Dominican Republic in Photos
Learn to Roast Chocolate at a Women's CollectiveThe new Fathom cruise line has partnered with a women’s collective that makes chocolate in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. Visitors can roast beans and mold bars. All purchases support the collective. Free with fare.
A Punta Cana View for Two
While I've never had the urge to parasail myself, hundreds of visitors take to the skies daily above the blindingly-white sand beaches.
Since I can't confirm from personal experience, I feel that the best part of Punta Cana parasailing has nothing to do with the thrill of flying; instead, it seems that the ultimate benefit of the lofty position is the view that stretches the length of the coast.
Here, from this silent vantage point hundreds of feet in the air, the tropical tableau of Caribbean resort life is stretched out beneath your wiggling bare feet.
Eating Like a Local in Cabarete
At this roadside restaurant in the town of Cabarete, two lunch time patrons discuss tales of normal life in a dimly-lit eatery where few travelers venture. Flanked by colors which jump from the walls, it’s a telling display of Dominican vibrancy.
As with every destination in the world, to truly get a sense of authentic culture you must leave the comforts of the modern resort and hang with locals on little-known sidestreets to feel the pulse of resident life.
The beach itself is wide, golden and lined with an array of eateries. But it's also known around the world as one of the best places to windsurf (June welcomes an international competition here). Even if you aren’t a practitioner of the sport, you can relax on the sand and gaze at the pros as they surf, swirl and jump over the waves. Kiteboarding, windsurfing’s more airborne sister, has also taken off in the area.
Coconut Refreshment on Playa Las Terrenas
Put a Smile on Your Face at Parrilla Luis
That doesn't just happen for no reason.
Ok sure, maybe the pre-dinner rums may have a little to do with it, but mostly that beaming demeanor is thanks to some killer local Dominican Republic cuisine in the form of BBQ chicken, rice & peas, yucca, plantains and salad.
Located just off the main road across from Ocean Dream in the heart of Cabarete, Parrilla Luis is a local spot with a lot to love!
Get Around the Dominican Republic Like a Local
Motoconchos are definitely a popular and economical way for locals to get around. Just be extra, extra careful should you hire your own.
The Hasty Retreat
Here was the view from my tent! Perched on top of 150' bluff overlooking a pounding sea, the Atlantic Ocean didn't lull me into sleep every night. The last few days were spent under full moon nights. And when a truly big wave would hit the bluff, compressed air would blow through vents in the stone, sounding like a surfacing humpback whale (which I spotted off the coast--they come to the Samana to calve.)
I awoke on my final morning (I'd planned to break camp and catch the "guagua" to town, then a bus back to Santo Domingo) to torrential rains! I dashed around like a madman in a bathing suit, trying to extract all my belongings. It was so over-the-top ludicrous, that I just had to laugh out-loud. All my anxiety about keeping my stuff safe & dry washed away in the rainstorm.
Sometimes "losing control" is the best thing that can happen on a travel. It keeps you real.
Dominican from Above
World Class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Dojo
Glimpses of the Dominican Republic
Wake boarding up River
Dune buggy Punta Cana!
Other things to note:
- All-inclusive is pretty much the only option here. If food is a big part of your travel experience Punta Cana will disappoint you - be forewarned....
- AMEN for bug wipes and sunglasses (though not intense in November the sunlight is oddly bright white)!
- Be prepared to pay $10 pp entry fee at the airport. Our resort was a 40 min. drive and I assume all the others are the same in that you are locked in. There's no where else to go walking distance (hence the all-inclusive).
- The people are friendly and love to sing but hardly speak English (in fact I was amazed at how many non-english speaking tourists there were also!). Our resort, casino, market etc used american dollars though. And hotel itself was very kid friendly.
- The beach sand rivals Destin's (#1 on my beach list) but riptide was too strong for me to enjoy the ocean.
Lastly, when departing, getting to the airport and airport itself is MADDENING. I very strongly recommend you use a taxi instead of bus transport (we reserved 3 hours in advance and still barely made it).
The Country Life - Essence of the DR
The farm life in the DR is like that of the farm life in many places of the world. There is seldom electricity, the water comes from the rivers and you live off of the land. You get what you give.
From my experience this creates an authentic person. Not changed by the outside world and connected completely to nature, if you're looking to see some true culture you go to the mountains, rivers and deserted places where few people live.
What I plan to do....
Typically windsurfers here use a 5.5M sail and 100L board. You should be able to rent equipment somewhere but given the fact that it is not the most popular sport here you should try to check with your hotel prior to coming to Punta Cana if you will be able to get any windsurfing equipment and/or lessons nearby. Club Med is one of the places in Punta Cana that does have windsurfs available.