Bonao Dominican Republic Overview

One of my absolute favorite cities in the Dominican Republic is Bonao. After staying in a big city like Santo Domingo for a while, you feel the need to escape. And for me there is no better escape than Bonao. This is a small and safe city in the exact center of the country with an urban population of about 60,000. There’s no beach here, but there is a river with a waterfall that is a lot of fun. This place is small, but it has everything you need.

How to Get Here

If you don’t have a car, then it’s easy to take a small bus (guagua). From Santo Domingo it’s over a 2 hour ride, and from Santiago it’s a little less. The bus from Santo Domingo is much larger than the one from Santiago. In the Santiago bus you’re going to have people sitting on top of you, so for that reason I recommend coming from Santo Domingo. A one-way bus ticket costs less than $5.

When you do get here you will see a few regular taxi cars at the bus station. Take a car and get the driver’s phone number. This is important because there aren’t many taxi cars in this city- most of the taxis are actually motorcycles and it’s not as safe to take a motorcycle taxi.

Where to Stay

One of the reasons I like this city so much is that I never have to worry or stress about accommodation. There is a fantastic hotel located right in the center of Bonao. It’s called Aquarius, and it’s a legitimate 4 star hotel with a pool and restaurant. The price is surprisingly affordable, a basic room only costs about $35 a night. A high-end suite with a hot tub only costs $100 a night. The manager and staff are very friendly and helpful. They will quickly fix any problem or concern you may have.

The only downside of staying here is that it can be noisy. The hotel owns a club that is across the street, and there’s also a loud bar nearby. So make sure to ask for a quiet room when you come in to book your reservation and there shouldn’t be any problems.

Aquarius Hotel Pool

What to Do

The main attraction is nature. If you are a nature lover than you are coming to the right place. Just on the ride over you will start to see mountains and valleys and it’s hard to look away. The city itself is tucked away from nature, but take a quick taxi ride and you will be immersed in nature.

There are many rivers and hiking spots here. In particular there is one river where everyone goes on the weekends to swim, drink, eat, and spend time with friends and family. This is the river you want to go to- just ask a taxi driver to take you to the most popular river and he will know where to go.

Besides swimming and socializing, at this river you also have the option to jump off the waterfall into the river. Cliff-jumping. It’s about a 15 foot drop, and you will see a lot of locals jumping off of it- some even going head first. The water is certainly deep enough so there’s no danger there, however the jump doesn’t have the best angle. What I mean is that the waterfall angles outwards, so you can’t just jump straight down. If you do then you are going to hit rock. When you jump you have to jump outwards, so it makes it tougher. I would only recommend doing this if you have some cliff-jumping experience.

There are other rivers and waterfalls worth checking out, most of which you have to hike to. Just ask around to learn where they are.

Nightlife

Much like other cities in the Dominican Republic, nightclubs dominate the scene. The two best clubs here are Wendy Glass Club and Coconut Club. And much like your typical Dominican nightlife venues, these clubs have the same setup with tables, bottles, and hookah. Wendy’s is a little better but it’s also more expensive- on some nights there is a $9 cover. Another option is the club owned by the Aquarius Hotel, it’s convenient but it’s not as popular as the other two clubs.
Wendy Glass Club
If you come to a club then you will need to buy a bottle in order for people to take you seriously. Otherwise you will be hanging out at the bar with nobody to talk to, and certainly no girls to talk to. It can be tough to talk to girls because of the mixed groups, so your best bet is to find a small group of single girls and invite them to your table. The good news is that bottles here are cheaper than in Santo Domingo and Santiago.

As a foreigner you will get some attention and you will receive special treatment. I remember when I first went to Wendy’s and I was offered multiple free shots at the bar as well as some free hookah. This is because they rarely ever see foreigners at the clubs.

If bars are more your style then you might enjoy the A-B-Ber Liquor Store, it’s the most popular bar in town.

Dining Options

By far the most popular restaurant is Tipico Bonao, and it’s actually one of the most popular restaurants in the entire country. It offers a wide variety of tasty food at a reasonable price. It’s located right off the highway so it can busy at times. This place is highly recommended so there can be large groups of tourists coming in. There’s also a small gift shop here. The downside of Tipico Bonao is that it’s a little further away from the center of Bonao so this makes it less convenient than some of the other dining options.

The most convenient option is the restaurant located inside the hotel. It has a nice clean setup: there are multiple tables, a bar, and several televisions on the wall.

There are other small restaurants in Bonao that are cheap and convenient. You can find your standard ‘pica pollo’ restaurant here as well as some fast food pizza places.



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