Punta Cana is quickly solidifying its place as the most popular destination in all of the Caribbean thanks to outstanding resorts, modern infrastructure, and an entertainment offering that is now stealing many spring breakers away from the classic destinations of Los Cabos and Cancun.
And with this growth is coming more spotlight on the weird and wonderful things to see in the Dominican Republic, and none is weirder and more wonderful than Altos de Chavon.
Roadworks Meet Imagination
A strange heading, but one that makes sense once the backstory of this stunning attraction is revealed!
Back in the early 1970s, a new mountain road was being built through this corner of the country, and with the area’s extremely rocky and difficult digging conditions, the pass had to be blasted with enough dynamite to make Wylie Coyote blush.
The result was a huge build-up of freshly blasted stone, the stone which it turned out was of far too good a quality to just crush up and use in a concrete mixture.
Enter Roberto Copa and Charles Bluhdorn. One was the former designer of Paramount Studios, and the other, Charles Bluhdorn was a Fortune 500 CEO, Paramount Pictures Chairman, and often credited as the father of the Dominican Republic tourism industry due to his belief in the country’s draw as a destination.
These two men saw more than just stone at the side of a newly blasted road, they saw the potential to create something magical.
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To build a replica of a 16th-century Italian village, with all the Mediterranean bells and whistles a traveler would find on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. A strange idea, but one that was executed to perfection by Italian-born architect Roberto Copa.
City Of Artists
From its humble beginnings as freshly blasted stone making way for a new road, the town of Altos de Chavon now occupies a hugely important cultural role in the Dominican Republic.
From start to finish, travelers have a wealth of art galleries and craft shops to rummage through, with cafes and restaurants dotted throughout that serve delicious food and drinks. Unmissable is the town’s museum, which tells the story of this out-of-place Italian village in the Caribbean and its visionary thinkers.
But perhaps the most impressive feature of Altos de Chavon is its Amphitheatre. A stunning Roman-style theatre that has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Carlos Santana, and Julio Iglesias. And more recently, the seemingly immortal superstar Rod Stewart played part of his world tour here.
How To Get There
Thanks to the popularity of this day trip prices have remained reasonable across the board. With organized day trips from Bavaro in Punta Cana to Altos de Chavon costing around $75 that include:
- Pick-up and drop-off from any Punta Cana resort/apartment.
- Multiple pick-up times between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm.
- Tours in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
- Daily trips, excluding national holidays.
- A modern, air-conditioned bus for ultimate comfort.
This sample tour is run by Dominican Tours, although many other providers are available, so don’t forget to shop around for the trip that suits you best.
And if organized trips aren’t your bag, a taxi all the way from Punta Cana to Altos de Chavon runs for a similar price of $70-$90. This split amongst 4 people makes it a budget-friendly day trip.
Travelers worried about venturing out of Punta Cana will change their minds once they’re in the country.
While the roads have a reputation for danger, which is almost exclusively linked to the Geronimo nature of motorcycle riders in the country. In fact, the road infrastructure in the Dominican Republic is rated as the best in all of Latin America.
Don’t Miss Something Extraordinary
There are many things in the Dominican Republic that are tagged as “must-see”, but Altos de Chavon truly owns that title!
Nowhere else in Latin America can you travel just a couple of hours and feel physically transported across the Atlantic and into the 16th-century Mediterranean. This is a romantic experience that never disappoints.
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