Overflowing in natural riches—from a poster-worthy Caribbean coastline to world-class golf courses—La Romana is one of the country’s top destination picks. Fields of sugar cane lead to continuous white sand beaches from Dominicus to Bayahíbe. Cave-riddled forests inside Cotubanamá National Park are home to fresh water springs and Taino rock art. Offshore, the islands of Saona, Catalina, and Catalinita are lined with turtle nesting stretches facing pristine coral reefs, while shipwrecks teeming with marine life rest at shallow and extreme depths.
The largest sugar cane mill in the Americas was once headquartered in La Romana, until its owners diversified and ventured into tourism by opening the luxurious Casa de Campo Resort in 1974, a celebrity favorite and renowned destination for its award-winning Pete Dye golf courses. The adjacent 16th century Altos de Chavón followed—a stunning replica of a Mediterranean village towering over the Chavón River, and bustling with entertainment—including an outdoor Grecian amphitheater where Grammy-winning artists perform every year.
Casa de Campo resort complex is the flagship of the La Romana All Inclusive Resorts area. Built in 1975 by Gulf+Western to be the premiere destination in the Caribbean, it has lived up to the hype. In 1984 Casa de Campo was purchased by the Central Romana Corporation which is co-owned by the Fanjul brothers.
Altos de Chavón is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village located just minutes from La Romana.
Casa de Campo International Tourist Port (Muelle Turístico Internacional Casa de Campo), located on the West Bank of La Romana River or Rio Dulce, has been utilized primarily for the docking of commercial ships, primarily for the transport of sugar and molasses. Upon exceeding the capacity of its port, the Central Romana Corporation built its new tourism focused port on the east side of the river. The platform on the western bank was renovated and the river channel was dredged to a depth of 10.50 metres (34.4 ft).
Inaugurated with the arrival of the vessel Costa Marina on December 2002, the Central Romana Corporation invested US$12 million to extend the existing port by over 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft). The port is a modern platform and harbor terminal, with a capacity for two large modern cruise ships.
Today the new facilities boast two docking platforms (East Dock: 255 metres (837 ft) in length, West Dock: 225 metres (738 ft) in length), a 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft) passenger terminal and parking facilities which accommodate 24 buses.
La Romana is not a typical Dominican town; instead, it is a company town, with the Central Romana Corporation owning the majority of the town. It is a town with nearly 100% employment, mostly in the tourism industry or with The Central Romana Corporation, the Duty Free Zone (Zona Franca Romana), or one of the service businesses there.
La Romana has been a one-company town since the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company built the mammoth Central Romana mill in 1917. It was the only sugar operation not taken over by Rafael Trujillo during his reign. From 1964 to 1967, the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company, including properties in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic became part of the conglomerate Gulf+Western. In 1984, the Gulf+Western Corporation sold their stake in the Central Romana Corporation to a group of local and foreign investors which includes the Fanjul brothers.
Gulf+Western acquired Consolidated Cigar in 1968 and shifted the Canary Island cigar-making operation to its Tabacalera de Garcia tobacco plant in La Romana. The Tabacalera de Garcia factory is currently one of the largest cigar factories in the world, and has been owned by the biggest cigar marketing company in the world, Altadis, since 1999. Three world-famous brands are produced in La Romana: Montecristo, H. Upmann, and Romeo y Julieta.
This town is characterized by its tremendous influence in the country's tourism programs. It's filled with beautiful beaches and many hotels and resorts. There are also many growing suburban areas and fenced communities This town has a large population, and all the problems associated with high-density areas. It does not have many notable sights in terms of architecture or urban spaces, being barely 100 years old. It grew very fast compared to the much older and slower-paced La Vega or Seibo, which are more typical Dominican towns.
Transportation - Get in
- La Romana Airport (LRM ). Scheduled and Charter flights arrive daily.
Other alternatives are:
- Punta Cana Intl Airport (PUJ )
- Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo (SDQ)
Transportation - Get around
A very popular way of getting around the town is through riding motor bikes as well as gua guas. Gua Guas is another name for buses. The motor bikes are easily accessible due to the fact that the people who ride them are always out like taxis. The catch here is that the bikers will demand a high price at first for the distances you are going. Different people ask different prices. You have to be smart and not always accept the first price these people give you. Bargain with them and try to make the prices go lower. Chances are that they wouldn't want you to go to someone else. Be patient and you will pay the price that is appropriate for the distance you are going. Another thing, when you come upon a bike, make sure to eye the rider. Sometimes these people aren't experienced enough to drive around especially when they drive up to four people at a time. There is no such thing as accident insurance when riding these bikes. If you are involved in an accident, it's on you to pay for hospital bills or whatever bills you would have to pay for. It's pretty much riding at your own risk. Remember these riders are locals trying to make extra cash by giving people rides. The railroad system is pretty much out the question. They are mostly used to carry goods across the Dominican Republic. The buses are the cheapest way to go! Moto conchos aka bikes prices depend on the person and are less safe. Depending on your taste and needs, make sure you are ready to take one of these rides.
Things to See
A must see is Altos de Chavon. This "village" was done replicating the 15th century colonial architectural style. Has many restaurants, a museum with Taino artifacts, breath-taking view of the Chavon River. This is a charming replica of the Italian village that was built by a man as a gift for his daughter. Also, artists ranging from Sinatra to Cocoband have performed at its large amphitheatre. Traveling to a place like La Romana should not be something of a gut wrencher. Depending on where you're staying will make your experience that much easier and more entertaining. Staying at one of the larger resorts would gve you the benefit of already having everything you need, from food, to games, to activities. This does not include however other activities outside the resort. For those of you who are looking for places to stay, they have local hotels where the people are very friendly, and open to make friends. Compared to the resorts staying in local hotels is much cheaper. Yeah, hotels have food included and fun activities, but the prices are off the roof. Staying out local, gives you the opportunity of going grocery shopping at the street markets and the local supermarket.
The local cigar factory is also interesting to visit.
Things to Do
La Romana has plenty to offer. On certain nights, resorts and locals host parties, activities, and games on the beaches. Everyone is welcome because they consider that having more people makes everything more fun. When you're done at the beach, head over into town and enjoy a night of festivities. The locals always have fun events going on depending the time of the year.
Big Sur is a very popular club, in the Bayahibe area that has merengue dancing and excellent food.
During the day, you can snorkel, dive, golf, swim or go to a spa.
The most you can possibly do is go down to the markets and buy cultural clothing and merchandise. Many people have and sell the same things so make sure to look around first before buying something, because maybe you can get a better deal. For those of you who have decided to stay in a eat yourself motel or hotel, the market is the way to go. Here they have a variety of foods in which one can chose from. From fruits, to vegetables, to drinks, and finally spices. You can enjoy a home cooked meal at a low price. As always make sure to bargain with the merchants in order to receive a lower cost on the foods. Aside from the food market you can hit up the craft shops, and sports shops. Many of these places offer food within the building so make sure to look around. The rest is up to you. When you know where you're staying research your area although most areas have similar shops and activities going.
Food & Restaurants
Eating in a place like La Romana is quite easy and numerous in quantity. From the resort food, to the local restaurants and bars, to the markets, and finally the vendors walking around. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you know what you're eating in case of allergies. The resort food is your typical meals with a bit of a Dominican twist in some foods. If you want to be very adventurous, feel free to buy food off the street markets, because the food is homemade and absolutely delicious. Many restaurants take out main ingredients in some of the foods in order to keep regulations intact. This might not give you the full experience of what real Dominican foods taste like. However, this does not apply to all restaurants. Calamaris Fritos (fried calamari) is a very popular dish that many tourist enjoy when they visit La Romana. The food here ranges, so in order for you to find the right ones, make sure to do a bit of research to find the hotspots for certain types of foods.
The drinks here are as expected. You have your water, juice, soda, and finally beer. If you want to hardcore drink and have a good time with family and friends, there are many bars around the area which serve both beer and liquor. Also, a very popular way of drinking is of the streets. The vendors you see might have stands set up with different juices they have made from papaya, to a myriad number of different fruits. On the beach they have vendors walking by selling drinks, and as i mentioned in previous sections, make sure you don't accept their prices right away. Bargain with them to lower the costs. Remember, the vendors want money and will take just about anything that is not too low.
Accommodation & Hotels
Driving in to La Romana from Punta Cana can be a long trip, having to take a bus through the dirt roads. If driving, there can be times of bad weather which make it that much more difficult and dangerous. The roads on the way to La Romana have giant potholes which could easily sink your vehicle. If raining, the roads are usually washed away and makes drivers turn back around or even get caught in the mist of it. Whatever you chose either way, be careful and definitely be prepared!