Dominican Republic – Punta Cana

Dominican Republic - Punta CanaI was recently in need of some much deserved R&R and I really wanted to that on a beach. I wasn’t fussy. I just wanted somewhere I could reach for a cocktail easily and wander into the sea at my leisure. After some research on weather, fabulous beaches and price. My friend and I decided on Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

We flew directly into Punta Cana international airport. it is one of the  busiest and best connected airports in the Caribbean. Grupo Puntacana built the Punta Cana International Airport in 1984 to facilitate tourism in the area. It is the world’s first privately owned international airport.

Climate in Punta Cana

The weather is consistent all year with an average temperature of 30 °C (86 °F). The hot and humid season lasts from May to October. During the day temperatures might reach 35 °C (95 °F). From November to March temperatures during the evening are around 20 °C (68 °F). Very little rain falls around the area of Punta Cana primarily because of the mostly flat landscape, a combination of savanna and mountains.

Upon arrival at Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic. We proceeded to passport control. It took about an hour to clear and then we found our bags. At this point we were accosted by several people vying for the business of transporting us to our hotel. We hadn’t booked transportation but were hastily herded to the outdoor taxi area, which by the way is a van that can transport about 10 people. The price was $38 for two. We paid with two $20 bills only to be told that the driver had no change. I would recommend that you purchase local currency before leaving the airport, for just such scenarios. All resorts also have currency exchange facilities. The journey to the resort took about 30 minutes.

Dominican Republic - Punta Cana

Where to stay in Punta Cana

There are many resorts here and we stayed at  the Paradisus Punta Cana. Not to be confused with the Paradisus Palma Real which is also in Punta Cana. We were two single women traveling together and booked through Travelocity. Booking through Travlelocity was OK except they would not guarantee two beds. They advised that we contact the hotel directly a few days before departure.

Dominican Republic - Punta CanaThe resort itself is beautifully apportioned. It has copious amounts of tropical vegetation from tall palm trees to hibiscus throughout. The check in experience was very disorganized. The party checking in before us received great service. The resort was explained in great detail. We, on the other hand had were given our keys, a map and vague directions to the shuttle service that would transport us to our room. Our room was situated at the last stop in the shuttle located at the Gabi restaurant. The beach was a few steps from the room and it is idyllic. The hotel provides sun loungers, shade areas, large double loungers both with and without shade. The Gabi bar and The Naos restaurant is where you will eat breakfast and lunch. Both are located within steps of the beach. Be warned that depending on your room’s location you may have to take the shuttle to the beach daily. The shuttle leaves from the lobby every 10 minutes. Having read many reviews. I have to add that you MUST make reservations for dinner as soon as you arrive. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Dinner is by reservation only and there are no last minute reservations.

Dinner reservations at Paradisus Punta Cana

Make all your dinner reservations at the same time and get the bloody thing over with. You cannot decide on the night you want to eat so there is no room for spontaneity. If you don’t book ahead all restaurants will be full and you will be out of luck. Our room was smelly due presumably it’s Oceanside location.  It smelled a bit moldy, but only after we initially entered the room.  Thereafter we didn’t notice it much at all.  Proximity to the beach was fantastic. It would have been a different experience if we had to get the shuttle daily. Being an all inclusive resort food and alcohol are naturally included – top shelf liquor readily available. The food is great I must add. Mole restaurant was very good but  avoid Vento at all costs. The Grill was also good. We had a reservation at Fuego however after an afternoon by the pool and several mamajuanas we didn’t make it and that was the end of our reservation!

What to do at Punta Cana?

We took the safari tour of the island. This was OK but I’m not sure why it was called a safari. I’ve been on safari, this wasn’t close. The tour was a bit contrived and targeted towards American tourists. Those who don’t travel much and don’t mind cheesy. It wasn’t authentic and we regretted going. The only good part was seeing the cocoa, coffee, mango’s, avocados and citrus growing. This was a full day’s trip and while it was nice to see the local towns and villages the tour crew were not that engaged. The tour guide spoke several languages. One of which he claimed was English. I can’t substantiate that as I couldn’t understand a word he said. My advice is find a local guide who speaks English and do not book via the hotel. Its a rip off.

Tours from Punta Cana

We took the Santa Domingo trip. Booked an outdoor massage and a snorkel trip.  Overall it was a good vacation and I would go back but I would follow the above directions and get specific confirmations while booking rooms.

My friend Liz Singleton wrote this review.  Liz lives in Virginia and works in Washington. Originally from Dublin Ireland she is quite possibly the funniest person I know.

I have included some links to make booking your trip easier. The limo service will save the hassle she had at the airport. The other links will give you better options on tours. She went with ones the hotel recommended. I never do that so I’m not surprised she was disappointed. Also there is a link that will give you some information on accommodation.

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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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