One Month in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Mrs. ItchyFeet in front of Las Terrenas letters

You have to be very careful while walking around Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. More so than any other place I have been thus far. You have to watch your footing along the sidewalks through town, not just for holes and rebar and sudden drop offs, but also for sleeping doggies as they like the warmth and sunshine. They are very polite, but don’t step on them! I have a theory they are all waiting for the pizza shops to open where tourists might toss them the crusts. Waste not!

Beware the sidewalks… or lack thereof!

Along with sidewalks, low overhanging head-bashing eves, and rusty fence protrusions at shin height, you also have to watch for motorbikes driving on the sidewalks. You see, here in The Dominican Republic, pedestrians most certainly do NOT have the right of way. You better move. Nothing rude about it. No ill will. It’s just that drivers may go where you are. They politely honk and you need to move to avert disaster.

Open drain next to sidewalk
It’s hard to see how dangerous this open drain is, but it could swallow you whole, if you are not paying attention!

This is more true along roads with no sidewalks. There you have the bonus of distracted drivers on cell phones mixed with blind corners. You have to be on your game. Yesterday as I was walking home from town, I spotted two police officers on one motorcycle with the driver texting away… safety third? Why wasn’t the officer on the back doing the texting for the driver? I have questions.

So there I am, walking along the road this morning on the way to the liquor store (got to stock up before Christmas!) when I literally had to jump off the road to avoid being run over by a car. Keep in mind that there was plenty of room for the car to just not run me over on the road. Maybe they didn’t see me? Or maybe they saw me and wanted to see me jump into the sand. No dying!

Hurricane Fiona

Mr. ItchyFeet and I rode out a category five hurricane (Irma) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic way back in 2017. We were in an expensive all-inclusive resort (we got a discount because it was during hurricane season! Ha!) and they had a lot of resources at their disposal to both prepare for and deal with the aftermath of that powerful storm. Click here for that story!

Walkway damage from Hurricane Fiona
This beautiful walkway took a hit from storm surge during Hurricane Fiona.

Las Terrenas is a working expat town. When the less powerful Hurricane Fiona hit here a couple of months ago, this area suffered. Power went out for weeks. Internet was disrupted. A couple of buildings burned down. Walking bridges and walkways were damaged from storm-surge. The repair is happening, but it’s a slow process. It’s still a gorgeous area and definitely worth the effort.

You can see people working to get buildings back up and running. The power went out pretty regularly when I first got here, as the lines were being worked on throughout the day. Now, power hardly ever goes out (famous last words… yup… power just went out for an hour). Progress is happening, and it’s interesting to watch. I am glad that I’m not staying here during the next hurricane season.

Storm surge over roadway during a high tide
Combine storm surge with high tide and you get flooding over the roadways!


Speaking of storms, my friend and I had quite the adventure during one of the last storms to blow through here. You see, the only road to town is right along the beach. Combine storm surge with high tide (and a dash of global warming sea-level rise) and you get flooded roads. We didn’t know that at the time, and I needed groceries, so we headed to town in the rain.

So we are walking along and watching these waves crash up over the road we were walking on. I made my friend pull off to the side so that he could get a picture of this for you all. Cars and motorbikes are zigzagging their way through the seaweed, sargassum, and sand that is washing onto the roadway… coconuts exploding dramatically under their tires. Unfortunately, my friend stopped right on top of a fire-ant colony, also trying to stay dry.

They swarmed up his legs and took quite a few chunks out of him. Those things will bite to hold on to your fleshy bits and then sting away with their butt end. Nasty stings. Sorry, friend! A couple of the wounds got all purulent and oozy. He got some great photos though, so I’m sure it was worth it?

Nasty ant sting on ankle
Those fire-ant stings are no joke!

Other bugs

As far as bugs other than ants, I haven’t seen too many. I had quite a lot of mosquitos in México so I came prepared for more mozzies here. Especially since this lovely apartment is kind-of in the woods and definitely right next to some marshlands. There should be a ton of flying-blood-straws, but there just aren’t. Which is good because DR has a lot of fun tropical diseases that I do not want to get.

However, when I first got here, I got loads of no-see-um bites. I hate those buggers, but at least they are mostly disease free! It’s weird though because now I’m hardly ever getting bitten. I had read that once you live in a location for a while, your body gets used to the bites and just stops reacting so dramatically. Now I think that might be true!

Large black-widow spider
This black-widow was massive! Look at that red hour-glass on her belly! I would not want to be that bee.

I have seen all kinds of fun bugs from flying ants to cockroaches to a variety of fun spiders. Most dislike the apartment and stay outside as much as possible. My neighbor was saying they saw a giant tarantula on the deck once. That sounds amazing, and I’ll try to get a picture for you all if I spot one!

Should I be worried?

One of the primary concerns I have when moving to a new place is the safety of the area. I want to be able to walk around alone without being nervous. I also don’t want my apartment to get broken into. Everything I own is in that apartment, and it’s not so easy to purchase replacement items if something gets taken.

I picked a gated community here in Las Terrenas, but that was more because of its proximity to the most beautiful beach in the area, Playa Las Ballenas. The area feels very safe except for the sidewalks. Those things are pure danger! I would feel fine walking around alone at night if I wasn’t worried about getting run over by a drunk tourist.

Nativity scene decorations for Christmas
It’s almost Christmas! Can you believe how fast the year went!?!

There has been chatter on social platforms regarding some homes broken into in the tourist town next to us, but not much here. People don’t clutch their purses and wear their backpacks in front of their bodies like they did in México. I’ve heard of a variety of pick-pocketing scams in Santo Domingo, but I hear those for every big city. I feel fine leaving my windows open at night with no worries.


There are a lot of street dogs in the area. I’m torn because most look happy and healthy. Would you rather live on the beach with all your buddies eating discarded pizza crusts (there are so many pizza joints around here!) or be stuck in someone’s house? You might get to sleep on the couch or you might be one of the unlucky ones that gets chained up outside. I mean… they’re an invasive species, so, of course, none of them should be left to their own devices.

Mrs. ItchyFeet on Playa Las Ballenas
Playa Las Ballenas is just gorgeous!

I’m really lucky to be able to give doggo scritches regularly. Should I buy dog treats or would they just snub me because it’s not a tasty pizza bite? I should at least start bringing along extra water. It’s kind of fun to have them wander the streets with you for a while.

I had this one supper smart dog tail me for a bit along this really busy section of roadway. He would pause (paws?) when I did and was paying very close attention to me. I was trying to cross the street and having a hard time. I finally get a slight break in traffic and start going. That super smart dog stayed right by my heals and crossed with me, using me as a shield. Then he was gone, as I had served my purpose. I’m glad I could do my part!

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