While a trip to a faux-16th-century Italian-Spanish village created by a Paramount movie-set designer won’t exactly give you a window into Dominican culture, Altos de Chavón has some redeeming qualities, especially the excellent views of the Río Chavón (a scene from the film Apocalypse Now was filmed here). There’s a handsome church, a small but well-done pre-Columbian museum, a good Italian restaurant and a 5000-seat amphitheater, which attracts big-name performers – Frank Sinatra did the inaugural gig here.
Altos de Chavón was created in the 1970s and is part of the Casa de Campo resort complex. Most tourists visit by the busload in the morning and early afternoon as part of a group tour from resorts around Bayahibe and Bávaro/Punta Cana, but it can be visited independently.
Motoconchos are prohibited from entering the area. If you’re driving from La Romana, take the main road past the gated entrance to Casa de Campo and continue for 5km until the turnoff on your right, marked with a small ‘Altos de Chavón’ sign. A round-trip cab from La Romana costs around US$30 with an hour’s wait. Other tourists arrive at the end of a group tour to Isla Catalina; the 250 steps from the pier to the top of the bluff can be challenging for some.