A few weeks ago I was driving from Steubenville, Ohio to Niagara Falls, New York for the last time. I always liked to take the back roads because they’re prettier, more interesting, and it’s on the back roads where you’re more likely to pass Amish buggies and Dairy Queens. On one of the back roads I saw a truck hauling a camper pulling into a campsite (not an unusual site) and I teared up a bit (an unusual reaction). I thought, “Summer is almost over!” I was sad for myself – knowing I would have to say goodbye to YouthWorks and my YouthWorks fam, but in that moment, on those back roads, I was sad for everyone. The season of camping and lakes and sprinklers and popsicles and bonfires is almost over!
But it’s not over yet! There’s still time, for most people, I think, if not for me (students come on Tuesday!) for one last hoorah. There’s still time to end the summer with a bang. And what better way to end the summer than with a trip?!
Most people are surprised to learn that I don’t actually like to travel very much. I don’t like being on planes for a long period of time and I don’t always jump at the chance to go to new places. I like being at home. Where it’s comfortable and I speak the language(s). So, the past couple of days I’ve been daydreaming about my dream vacation, or the dream vacation I would recommend to a pal. This is a no-holds-barred dream vacation where money is not an issue (the real dream).
Just for fun, I added up how much all of this would cost, and, with air travel and lots of eating out, the whole shebang would only cost $4,000 (for one person), which doesn’t sound so bad when you see all I’ve got (imaginarily) planned. Not that I have $4,000, but I might one day – or you might today!
Let’s imagine you fly into Santiago, Dominican Republic (spoiler alert: we’re not leaving the country), rent a car, and drive up the mountain to Jarabacoa (good choice). Obviously you’d stay in the best hostel in the city, Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel. In this dream scenario I put you up in the nicest room in the joint, which features a jacuzzi pool, Smart TV, king sized bed, and balcony for only $50 U.S./night (for 1 person). Great start, right?
Whilst in Jarabacoa you would have to do the following:
Climb Pico Duarte. Pico Duarte is the highest peak in the Caribbean and it’s just an hour or so from the town of Jarabacoa. With a guide (I’d recommend David Duran Bueno) you can hike up the mountain in 3 days, camping out for 2 nights on the mountain, and not have to worry about a thing – except putting one foot in front of the other and taking in the breathtaking views.
White Water Rafting. I have done this a few times and it never gets old. Jarabacoa has the only raftable river in the country and the trip down the river is anything but ordinary. The rafting isn’t super difficult – just follow the guide’s instructions! – and the views are beautiful!
Horse back riding to a waterfall. There’s no better way to get to a waterfall than by crossing a river on the back of a horse. There are a few waterfalls to see in Jarabacoa and if you’re on my dream vacation, you’re seeing them all.
Paragliding. What dream vacation doesn’t involve running off the side of a mountain strapped to a stranger?
Aroma de la Montana. There’s a restaurant on top of a mountain that rotates so you get a 360 degree view of the valley below. 10/10, would recommend.
After a week in Jarabacoa, you’d get in your rental car and drive yourself just a couple hours north to the coastal city of Cabarete! Land of kite surfing. 🙂 You’d check into the best hostel in the city, Hostel Laguna Park (called “El Castillo” by the locals) and join the party! For just $45 U.S./night you get a full rooftop apartment with kitchen, fridge, living room, TV, king bed, private bathroom, fan, and terrace all to yourself. Once you settle in, you can get started on the activities I planned for you, my imaginary traveler friend.
Kite Surfing. A three day crash course in Kite Surfing gets you out on the water in no time with the support and training you need to succeed!
Surfing Lessons. Once you’ve mastered Kite Surfing, take on regular surfing for another three days! I’d recommend a restful day or two on the beach in between the surfing sessions. 😉
Once you’ve soaked up all the sun and surf you can handle, get back in that rental car and drive south to the capital, Santo Domingo! It honestly only takes a day or two to take in all that Santo Domingo has to offer, especially for a gal like me who doesn’t particularly enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city. If you’re going to stay in Santo Domingo, you gotta stay in the Historic Zone. There are so many cool things to see there – including the oldest church in our hemisphere!
After a night or two in Santo Domingo, get back in that handy rental and drive to Bavaro for some more beach! A gorgeous Airbnb in Bavaro (there are lots) can be your home base as you explore the coast!
Saona Island. You can visit Saona Island onboard a catamaran, then return by speedboat! Swimming, boating, taking in the views (and the Dominican buffet and open bar!) – it doesn’t get better.
Snorkeling. This is personally a huge fear of mine, but in this imaginary dream-vacation land, anything is possible, even swimming with big scary fish! Bavaro has some gorgeous tropical fish that would love to hang out with you.
Now, it’s the end of the summer that prompted my dream vacation dreams, but the best part about a Caribbean vacation is that it’s possible all year round! You can take this vacation anytime – or just part of it (like the Jarabacoa part *wink* *wink*).
You might need to do some money rearranging in order to afford your dream vacation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible! There are lots of options, including good ol’ fashioned saving or even taking out a loan with low interest. Money should never be the reason we miss out on all of the cool things this wide world has to offer.
Hey! Take me around your state/country/city in an imaginary dream vacation. Where would we go? What would we see?