Once you leave Santo Domingo, heading east along Hwy. 3, you quickly approach what is virtually the Dominican Republic Riviera centered on the resorts of Boca Chica and Juan Dolio. This is the land where the citizens of Santo Domingo themselves go to cool off in the fiery summer months.

Though Boca Chica and Juan Dolio remain popular with both tourists and locals, and they are the beach resort areas closest to Santo Domingo, we prefer to head east for greater beachfronts and far superior hotels.

The eastward trek continues through San Pedro de Macoris, ringed with sugar plantations, until La Romana and Bayahibe are reached. We prefer this area to either Juan Dolio or Boca Chica, primarily because of its deluxe Casa de Campo.

At La Romana is found Altos de Chavón, an artists' community built in the style of a 16th-century Mediterranean village. This is the greatest manmade attraction of the Dominican Republic, and is worth a visit even if you have to rush down from Santo Domingo and view the sight in a day before returning to the capital in the evening.

Like other parts of the Dominican Republic, prices are quoted in U.S. dollars at some places, especially resort hotels, and sometimes in pesos for small services, transport, or restaurants patronized by locals.