April 23, 2017

    The nightlife here in the Colonial Zone is pretty great! You’ll find plenty of bars playing tropical music that are great for dancing (classics like Parada 77 and Onno’s), but there’s also lots of interesting spots for just hanging out with friends. Here’s a few suggestions (in random order) for an alternative night out in…

March 22, 2017

We’ve enjoyed the process of turning Island Life into a colonial building with potential, to a fully-fledged, award-winning backpacker paradise. But of course, the road to success hasn’t been easy. Chris, of the English owners of Island Life Backpackers’, always gets asked for tips by both guests and backpackers on exactly  how to open a…

March 13, 2017

Dominican Republic’s capital city has attractions to entertain all interests and if you fancy some day trips in Santo Domingo, the good news is you’re spoilt for choice. In fact, the city is perfectly situated to allow you to organize  several exciting excursions, whether you’re into beaches or historical sites. Here are five of the…

March 13, 2017

We don’t want to brag, but we have to say that the Dominican Republic is an amazing country; we’ve got a diverse and beautiful landscape, eclectic food and music all over the island and a culture infused with African, Spanish and Asian influences; it’s no wonder that more and more tourists are heading here. But…

March 10, 2017

Staying in a hostel is a heap of fun; you make friends from all corners of the globe, open your mind to new ways of thinking and inevitably, end up with the travel bug. But hostel life isn’t without its challenges sometimes, too. When sharing your space with strangers there’s bound to be a few ups…

March 6, 2017

Santo Domingo is a captivating, energetic city f (we should know, we’ve lived and worked here for a number of years now!) which boasts a mixture of Spanish, African, French and Asian culture. But it’s the history of the city that’s really interesting to learn about. Not only is it the oldest city of the…

March 6, 2017

Whether you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the Dominican Republic’s eclectic music and dance scene or, sample the city’s culinary delights, or  explore the museums, history and culture of Ciudad Colonial (the colonial zone), the oldest European settlement of the New World, Santo Domingo has something free to impress all its visitors. Here is our pick of…

March 5, 2017

The Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo is bustling with equal parts colonial charm, bars and people (it’s the busiest city in the Caribbean in terms of population!). Although the best beaches are accessible only by a 45-minute bus, Santo Domingo boasts so much more; impressive historical sites and palaces aplenty, clubs buzzing to…

March 4, 2017

So you’ve booked your ticket to the hot and lively metropolis of Santo Domingo and you’re excited to uncover all the colonial charm that the DR’s capital has to offer. But if it’s your first time heading to the area, you may be unsure of what to bring, what to expect or, if you can…

March 4, 2017

Santo Domingo is the Dominican Republic’s vibrant capital and was the first city founded in the Americas back in 1496. Defined by its Spanish, African and Asian influences, today it’s something of a backpacker haven — but what’s the safety in Santo Domingo like? Well, the city is well-known for its rich historic centre (Zona…

October 20, 2014

Tomorrow is Island Life Backpackers’ Hostels 3-month anniversary; time has flown by! The plan was to open in off season and be able to finish everything when we were quiet. It has been the opposite – we have been really busy and it has been amazing! We have had travellers from all over the world…

July 26, 2014

We are open! Ok we opened over a week ago and I am a bit late on the blog but I have been really busy getting everything ready. I thought being as it was off season and that we just opened that it would take a few weeks before we started to get bookings. Almost…

July 2, 2014

Well I have decided to change the opening date to the 11th July… that is when we have our first bookings so it kind of made sense to push the opening date back until then. I still have a lot of little jobs that need completing before opening and the extra 11 days will allow…

June 16, 2014

Being as I started the countdown last week I thought I better update each week now… There is a hell of a lot of work to be done in such a short space of time. But the good news is the dorm rooms are almost ready and looking good. All I have left to do…

June 7, 2014

It’s getting close to the opening date and the place is still a little way off being ready. I am focusing on upstairs at the moment as that’s where all the rooms are so worst case scenario the bar will not be ready by the 1st July but it will be close. I have now…

May 12, 2014

So back to work after letting the cat out of the bag with the property becoming Island Life Backpackers’ Hostel. It’s been a couple of weeks of getting lots of little jobs out of the way. Well let’s start with something fun. I have been looking for a pool table to go in the bar…

April 24, 2014

A lot of people have been asking me why I am restoring this Colonial property and what I am going to do with it. Well now is the time to reveal all. It was a dream of mine from a young age to travel, I just wanted to get out and see the world but…

April 14, 2014

Ok, it has been a while since my last post. I realized the other day that it is getting close to a year that I started work on this project – time really does fly. When I started I targeted a very optimistic 6 – 8 months’ completion time – obviously that was not even…

March 22, 2014

I thought I would sit down and update my blog tonight thinking I would have loads to update on – I am absolutely shattered after the last couple of weeks working on the project but I am sitting here thinking it doesn’t look like we have done much! I know that’s not the case but…

March 6, 2014

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks… It has mostly been finishing touches which is the best part. The hot tub is now complete! Well when I say complete I have not filled it with water yet or connected the pump but I have to say it looks pretty good. This was…

February 17, 2014

I know I know… It has been a while but we have been getting lots completed. We had started the hot tub in the last post and now all the building work is complete and is just waiting to be tiled. It was a bit interesting building the hot tub as I have never done…

January 20, 2014

Well there is a new year’s resolution broken… I said I was going to blog every week, but never mind there is also next year hey. It has been a bit of an interesting couple of weeks actually – lots of work going on in different areas… where do I start? We decided on a…

January 1, 2014

I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and hope you all had a great Christmas. Speaking of the new year one of my new year’s resolutions is to keep up with my blog on a weekly basis… but then again new year’s resolutions are there to be broken! But I will try…

December 15, 2013

Last week I had started to build the outside kitchen and I am happy to say it is now 99% finished. I had a bit of a problem with the roof tiles leaking which involved me having to remove them all (breaking a lot in the process) and having to re-lay them but at least…

November 29, 2013

So yet again I have to apologize for the long wait between posts. I was working 16 hour days to finish our area so we could move in. I had a deadline as my mum was coming to stay and we only just made it. We moved in the day before – it was a…

November 7, 2013

Yes, again, I have let the blog slip but the good thing is with this update I have lots to report. Good and bad/frustrating. So where do I start… well I will continue from last time. The garden wall is now finished, which was a lot bigger project than expected but now I have a…

October 18, 2013

So I am getting closer to moving in although the tiling did take a bit longer than expected. I am actually really pleased with the finished floors, I have never tiled floors before – or anything else for that matter. So it is one step closer to moving in. There has been a lot of…

October 3, 2013

I have been slacking a lot on my blog lately so here is where I am at… The plastering is STILL going on – the amount of cement I have used is unbelievable, I reckon it will be close to 1000 bags once the walls are complete. The end of the plastering is near though,…

September 15, 2013

The rain has stopped which has been a blessing as being up to my ankles in mud was starting to get annoying. I have finished the steps outside my apartment in the back garden which is awesome as I have been waiting sort out the balcony for a while now. The rear balcony although safe…

September 7, 2013

I do not know what is going on but without a doubt I have picked the rainy season to complete this project. My whole garden is full of earth from digging all my channels for the plumbing which is now all mud and running through the house. But I will not let it slow me…

August 27, 2013

You guessed it – time to start the plumbing. Now I knew the pipes were in a bit of a state as all the upstairs plumbing was blocked along with all the drains so I was expecting to replace everything. I got an extra guy in to dig up all the channels for the new…

August 18, 2013

I am really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now. It may not look it from the photos but I have had a really productive couple of weeks. Where shall I start… Well I have finally finished running all the electrical wiring over the whole house – the amount of…

August 15, 2013

Wow, time is flying – I cannot believe it is August already. I am a little behind my planned schedule but still reasonably happy with the progress so far. The walls have turned out to be a bigger task than thought and even more of an expense than planned. You would not believe the amount…

July 24, 2013

I have been waiting for this time for a while… the Roof is 100% finished! All sealed and is water tight – it has been tested with a few big rain showers and no leaks! It looks pretty cool I think; it makes me happy as no more roof work as now I can turn…

July 16, 2013

Oops it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I have to say I am pleased with the progress. It has been an up and down two weeks though – where do I start? Well in my last post I was in the middle of doing the floor and was trying to…

July 3, 2013

Ok this is starting to drive me crazy… when will the rain stop? This is actually the first June I have spent in the country as I am usually in the states for a few months each year and I do not like it! All I need is a week of sun to dry out…

June 25, 2013

So although I said the roof was finished I still haven’t been able to seal it yet as its rainy season here and I need the roof to be really dry before I seal it. It’s almost completely water tight though just a couple of damp walls, but that will all be fixed when its…

June 19, 2013

Finally, I have a new roof! I have been waiting for this for a long time. It has taken slightly longer than calculated and also a little more money but I now have a roof. The guys have been working really hard. The bricks were laid on the other side of the roof and the…

June 9, 2013

Ok my 3-week timescale to finish the roof may have been a bit optimistic… although this are looking good… I would say we are about seven days away from completion. To be honest though in that timescale we have also started other projects. The cistern is almost complete and we just need to poor the…

June 4, 2013

I keep saying to people that the restoration is going slow and get frustrated through the working week but every time I sit down to write the next blog instalment and look at my pictures it makes me see how much we have actually done. Ok it has been a slow week regarding the roof…

May 25, 2013

It’s been a very productive week! Monday saw all of the debris and trash from the roof taken away, I have never seen the place so clear! But that did not last for long as we decided while we were doing the roof we would get some guys in to start work on the cistern….

May 25, 2013

Ok, after getting my permits I have decided to write up a walkthrough for other people if they are ever as crazy as me to undertake a project like this. There are five main steps: 1. Get complete plans drawn up for the property. 2. Get permission from Patrimonio Monumental 3. Get permission from Patrimonio…

May 18, 2013

So week two of putting on the new roof… It has been going well, but very slow at times. Most of the time has been spent cleaning up all the debris from the roof and floor. I did not realize how much there was until we actually had to get rid of it all. It…

May 14, 2013

It was a strange feeling going in to start work on the house, I was almost kind of nervous – it felt like the first day when you get a new job. So the first day was spent getting organized, the workers are going to live in on the property while they are working there…

May 13, 2013

Ok at some point in the future I will post a ‘how to’ page with a walk-through of how to get permits for a property in the Colonial Zone here but more importantly is that I have actually started work! I won’t lie I was beginning to lose hope with the project, not just the…

February 15, 2013

Ok, Ayuntamiento have officially pissed me off. They have lost a set of plans for the project so I had to reprint them all. They keep telling me to come in on a certain date and when I come in just tell me to come in next week. They will not break me though! I…

January 18, 2013

Well it has now been 2 months since we got the approval of the plans from Patrimonio (UNESCO) and we are still waiting on Ayuntamiento. Everyone told me it would take along time to get plans approved but said it would be Patrimonio that would take the time. Ayuntamiento is government run which is is…

January 15, 2013

I have just read back through the blog and it seems more like a travel blog of the Dominican Republic than a blog about restoring a colonial house in Santo Domingo but I did a few fun trips over Christmas. It was a year ago I got married so my mum and a couple of…

December 17, 2012

An unexpected chance came up to go to Las Terrenas as Katherines sister had arranged to go with her friend to Salto del Limón and Las Terrenas but the friend cancelled last minute. So not wanting to see a ticket go to waste I said I would go. I am not usually one for organized…

December 15, 2012

Well what a few weeks! First I will start with the house… In my last post we had just dropped in all the plans to Patrimonio. Now we are almost on first name basis with them in Patrimonio with the amount of times we have been in asking questions. I was told that its a…

November 27, 2012

Finally, I have managed to start clearing up the property! So I arrived with my shovel, brush, gloves and bags… my first thought: I am going to need more bags. It’s hard to explain how much trash and debris there is lying around the place – the pictures do not do it justice. As I…

November 25, 2012

I have been waiting to go to Bahia de las Aguilas for long time but finally we decided to make time and arrange a trip over a weekend. It’s been a busy week with the house and we decided to take a break. Bahia de Las Aguilas is in the South West of the Dominican…

November 19, 2012

I was supposed to get in the house this week to start clearing up but unfortunately the guy looking after our house has been a bit slow in re-homing the 5 dogs that we inherited when we bought the house. I went around on Friday and they were gone… it was sad though as he…

November 18, 2012

Well it’s been a little while since my last post this is where we are… There have been a few developments with the house. The quote came back from the architects that we were going to use to draw up the plans for the house so we can submit them to Patrimonial and apply for…

October 24, 2012

Things are moving forward with the house – a little slower than I wanted but it is to be expected I suppose. I met up with the architects and they gave me a set of conceptual designs based on the brief I had given them. I have to say it is a good feeling to…

October 1, 2012

It’s actually been quite an eventful week, I was not planning on a post quite so soon but I’m sitting on the balcony with a nice blue sky, beer in hand and thought I would fill you in on my week. It was my 30th Birthday over the weekend and I was dreading it. Where…

September 27, 2012

So now we own the property the fun really begins. I am lucky to know someone that is an architect with her own company who has been very helpful with her advice. Now her company doesn’t do projects this small with our budget but she put us in touch with another architect originally from Mexico…

September 26, 2012

So there we were back to square one. The disappointment and stress of losing the last house was tough. At the time it like we had just wasted 5 months but I like to think of it as experience gained. It only made me stronger and more determined to find a property. It was a…

September 25, 2012

You hear about it a lot; a foreigner comes to a exotic land wants to open a bar on the beach and live the rest of his life in the sun – Some make it… some do not. You just have to look on various forums and will find people asking questions about moving to…

September 24, 2012

Hello and welcome to my new blog. The purpose? It has a couple… one is telling the story of how I came to live in the Dominican Republic and what it is like living here and the other is my new project – the renovation of a colonial property in the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo….