The Dominican Republic!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AZHobo, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 1

    New Mexico to Jarabacoa, DR

    Roswell, Dallas, Miami, Santiago de los Caballeros to Jarabacoa

    The Short: We were invited to a wedding in the DR and we are turning into a motorcycle tour with an extended layover at the wedding.


    The DR was never really on our short list of travel locations until we were invited to a destination wedding. Thanks Kathryn! Despite our excitement for Kathryn’s pending nuptials, our initial reaction to the invite was to decline. We already had our vacation plans in place for the year and this would be a strain on finances and leave balances from work. The idea festered, however, and soon we were thinking of how nice it would be on a tropical island in December. The norm of traveling to the DR is to stay in all-inclusive resorts, while that is certainly nice, it’s not our normal mode of travel. We decided if we were going all the way there, we need to see more of the DR and the best way to do that is always on a motorcycle!


    We’ll be riding a Suzuki V-Strom 650 two up throughout this trip. Searching online for a motorcycle to rent in the DR is difficult. We essentially could not find any viable options on the internet. This contrasts from our Vietnam trip last year where there were several online options.


    MotoCaribe Tours however, is online. They kept popping up in our searches and although we weren’t interested in a full blown, guided tour, we decided to reach out to them to see about renting a bike. No. They do not rent motorcycles. More futile internet searches ensued with some more back and forth with MotoCaribe. The end result is that we were able to arrange a few days of rental combined with a full blown, guided tour!


    Today we fly into Santiago de los Caballeros in the DR where we will be picked up by MotoCaribe. We’ll transit to the rural town of Jarabacoa where we pick up our rental bike. Tomorrow we start two days of riding to an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana for a four night stay and the wedding; then another two days of riding back to our original starting point in Jarabacoa. Once we return to Jarabacoa, we’ll start a week long tour with MotoCaribe Tours.


    We are sitting at the airport in Roswell, NM where we start the first of three legs to the DR. Yippee!!!
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    DR by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    #1
  2. beemerphile

    beemerphile Unreconstructed Southerner Supporter

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    If you get the opportunity, try to have dinner at El Meson De La Cava in Santo Domingo.
    #2
  3. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Haha! We just left there!
    #3
  4. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 2

    Jarabacoa to Santo Domingo


    Yesterday’s flights were fairly uneventful. Only problem being we didn’t get to sit next to each other on any of the three flights. I believe this is something American Airlines is doing to get you to pay extra for seats. Oh well. We got to sit next to each other all day today on a motorcycle!


    We arrived fairly late last night. Immigration was straightforward and simple. Make sure you have the tag for your checked baggage because they will want to see it as you leave the baggage area. Robert and Alida with MotoCaribe were waiting outside as we emerged. We hopped in their car and stopped off nearby for a light meal, getting to know you conversation and routing discussion. It’s a pleasant 14 miles to Jarabacoa from Santiago - a twisting tree shrouded road that climbs 2000 feet in elevation. They dropped us off at our hotel and we pretty much went straight to bed.

    Last night’s trip:
    [​IMG]DR by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    This morning we woke to the sound of singing and a rushing river. A women’s church group was staying at the hotel and this was their morning thing apparently. The river was right outside our balcony and quite pretty. Our hotel was like a park. Very lush landscaping with the buildings spread out. You know its a nice climate when the lobby is completely open to the outside. We drank some strong, sweet coffee and ate a hearty breakfast overlooking the river before Robert picked us up and took us a few miles to his place.
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Robert is a man that takes care of his stuff. He has a fleet of V-Strom 650s and they were all in an enclosed garage, individually covered and each one was on a battery tender. Needless to say, our bike is immaculate. It always takes a few minutes to get the hang of a new bike and this one was no different. Luckily the V-Strom 650 is very easy to get along with. I was comfortable on the bike in no time. Our duffle bag strapped perfectly across the back with two Rok-straps and a bungee net. Robert even loaned us a tank bag. Perfect!
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Today’s Route:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    The route south to Santo Domingo is fairly short and even though we wanted a short day, we still took a detour out east towards the town of Cotui. This kept us on our favorite type of small rural road a little bit longer before hitting the highway into the city. Today is Sunday so there were lots of folks outside going to church, cooking and hanging out. Great fun to ride and see all the people. We spent a month in Vietnam last year, so traffic wise there weren’t too many surprises for us. If you are alert, competent and focused on what’s happening in front of you, it’s easy and fun to ride here. If you get distracted and spend too much time looking to the side things can get ugly quick.

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    An abondonded/unfinished hotel:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr



    Robert and Alida made today really easy for us. They told us exactly how to get to the hotel and they made the reservations. We used the offline maps of the Scenic app to navigate as we do not have international cellular service. Easy to use and no problems. We are carrying a Garmin Montana 680 with DR maps as a backup. We arrived to the hotel in the early afternoon and were able to check in. We are staying in the historic colonial section of the city. Amazing. Everything around us here was built in the 1500s. Lots of history here and it is beautiful. Very photogenic, but what’s crazy is all the Instagram models - they are everywhere here posing for photos. We took a brief walk around the blocks surrounding the hotel before a quick nap then off to dinner.

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Worn out 80’s and 90’s Toyotas are everywhere:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    From inside a fort looking out:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr



    We took Robert’s suggestion and ate at El Meson De La Cava. A restaurant in a cave. Very neat, excellent food. We used Uber to get there and back. Even though we don’t have cell service the hotel and restaurant WiFi worked great for getting an Uber. The cars were immaculate.

    The bar at El Meson:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    We got back to the hotel after 9pm tonight, a Sunday night. Everyone is outside. All the parks are full of people of all ages. Crazy. We walked up the street to look at the house of Christopher Columbus’s Admiral, really spectacular all lit up. There was a big Christmas tree in the plaza, kids running every where and the sidewalk restaurants full of people.

    The home of one of Christopher Columbus’s Admirals - occupied by his family form 1503 to 1577:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Katy is a great photographer, hopefully I can start adding photos when we get to Punta Cana.


    Good Night!
    #4
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  5. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Looking forward to your pictures and the report of the guided portion of your trip. Looks like it may be an item to add to my ride list.
    #5
  6. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    We’re looking forward t it too. Sunday!
    #6
  7. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 3


    Santo Domingo to Punta Cana
    [​IMG]Day 3 by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    It was recommended that we leave Santo Domingo before 7:30 to beat the traffic. We failed. As much as we would like to seize the day, we often end up relaxing, lounging and wasting time in the mornings. We highly recommend staying at the Hodelpa Caribe Colonial. It is smack dab in the middle of the most charming part of the city - you can walk to most of the historic sites and there are restaurants galore. It was easy to find, clean rooms, excellent breakfast and secure motorcycle parking. $100 give or take. The a/c in our room (310) was a little weak, though.


    We got rolling around 10 am and immediate got snared in traffic. The hotel is in an ancient part of the city with one lane one way streets. If one vehicle stops, everyone stops. We circled the neighborhood around the hotel for 10 or 15 minutes until we found our way to the route we wanted - not a big deal. We crossed the floating bridge heading east and immediately we were out of the traffic. Easy Peasy!

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    These little vans are my favorite:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    We rolled east on a highway bordering the ocean until we picked up the bigger highway slightly inland. The town of Juan Dolio was our first stop. We cruised the area looking for a good candidate for Friday night’s stay since we plan to come back this way. Interesting ride so far this morning. There were several remnants of old amusement parks and resorts gone back to nature. It would be fascinating to explore and photograph these places. I would imagine given the climate that decay and overgrowth doesn’t take long. We fueled up for the first time with 300 kms on the trip. Fuel cost was roughly US$12. We grabbed some snacks and water and continued east.

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    The next stop on the schedule was Cueva de las Maravillas. It was highly recommended, but unfortunately closed today (Monday).

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr



    On to the next stop. Casa de Campo an exclusive 7,000 acre resort for the high rollers of the world. Within Casa de Campo is Altos de Chavon. Altos de Chavon is supposedly a charming replica of a 16th century Italian village built with period materials. Unfortunately, this stop was also a miss. They charge $25 per person to enter, but they prohibit motorcycles. We were given to option to take a taxi, but declined. I’m sure the reason to prohibit motorcycles is related to the millions of smoking scooters that exist in this country. We were a little disappointed because we were looking forward to lunch there and since we just took a motorcycle tour of Italy a few months ago, this would have been a neat comparison. The reality of it is that these places are often just a little strange. There is a community like this above Telluride, Colorado and it seemed like a fake place for the wealthy to insulate themselves from the filthy masses. That’s what we’re telling ourselves anyways, so we don’t regret missing it.

    Rejected at Casa de Campo:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Onward. We exited at Bayahibe and ended up missing the turn into town and found ourselves cruising a road paralleling a line of beachside resorts. The road stopped at the last one and we found a dirt path and some signage for a national park. We bumped down the path and popped out at a shady area looking out over a beautiful beach. There were cabanas and picnic tables, so that’s were we ate our delicious lunch of Vienna Sausages, cocktail nuts, and Nutella with breadsticks. Perfect and peaceful. We were the only people there.

    Lunch!
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    Rolling back into Bayahibe, we discovered a very cute little town that is obviously a major scuba diving destination. Very picturesque in the traditional Caribbean ideal. Tons of tour buses!

    Staircases in Bayahibe:
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Bayahibe by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    One more detour before Punta Cana! We found a dirt road off the main highway that linked up to another paved road that was the cutoff to Highway 3 leading south to Boca de Yuma. It was pretty ride. Watch out for potholes! That goes for every road in the DR. Riding down a sun-dappled road in the shade of large trees makes it a little difficult to spot them. There are occasional big ones that need to be avoided! We rode through San Rafael de Yuma to Boca. Another picturesque little town. Brightly colored buildings and bright blue water. We caused a little bit of a stir on our “big” bike and several folks were trying to flag us down to offer lodging and food. One gentleman caught up to us on a scooter to us encourage us to follow him to a hotel. Once I told him we were only passing through, he smiled and left.

    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr



    Rolling back north, we saw an older local gentleman walking down the road with a horribly disfigured arm. It was obviously a decades old break that was never splinted and left to heal the way it was. It was basically a z or lightning shape right near the elbow. I cant imagine what that was like to endure.

    [​IMG]Abandoned development by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Cattle Ramp by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    It was a short drive to Punta Cana and the surrounding areas got cleaner as we went. Pretty soon we were in the full-blown tourist area. Punta Cana is a MAJOR resort town. It was easy to find our resort Rui República - this place is huge with 1500 rooms! We ended up with a top floor corner room overlooking the pools out towards the ocean. WOW. Great views!

    [​IMG]Our room in Punta Cana by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]The View! by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    #7
  8. MCP

    MCP Been here awhile

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    A word of caution; drinking and driving is the norm in the DR, especially Sunday's; you would be shocked to see how many people drink & drive there. Also, animals are everywhere. I see you have done some tours, so I expect you know what to look out for.

    Lived in Las Salinas DR for 10 years, had a Vstrom too.

    That said, they are the most genuine people anywhere IMHO.

    Enjoy
    upload_2018-12-5_14-13-37.png
    #8
  9. vale46

    vale46 Adventurer

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    Great trip, looking forward to some pictures. should of thought of this last time I was there.
    #9
  10. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Ten four MCP! We appreciate the advice! Folks here have been wonderful so far!
    #10
  11. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Don’t worry Vale46! I’ve got my bright yellow 46 cap. I will represent!
    #11
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  12. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 4


    Punta Cana


    Yay! All-inclusive resort! This isn’t normally our thing, but our whole reason for making this trip was a destination wedding. We linked up with some cousins last night, had a few drinks and enjoyed catching up.


    We had a relaxing morning and ended up on a party boat this afternoon. We figured that the party boat would be a good opportunity to meet the new side of the family. 23 of us (all with the wedding group) loaded onto a truck and soon we were at the beach and loading onto a catamaran. It was all done up for the bride and groom with ribbons and bows. As soon as we left the beach, the music was on and drinks were served. It was a loud, raucous time. We puttered loudly to a shallow area where we all snorkeled. That was a lot of fun. Katy and Kathryn (the bride) didn’t want to get out of the water. The booze flowed, the music played and we puttered over to another shallow area called the pool. All the other party boats were in the same spot and a good time was had by all.

    On the truck!
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    [​IMG]Party Boat! by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Shallow man, shallow water by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    We were trucked back to the resort where we showered and met up with some more family that had just arrived and enjoyed a nice dinner together.
    #12
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  13. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    #13
  14. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 6


    Drinking too much, eating too much and sleeping in. A great way to spend a few days. We love our room. Stepping up to the ocean view was worth every penny. As I type this, Uptown Funk is playing at the pool below us, the ocean is just beyond, it’s breezy and the temperatures are perfect!

    [​IMG]Riu República Resort by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Another late start, another meal with family - some of whom we haven’t seen in years. My second cousin, Elliot, has grown two feet and hundred pounds since I last saw him. He walked up and I had absolutely no idea who he was and I was expecting to see him! He was just a kid last time I saw him.


    We relaxed at the pool, Katy won a t-shirt in a poolside frisbee completion. The water slides were nearby - those were lots of fun.
    [​IMG]Water slides! by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    I should mention that this is an adults only resort. If were ever do anything like this again, adults only is the only way to go.


    One more dinner with our cousins and then tomorrow we are back on the bike!!
    #14
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  15. max384

    max384 Bandaided Supporter

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    Looks like a great trip! What an awesome idea to rent a bike and make it a bike trip/all-inclusive/destination wedding combo! Well done.
    #15
  16. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Thank you, Max! So far so good!
    #16
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  17. AZHobo

    AZHobo Been here awhile

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    Dominican Republic Day 7


    Punta Cana to Juan Dolio
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    Dang it. 6 am came early today. It also came with rain. The plan was to get up, eat and roll by 8. We decided that we would not leave in a pouring rain. We’ll wait until its a light drizzle.
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Stormy Morning in Punta Cana by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Are the skies clearing? by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    We rolled out at 8:45. First hazard of the day was the gas station. Polished concrete with an assortment of spilled/leaked automotive fluids combined with rain. It was like riding on ice. I slipped twice before I realized how treacherous it was. That would have been an embarrassing and dramatic little spill.
    [​IMG]Palms by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Some very big trees by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Fruit Stand by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Who’s bigger? The man or the horse? by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Rolling Hills by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Untitled by mattnkaty1, on Flickr

    We went north from Punta Cana following the signs for Miches and Sabana De La Mar. The highway must have been updated since our map. It was a mostly smooth, two lane all the way for ~110 Km. We rolled through only a few small towns with occasional glimpses of the ocean beyond. It felt very tropical through here with mountains to the south. There were huge trees with hanging vines that you could imagine Tarzan using. The road wasn’t challenging but it was in excellent shape and an easy cruise.
    [​IMG]Miches by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Near Miches by mattnkaty1, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Wet Dog by mattnkaty1, on Flickr


    Arriving in Sabana De La Mar, we took a right at the T intersection and cruised town before heading south towards Hato Mayor. Here the road got a lot more interesting. An unmarked two lane with lots of curves, climbing up and down hills with occasional long stretches of potholed gravel. Lots of truck and bus traffic too. This is the kind of riding we expected in the Dominican Republic. Watching for vehicles coming around a corner in your lane. Kamikaze mini-buses loaded with passengers, overloaded trucks and the occasional passenger car zipping by.


    Rain. For the first 70 kms we were threading the needle. We’d be riding directly into black clouds and suddenly the road would take a hard turn and we’d be under clear skies. After an hour or so our luck ran out. The downpours we rode through today were brief, however. We never got cold and we never bothered with rain gear. It did cause us to miss a few things, there was a waterfall near Miches and we wanted to explore the last town of Hato Mayor, but the rain kept us moving.


    We got to the town of Juan Dolio in the early afternoon. A fairly short day overall, but we didn’t stop once through out the day, so we were a little sore and glad to get off the bike once we found our hotel. We stayed at Hodelpa Garden Suites. We didn’t realize it when we booked it, but it’s inside a gated country club community. Nice place. We strolled around the neighborhood looking at the houses. All upscale, some occupied, some are obviously vacation homes and others are unfinished concrete shells. A pleasant, interesting stroll. No other restaurants within walking distance, so we added all the meals to our room. Not a bad deal.


    Good Night!
    #17