Beyond the belt of industrial barrios that encases Santo Domingo are a variety of day-trips within easy striking distance, none of them on a list of top must-dos, but good diversions nevertheless. History buffs will enjoy scavenging the western barrios for the impressive bits of colonial architecture that still stand, mostly in the form of the substantial ruins of four separate sixteenth-century sugar mills. You’ll need your own wheels to get there, though, tucked away as they are in relatively out-of-the-way places. Those looking for a slice of Caribbean beach life should head to Boca Chica, an overcrowded resort town 10km east of the airport, about halfway between Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macorís; you might do better continuing along the highway to Juan Dolio, where there is more beachfront albeit dominated by all-inclusive hotels and its sister town Guayacanes, with its great beaches and lack of tourist development.

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Video: 14 things we love about the Dominican Republic

Video: 14 things we love about the Dominican Republic

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