What to do in La Romana, Dominican Republic

There is not a whole lot to do in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

At least that’s what I thought when I was trying to plan a day there this summer.

When Bryant and I were planning our summer vacation, the first place we looked at going was an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. With all of the negative reviews about seaweed issues in Punta Cana this summer, we decided to book a Carnival Cruise instead, and I was satisfied that we got to spend at least one day in the Dominican Republic.

About a month after booking, I started doing my research about the best things to do at each port the cruise was stopping at. When I started looking up information about what to do in La Romana, I quickly learned that La Romana was a significantly different city than Punta Cana.

There is not a beach nearby, the shopping is limited, there are very few (and expensive!) excursion options, and the one or two attractions close by did not spark my interest. It took a while, but after a lot of Googling, I was finally able to put together what I think is a fun and authentic travel itinerary for a one-day cruise stop in La Romana, Dominican Republic:

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Take a guagua to the beach in Bayahibe. Guagua means “bus”; it’s the local form of public transportation in the Dominican Republic. It’s only about a 15-minute walk from the cruise dock to the guagua stop.

To get to the guagua stop, exit the port and walk into the town of La Romana. I’m not going to lie, I would not have liked doing this walk alone. You have to walk down one particularly isolated dirt road with a few very persistent (you know what I mean) locals trying to sell $60 taxi rides; once you get past that part it’s easy though!

Map: La Romana Cruise Terminal to Guagua
Map from the La Romana Cruise Terminal to the guagua that will take you to Bayahibe

When you go over a small bridge, the guagua stop will be on your left. There will probably be a few buses and some other vehicles there – the one you’re looking for looks more like a van. Make sure it’s going to Bayahibe! Most of the guaguas are not labeled with a lot of signage. Fare is only 60 pesos, or $2, a person!

La Romana Bridge
Once you cross over this bridge, you’re almost there!

The ride to Bayahibe is about 30 minutes. The ride itself is definitely a local experience. They will cram as many people as they can onto these “buses”, so give yourself at least 45 minutes for travel time, as they’ll wait until their bus is full to make the trip. Be prepared to squeeze in and share your seat with locals, groceries, chicken feed, etc.

Once in Bayahibe, the guagua will drop you off close to the marina where there are some shops and restaurants. It’s not very touristy; Bayahibe is a small fisherman’s town. The beach, Playa Bayahibe, is West of the marina (see map below). Start walking down the shoreline, and you’ll see where most people gather around the small convenience store-like shacks on the beach. If you keep walking past them, you’ll actually run into Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa. Grab a Presidente from one of the shacks, and snag a spot under a palm tree to relax.

 

If you have snorkel gear, bring it! The water is shallow for a pretty far distance. We brought our gear and saw plenty of fish and coral. You’ll just want to take your valuables with you in a waterproof case or find a trustworthy person to keep an eye on your stuff on the beach while you’re in the water.

 

There is some food right on the public beach, but for a bigger meal, I recommend eating at one of the restaurants around the marina. We ate at El Dorado. The drinks were especially delicious!

 

To get back to the port, head back to the guagua stop in Bayahibe at the corner of Parqueo Principal. Again, give yourself at least 45 minutes to get back to La Romana, and remember that it will be a 15-minute walk from the bus stop to the port. Make sure the guagua you get in is going to La Romana!

La Romana Dominican Republic Port
That feeling of relief when you make it back to the ship in time!

After planning our trip, La Romana was one of the places I was least excited about visiting, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fun experience we had there! While this may not be the most conventional travel itinerary for La Romana, if you’re interested in getting a little bit more of a “local” experience for a day, I definitely recommend it giving it a shot.

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