The tiny village of Sousa, in the Dominican Republic, is wedged between two popular resort communities, Puerto Plata and Cabarete. Though somewhat overshadowed by its neighbors, Sousa is becoming more competitive in the tourist market and is attracting more visitors in the process.
Sousa’s personality is completely laid-back. European tourists, as well as Canadians, Americans, young families, and baby boomers, frequently visit the area. Local residents are extremely friendly and hospitable, and always welcome visitors warmly.
Sousa is uniquely divided into two neighborhoods that are separated by the kilometer-long Playa Sousa Beach. Los Charamicos, in the west, is primarily a poor residential community and home to most of Sousa’s locals. But El Batey in the east is an idyllic haven where tourists come to play.
Sousa first received notoriety during the 1940’s when European Jews, eager to escape persecution under Nazi Germany, settled in the area. The community prospered and the economy soared thanks to the successful dairy and livestock industries started by the Jews.
Few Jewish families live in Sousa today and some remnants of the past still remain. The only synagogue in Sousa, an original one-room building, has withstood the test of time. However, with changing times, the synagogue does appear to be out of place among new, modern establishments. Over the years, the area has become more heavily influenced by Spanish culture rather than Jewish.
During the late 1970’s, Sousa really made its mark as a tourist destination. Real estate developer’s, who were eager to take advantage of the country’s prosperity, built an influx of hotels, restaurants, and stores. Soon after, tourists flocked to the area and they’ve been coming ever since.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle at home, Sousa offers great beaches to relax and do absolutely nothing. More active adventures can be had, however, if you love water sports. Lessons and equipment are available for snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, and sailing. If you’re already a pro, equipment can be rented cheaply and then you’re good to go. Kids will love frolicking at the small aquapark.
Back on dry land, you cannot return home without a trip to the Gypsy Ranch riding stable. For four hours, you can take equestrian riding excursions along the beach or through tropical forests.
With a few extra days to explore the island, day trips to the Playa Grande, Puerto Plata or Cabarete, offers additional cultural perspectives. Theses destinations are an hour’s minibus ride away from Sousa. Consider renting a car; this offers more convenience, and comfort.
Traveling from Sousa on your day outings, you’ll come across botanical gardens, restored plantations, old settlements, more beaches, and a rum factory (yes, free tastings). Numerous shops and stalls that sell beachwear and souvenirs, line the main streets. It’s customary to bargain with the vendors for lower prices.
Sousa offers something for everyone beyond just first impressions. For lively fun and entertainment, you can’t escape the music and dance phenomenon here – it’s a big part of the culture. So is baseball, which is a national pastime. You can always find games in progress. Visitors are welcome to join in or just enjoy the fun from the sidelines.