December 31, 2009

Christmas in Sosúa: Lovely Beaches and Great Restaurants

When my parents told me they had chosen Sosúa as their destination in the Dominican Republic, I wasn’t sure they had made the best decision. For me, Sosúa was most famous for its dubious fame as a sex tourism hot spot. I soon, however, learned that Sosúa is actually a great place for a family vacation.

First of all, unless you go out to bars at night, you barely notice the prostitution. For me, with three kids sure to wake up at the crack of dawn, hanging out until late at the bars was not a viable option. So, I never went. As I did not engage in the night time revelry, I did not experience any of the problems that one might think are associated with a Caribbean sex tourism destination.

Instead, we spent our days on Sosúa’s lovely beaches and our nights at its great restaurants. We stayed at an apartment hotel near the center of town called Perla de Sosúa. This was a great option for us, as the apartment hotel had two bedrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen. That way, we could prepare food and relax as if we were at home when we were not inclined to leave the hotel. It also had a small swimming pool, which the girls used to cool off in when we weren’t at the beach.

There are two beaches in Sosúa – Playa Alicia and Playa Sosúa. Playa Alicia is smaller, with a lovely rock cliff at one end. It does not have much natural shade, but has the advantage of having less people and fewer vendors asking you to purchase things than Playa Sosúa. Playa Alicia is a gorgeous yellow-sand beach with a quite strong surf. The kids had a ball getting knocked over by the waves.

Playa Sosúa is at least twice as long as Playa Alicia, and is very well-shaded. There is natural vegetation all along the beach. Nearly all of the sand is taken up by lawn chairs which you can rent. Or, you can park yourself between them for free on the few pieces of open sand. There are over 150 stalls along the beach. When we were there, that meant there were more vendors than beachgoers. Despite that, the vendors were not particularly aggressive, and allowed us to chill on the beach once it became apparent that we did not plan to purchase anything.

After a day relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of good dining options in Sosúa. The two best restaurants we went to were Bailey’s and Orchidee. We had Christmas dinner at Bailey’s. I had a fabulous steak dish. I was impressed with the quality of the meat and the richness of the sauces. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and the girls’ pizza was unusually good. Also, for a nice restaurant, it is remarkably kid-friendly. There is a metal playground right next to the dining room. Orchidee is a bit less expensive, and the food is also good. It is much smaller than Bailey’s and has a nice homey feel to it. There, I had a gyro, which was reasonably tasty, although I definitely was disappointed that it didn’t come with pita bread. My mother said her breaded fish platter was excellent.

Aside from eating and going to the beach, we didn’t do much else in Sosúa; it was a beach vacation, after all. We did walk around town a bit, and the vendors can be somewhat insistent. It is hard to blame then when there are so many shops and so few tourists. I did notice that nearly all of the vendors are Haitian. That made negotiating with them a bit complicated, as they tended to speak English better than Spanish, and my first reaction is always to speak in the local language. However, they soon came to recognize me, and stopped asking me to buy trinkets or to braid my hair when they realized that I kept saying “no.”

In sum, we had a lovely winter holiday in Sosúa, and I am glad we went there instead of one of the expensive all-inclusive resorts, which are the only option in many parts of the island.


  1. You have got to be kidding me - Sosua is a very horrible town - we were there two weeks ago and the obvious sex tourism slaps you in the face all the time - this author is either clueless or is being paid by someone to post that this is a great place to travel - we had to go to Cabarete every day - it's not even that safe to walk the streets during the day here except by the beach hotels - according to the locals it is a mafia stronghold

  2. I respect the opinion of the person who commented above. However, I would like to clarify that I am not being paid to advertise Sosua.

    By all means, if your idea of an ideal vacation includes staying at an all-inclusive resort and never leaving the premises, Sosua is not the place for you. If, however, you would rather not be at an all-inclusive hotel, Sosua is one of the few places in the DR where you can find independent hotels and apart-hotels.

    On the beach in Sosua and around town, I did see many black women with white partners. However, I do not think it is safe to presume that each of these women were prostitutes. Even if they were, it is not really my business. For me personally, for sex tourism to "slap me in the face," it would have to affect me more directly.

    I did not find the streets of Sosua to be unsafe. As I indicated in my post, I was in my hotel by 9pm most nights, and I did not go to the "strip" where the bars are located at night.

    I suspect that if you are a couple looking for a place to have fun on the beach and to hang out at bars at night, you might not like Sosua. If, like me, you don't plan to hang out late at night at the bars, the sex tourism is unlikely to interfere with your vacation.

  3. I agree with the original poster. I was in Sosua last year and although it seemed a bit more hectic downtown than Cabarete (my preference) it did not seem unsafe.

    I spent 8 days last summer in Cabarete after doing extensive online research and had no idea that Sosua was considered by some as a "sex tourism" spot. I did know that there were a lot of prostitutes working there which makes sense in a country with 40% unemployment and an average annual wage of $2400. per year but there are also a lot of prostitutes in NYC, Miami, Daytona Beach, Las Vegas etc and I don't think that any of these places would be considered sex tourism spots.

    I think that any developing nation like the DR is going to offer opportunities for those who want casual sex-play for pay. For those folks, I can't help but think that Santa Domingo would be a much better choice than Sosua. Much larger and much easier to get to and no doubt for those so inclined, a broader selection.