During our latest cruise on Carnival Vista, we had so many fun excursion options visiting four ports of call — Grand Turk, La Romana, Bonaire, and Aruba — it was tough to pick what to do in each destination!
Since we’d be getting plenty of beach time in several ports, we decided to focus on food while visiting La Romana in the Dominican Republic. I sent a text to my friend Christina to ask her for recommendations since she grew up in the Dominican, and she also happens to be a foodie with her own blog at GoEpicurista.com. Well, as serendipitous luck would have it, Christina’s nephew is the chef at La Cantina, a restaurant in La Romana. Our plans were set!
La Cantina is located in the resort area of Casa de Campos, which also includes the picturesque village of Altos de Chavón, a replica of a 16th century Mediterranean village on the Chavón River. Christina suggested we take a cab to the resort so we could enjoy a leisurely lunch at La Cantina and then walk around the resort for some photos.
Getting there was easy, as the taxi service at the port of La Romana is very well organized. It was just a quick 10-minute ride from the port to the entrance of the Casa de Campos Resort, and then another 10 minutes through the resort villas to Altos de Chavón. Carnival also offers a cruise excursion to visit Altos de Chavón, which makes transportation even easier!
Altos de Chavón is a historic-looking sixteenth-century village replica overlooking the Chavón River, with cobblestone streets and lush gardens surrounding a gorgeous courtyard and chapel, St. Stanislaus Church.
We spotted La Cantina right away, perfectly situated with a view of the courtyard and chapel, so we grabbed a table outside to enjoy the fine weather and taste some Dominican food.
Taking a look at the menu, I wanted to try one of everything! They had chorizo and sweet plantain empanadas, croquettes, chilled mango soup, and monfongo too. We decided on splitting a mint & lime whitefish ceviche, Dominican-style conch with tostones, and an oregano-seasoned goat stew. Of course, we also ordered dessert too — espressos and coconut flan.
After lunch, we went for a walk to explore more of Altos de Chavón. There’s a bit of music history here, as the Romanesque-style amphitheater opened with a music festival, Concert For The Americas. It’s still a big music venue today as we saw posters advertising a popular concert coming up later in the month. And while no musical acts were performing during our afternoon visit, we certainly had fun climbing tiered limestone seats and testing out the acoustics.
Throughout our walk, we also discovered the World Amber Museum and a Larimar boutique. If you’re not familiar with Larimar, it’s a light blue stone with a color variation that makes it look like waves turning up the ocean, and it is found only in the Dominican Republic. We picked out a few pieces of jewelry for souvenirs, as the captivating color was a perfect reminder of our cruise!
With shopping bags in tow, we grabbed a taxi back to port to get back onboard Carnival Vista and order a few refreshing drinks to sip while watching the ship sail away from port to our next destination. The perfect ending to a relaxing day of food, shopping, and sightseeing in La Romana.
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