Its unique mixture of Spanish, African and native Taino Amerindian influences makes the Dominican Republic a fascinating destination. The nation that shares the island of Hispanola with Haiti is where Christopher Columbus established the first European colony in the 15th century. It was Admiral Columbus who gave the island the name after landing on December 5, 1492.
Today’s visitors on Dominican Republic holidays enjoy such popular activities as diving, fishing, sailing, golf, hiking and bird watching. But for those who share our passion for history, there are numerous attractions. Perhaps the second most famous name associated with the place is Ponce de Leon, whose quest for the Fountain of Youth led him into numerous caves that pirates once used to cache the treasures they plundered from Spanish galleons. If you travel to the town of Boca de Yuma you can visit not only the house where Ponce once lived – which is now a museum – but also a nearby pirate cave.
In the capital of Santo Domingo can be found the Cathedral Santa Maria la Menor. Dating back to 1514 it is widely held to be the first cathedral to have been built in the new world. Another belief is that Christopher Columbus was once buried there. If you search carefully you may find a metal plaque on the floor in the middle aisle near the entrance that marks the spot.
Dominican food is dominated by Spanish flavors with a Caribbean accent. For breakfast, try eggs with mangu, which are boiled, mashed plantains. At lunchtime it is practically a requirement to try “La Bandera” at least once. No, it is not the flag. Rather, it’s meat and red beans on rice. If you wonder about a peculiar flavor on your grilled meat, it is probably sofrito, a mixture of local herbs that is used as a moist rub. One of our favorite Dominican drinks is morir sonando, which literally translates as to die dreaming. It’s a blend of milk, orange juice, sugar, vanilla and crushed ice. If you are a connosseur of fine rums, then you will not want to leave without taking home a bottle of Vizcaya VXOP.