Neither pretty nor quaint, La Romana has a central park, an interesting market, a couple of good restaurants, banks and small businesses, a public beach, and Jumbo, a major supermarket. If you are staying for a week or more you may want to buy a Dominican cell phone at Jumbo. It’s a mere $20 for a basic one, plus minutes. It can save you untold money if you'll be making local calls from your hotel/resort. It is, at least, a real slice of Dominican life. Casa de Campo is just outside La Romana, and other resorts are found in the vicinity of nearby Bayahibe. Although there are now more resorts in the area, this 7,000-acre luxury enclave put the town on the map. Casa de Campo Marina, with its Mediterranean design and impressive yacht club and villa complex, is as fine a marina facility as can be found anywhere; the shops and restaurants at the marina are a big draw for all tourists to the area.
Although the name may sound as Italian as amore, this restaurant's menu is much more eclectic than Italian. It has a classy, contemporary, white-dominated decor in a dreamy, waterfront setting. Strolling musicians perpetuate the mood. Astounding appetizers are found under the Asian section, like the sweet plantain roll or the Peperoni roll. Pasta dishes and risottos with rock shrimp or porcinis taste authentic, and the more inventive items such as house-made pear-and-goat-cheese ravioli with pine nuts and a key-lime emulsion are delectable. Pulpo (octopus) with fava beans stewed in limoncello vinaigrette is highly recommended. You can also opt for stylishly simple charcoal-grilled steaks (sauce or no), burgers, gourmet wood-oven pizzas, sandwiches, or even sushi and sashimi. Desserts are worthy here.
Altos de Chavón
Altos de Chavón is a re-creation of a 16th-century Mediterranean village on the grounds of the Casa de Campo resort, where you can find a church, art galleries, boutiques,restaurants and souvenir shops, and a 5,000-seat amphitheater for concerts grouped around a cobbled square. At the Altos de Chavón Art Studios you can find ceramics, weaving, and screen prints made by local artists. Extra special is Casa Montecristo, a chic cigar lounge, which also offers a tour with cigar history and trivia. The mini-market sells sundries and some food items.
The Casa de Campo Marina
Casa de Campo's top-ranked marina is home to shops and international boutiques, galleries, and jewelers scattered amid restaurants, an ice-cream parlor, bars, banks, beauty salons, and a yacht club. It's a great place to spend some time shopping, sightseeing, and staring at the extravagant yachts. The chic shopping scene at the marina includes Bleu Marine (cosmetics) and Everett Designs (high-end larimar and amber jewelry). Art Arena sells local artisan jewelry and gifts. Dominican designer Jenny Polanco sells clothes, purses, and jewelry. The Bibi Leon boutique, is known for its tropical-themed home accessories. There's also a marvelous Italian antiques shop, Nuovo Rinascimento, and the Club de Cigarro (Fumo). By the way, the supermercado Nacional at the marina has not only groceries but sundries, postcards, and snacks.
Altos de Chavón
This re-creation of a 16th-century Mediterranean village sits on a bluff overlooking the Río Chavón, on the grounds of Casa de Campo but about 3 miles (5 km) east of the main facilities. There are cobblestone streets lined with lanterns, wrought-iron balconies, wooden shutters, courtyards swathed with bougainvillea, and Iglesia St. Stanislaus, the romantic setting for many a Casa de Campo wedding. More than a museum piece, this village is a place where artists live, work, and play. Dominican and international painters, sculptors, and artisans come here to teach sculpture, pottery, silk-screen printing, weaving, dance, and music at the school, which is affiliated with New York's Parsons School of Design. The artists work in their studios and crafts shops selling their finished wares. The village also has an amber museum, an archaeological museum, a handful of restaurants, and a number of unique shops. Strolling musicians enliven the rustic ambience of ceramic tiles and cobblestone terrace.Amphitheater at Altos de Chavon. A 5,000-seat, Grecian-style amphitheater features Kandela, a spectacular musical extravaganza showcasing the island's sensuous Afro-Caribbean dance moves, music, and culture (November–April only). Concerts and celebrity performances by such singers as Elton John, Julio Iglesias, his son Enrique, Sting, and the Pet Shop Boys share the amphitheater's schedule of events. Show dates vary to coincide with cruise-ship arrivals. Many people make dinner reservations at La Piazzetta (Altos de Chavón, 809/523–3333), the high-end Italian restaurant that is closest to the amphitheater. It's known for its antipasto selections, homemade pasta, and authentic regional dishes; outside guests are welcome. Casa de Campo. 809/523–2424 for Kandela tickets. www.kandela.com.do. $35 for Kandela; other concert prices vary.