In Las Galeras we rented a bungalow at La Isleta, just 100 meters from the beach. We cooked most of our meals, but ate out one restaurant meal every other day. We had a terrific trip by horse to Playa Madama, Taino caves, and a look out point. We also had a double beach excursion by boat to snorkel at Playa Fronton and to a famous but remote beach, Playa Rincon. We traveled by bus, gua gua, and the occasional motoconcho. Our average daily cost was 106 usd per day. This bottom line could have been considerably cheaper if we didn't splurge on French bread and chocolate croissants every day or eat out. The restaurants were really expensive, especially the ones run by French expats which were ridiculous. At those we paid 35-50 usd for a family meal. The local places, including the fish shack on La Playita, cost us around 20 usd for a family dinner. But still, I would say for the experience we had and the great place we stayed we came out really good.
Santiago turned out to be delightfully inexpensive in terms of food and lodging, compared to the beach. For two rooms at The Colonial we paid 32 usd and meals for the day were about 30 usd. Throw in some souvenirs, admissions to museums and monuments, and average in the costs of gua guas in and out of the city and it looks like around 90 usd per day.
Costs for moncion ran us 105 usd per day for a place to sleep and three meals. Add in the outings we took and all that ice cream and it is more like 125 usd per day.
And on to the capital, Santo Domingo. The hotel we stayed in on arrival, the Green House Aparta Hotel turned out to be kind of a rip off with a 60 usd price tag and 30 usd meals. On the back end of the trip we splurged on the Hotel Palicio for 109 usd per night which includes a fab breakfast buffet and roof top pool set in a restored 1700's colonial mansion. We found very economical places to eat, costing the family 15 for a meal, including drinks. Just order the plate of the day and you will get the best food at the best price.Buying coffee and cigars to take home ran up our budget a bit, but in the end our daily budget for Santo Domingo ran us about 150 usd per day.
All in all we found that the Dominican Republic can be done on a family backpacker budget of 120 usd per day. We used local transport, stayed in small towns, and ate with the locals or cooked in. We did a few special excursions, but not a lot of them. We brought our own bottles of water into restaurants most of the time. We bought low priced souvenirs but splurged on a box of cigars. We stayed in cheap lodging but had a two night splurge at the end of the trip. We went out for ice cream almost every day. The way we traveled this country may not be for everyone, but it was the only way we could realize the dream of a true postcard perfect Carribean vacation.