The Caribbean’s first LGBTQ property is being built in Puerto Plata

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

Andre Vlok and his husband started traveling from their Dallas home 3to the Dominican Republic in 2016. It wasn’t long until “We decided we wanted a house there,” Vlok said.

Wally Brewster , the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic at the time but who now lives in Dallas, is gay. And at Casa Linda, the Norwegian developer would fly a rainbow flag. Vlok said he felt welcomed and decided to buy there.

“Six months ago, he reached out to me,” Vlok said of the developer. “He had some land and wanted to do something for the LGBT community.”

The developer explained he didn’t want to offend anyone and asked, “Can you help us?” Vlok noted.

Since then, Vlok has been working as a consultant on a new development on the north shore aimed at the LGBTQ market. Known as Connections, it is the first LGBTQ community in the Caribbean.

Billed as a Caribbean oasis for the LGBTQ community and their family and friends, Vlok said about half of the units sold so far have gone to allies. “A French Canadian woman told me she’d rather have gay neighbors than straight,” he said.

The property is geared toward non-Dominicans, with amenities such as all utilities paid from one bill, so there’s no need to deal with Spanish-speaking service providers.

Encuentro Beach is a five-minute walk from Connections and near the town of Cabarete. A coral reef encircles the bay, and beach is known for its white sand, turquoise water and the best surfing in the Caribbean. Kites are also popular on the beach.

Vlok said a car isn’t necessary, because a free shuttle bus will run between Connections and Cabarete to the east and the town of Sosua to the west. And a gay bar will be located on-site.

While he said this was envisioned mostly as a retirement property, half the units already sold have gone to younger people who see it as an investment. Connections has a rental program of its own as well as participating in AirB&B.

Vlok said being able to rent units out when not using them is helping many property owners pay their mortgage.

The property is gated, but the Puerto Plata area is one of the safest in the Dominican Republic — even safest from hurricanes. While hurricanes have torn across Haiti, which shares the island with the D.R., and have hit the southern side of the island, mountains and sea currents have protected this area from getting hit by any severe storms.

The area also has a modern hospital, and healthcare is inexpensive.

Vlok said before thinking about buying in the Caribbean, “We looked for beach property here [in the U.S.]. We couldn’t find anything affordable.” He said his search took him from Galveston to North Carolina and just about everywhere along the coast in between.

The Dominican Republic has a population of about 10 million. Puerto Plata was founded in the 1500s and is surrounded by mountains.

An aerial tramway, the only one in the Caribbean, takes visitors to the top of 2,600-foot Pico Isabel de Torres where there is a botanical garden.

Currently, Vlok said, he gets to his condo in Casa Linda about five times a year.

“After a week there, I feel recharged,” he said.

For more information on purchasing property in the Caribbean’s first LGBTQ development, visit