Lesbian hoteliers Sylvie and Cory operate a charming small
hotel in a breezy seaside tourist town brimming with funky shops, home-grown cafés,
and tireless nightlife. Their guests range from gay and lesbian tourists seeking
gay-friendly accommodations, to straight couples and families looking for a moderately-priced
But don't look for their establishment in Key West or Provincetown,
because Sylvie and Cory have hung their shingle on the north coast of the Spanish-speaking,
Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic, in the small coastal village of
Sosúa. While not exactly on the list as a "gay destination," queer travelers
can expect a friendly easygoing welcome in Sosúa. In a place where European
and American tourist dollars are the local bread and butter, neither topless
sunbathers nor same-sex couples raise an eyebrow.
If Key West and Provincetown are on your been-there-done-that
list, consider striking out to this off-the-beaten-track frontier, an easy direct
flight to Puerto Plata from New York or Miami. The Dominican Republic lies just
to the west of Puerto Rico, sharing its tropical island address with Haiti--though
most of the similarities end there. The Dominican Republic is considerably more
stable and prosperous than its neighbor nation, it's culture a rich blend of
Hispanic and African influences.
While some stretches of the Dominican Republic's coastline
have been bought up by developers and turned into cookie-cutter Caribbean-style
resort areas, complete with casinos and all-inclusive vacation packages (Puerta
Plata and Punta Cana, to name two), Sosúa retains a more authentic--even
funky--personality. Particularly well-suited to gay and lesbian couples and
families (looking for an affordable Caribbean honeymoon, anyone?), Sosúa
and the surrounding area offer a sun-soaked live-and-let-live atmosphere in
which you and your sweetie can create your own custom tropical romantic adventure
For the sun-seeking traveler with a preference for
the shined, refined, and homogenized, Sosúa might be a little rough around
the edges for your tastes. Step off the main tourist drag or outside the gates
of your hotel complex in this seaside village and you'll find yourself in the
middle of the dusty disarray of a bustling third-world locale. But don't let
wandering chickens,mufflerless motorbikes, and
overstuffed taxi-vans get you flustered.
Sos?a's main beach. Rent
a chair or bring your own, and spend the day.
Sosúa's main beach is a lively place, lined
with vending stalls offering touristy trinkets and plenty of places to sip rum
and coconut juice straight out of a freshly hollowed out pineapple while seated
surfside under a palm tree. Swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving can all be
easily accessed here. But don't look for upscale shops or precious cafes because
this sandy stretch has a decidedly untamed local flavor, outgoing native Dominicans
eagerly offering you a better price than the next guy on anything from hair
braiding to the use of a surfside lounge chair for the afternoon. A walk down
Sosúa Beach is a chance to get sand between your toes while enjoying
an entertaining cross-cultural experience.
For intimate gay-friendly accommodations, try Sylvie and
Cory's place, The Tropix,
a cozy peaceful oasis just a short walk from the town center and the beach.
This lesbian-owned hotel features breezy rooms painted in fresh Caribbean colors,
situated around lush shady gardens and a small pool. A communal kitchen and
an honor-system self-serve bar contribute to the Tropix's homelike atmosphere,
making it a place where it's easy to feel that when you're there, you're family.
A light tropical breakfast is served by the pool each morning, and a traditional
home-cooked Dominican lunch is available for a small charge. Sylvie and Cory
are happy to help you plan side trips, nights on the town, or other activities.
And if you're a horse-lover, Cory may even take you out on a trail ride in the
countryside, or a romp down the beach.
If spaciousness and solitude are more what you're
after, the Hotel
Paraiso de Colon offers clean basic amenities surrounding an impressively-sized
sparkling swimming pool, centered on a generously landscaped gated property.
Both establishments offer high speed Internet, personable laid-back service,
and exceptionally reasonable rates. Hot Dock's, a thatched-roof open-air bar
at the entrance to Paraiso de Colon, is rumored to attract a gay clientele at
La Puntilla de Pier Giorgio
Restaurant. Cliff-hanging upscale Italian dining.
In the center of the village, The White Horse
(Calle Duarte Esq. Alejo Martinez; 809-571-3530) serves up a serious cappuccino,
along with Internet access and prime sidewalk seating perfect for hours of people-watching.
The Atlantico Restaurant (Los Charamicos; 809-571-2878), on the Charamicos
side of town, features open-air seaside tables, ideal for an unforgettable romantic
dinner. If savoring haute cuisine while perched on the precipice of a plummeting
seaside cliff is your idea of a good time, consider booking a table at the dramatic
La Puntilla de Pier Giorgio (Calle La Puntilla 1; 809-571-2215). This
upscale Italian restaurant features a truly stunning setting, with private tables
occupying individual stone balconies built atop steep natural stone cliffs dropping
several stories to the pounding surf below. Commit the faux-pas of letting your
cell phone or room key slip out of your pocket and drop to the floor while seated
here and it may just be doomed to sleep with the fishes for eternity.
While most island nations may be known for their seafood
and vegetable-based cuisines, top on the list of this seaside village's culinary
specialties is--of all things--filet mignon. In 1938, hundreds of Jews fleeing
Nazi Germany resettled in this Caribbean village, and initiated a dairy and
meat industry that thrives to this day. The village of Sos?a continues to supply
most of the beef and dairy products consumed in the Dominican Republic. A generous
butter-tender filet grilled to perfection which could easily run upwards of
$25 in the U.S. can be enjoyed here for a modest $10 to $15. Many of the main
drag's open-air caf?s sport a German or British ex-pat flavor, their sidewalk
sandwich boards advertising such daily specials as weinerschnitzel, and steak-and-kidney
Not into red meat? If a Fish Orgy is more your cup of tea,
flag a taxi to Vento in nearby Cabarete, where the signature menu item of the
same name goes down in many seafood-lover's books as the sexiest meal of fresh
fish they've ever feasted on. Cabarete features a rich array of restaurant options,
from pizza to paella, all sharing breathtaking frontage along a windy stretch
of palm-lined beach which happens to also be one of the world's premier windsurfing
and kite flying locations. If Sosúa is a village where local culture
and tourist culture co-exist, then Cabarete is it's big cousin, having given
over every inch of its downtown area to shops, cafes, and adventure sports activites.
While there are no explicitly gay or lesbian clubs in either town, Onno's
(Cabarete Beach; 809-571-0461), and The Bambu Club (Cabarete Beach, 809-982-4549),
are said to offer some measure of gay nightlife.
As with any developing nation, the most active gay
scene is usually to be found in the larger cities. Santo Domingo, though a several-hour
drive from Sosúa, offers the most established gay cultural offerings.
On the right night, a visit to Llego (Jose Reyes N. 10, Zona Colonial,
Santo Domingo; 809-689-8250) or the Atlantis Disco (Ave. George Washington
555, Malecón, Santo Domingo; 809-685-2011) may just land you at a drag
or male strip show. Plan your Sosúa getaway for late February/early March.
It may be worth taking a side trip for a few days to experience Santo Domingo's
festive Carnival extravaganza, where the city lights up with elaborate parades,
flashy floats, and plenty of live merengue music to get everyone up and dancing
in the streets.
While Sosúa probably won't appear on any list of gay/lesbian
meccas anytime soon, this funky seaside village supports a rich mix of cultures
living peacefully side-by-side. A stay at the intimate lesbian-owned retreat
The Tropix gives the gay or lesbian traveler a comfortable and welcoming place
to let his/her hair down. "Where's the gay community in Sosúa?" Sylvie
chuckled as she unhurriedly skimmed stray leaves and flower petals from her
pool sparkling under tall palm trees and lush greenery. "You're looking at it."
The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. We suggest that you confirm all details directly with the establishments mentioned before making travel plans. Please feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com if you have any new information.