Gated communities are not so common in Europe and often people from there tend to think of gated communities as huge walled-in pieces of land with an impressive gate, enormous mansions and unimaginable luxury inside, with access to such communities only granted if you have a badge or something else to identify you as a member of the gilded club.
In the Dominican Republic, gated communities are quite common and range from the super luxurious to comfortable for people with normal pay-checks. The one thing these communities have in common is the prestige of living in one as well as other perks including tranquility and peace of mind.
Every year countless of couples from Canada, Europe, Latin America and the United States come to the Dominican Republic to celebrate their love while enjoying life in the sun in this beautiful country. A number of those also decide that the picture perfect background of white beaches and swaying coconut trees is the ideal romantic spot for them to tie the knot of marriage. But how easy is it to organize a marriage on a Caribbean island, where are the most romantic spots and what are the legal implications when getting legally married in the Dominican Republic?
When it comes to providing magical backdrops for the picture perfect wedding, the Dominican Republic has quite a number of amazing destinations for couples of all walks of life. Those who love the sun and white beaches with waving coconut trees and emerald seas can go to beautiful Punta Cana. The amazing beaches of exceptional beauty on the doorstep of numerous all-inclusive hotels to suit any budget are sure to enchant both the couple and their closest friends and family, who can all conveniently stay in the same hotel.
The historical city of Santo Domingo is another very popular wedding destination, with its well-preserved old colonial town, wide selection of five star hotel accommodation and top rated restaurants. The old colonial center has some beautiful hotels that would be big enough to accommodate around 70 wedding guests but if there are more wedding guests the colonial area is small enough for guests to be spread around the old town in quaint little hotels without it being an inconvenience.
The amazing North Coast offers more alternative twists to the typical romantic wedding, be it the possibility of golfing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, horse riding or diving on top of extremely beautiful beach settings. Spacious villas and beautiful apartments are the accommodation of choice on the North Coast giving couples and their entourage the freedom to enjoy each other’s company while still being able to relish private moments.
Typical wedding ceremonies
People who come to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding either get legally married in their hometown before setting off and have the actual celebration on the beach with close friends and family or decide that it is even more romantic to sign the legal papers on the island as well.
Typically couples stay with their entourage in a wedding destination for four to ten days and some add another week or ten days without their friends and family for their honeymoon. Wedding ceremonies can be as elaborate with the bride and groom being flown in by helicopter to the wedding ceremony organized on a remote beach or as simple as the couple wants, but typically includes the wedding ceremony located somewhere close to the beach. Wedding planner Richard Weber, who specializes in customized unique weddings, explains that he always recommends couples to have their wedding ceremony in a location that their guests would not have seen otherwise, instead of on the beach where they are the whole week. “The Dominican Republic has so many incredibly amazing spots, with tiny beautiful churches up in the mountains or amazing stretches of empty beaches, the choice is vertiginous.
Organizing a wedding ceremony as well as interesting activities to do before and after the ceremony and party is something some people absolutely love to do. Those who are not so organized or just prefer to enjoy the moment without organizational hassles can either hire the services of a wedding planner orcontact one of the many all-inclu
sive hotels that can help with the organization of weddings.
However, especially couples who decide to get legally married in the Dominican Republic could definitely do with some professional help with the legal paperwork to help avoid a lot of headaches and possible disappointment. “About 30 to 40% of couples that enlist my services decide to get legally married here, which I think is great because if you are going to get married you might as well do it for real”, adds Richard Weber.
Civil or religious wedding
The amount of paperwork for either a legally binding civil or Catholic wedding is about the same but some organization prior to flying off to this Caribbean paradise will be necessary. A number of papers, including birth certificates and a sworn declaration signed by a notary of not being married, will need to be translated into Spanish by a certified Spanish translator. The Dominican embassy in your country of residence will be able to provide further information.
Those wanting to get married with the church’s blessing can opt for a Catholic wedding, which is the only religious entity that can legally marry people. According to wedding planner Richard Weber this is a great option if at least one person of the couple to be married is a Catholic. “If people are Catholic, then getting married through the Catholic church will cost less than getting married civilly as the church asks for a donation rather than a fee.”
Getting married in paradise
Getting legally married in the Dominican Republic is a legally recognized bond all over the world, and although it does involve a bit more organization than signing the papers at your local town hall, the romanticism and the feel of actually signing the papers when the ceremony is in full swing is for a lot of people a lot more authentic. And doing so in paradise can mean nothing but a good start to married life.
So, finally the date is getting closer and in a few days you’ll be off to the airport to be whisked away to a beautiful Caribbean setting for that well-deserved holiday. Keeping in mind those tropical beaches and soaring temperatures be sure to pack one additional item to other essentials such as a toothbrush, a pair of shorts and your flip flops. Here are eight reasons why you should pack a little package of baking soda in your luggage, or if you are already bordering on the weight limit, be sure to buy some at your destination.
Renting an apartment instead of a hotel room on vacation might seem like an extravagance, but it's not as crazy as you might think. Especially in a place like Cabarete, where people come to kite, wind surf, surf, party and enjoy life in general. Below are ten good reasons why renting an apartment will make your holiday a better one, even if you are traveling alone or with your partner and not with a whole group.
1. More cost-friendly
Most people like to splash out while on holiday but now you can live it up while still sticking to your budget. One-bedroom apartments in Cabarete are often similarly priced and sometimes cheaper than hotel rooms. Two-bedroom apartments are definitely cheaper than two hotel rooms so if you’re traveling with some friends this is definitely the best option. Most two bedroom apartments feature two separate bathrooms so there is no need to walk into your brother’s naked girlfriend, unless you really want to.
2. More space
You’ll definitely get more space in an apartment than in a similarly priced hotel room and having more space is particularly important for those who come to Cabarete to kite, windsurf or surf. In an apartment you can easily store all that bulky sports equipment and still gain easy access to the bathroom, kitchen or your bed. But even if you are coming to Cabarete with nothing but your bikini and dancing shoes, having additional space to lounge is a definite plus.
3. Still enjoy typical hotel amenities
Most apartments in Cabarete are serviced apartments meaning that housekeeping is included in the price. So, there is no need at all to even think about having to clean your apartment whilst on holiday, nor having to bring any sheets or towels. Most apartment complexes also have a swimming pool and sun beds available for their guests.
4. Have a midnight snack
All apartments in Cabarete tend to have fully equipped kitchens. Which means you can keep your beers cold, stock up on midnight snacks or even cook a three-course meal, if you wanted to.
5. Everyone is close
When traveling in a bigger group, staying in a three or four bedroom apartment will mean all your friends or family members are under one roof instead of spread around all over town.
6. Invite friends
Cabarete is a great place to meet new friends but it’s no fun inviting them over to your hotel room where all ten of you will have to sit on just one bed, while sipping on lukewarm beers. Instead hang out with your new buddies in your living room and serve them freshly whipped up cocktails from the stuff you have in your fridge.
7. Enjoy life on your balcony
Having a private balcony with your hotel room will cost you an arm and a leg, whereas most apartments in Cabarete will have a balcony. There’s nothing better than sipping your morning coffee while sitting scantily dressed on your private balcony feeling the morning breeze in your hair and soaking up the view.
8. Pack less
Most apartment complexes will offer guests the service to wash clothes in the property's washer and dryer. So there’s no need to bring your complete wardrobe meaning you should have space left in your luggage to buy some local fashion to bring back.
9. Choose your ideal location
Cabarete has an incredibly wide range of different apartments on offer to suit any taste and budget. Stay in the center close to the party, stay on Kite Beach and enjoy the view of a sky full of colorful kites, or stay on Bozo Beach, the insider tip for kiters.
10. Feel at home
Being on holiday is all about relaxing, doing what you want and about feeling good where you stay. And what better way to feel at home while on vacation, then by staying in an apartment which you can easily turn into your place.
All photos taken at www.casalindacity.com
Cabarete is lucky enough to have a perpetual summer climate as well as nearly year round winds, allowing kiters to enjoy their stuff without having to slip on a wetsuit.
Cabarete is well known for its party scene which every year culminates into the biggest party of the island during the festivities of Semana Santa. Dominicans, especially young people from the big cities, join locals and visitors in this laid back beach town and take over the place for Easter weekend for a weekend of full on partying and drinking. This year Semana Santa weekend starts on Friday 3 April until Sunday 5 April.
The tropical temperatures of the Dominican Republic do not only attract humans trying to escape the winter cold, they also draw up to 5.000 male and female humpback whales every winter looking for warm shallow waters to breed and give birth.
Coming to a Caribbean island for your holidays is all about relaxation, soaking up sunrays and enjoying your time away from a hectic life back home. But when it comes to driving around in the Dominican Republic all relaxation tends to disappear leaving most visitors in apprehension of cruising around this beautiful country.
It’s not so strange that most people are nervous about driving in the Dominican Republic. The country unfortunately has one of the highest mortality rates in traffic around the world and especially at night things can get very confusing, with some road users choosing to use their strong headlights and others, especially motorbikes, driving
around with none. Add to that the many potholes in the street, big enough to puncture your tires, as well as a very high probability that some cows will be wandering around on the road (preferably black ones), and the recipe for disaster is in the making.
We, at Lifestyle Cabarete, however, believe that these obstacles should not stop you from exploring this gorgeous country, with its rolling hills in the back country and endless beaches along the coast. Of course you can travel around using public transport but there will be many a place you won’t be able to visit this way and you can’t just stop when you see something to your liking. So traveling by car is the way forward. To help drivers new to the island recognize a pattern in the apparent traffic chaos we’ve put together some tips.
Get a car with full insurance
Before even considering getting in a car and driving, get a vehicle that has full insurance. Trusted car rental companies like Avis and Hertz will have cars that are in a good condition and that have full insurance. Always ask for the full insurance and make sure it’s in your rental contract. Before driving off, have a look at the tires, the oil level and the water level. If you’re not happy with the state your assigned vehicle is in ask for a different one.
Use your mirrors
Be sure to look in every possible direction at all times so that you have an idea of what’s happening in front, behind and around you. At the same time don’t forget to look at the road! Sounds hard but it quickly becomes a habit.
Make use of a co-pilot
Best to drive with at least two people in the car. Like that the person sitting beside the driver can also keep an eye out, and can give directions as street signs, when available, tend to be miniscule and hidden.
Watch out for motorbikes
Motorbikes will drive with and against traffic. They will also overtake your vehicle on all sides when given half a chance. So when crossing a road or turning right be absolutely sure that there are no motorbikes close by. They are notorious for driving onto the road from a parked position or a little side street without looking so you better be watching.
Also look out for pedestrians
Pedestrians, like those on a motorbike, sometimes act like they are tired of life and will cross streets at the least warning. Drive slowly when you cross towns.
Use your horn
One of the first things you will notice is that everyone uses their horn when driving. Here it means, “be careful I’m here: right behind you or beside you”. Anything or anyone who you think may not have seen you, including the granny looking like she might cross the street, or the mangy dog skittishly skirting the road, use your horn. Just beep a couple of times. But don’t lose them out of sight, they might still do something unexpected despite the warning. Horning full blast won’t make people notice you more unless you have one that sounds like a big truck – see below.
Watch out for big trucks
Big trucks are infamous. They’ll drive at a steady pace of 80 – 100km/h (50 to 60 miles/hour), no matter if they are passing through a town or crossing an intersection. It’s next to impossible for these trucks to stop so they use their horn constantly when driving through towns so everyone knows they need to get out of the way. Trucks like these rarely drive through the Cabarete area and when here they pace themselves. But if you find yourself on the road to Montecristi for example, you can expect to start seeing them from Puerto Plata onwards.
Missing manhole covers and potholes
Both Santo Domingo and Santiago are notorious for missing manhole covers. They are hot items for thieves as the resale value of the metal is relatively high. The quality of roads is not too bad but some stretches have some pretty mean potholes in them. Avoid both potholes and manholes as much as you can.
Cows and other animals
Especially at night animals can be a real danger. Watch the sides of the road for movements. Use your horn and drive slowly.
Avoid driving when it’s dark
It’s best not to drive when it’s dark but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you have to drive at night be sure your lights work (both front and back) and that they actually give you some visibility range. Unfortunately the lights on many cars including rental cars seem to be there more for decoration purposes than to actually be able to see at night.
Relax and enjoy the experience
Best way to get through the chaos is to relax, while still having eyes in all directions. Don’t get upset at drivers that don’t drive according to the traffic rules. Go with the flow and enjoy the experience. This is after all the best way to get to know those little places you've always wanted to see but couldn't get to before!