Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
This 15-year-old resort provides a high-boozing atmosphere -- including a 24-hour sports bar -- for those who want to enjoy the D.R. without dropping megabucks on Punta Cana five-stars. Rooms are generic, but fresher after a much-needed 2012 upgrade. Overall, the Costa Caribe is a decent value.
Those looking for a quiet, remote escape, however, should head elsewhere. In between '80s hit singles, the resounding theme song of the entertainment team, the Chocolate Friends, is blasted from the speakers near the beach bar throughout the day.
On weekends, locals fill up theand ramp up the party, and at the à la cartes, tables for two are more often occupied by groups of singles than romantic couples. While Costa Caribe does have its slower and less-occupied weeks, most guests are still here to party.
The resort is not laid out in the most appealing fashion -- Juan Dolio Avenue runs down the center, with half of the rooms on the beach side, and half of the rooms on the other. The parking lot is basically in the middle (but at least it's small enough so that everything is just a short walk away).
Only a 20-minute taxi from Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo.
Costa Caribe Coral is located on Santo Domingo, the bustling capital of the D.R., 30 minutes east of
Due to a recent push from the Dominican government, a few more resorts are springing up along Juan Dolio’s beach, as are a scattering of souvenir gift shops that line Juan Dolio Avenue, just outside the resort. Popular activities nearby include ATV tours to San Pedro de Macoris, a sugar cane plantation just five minutes away and birthplace to a number of famous Dominican baseball players, such as Sammy Sosa. A plaza located a block from the resort is utilized by both the locals and resort guests for its cheap Wi-Fi, pharmacy, and outdoor café.
Costa Caribe Coral doesn't boast the greatest beach -- the quick jump in water from blue to dark signifies the encroaching plant life that lines the sea floor. But a manmade barrier does block the biggest waves -- making this a very safe beach for little children. The shallow stretch of water is clean and clear with a sandy white shoreline.
There are more than enough lounge chairs, but bathrooms near the beach are hard to come by. Most guests have to use the water, or head to the toilet in the fitness center, which is off the beach and past the beach bar.
Windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boating, and sailing are free for an hour each, via the Sea Pro diving center. The on-site diving center also offers the full gamut of water sports for additional cost: diving certification, dives for beginners or experienced divers, banana boat trips, snorkeling, waterskiing, and boat rides. The center is open daily.
Rooms were renovated in 2012, bringing much-needed updates to the old, worn spaces.
This 535-room resort offers standard suites with an additional living room space, marble bath, and Jacuzzi on the balcony. There are three types of guest rooms, differing only by view. The cheapest of the three, the standard guest room, faces the garden or the pool. The guest room-plus has the best views, overlooking the ocean. The most expensive, the deluxe room, doesn’t have an ocean view -- it also just faces the garden or pool -- but it’s bigger than the standard or the guest room-plus. Guest quarters are actually split into two separate sections, one on the beach and one further back, across Juan Dolio Avenue, the main thoroughfare connecting this resort to the rest of villas and resorts in the area.(with king or double beds) and
The rooms, updated in 2012, are large, nicely air-conditioned, and adequate. The new rooms have the same off-white tiled floors of their predecessors, but feature new furniture and linens. White walls, flooring, and dark would furniture have significantly brightened the room, and the pop of color from the bed's decorative pillows and blanket are a nice touch. But overall the rooms are generic and rather plain, fine for a place to sleep but not luxurious. Each room comes with a television (the hotel is in the process of upgrading to flat screens) equipped with cable, a safe (charges apply), coffee and tea, generic toiletries, and a balcony or terrace. Minibars are available upon request. Housekeeping also leaves two bottles of water in the room daily.
Room location is everything at Costa Caribe. Almost all of the resort's activities take place in the main complex; it is also where theand two of the three are located. Try to book a room here or ask to change rooms if placed in the casino division across the street. Although the second division has the pasta bar and is still only minutes from the beach in this compact resort, it does feel a bit isolated and cut off from the action. But, in the main section, expect to hear stereo speakers blasting all day long at the pool. The S-complex, still in the main complex but a little to the left of the blasting speaker, may be a quieter bet.
Costa Caribe has three small, kidney-shaped main pool next to the beach bar, Bohio; the quieter pool just beside the main pool; and the pool for guests who are in the second complex. The main pool sees the most action, due to its proximity to the only beach bar. But the pool on the casino side is actually the most picturesque, framed with bushes of budding tropical flowers. There are no slides or swim-up bars -- there are in-pool barstools, but no bartender service from there. All pools are well-kept, but a sign at night actually wards off guests from entering because that's when they treat them with chemicals. So much for night swimming. The hotel supposedly offers three Jacuzzis as well.: the
A gym is located in the same building as the air-conditioned sales offices that proffer Costa Caribe time-shares. More money was clearly spent on the offices than on the gym, which is more of a nod to a gym, with cardio equipment limited to five old exercise bikes and free weights with peeling metallic veneer. Just two high-powered fans cool the room -- there’s no air conditioning.
Other than the gym, the second complex houses most of the sports facilities: three clay tennis courts, a basketball court, a small soccer field, and a nine-hole . Tennis equipment and putters can be borrowed from a small stand next to the tennis courts.
Bicycles can be rented for an hour at no cost, but the bikes too are pretty old and most are too big for children. An ATV tour through the nearby sugarcane fields of San Pedro de Macoris is also available at additional cost. There's also horseback riding, mostly on the beach.
The new full-service InSense Spa offers haircuts, extensions, facials, waxing, makeup, manicures, and massages. But the main emphasis is on body treatments. It offers 10 different options here, from the Dip-In Drops with a Cranapple-Sugar exfoliation mix to a chocolate body wrap. Seven massages range from the classic Swedish and deep-tissue offerings to a 30-minute acupressure service. Special services for brides or couples are also available.
The, located across Juan Dolio Avenue from the main complex, offers craps, roulette, slot machines, blackjack and poker. While some guests found the casino "kind of small" -- only two roulette tables were operating when I was there, and there are only about nine clusters of slot kiosks -- it's still a nice addition to the resort. Drinks in the casino are not included in the all-inclusive package.
An Internet center is next to the centrally located Garden Bar. The two computers there looked admittedly pretty worn down, and service is charged by the hour. (A cheaper option is the Internet café in the plaza just down the street.) The Wi-Fi is free in the lobby for those who have a wireless laptop, and the connection is fantastic. But finding an outlet for a computer can be difficult.
The loud music that blares from the beach speaker into the evening and the 24-hour sports bar gear this resort toward a young party crowd, instead of families. But kids are welcome.
At the beach, a manmade barrier breaks the bigger waves, making the shallow waters safe for kids.
The Coralin Kid's Club looks like a Caribbean hut for Smurfs. Inside the little one-room house, a staff member supervises over the kid-size pool table, foosball table, and board games. To the right of the house, another multicolored gate surrounds the . Kids also have a fantastic time with the kid-size basketball nets.
There’s a Kid Disco each night. It's a pretty low-key affair, with Chocolate Friends inviting kids up on stage at the theater to do the hokey-pokey and Mexican hat dance. (Strains of "the hooooooookey hokey pokey" can be heard throughout the main complex.)
Guests can reserve a babysitter though the concierge, although guest services will need some advance notice (the afternoon before is fine). It's charged by the hour.
The common areas -- the pools and lounge chairs, in particular -- are very well-cleaned.
Rooms, having been renovated in 2012, are in good condition.
Fantasticat the Mexican à la carte and always-warm buffet -- pretty good for the price of the hotel.
Costa Caribe Coral offers one buffet (Ambar) serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner; an all-night snack bar near the beach ( ); and three à la cartes open for dinner on opposite days: , , and , serving Dominican, Tex-Mex, and Italian, respectively.
Overall, the food at Costa Caribe Coral is good, but considering the price of the resort, the food is amazing. The buffet, though not the biggest, offers delicious warm croissants, fresh fruit, and a grill station daily. At the Santa Fe Grill, there’s a made-to-order taco and burrito station with fresh cilantro and a tasty black bean filling. The Italian à la carte, the Rigoletto Pasta Bar, offers one of the only make-your-own Caesar salad stations in the D.R. -- with the dressing kept cold on ice.
After a long night (and day) of drinking, Mango’s all-night snack bar hits the spot. Though, with its fluorescent lighting and sad-looking hot dogs, it’s really only appreciated by kids and drunken adults.
Most cocktails come from the Slushee machine, but they make 'em strong and there are tons of options.
Almost all tropical drinks involve at least a tap from those hard-working Slushee machines. This even included a caipirinha: The bartender muddled up some lime with the end of a Tabasco bottle, then added some of the lemon Slushee mixture and the rum. Costa Caribe's piña colada has its own Slushee machine, although it was a far better mix than other pre-made versions.
There are no watered down drinks here, but liquor is all generic-brand, except at theand at the 24-hour if guests want to pay extra. Drinks at the casino bar are not included. Premium brands include Absolut, Stoli, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray, Johnny Walker Red and Black, and after dinner liqueurs like Tia Maria and Galliano.
The house wine, cocktails, and beer are free, but the wine is pretty bitter. Fortunately, guests at an all-inclusive have limitless drink options.
Unlike most resorts, the Costa Caribe has a 24-hour sports bar, located right off the main lobby through two bamboo doors with baseball bats. There’re a few TVs, pool tables, and a poster of Tiger Woods, but there's little to distinguish this as a sports bar. It's more like the bar everyone heads to late at night when the other bars are closed. The bar leads into the discotheque, a green checkered dance floor roped off with bamboo sticks. When the locals hit it on the weekends, the party really begins.
Designed for partiers on a budget, this Juan Dolio sports bar, an all-night snack bar, a , and a weekend that even locals frequent. Rooms (renovated in 2012) are generic, and the clean, shallow-water beach doesn’t compare to those in Punta Cana or La Romana. But the superior food makes this place a pretty good deal.has a 24-hour