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Beaches

There are three major beaches spread along the Caribbean Sea, beginning with Playa Guayacanes in the west, Playa Juan Dolio in the center, and Playa Real in the east. These beaches are often referred to collectively as Playa de Villas del Mar. Our favorite of these is Playa Guayacanes, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and home to a little community of locals called Guayacanes.

As you move east from Guayacanes, the sands are better than the water, the latter filled with wide expanses of dead coral, making the swimming less than desirable. Many of the best sandy beaches are maintained zealously by the all-inclusives.

Frankly, the beaches of Punta Cana and Bávaro are better if wide, sandy beaches are important to your holiday. The chief advantages of the resorts at Boca Chica and Juan Dolio are their accessibility to Santo Domingo, only a 1-hour bus ride away on a guagua (midsize bus).

Golf

An 18-hole championship golf course, Guavaberry Golf Course, Km 55, Autovía del Este, Juan Dolio (tel. 809/333-4653), opened in 2002 and accepts players daily from 7am to 7pm. Reservations are recommended for this par-72 course of 7,092 yards. The cost is RD$3,675 for 18 holes or RD$2,065 for 9 holes, including cart fees.

An older course, also 18 holes, from 1995 is Los Marlins Golf Course, Metro Country Club, Las Américas Highway, Juan Dolio (tel. 809/526-3315), designed by Charles Ankrom. Reservations are recommended at this par-72 course of 6,396 yards. Greens fees are RD$2,275 for 18 holes or RD$1,225 for 9 holes (includes cart fees). Carts, clubs, and caddies are available at both courses, which also have a clubhouse and lockers.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

There are more than 15 dive sites in Juan Dolio, and new ones are being discovered yearly. Depth ranges are from 9 to 30m (30-100 ft.). A lot of underwater photographers come here to view the deep channels and ravines offshore and the diversity of soft and hard corals along with the rainbow-hued fish.

One of the best dive centers in southwestern Dominican Republic is the Neptuno Dive Center, in the Barceló Colonia Tropical, Playa de Villas del Mar, San Pedro de Macoris (tel. 809/526-2005; www.neptunodive.com). Here a one-tank dive costs RD$1,260 and a three-tank dive RD$3,465, with a night dive an additional RD$700. Complete equipment, including snorkel fins, can also be rented. A snorkel course is also offered for RD$1,225. This is a complete PADI diving facility with all the equipment, offering dive courses. Nondivers can ask about a 1-day cruise from Juan Dolio to the Catalina Island offshore, costing RD$2,625 per person, including lunch.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.