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Hidden Gems in the Dominican Republic

Going Local in the Dominican Republic With These Eco-Influencers

Image Source: Getty / Westend61

When people realize I'm Dominican, they immediately want to strike up a conversation and tell me they've been in my country. I love the fact that foreigners get to enjoy our beaches, our food, our hospitality, and how lively and colorful we are, but most of the time when I ask them where they went, they tell me they stayed at a resort. Don't get me wrong — resorts are great, but after spending three days in one, you have pretty much seen everything it has to offer. The best way to experience a country's essence is by exploring it with locals, and if expert assistance is offered, it's even better.

Scrolling through Instagram, I came across some beautiful photos that captured my attention, when I realized they were all from the DR. How could I, a Dominican, not know about these places? I felt like another tourist who only stays at a resort. There was so much green, so much blue, so many other vibrant colors showcasing the country's ecological treasures that I had no idea existed. I noticed these photos came from mostly three local influencers: Alejandra Gil, William Ramos, and José E. Castillo. They're just a few of the locals who have taken the time to explore and showcase all the wonders in the DR.

They've become so popular that their follower counts grew exponentially, and before they knew it, they were flooded with requests to organize trips and excursions to the magical lands they talked about and posted photos of. I personally was so struck by the beautiful landscapes and happy locals that I knew I had to return and experience it myself. So I booked a flight, and a month later, I was on a plane going back to my homeland, with only two things on my to-do list: exploring my country and enjoying every second of it. Spending the weekends in remote places and weekdays with my loved ones, I accomplished my goals.

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Knowing many of you may be looking for a similar experience, I asked these three eco-influencers to share their favorite excursions in the DR. You won't want to miss them.

Alejandra Gil (@alejateconale)

Alejandra is known for her vibrant vibes and enthusiastic staff. She focuses more on beach adventures in remote areas. Two of her most popular excursions are:

El Frontón, Samaná:

The main attraction of this highly difficult excursion is the hiking experience through the only via ferrata in the country, which offers one of the most beautiful views of the east of the island.

Zipline Samaná:

The fun part of this adventure is going through the zip lines and continuing at the Cascada Lulu waterfalls, which the most adventurous ones can jump from.

William Ramos (@williamramostv)

William is known for his exotic excursions and for having every plan "fríamente calculado," as he states himself. He recommends the following experiences:

Gualey:

Recently baptized as "Urban Tourism," this excursion focuses on showing the grace of the neighborhood and the warmth of its people by allowing the visitors to do things such as dancing bachata with locals at a typical colmado, eating empanadas, and bathing in the famous "Pocita de Gualey."

Glamping Bahía de las Aguilas:

This is a deep excursion through the South of the Dominican Republic, where visitors enjoy the unmatchable blue waters of the Caribbean sea, bathe in the mud of the Laguna de Oviedo, refresh themselves in the crystal-clear waters of Arroyo Salado, and head off to Rancho Típico, where they spend the night, before continuing the adventure the next day to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic, Bahía de las Aguilas.

José E. Castillo (@aquamanrd)

José is known for his adrenaline-driven excursions and his energetic, loyal crew of "Aquaventureros." His most popular experiences are:

Monte Cristi in one day:

Once the visitors arrive at Monte Cristi, the fun begins: jumping on a boat and heading off to the mangroves, followed by a natural pool, a stop in the virgin Cabra Island, and finishing off walking up El Sendero de Las Cruces to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the Dominican Republic.

Cañón Arroyo Frío:

This high-difficulty excursion is made especially for adrenaline-lovers. Aquaman — as José is known in the DR — and his crew visit more than 60 puddles and some waterfalls in a day; so bring workout gear and leave your fear at home, because some of the waterfalls require you to jump. This excursion will have everyone's heart pumping faster than usual and the adrenaline running through everybody's veins.

What I love about these experiences is that you'll not only get to visit nontraditional attractions in the DR, but you'll also be interacting with locals, enjoying the exquisite cocina criolla made by residents of the community, forming a bond with the group of individuals on the journey with you, and creating memories you will cherish forever.

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