The picture-perfect Dominican Republic is just that: it’s picture-perfect.

You know when you’re meditating and you’re told to take your mind to a tranquil beach? My mind takes me to the beaches of the Dominican Republic. You guessed it; swaying palm trees, white-sand beaches and crystal blue waters. Dreamy.

Forming the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is a fascinating country in the heart of the Caribbean. Not only is it surrounded by gorgeous beaches and stunning seaside vistas, but there’s so much more hidden below the surface.

The Dominican Republic was the first Colony in the New World, and much of its history can still be seen to this day. History buffs can take a break from their cocktail on the beach to explore the fascinating museums and dive into the country’s history.

Some parts of the country are safer than others so it’s important to brush up on this before you book. Beyond that, each town and city offers something completely different and unique depending on what you’re into!

If you’ve never been before, deciding where to stay in the Dominican Republic can be a daunting task. But luckily for you, you have me!

I’ve compiled the best areas to stay in the Dominican  Republic into this ULTIMATE guide. You’ll not only find the best areas (categorised by interest) but you’ll also find the best places to stay and things to do in each- you’re welcome, amigo!

Whether you’re interested in culture, water sports, or peaceful beaches – I’ve got you covered.

So let’s dive right in! Vamonos!

Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic – My Top Picks

Looking for a place to stay in the Dominican Republic but don’t have much time? Here are my top overall recommendations of the coolest places.

Cute Las Terrenas Bungalow | Best Bungalow in the Dominican Republic

Bali a Las Terrenas a cote du village des pecheurs, Dominican Republic 1

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This charming bungalow is one of the most unique stays in all of the Dominican Republic! It’s built completely out of wood, has multiple outdoor spaces, and fosters a quiet and zen atmosphere. Inside there is one bedroom and one bathroom, along with tons of hand-painted and hand-carved local art. In addition, the location is fantastic and there are beaches, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance.

Island Life Hostel | Best Hostel in the Dominican Republic

Island Life Hostel, Dominican Republic 1

If you are a budget-conscious backpacker, the Island Life Hostel is hands down my number one overall recommendation for where to stay in the Dominican Republic! It’s a contemporary hostel that resides in a giant colonial-era building and has a huge selection of dorm and private rooms alike. Furthermore, it has multiple indoor and outdoor common areas, a swimming pool, a pool table, and is a great place to create lifelong friendships!

Occidental Caribe – All Inclusive | Best Hotel in the Dominican Republic

Occidental Caribe All Inclusive former Barcelo Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 1

Since Punta Cana is known as a resort town, it’s only fitting that it’s full of world-class resorts like the Occidental Caribe! It’s a four-star all-inclusive hotel where the main goal of the staff is to pamper you and treat you like a celebrity. The pool complex is one of the coolest I have ever seen and kids will absolutely love the waterslide and play area. If you are traveling as a family, this is certainly where to stay in the Dominican Republic!

Map of Where to Stay in The Dominican Republic

Where to Stay in Dominican Republic Map
1.Punta Cana 2.Puerto Plata 3.Las Terrenas 4.Santiago de los Caballeros 5.Santo Domingo 6.Las Galeras 7.Cabarete (Locations in no particular order)

Dominican Republic Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in The Dominican Republic

Before you go ahead and start booking, slow down there soldier! The Dominican Republic isn’t a huge island, and many of the best attractions can be explored by car on day trips, but knowing where to stay on this Caribbean island will make or break your trip. Here are the neighborhoods I would recommend:

Many people skip Santo Domingo in favor of more beachy destinations, but that’s a huge mistake! It’s the beating heart of the Dominican Republic and perfectly blends together the past and present. If you want to interact with locals and see the REAL country, this is where to stay in the Dominican Republic.

Two and a half hours away by car/bus is the charming town of Santiago de los Caballeros. It’s another often overlooked destination that’s packed with museums, waterfalls, and dirt-cheap hostels. This city is a must-add to any itinerary if you are on a budget and looking for inexpensive places to stay.

Punta Cana is one of the top resort towns in the Caribbean. It’s home to towering beachfront all-inclusive resorts, giant adventure parks, and never-ending sandy beaches. If you are on the hunt for that perfect place to spend your next family vacation, look no further!

a bunch of palm trees along a sandy beach in the dominican republic
The tropical paradise you really have got to see to believe.

Las Terrenas is a lazy, off-the-beaten-track small town ideal for those seeking peace and tranquility. It boasts some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic and if you’re a couple you will be hard-pressed to find a more romantic location.

If you want an action-packed and adventure-filled holiday, Cabarete is the best place to stay in the Dominican Republic. It’s full of activities adrenaline junkies will love ranging from kite surfing to cliff jumping, and it also boasts some of the wildest nightlife in the country.

Meanwhile, Las Galeras is a secluded village that limits its tourist numbers, giving your DR stay a super exclusive feel. Most visitors skip this iconic locale, making it all the more worth it to give it a go.

And last but not least, we have the family-friendly hub of Puerto Platas. Located on the island’s north coast, the beaches here are less crowded plus there are plenty of things to do aside from sunbathing and swimming. You’re in for some prime shopping and convenience – this is where the airport is!

Punta Cana,Dominican Republic

Punta Cana

Punta Cana forms the easternmost tip of the country and is a microcosm of everything the Dominican Republic has to offer

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the nation’s capital, and chances are you’ll spend at least a little time here before continuing elsewhere on the island.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 1

Las Terrenas

Another northern destination, Las Terrenas is an even smaller city offering huge beaches.

Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Santiago de los Caballeros

Las Terrenas is a quiet and relaxing beach town tucked away on the Samana Peninsula. It’s located on the northeastern side of the island and if you are looking for a place to get away and leave everything behind, this is where to stay in the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata is a charming destination on the North Coast of the island.

1. Punta Cana – Overall Best Place to Stay in the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana forms the easternmost tip of the country and is a microcosm of everything the Dominican Republic has to offer. Known for its white sandy beaches, you’ll be rewarded with stunning scenery no matter where you end up. For first-time visitors, there are some great tour guides and hotels dotted along the coast.

blue beach chairs on a beach in punta cana in the dominican republic
Paradise? I think so.

The town of Punta Cana is quite small but has some excellent stretches of beach away from the big crowds. The most popular resort in the area is the town of Bávaro – a major culinary destination in the Dominican Republic. Uvero Alto, on the other hand, comes with some unbeatable viewpoints.

Santo Domingo, the capital, is also technically located within Punta Cana. However, for the purpose of this guide, I’ve kept it separate because it has a totally different vibe. Punta Cana is an easy-going destination that offers a chilled-out introduction to the Dominican Republic. If you’re still struggling to decide by the time you get to the end of this guide, Punta Cana will surely have something to delight you.

Best Places to Stay in Punta Cana

Punta Cana is quite sparsely populated so it’s much easier to get around if you have a car. That being said, transport to Bávaro is fairly regular. You’ll also find most resorts offer airport transfers – so if you can’t bring your own transport, these are your best options.

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana | Best Hotel in Punta Cana

Majestic Elegance Punta Cana

For a true Caribbean vacation experience, you have to stay in a Dominican Republic all-inclusive resort. These are designed so that everything you could possibly need is only a short walk from your bed. All of your meals are included, with multiple restaurants to choose from.

There’s also a huge stretch of beach reserved for hotel guests. If you want to explore further, staff can also help you book tours of the Dominican Republic that will collect you from the front door.

Gava Hostel | Best Hostel in Punta Cana

Gava Hostel

This Punta Cana hostel balances peaceful dorms with social common areas. It offers regular excursions at discount rates to various locations, including the Catalina Islands, Saona, and Santo Domingo. You can also book an airport transfer – perfect for backpackers who can’t hire a car.

Located in the town of Bávaro, there are some great dining options within walking distance. The beach is also right on your doorstep. This is the best hostel in Punta Cana for sure.

Pool Bungalow | Best Airbnb in Punta Cana

Pool Bungalow

Airbnb Plus properties are hand-selected for their stunning interiors, perfect location and next-level guest service. This gorgeous bungalow in the heart of Punta Cana has everything you could ever dream of in a holiday villa.

Only a short walk from the Punta Espada Golf Club, it’s particularly popular with families and older couples. The beach is also only a stone’s throw away.

2. Santo Domingo – Where to Stay in Dominican Republic on a Budget

Santo Domingo is the nation’s capital, and chances are you’ll spend at least a little time here before continuing elsewhere on the island. For budget travelers, Santo Domingo offers fantastic prices on accommodation and dining compared to the touristy beach resorts. You certainly won’t be missing out on any beaches though, as the city has a few of its own.

an old yellow stone church in santo domingo
Discover history, culture, and beaches for cheap!

The large city is not just the most populous in the country, it’s also the oldest! In fact, it’s the oldest European city in the Americas. The Zona Colonial was the first Spanish settlement in the New World. These days, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for fascinating architecture and world-defining attractions.

Many visitors have some safety concerns about Santo Domingo, but during the day you can get around fairly easily. Many of the suburban areas are great in the evenings too, you just need to do a little research in advance. As the capital, it’s a major transport hub meaning you’ll never be too far from some of the biggest destinations in the Dominican Republic.

Best Places to Stay in Santo Domingo

So as far as safety goes, I’ve deliberately picked accommodations that come with great reviews from previous guests. This should be your biggest concern, though the situation in Santo Domingo is far safer than in other large Caribbean cities. If you can hire a car it is a good idea, but during the day public transport is totally fine.

El Beaterio Casa Museo | Best Hotel in Santo Domingo

El Beaterio Casa Museo

This rustic hotel might be affordable, but that doesn’t mean it lacks charm. Housed in a historic building, it feels like a time capsule back to the early days of the colonial Dominican Republic.

It was once a convent in the 16th Century and many of the period features have been retained, including original brickwork and exposed beams. They offer an American-style breakfast every morning or you can pick up a continental box if you’re in a hurry.

Island Life Hostel | Best Hostel in Santo Domingo

Island Life Hostel, Dominican Republic

Located in the heart of the Zona Colonial, the Island Life Hostel is the perfect spot for discovering everything the city has to offer. My favorite part is the verdant courtyard where you can soak up the good vibes and chat with other guests.

They also offer regular social events in the evenings to get you acquainted with the spirit of the island. Want to save as much money as possible? They even include a complimentary breakfast!

Beautiful Apt Studio in Central Santo Domingo | Best Apartment in Santo Domingo

Beautiful Apt Studio in the Heart of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

This cozy one-bedroom studio is wonderfully located in the heart of Santo Domingo and is an ideal basecamp for exploring the city. Tons of restaurants, bars, and malls are within walking distance of the apartment and additionally the train station is only minutes away. The apartment itself has a fully equipped kitchen, a modern bathroom, and a lovely private terrace which features a “chill area” including a sofa, table, and chairs.

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3. Las Terrenas – Most Romantic Place to Stay in the Dominican Republic for Couples

Another northern destination, Las Terrenas is an even smaller city offering huge beaches. There are three within walking distance of the town center, each offering something a little different. The one closest to the center is a major nightlife hub, with bars and clubs to cater to a variety of tastes.

beach chairs and a beachside cafe in Las Terrenas in the dominican republic around sunset
Las Terrenas is my favorite place for couples!

So what about couples? Nightlife aside, the other two beaches are more peaceful – the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. Las Terrenas is another great culinary destination, offering an endless supply of romantic restaurants to include in your date nights. This destination perfectly balances out the convenience of a city with the laid-back charm of a smaller town right on the coast.

Best Places to Stay in Las Terrenas

Las Terrenas is quite small, so you can easily get around on foot. If you don’t have a car I recommend sticking to accommodation that offers airport transfers. There are some fantastic luxury options across the area but even the more budget-friendly choices are great for couples that don’t want to break the bank.

Viva Wyndham V Samana | Best Luxury Hotel in Las Terrenas

Viva Wyndham V Samana

For couples heading to the Dominican Republic, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Viva Wyndham V Samana is an adult-only resort, so you won’t have to worry about noisy families ruining the vibe.

At the side of the pool, there are private cabanas where you can keep yourself under the shade and lounge in the warm Caribbean air. The on-site spa offers a wide range of couples’ and individual treatments that let you kick back and relax right into the evening.

Afreeka Beach Hotel & Music Bar | Best Budget Hotel in Las Terrenas

Afreeka Beach Hotel

Inspired by the colors and sounds of Africa, this lively hotel is one of my favorites for backpackers looking to socialize with like-minded people. Some of the best shops and nightclubs in Las Terrenas are within walking distance of the hostel.

There are even two bars on-site offering Caribbean flavors at a discounted price. One of these is right next to the outdoor swimming pool – perfect for soaking up the dazzling sun, sipping a cheap cocktail, and meeting other visitors.

Cosy & Cute Cabin | Best Airbnb in Las Terrenas

Bali a Las Terrenas a cote du village des pecheurs, Dominican Republic

This cute and rustic one-bedroom bungalow is ideal for those looking for a tranquil jungle hideout! It’s entirely constructed out of wood and has an enchanting laid back atmosphere. The interior of this home is stunning, but it’s actually the outside spaces I love most! There’s a front patio, a covered area on its side with a hammock, and a drop dead gorgeous garden area.

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4. Santiago de los Caballeros – Coolest Place to Stay in Dominican Republic

Known simply as Santiago to locals, this is the second-largest city in the DR. Despite the sizable population, it offers a more laid-back alternative than Santo Domingo. It’s also one of the safest destinations in the Dominican Republic. With an abundance of hostels makes this a cool place to stay in the Dominican Republic if you are traveling on a backpacker’s budget, too!

an old monument in the middle of two streets in Santiago de los Caballeros,
Discover the island without the tourist crowds

The city offers historic architecture, charming cultural attractions, and delightful local restaurants. The lack of tourists also means you get a more authentic insight into Dominican life. Santiago de los Caballeros is well and truly one of the coolest spots in the country for those willing to throw away the guidebook.

The catch? It’s also right in the middle of the country, so there aren’t any beaches. Thankfully many of the hotels and apartments make up for this, with pools where you can cool off after exploring the city. Nevertheless, it can be off-putting for many – though if you’re planning a longer trip visiting multiple spots it’s well worth a night or two.

Best Places to Stay in Santiago de los Caballeros

The great thing about Santiago de los Caballeros? As the second-largest city, it’s actually quite well connected by public transport. That means you can stay here as a base to truly embrace local culture, whilst still getting to visit the coast when you feel like it.

Hodelpa Garden Court | Best Hotel in Santiago de los Caballeros

Hodelpa Garden Court

If you’re looking to splash out on comfort and privacy, this four-star hotel offers both without costing an arm and a leg. Santiago might not be near the coast, but the spacious outdoor pool means you won’t miss it.

A complimentary breakfast is included in the price, and the restaurant serves premium local cuisine during the lunch and dinner periods.

Platino Hotel & Casino | Best Hotel in Santiago de los Caballeros

Platino Hotel and Casino, Dominican Republic

This stellar hotel is located in a quiet neighborhood of Santiago about five kilometers from the main square. It offers a variety of different rooms, with the largest able to sleep four people. If you are up for a little fun and want to test your luck, there is also a casino connected to the hotel. Furthermore, due to the fact that it’s outside of the most popular tourist area, it has some of the cheapest room rates in the city.

Liberty Cosy Cabin | Best Cabin in Santiago de los Caballeros

LIBERTY COZY CABIN SUITE 101, Dominican Republic

This adorable wood cabin is a tremendous place to stay if you are looking for a calm and peaceful place to stay in Santiago. The bedroom has a large comfy bed, a 43″ smart TV with Netflix, and is the perfect place to hole up and spend a lazy day. Outside the front of the apartment, there is a delightful patio where you can enjoy a morning coffee or a late afternoon beer, and if you continue to wander to the property you will discover a pretty garden full of flowers.

5. Las Galeras – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Dominican Republic

Sitting just east of Las Terrenas, Las Galeras has a completely different vibe. This small village is known for its secluded beaches, where you will feel like you’ve reached the end of the world. Tourist numbers are limited in the area to encourage this exclusive vibe, so you’ll need to book in advance.

turquoise blue water and boats in las galeras where to stay in the dominican republic

The village offers a fascinating insight into the rural culture in the Dominican Republic. There are also some excellent diving options in the area with the waters largely unspoiled by tourists. Las Galeras will have your friends back home wondering where on earth you’ve been, and it’ll be your little secret.

Best Places to Stay in Las Galeras

Las Galeras is really hard to get to, especially without public transport. For this reason, I recommend only visiting if you have a car. If you really insist on the adventure, you can get to Las Terrenas by public transport and take a taxi. Just keep in mind this will get a little costly.

Solazul | Best Hotel in Las Galeras


This 3-star bed and breakfast is perfect for those looking for something budget-friendly whilst still enjoying a little privacy. The breakfast included every morning features locally sourced ingredients within a buffet.

There is a small pool surrounded by thatched gazebos providing a little shade. Las Galeras Beach is practically outside the front door, as well as the main amenities in the town.

Hostel La Ballena | Best Hostel in Las Galeras

Hostel La Ballena

This hostel is within walking distance of three beaches – so it’s no wonder it’s named after the whale! The interiors are pretty basic, but super affordable for those wanting to stay in a quieter part of the island.

They offer bicycle, motorbike, and car rental services from the front desk if you decide to plan a last-minute day trip with your new friends. There’s also a large terrace, perfect for soaking up the sparkling sunlight.

La Junglita | Best Airbnb in Las Galeras

La Junglita

Kick back, relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding forest in this quaint villa in the Dominican Republic, in the town of in Las Galeras. The front porch comes with a dining area, hammock, and a colorful shed that houses the kitchenette.

The actual cabin itself takes the form of a studio with bright interior design and art on the walls. This is a particularly popular option with digital nomads heading to the Dominican Republic for a quiet Caribbean retreat.

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6. Cabarete – Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic for Water Sports

If there’s one thing Cabarete is known for, it’s water sports! Kitesurfing and windsurfing are particularly popular here. You can also indulge in diving, snorkelling and even stand-up paddleboarding on calmer days.

a person kit surfing blue waves on a sunny blue sky day in the dominican republic

Cabarete is one of the most touristy destinations in the country, but this is just part of the charm for many visitors. You’ll be in safe hands throughout your trip, and there is a huge range of activities available during the peak season.

Best Places To Stay in Cabarete

Being such a touristy area of the Dominican Republic, the public transport options are fantastic. The town can easily be explored on foot, with most attractions centered around the beach area.

Velero Beach Resort | Best Hotel in Cabarete

Velero Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Velero Beach Resort is a luxury four-star hotel situated right on the ocean. It features a beachside swimming pool, a bar, and restaurant, and its very own private beach. Moreover, it boasts an amazing array of room options that range from standard rooms to luxurious two-bedroom suites. The concierge service is open 24/7 and if you want to partake in any activities such as kite surfing, cycling, or horseback riding they can easily help it be arranged.

Cabarete Beachfront- Casa de Playa | Best Airbnb in Cabarete

Cabarete Beachfront Casa de Playa, Dominican Republic

This off-the-wall beachfront apartment was renovated to have a modern design. It only has one bedroom, but the open floor plan makes it feel much larger than it is. Far and away its standout feature though is the mammoth terrace that overlooks the ocean. It’s a wonderful place to have breakfast, watch the kite surfers, or take in a sunset. Furthermore, if you speak with the hosts you can arrange to rent a hummer or bring in a private chef.

7. Puerto Plata – Best Place to Stay in the Dominican Republic for Families

Puerto Plata is a charming destination on the North Coast of the island. Though definitely a city, the population is small enough to give it a laid-back vibe. This makes it an excellent location for families heading to the Dominican Republic. It’s also known for its stunning beaches, many of which come with smaller crowds than those on the southern coast.

a birds eye view of a monument in puerto plata

The city center is a great spot for connecting with Dominican locals. Puerto Plata is a major shopping hub for island residents and is home to both international chains and local boutiques. There’s also a major airport nearby, perfect if you want to reduce travel time.

Best Places to Stay In Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata may be small but it is still a city, so try to stay centrally for all of the best attractions. That being said, if you’re looking for peace and quiet (which many families are) then it’s worthwhile checking out the smaller villages nearby.

If you don’t have a car you don’t need to worry too much, since the airport is pretty close to the city center and has great transport links.

Gran Ventana Beach Resort | Best Hotel in Puerto Plata

Gran Ventana Beach Resort

This charming four-star resort is the perfect getaway for families in the Dominican Republic. Their private beach offers unspoiled views of the sea, and also hosts a kid’s club every morning.

They also offer water skiing, banana boats and scuba diving, so you won’t have to leave the resort to enjoy some of the country’s most popular activities. Breakfast is included, and the on-site restaurants offer Italian cuisine and local seafood.

Tubagua Ecolodge | Best Backpacker Accommodation in Puerto Plata

Tubagua Ecolodge

Environmentally conscious travelers will love this charming eco-village. Situated right in the heart of Puerto Plata, you’ll only be a short walk from museums, water sports, and the stunning coastline.

The exclusive cocktail pool is a great spot to mingle with other guests, and the on-site dining area offers locally sourced ingredients. Whilst all of their rooms are private, these are among the best-priced in the area.

FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in the Dominican Republic

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of the Dominican Republic and where to stay.

What To Pack For the Dominican Republic

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for the Dominican Republic

Make sure you check off getting some good travel insurance before leaving for the DR!

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is arguably the most fascinating destination in the Caribbean. It’s got beaches and sunshine, but it also has a turbulent history that’s just waiting to be discovered. The Dominican Republic is the beating heart of the region, with cultural attractions that will truly delight every visitor.

So which is my favorite place overall?

Punta Cana, situated on the eastern tip of the island, offers great insight into everything that makes the Dominican Republic great. Every town has a stunning beach, fascinating history, and unique culture. This makes it one of the most exciting places in the country.

That being said, I know we all have different preferences when we travel. The Dominic Republic is such a diverse destination that the best place for you really depends on what you want to get out of your trip. I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for your upcoming trip to this Caribbean gem!

a wooden boardwalk leading to a stretch of sand filled with beach huts and palm trees
Blue water, blue skies, no problems.