I recently visited the Dominican Republic on a spontaneous vacation. I stayed with friends in Santiago, the second most populated city in the country in the northern region, two hours inland from the ocean. Being a mainland American, I simply could not visit the Caribbean without spending some time on the beach. After a full day of searching, we finally managed to get a hold of a rental car. (It was a holiday weekend–holy week, to be exact–meaning rental cars were high in demand and short in supply). We rounded the troops and embarked on a two hour car ride to the beach town of Puerto Plata. There were plenty of adventures along the way, though. We were pulled over by the national police (for suspicion of transporting bombs, no less) and sampled some of the local fare at a roadside seafood restaurant. When we finally arrived hours later, we set off for the beach, and enjoyed a sunny day on the sand. Watch the slideshow here.