El Valle. This beach was such a pleasant surprise. I did not expect to see its beautiful sea cliffs. Neither did I expect it to be so empty. It’s really one of those exclusive, locals only beaches. We had lunch at this beach twice (I could really get used to lunches on the beach) and explored the cliffs and where the river meets the ocean. 10/10.