Many tourists who visit the Caribbean are faced with two choices: the all-inclusive resort experience or the local experience. That is not to say that one cannot mix and match both, but the planning involved is surely different. When speaking with many people who enjoy the occasional business trip or vacation get-away to the Caribbean islands, the search for the local, "authentic" experience is often on the tip of their tongues. "I want to eat what the locals eat and listen to the music that the locals listen to," one visitor articulated.
The Dominican Republic is a top destination for nature lovers. At about halfway between the Dominican Republic's two major cities-Santo Domingo and Santiago-lies a sustainable tourism oasis called the Rio Blanco Ecotourism Complex. Here, visitors can attend a wellness retreat in the tranquil surroundings of the countryside. Eat fresh papaya and mango and take a dip in the pristine river, complete with waterfalls. Other visitors can partake in volunteer tourism projects on the local organic farms while residing with host families. Organic coffee is grown, manufactured and packaged on site. A wide range of indigenous flora and fauna awaits the visitor.
The ecotourism project has had great success. Local and foreign visitors contribute to the sustainable development of the community and provide an alternative source of income for some who may consider stripping the forest cover to make charcoal. Tours can be arranged through ecotourism agencies, including Explora Ecotour. "We often pick people up from large resorts in Punta Cana who say: get me out of here!" one tour guide explained. On the way from Santo Domingo to the Rio Blanco area, be sure to stop to try local specialties such as Quipes and Dominican Mofongo.
Enjoy a sustainable stay in the "DR".