Destination: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Part Two
Date: February 2013
During our recent visit to the Dominican Republic we had a chance to go on two amazing tours. One was called the Floating Paradise Excursion. As described in the flyer it says “Take this unique excursion where you will relax on a floating island and discover marine life at the best place in Punta Cana. Have a great snorkeling tour on the reef or spend all the time you want admiring the behavior of our sharks.” This tour was booked through a great company called Connect Travel. This is something that can be booked online or there at the hotel. We actually booked this half day excursion in the morning, and went on the excursion that same afternoon.
This excursion started about forty minutes from our hotel. I’d recommend renting a taxi for a quicker trip because we had to stop at three other hotels to pick up guests on our way. When we arrived at the starting point of this trip we were quickly put on boats and taken out to a big deck that has been built in the open water of the Atlantic. With lounge chairs for about sixty people we were all settled and given twenty minute massages, an opportunity to snorkel with sharks, and many other water activities. They had paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkeling equipment that was all provided. There were even an assortment of light snacks and drinks.
Our group had fun enjoying the snorkeling and the massages. The day we took this tour it was a little windy so going paddle boarding or kayaking wasn’t very tempting for me. I do think we had a lot of fun on this excursion since we had about twenty people in our immediate group join us. If it had been just a couples trip I think we would have had more fun back at the resort. When all of us got done doing the activities one of our group members “A” got the tour director to put her iPod on the speaker system and soon a small dance party broke out. Though it was only a four hour excursion I would recommend them cutting this one down to just three hours.
The company Connect Travel has so many excursions to choose from while on the island. This is one country that has done an excellent job in their tourism department. The tours here are well done and felt very safe. I would definitely recommend doing any of the excursions that this company provides. Some examples of these tours are Escape in a Catamaran, a Day trip to Santo Domingo, Helicopter Tours, Taino Cultural Tour, Deep Sea Fishing, Whale Watching, Suring Lessons, Segway Caribe Eco Tour, Speed boats and Snuba, Dolphin Encounter, Jungle Rally, Zip-line tour, and a Marine Encounter. Just to name a few! 😉
We were picked up by an open aired bus by our tour guide Willis. As a local he spent time in the US so he spoke perfect English. He admitted he didn’t know everything about the DR but he had gone to school for two years so he could become a tour guide so he did know quite a bit. Our first stop on the tour was an unexpected stop for our group. We stopped at a Dominican Ranch and went horseback riding. Since I was wearing a skirt I was very surprised but seemed to improvise a way to make it work.
We jumped on our horse, sadly they all looked malnourished, and headed out on a short trail ride. It wasn’t very long but long enough for us to have some laughs. My horse I nicknamed “Enferma” was a short red Quarter horse that looked like she needed a holiday much more than I did, but we got along well and she survived our ride.
After our stop at the ranch, we were off to a typical Dominican home to see how cocoa is made into chocolate. The house was small as I anticipated with the kitchen detached to cut down on the risk of fires. The best part about it was how clean the woman kept her small living quarters. One thing I noticed right away was the small bar she had hanging in the corner of her bamboo house that hung about six or seven outfits. All of her clothes were right there with no special closet and no extra shoes. How foolish I felt complainign about the size of my closet! Never again!!!
Here we had a chance to learn about how they make so many local plants into different spices and buy a few of their organic products. I couldn’t help but pick up some hot chocolate mixes, clear vanilla, honey, lotion, and cinnamon. We even had a chance to meet their rooster that they enter in cock fights that are very popular down in the DR.
The next stop on this cultural tour was to a sugar cane processing exhibit. I dare not call it a plant because it was so rustic. They did a great job at showing the ever changing process of extracting the sugar water from the cane, like they did back in the early days to today. I enjoyed sucking on the cane that was cut straight from the ground during our visit. We also saw how they make rum and cigars, we bought a few locally handmade trinkets and Trent had a chance for a photo op with a cute little donkey.
Our last stop of the day was to Macau Beach. This was a much more active beach than the Melia Beach back at the hotel. The waves coming in were strong, and the undertow was even stronger. Trent had a chance to do some body surfing with other members of the group and I did a little wading, but quickly decided the shoreline was a safer place for me. I was grateful to go to this beach just to see how different the water was here. There weren’t any hotels close by but I’m sure during my next stay in the DR this beach will probably be littered with them.
The Dominican Republic had never really been on my radar before suggested by our BYU group. I was glad to have had a chance to visit this beautiful island that has beautiful vistas from every angle. It is well worth a visit
Safe & Happy Travels!!!