So, I’m headed to the Dominican Republic. This is my first trip to la isla de Hispanola.

For the last 20 years, I’ve traveled pretty extensively to the Caribbean and all throughout Mexico and Central America, but I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic.

DR van

Headed to the Dominican Republic for seven days of adventure. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Agires

When I was a kid, all I knew about this country was the influx of Dominicans getting picked up by major league baseball teams. They love the beisbol. We used to joke about going to a shortstop camp in the Dominican.

But then I caught the surf bug and by the time I was 15 years old, I wanted nothing to do with standing around the diamond in tight pants waiting for something to happen. And it just so happened that there were a lot of warm waves in Latin America. So the Dominican Republic was always on my list, but I’d just never made it.

What I do know about the D.R. is that it’s next to Puerto Rico, and much bigger, offering a bit more geographic and regional diversity.

Actually, it’s right across the Mona Passage (aka Puerto Rico Trench), which connects the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. This 1,600-foot deep trench in the ocean floor helps funnel swell to Puerto Rico, so it has to help with the D.R.

I also know that travel has exploded around Punta Cana, but those high-volume tourists are about as much my thing as a root canal. You can’t expect much surf in the Caribbean in June. Maybe later in the summer when tropical systems start spinning around the equatorial Atlantic, but this trip isn’t just about surf.

We all landed in Puerto Plata International Airport on different flights. Mine came direct from Newark and there are direct flights from JFK.

It’s one of those smaller Caribbean airports that you can sail through; and since it’s right on the coast, you can literally be in the water an hour after walking out the door. So, for a lot of East Coasters, a travel day can also be an afternoon session and evening on the beach.

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and there is a lot of coastline. Photo:

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and there is a lot of coastline. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Agires

We’re aiming to check out some of the other options of the Northern region. These are the things you do when the surf is down: The rivers, cities, mountains and jungles.

And if you’re a smart traveler, you pick up bits of the culture and history along the way — not just from keeping your head in a guidebook as you’re led from one “point of interest” to another, but by chatting with the locals veering off the beaten, and playing with a few stray dogs.

But who am I kidding, we’re always looking for a wave.

More from 7 Days in the Dominican Republic

Day 2 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: The open road

Day 3 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: No shortage of small waves

Day 4 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: From ATV excursions to fine dining

Day 5 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: Leaping from waterfalls

Day 6 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: Just a bunch of monkeys

Day 7 of 7 in the Dominican Republic: Muchas gracias