Destination Spotlight: Discovering the DR…Punta Cana
Where is it? 18 degrees 34’4″ N, 68 degrees 21’48” W (approx 800 miles south of Florida, between Cuba and Puerto Rico)
How to Get There: Nonstop flights offered from Atlanta, New York, Miami, Minneapolis, and Newark. Carriers include: Airtran, American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue. Average flight time 3-4 hours.
What it is: Subtropical, Hot, All-Inclusives, Mega Resorts, Mass Tourists (Europeans, Canadians tend to outnumber Americans), Mediocre dining (mostly buffet style), Limited nightlife options (outside of resorts), Topless Beaches, Beautiful women, Spanish Speaking, Championship Golf courses, Fishing charters
What it is not: Luxury resorts (Top notch resorts are not same standard of service as Europe or the U.S.), Exclusive beaches (packed with tourists and straw huts), Luxury shopping, No duty-free shopping, Top notch dining, American hotel chains (Hard Rock Hotel is only)
Ideal for: Families, Spring Breakers, Destination Weddings, and Honeymooners
Best Time to Go: Yearround (June thru Nov is wet season)
Top Resorts: Paradisus, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Excellence (Adults Only), Riu, Secrets, Sivory, Zoetry, Melia, Gran Bahia Principe (where I stayed), Iberostar, Club Med, Dreams
Things I Like Most:
Value Vacation – All-inclusive resorts offer value vacation (all meals, drinks, gratuities included)
Spa services (very affordable)
Availability/Abundance of food and beverages 24/7
Service (resort staff went above and beyond)
Things I did not like:
Mass vacation concept (beaches crowded, dining and entertainment complexes crowded, Spring break atmosphere)
Lack of activities outside of the resort
Resorts are mega-sized, in most cases long distances to get from resort to beach area
Difficulty in getting beach chairs and towels at certain times of the day
Difficulty in communicating with resort staff, very few spoke English
Must secure dining reservations at top tier restaurants well in advance
Airport is small, crowded, and has no air conditioning
Helpful Travel Advice:
1. Prearrange transportation to/from the airport (cabs can be expensive).
2. Carry cash for $10USD Tourist Card fee (per person for both adults & children) paid upon arrival.
3. Brush up on basic Spanish phrases (you will need them).
4. Drink only bottled water! (Do not brush teeth with tap water)
5. Eat carefully (I tended to only eat cooked foods, no salads or uncooked veggies).
6.Carry plenty of sunscreen (sun is intense and most resorts have limited palm trees and shade).
7. Secure dining reservations at top tier restaurants upon check in.
8. Allow 3 hours for airport check-in when leaving the island.
The secret of the DR: Vacation on any budget. The place to relax.