My Trip and Tips: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
I recently went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for a Mother/ Daughter trip. I had a blast and here are a few things that I learned from my visit that could help you when you go.
We flew into the Punta Cana International Airport and stayed at the Ocean Blue and Sand Hotel. The hotel was only about a 20 minute drive from the airport. However, we spoke to a couple whose resort was 2 hours away from the airport they flew into. Before booking a hotel, I definitely recommend looking up the distance from the hotel to the airport you’ll be flying into, especially if you’re travelling with small children.
My mom chose to book us a private van, which I had never done in the past because I didn’t think it would be worth the extra cost. I was so wrong. In the past, I’ve shared a van with others; and when you do that, you run the risk of their resort being before yours. Which means you have to sit in the van and travel from resort to resort dropping everyone off. Once my husband and I were the last stop, and after dropping everyone else off, the driver even stopped to pick up a snack. Our 45 minute drive ended up taking hours. If you can afford a private vehicle, I would recommend it. However, if you can’t, sharing a van is a nice way to see parts of the city that you normally wouldn’t.
Ocean Blue is an all-inclusive resort, which in my opinion is the best way to travel. Knowing that all the food, drinks, and hotel activities are already paid for makes the trip way less stressful and more enjoyable. As I walked around the grounds, the main word that came to mind to describe this resort was ‘charming’. It looked like a cute little community, think Gilmore Girls with a city twist. It actually reminded me of a section of student housing at my Alma Mater, the University of Central Florida, which may explain why I felt so at home there. As you walk through the beautiful lobby you can see the restaurants lined up in the front with the best décor. They have a few ponds which house several ducks and other birds. My kids weren’t with me, but I know they would’ve loved that aspect of the resort.
The rooms were spacious, however very outdated. Our tub and door were in need of repair and although I loved the color palette of the outside, it was obvious that a touch up of paint was in order. The resort is currently undergoing renovations, so I assume all of these things will be taken care of shortly.
The pool area was great. They have two pools, both equipped with swim-up bars and Jacuzzi spas. The resort has several activities that take place in and by the pool. We participated in water aerobics and Zumba. The water aerobics was slow-paced and very laidback, great for a beginner or anyone in need of a good stretch. Zumba was fun and led by the only female member of the crew in charge of adult activities. Ladies, if you go, I highly recommend taking any classes led by her, if for no other reason, than to show a fellow sister some support. Her name is Chocolate and she is the sweetest!
The beach was never crowded and the water is amazingly clear there. The pictures below don’t do the beach justice though. I didn’t want to stand in front of everyone in the water because taking pictures by yourself is awkward enough without an audience, so we went over to the seaweed-infested area. I definitely suggest sucking it up and being awkward with an audience for a good picture.
The resort offers several activities during the day curious of Punta Cana Best Excursions. Our first full day there we took the bike tour. This is a must. The tour guide takes you around the town and stops at a local shopping center. The shopping center has tons of souvenirs at great prices. If you plan on shopping make sure to get a bike with a basket, so you can easily transport your goods back. I wouldn’t recommend the bike tour for young children or anyone not comfortable on a bicycle. The tour goes through traffic and the bikes are old and some malfunctioned. For example, my chain popped off and I could easily see a child being injured if that were to happen to them. For experienced riders, it is a great experience and the best city tour I’ve had.
At the risk of sounding like an 80-year-old woman, one of my favorite things to do on vacation is play bingo. All of the resorts and cruise ships where I’ve stayed have had Bingo at night, but this resort does it the best. The hosts are hilarious and the prizes are good. We played Bingo every night and one night my sister and I skipped out on dessert just to make sure we made it to Bingo on time. Party animals over here! Haha! I just got a new camera and we were trying to figure out the flash during these next photos. The photos are dark and blurry, but Bingo was amazing and I felt like it needed to be documented.
We kept winning when the prize was alcohol. But they had plenty of non-alcoholic prizes that you could trade for after.
The resort has a dance club that played really good music. The night we went, it legit looked like a teen club, so we didn’t stay long. We had a lot of fun for the short time we were there though. Another thing to try out at the resort are the restaurants. My favorite was the Japanese restaurant, but they were all really good. The restaurants open at 6pm, and if you get there before 7 you don’t have to wait at all. Any time after that and the wait could be up to an hour.
Right by the resort is a fun shopping area. It has all of the same souvenirs you would buy in town and the owners are willing to negotiate, so you can be sure to get the best prices. They start the prices super high, so haggling is a must. Most of the owners are kind, and although they want to make as much profit as possible, they understand that the goal shouldn’t be to completely rip you off. However, during this trip I ran into my first not-so-kind salesmen. These men will try to make you feel bad for wanting a good deal and if anyone does that to you, it’s time to hit them with a ,”Bye Felicia.” No shop is going to be selling anything that you can’t find at the shop next door to them, or EBay if you search long enough. Souvenir shopping is supposed to be enjoyable and haggling is half the fun.
The best part about the shops in the Dominican, in my opinion, is the artwork. I was in heaven and literally spent hours looking at paintings. All of the paintings are done on canvases. They detach the canvas from the frame and roll it up so you can take as many home as you’d like.
Friendly tip: They have a lot of similar paintings, but some are of a higher quality. The salesmen I talked to loved to explain why one was so much better than the other. Find two similar paintings that you like and pretend to be interested in the higher quality one. The owner will go on and on about how the higher quality one is amazing and the other one is crap. Once he’s dissed the lower quality painting enough and put a low price on it, decide to buy that one.
During our stay we visited the Bravaro Adventure Park and went on a snorkeling trip. Click Punta Cana Best Excursions to contact the excursion company we use.