My idea of the perfect vacation often does not consist of palm trees, white sands, and blue waters. I’m a city girl through and through. However, after my recent trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I might be having a change of heart.
After landing in the newly renovated Punta Cana airport, we hopped on a bus for the 15-minute drive to Cap Cana for some lunch. Cap Cana is a slightly more luxurious area of the Dominican coast with beautiful beaches and lots of adventure. After lunch, we drove an hour or so to La Romana, where we would be staying for the next 2 days. La Romana is much less touristy than Punta Cana since it is located further down the coast, about halfway between Punta Cana and the capital city of Santo Domingo. We met our local guide, Smith, who would be with us for the duration of the week. During the drive, Smith taught us a little bit of the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. We were all excited to learn about their most popular domestic beer, Presidente, and their signature local drink concoction of red wine and rum, aged in wood, with honey and spices, called Mama Juana. I can confirm, it is delicious!
The following day was our fun excursion day at Saona Island. We were dropped off at the port where we were greeted by locals selling everything from waterproof phone cases to photographs with monkeys and iguanas. Then, we boarded our catamaran, complete with an open bar. The weather was a bit cloudy to start with, but the sun came right out as soon as we made our first stop to snorkel. I had never been snorkeling before and was pleasantly surprised by how fun it was to see the variety of fish swimming below me. Once back on the catamaran, drinks were shared, and the staff began to teach us dances to local music. It was a blast! We lost the sun again but conveniently it reappeared when we made our second stop to swim at a sand bar, where we hunted for starfish. The boat ride from the sand bar to Saona Island consisted of a brief rainstorm but many more drinks and a lot more dancing. In true fashion, the sun returned once we reached the island and stayed for the remainder of the day. Saona Island, now a national park, is a mostly deserted island, off the southern tip of the Dominican Republic. There once was a small population living on the island, but the government forced them to move to the mainland in recent years, due to a fear that they would be unable to send help to the remote island should it ever be in the path of a hurricane. Now, a small portion of the beach is utilized for excursion groups, while the remainder of the island is left untouched. The natural beauty of this island is absolutely postcard picture worthy. Once on the island, we were treated to a delicious lunch of grilled lobster and chicken. The rest of the day was spent lounging on the beach with the occasional dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The following three days of our trip were spent back in Punta Cana. I had the pleasure of visiting many resorts in the area while there. On the final day of our trip, we ventured back to Cap Cana and visited the Scape Park. Scape Park has everything to offer from zip lining to horseback riding. Zip lining was first on our itinerary. The zip line ends in a pool so swimsuits were proper attire; however, I would recommend wearing shorts overtop your swimsuit as the safety harness is quite tight. We were not prepared for how physical this zipline course would be. There are twelve different lines you zip through and there are various terrains you need to cross in order to get from one line to the next. You will definitely want some type of water shoe, with a sole, to complete this course. After the zip line, we chose to try the Hoyo Azul. The Hoyo Azul is a small natural pool hidden in a cave. The water in this pool is the bluest water I have ever seen in my life. It’s absolutely beautiful. They have a platform you can jump or dive off if you’re adventurous. If heights aren’t your thing, you can take some steps down and get into the pool that way. All in all, Scape Park was pretty awesome.
I now have a much deeper appreciation for the people of the Dominican Republic. Everyone is very kind, the food is delicious, and the weather is always gorgeous. If you get a chance to visit, you definitely won’t regret it!