Punta Cana can be summed up in one word-Heaven! From the plane we could see vast fields, hills and dirt roads. No high rises or any building surpassing two stories, it was more of a rural community. The ocean was a translucent turquoise blue, the sort blue you see in postcards and paintings… absolutely magical.
The airport was a giant hut, with straw roofs and wooden pillars. There was a salsa band playing just next to the customs booth and when we walked into the welcome lounge there were about 100 guys holding up hotel shuttle bus signs. It was probably the only time in Punta Cana where we felt a little overwhelmed – there were people screaming “Taxi, Taxi” and “What hotel are you going to?” and we hadn’t booked a shuttle to the hotel.
Unfortunately, the guy at the information booth was more interested in trying out his Don Juan moves than explaining what taxi service we should use. So, one of the more senior guys took us to an unmarked taxi at the back of parking lot. Exactly what we didn’t want to happen. But as soon as I explained to the driver we weren’t getting in, because his van looked like a 1989 Guerrilla’s kidnapping van, he took out his licence and proudly shoved it in my face. We shut up and got into the van. Turns out Eduardo was legit and a very kind man who loved his Bachata music and in the end he gave us his number so we could give him a call on the day we left.
The resort itself is like a city within itself. There were six restaurants, two pools, the beach, Jacuzzi’s, a gym and little boutique stores (just in case you feel the need to go shopping!). You don’t really need to leave the resort as all food and drink is included. And there are snack bars that served sandwiches, chips, nachos in the event you crave food in between meals. Drinks are available 24/7 and as soon as you hit the pools for some sun, the waiters come around asking if you would like drinks – food you have to fend for yourself, but I guess you have to get up at some point.
There were activities at the resort from 10am until 6pm. We tried most activities to keep us from becoming inanimate objects. We tried some Water Aerobics, Salsa dancing, (make sure your bikini is done up before you try these “Hips-don’t-lie” moves) Darts and Rifle shooting. Jack and Gabe were the “Star Friend Champions” for the Darts and Shooting competitions, while Gus and I won the reverse “Simon Says” game and Karaoke competition respectively. The first night Jack and Gabe competed in one of the shows “Best Iberostar Couple 2011”. They were up against a Chilean, Argentinean and a German couple and (not that we’re biased or anything) had the best dirty dance moves to “Time of our lives”.
Unfortunately, there were one too many Chilean’s there and they were the couple that ended up winning, but Jack and Gabe clearly came in second and were famous for the rest of our stay. People hi-fived them as they walked around the resort!
The next day we decided to leave the resort and discover some more of the Dominican Republic. There was a tour to the Island Santa Catalina, which included some snorkelling and a boat ride to a replica of an ancient Italian city?! The snorkelling was amazing, there were thousands more fish than in Key West and our instructor actually took us to the areas where we could see more sea life. All drinks and lunch were of course included and the island itself was breathtaking. The ancient city was next on the list. It was about a 200 step walk up from where the boat docked, so a work out to say the least . The church on top of the hill, was the one where Michael Jackson had to supposedly marry Lisa Marie Presley, but didn’t. The guide really loved telling us this story… “This church was almost famous!”.
We also did some parasailing when we arrived back into Punta Cana. It was one of the non-inclusive activities that we had to pay for, but we’d wanted to try it forever so it was well worth it – 20 minutes for $90. If you ever want to try it, Punta Cana is definitely the place to do it! You can see the entire resort and beach from the top and it is incredibly peaceful once you’re up in the air.
Punta Cana was unbelievable. Just when you think you are relaxing, in comes a whole new level of relaxation, fun and pampering. I’m writing this blog in 3 degree weather, but we really wish we were back there now. It is and will continue to be my “Happy place”. Oh and in case you’re wondering Eduardo and I are tight now, so if anyone needs a taxi in the Dominican Republic we highly recommend him. We have his number so let us know if you’re interested.
Onto New York…. Or so we thought!
- Pre book a shuttle from the airport to your hotel.
- As hard as it is to peal yourself away from the pool, try to get out and see the ‘real’ Dominican Republic.
- Take lots of US one dollar bills for tipping. Although it’s not required, a dollar goes a long way to ensure you never have to wait for service!
- Learn some basic Spanish – “Dos Margaritas Grandes Por Favor!”
- During April, no matter what the weather forecast is, it’s always sunny and 28 degrees!
- Drunken fools from New Jersey should expect the Alf Stewart treatment