Punta Cana to me was a destination I only ever dreamt of. I never actually thought of going, it was just there on some part of my brain like a place I’d visit someday in my life. Maybe I thought of it as a place grown ups go to, and since I don’t think of either my husband or I this way, it was on my bucket list of ‘probably most definitely someday’ and that was it. Yet when it was time to pick a destination for our holidays this year I was like, okay but why not let that someday be right now ?
So after thinking it over and looking for all the possibilities offered online, I got sold to the idea, and then slowly began to prepare the itinerary. I wanted to make the most out of our holidays, and since the take off for Punta Cana was from Madrid, I decided we’d do Madrid – Punta Cana and back, and then from there spent the remaining days we had left in Rome.
We’ve never been to Italy before, and that was a good start as any to get acquainted with the country. My initial plan for the summer was the Amalfi Coast, but somewhere along the line the Dominican Republic crossed my mind and I couldn’t get rid of it. Listening to a lot of Cardi B has probably something to do with it. Plus I figured that Italy was closer so we didn’t need a two weeks vacation to go there.
Anyway back to DR, we were flying from Madrid after having spent the week end there and we were extremely excited. Dreams of white sand began clouding my head and by thinking so much about the destination, I almost forgot about the flight ahead of us. That was both our first time in long haul flights and we were so very not prepared. 7 hours and 30 minutes sitting in a plane. 7 hours and 30 minutes. I don’t know if some people get used to it, but it’s a huge ass time to be sitting for. Noting that the flight back lasts 8 h 30. Spinning earth and whatnot.
My advice is to have a fully charged laptop, fully charged phone, books, tv shows ready to be watched, different ones in case you’ll get bored, snacks and probably some sleeping pills. At least that’s what we did on the flight back. It goes a lot smoother.
There’s different ways to go to Punta Cana, you can book a flight ticket directly from Barcelona, FlyLevel (the low cost company of Iberia & British Airlines) offers tickets that can go as low as 400€ for a round trip. You’ll just have to book in advance to benefit from the low prices before they go up. Besides Punta Cana, they offer 3 other long haul routes : San Francisco, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. Obviously anything other than your cabin bag is an add on, but if you’re planning to go in the summer you’ll probably be packing light.
Or you can buy a packaged deal from one of the many agencies online, there are frequent offers on websites like Voyage Prive (make sure to check both the French and Spanish version, there are different offers & different prices), Dominicana Tours, Last Minute, Promovacances and many others. It’s not hard to find all inclusive offers online, you just have to read all the comments about the hotel you put your eyes on on Tripadvisor or Expedia for instance, look at its location on Google maps, and peek through the hashtags on Instagram. You’ll get a pretty exhaustive feedback from people having tried the place, and then you can make your call. You can also choose the city you wanna depart from; we chose Madrid because we’d never been before, and that was a good chance as any to discover the city, but there are lots of departure flights from Barcelona, Paris, London, and many other European cities. Of course if your plan is to road trip through DR, you might just buy a one way ticket to Santo Domingo, rent a car and explore the country and end your trip in PC to enjoy the lazy beach life and take your return ticket from there (I use abbreviations to save time, and I realize now that by explaining it I just wasted more of it).
As soon as we landed in Punta Cana, we instantly felt out of place in the most perfect way. The airport’s roofs are hut shaped, made with actual leaves and surrounded by coconut trees from every part. It felt like we were already in our hotel lobby. And as soon as we were on the actual hotel lobby, I personally felt like every character on every holiday sitcom episode at the end of the season. Damon Wayans and his family going to Hawaii or the Bahamas, the Friends episode in Barbados, Jim and Pam lake scene at the end of season 3. That was near by Scranton, Pennsylvania but still. I was finally a character in a US sitcom. My ultimate dream.
So if you’re planning the perfect farniente vacation, Punta Cana is one of your go to spots. If you wish to disconnect from your big city life, wake up to this sight every morning, and only think about whether to swim on the beach or the swimming pool today, this is it. This is your chance to.
If you decided to buy one of the all inclusive deals, an employee of the agency that will meet you at the airport to take you to your hotel, will come back to offer you all the excursions you can take during your trip. There are also a lot of beach boys that’ll come to you when you’re tanning to try and sell you theirs. Whatever your choice might be, just know that you can bargain. Also make sure you bring dollars, and that there a visa fee you pay before the police control after arriving at the airport and when leaving (10$ at first, and then 20$ when you leave).
There are day trips to Isla Saona, a beautiful secluded island with turquoise water, where you’ll take a catamaran and get to meet the sea population; mostly colorful starfish. A buggy tour, starting with a ride on the buggies, exploring the Dominican countryside, while stopping to meet the locals at the coffee and cacao plantations, and getting to swim in Hoyo Azul, a hidden cenote at the bottom of a cliff. You can also go discover Santo Domingo for a day, the capital, that is filled with historical buildings and feels more city like. Punta Cana being a seaside resort, you are completely disconnected. There’s lot of activities to do, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be a beach bum or an adventurous one. Every choice is fine, no wrong answers.
It honestly felt like a second honeymoon to us, and that was what I was going for. Last year with the wedding prep, the moving out of my place in Porto, and moving into my new one in Casablanca, I hadn’t had time to properly plan my vacation. Even if we got so lucky to choose Palma de Mallorca; because even tho I had no time at all to think of a destination, my best friend was there to suggest one, bless her soul. But this time around I wanted to make the call and I’m so glad I picked this.
We slept really early on the first day (6 hours time difference y’all), and woke up at 5:30 the next day. And we thought it was just a one time thing yet nothing but. That was our sleep schedule for the next days, I guess it has something to do with the sun rising really early and the sunset being around 6 pm. But all I know is that by 7 am every morning you’d find us already swimming in the beach. A very warm, very nice beach. As I write this I’m thinking of when I can squeeze a quick visit to Punta Cana next year. 8 hours flight is not that long after all.
My husband’s favorite activity was to find coconuts fallen from trees (see previous pictures) and giving them to the gardeners that would chop the head right off. I think what he enjoyed most about the whole thing was seeing them use their machetes. It was quite a sight to be honest. I saw them drinking some when they wanted to take a quick break, they just spiced it with rum before gulping it down. Easy living with the Dominicans.
He also tried every activity on site there was : football, volleyball, baseball, waterpolo.. And I saw in his eyes that he wished he was part of the animation crew. He made friends with Alvin the chipmunk (that’s what one of the guys in the crew wanted to be called), and I was wondering if when it was gonna be time to leave he would look me in the eyes and be like « This is my life now, I can’t leave. » We met a french woman there that helped me with a bee sting (I am a very lucky and gifted person) that came for vacation with her friend, and decided to stay after falling in love with one of the guys in the crew, so like, that wasn’t really far fetched.
The food was also everything, especially the fruits. Drinking passionfruit juice pressed before your eyes every morning is a memory I’ll hold close to my heart. I’m a lover of all things sweet, and I’m weak for every fruit that we don’t have all year round in Morocco : pineapples, mango, passionfruit… Not too keen on the coconuts though, I left that to the hubby. And since I’m not really adventurous with what I eat, I also passed on the fried plantains. Maybe I passed on the greatest thing ever fried on earth, I’ll never know.
So, white sand beaches, warm clear water, endless coconut trees, slow living and complete disconnection with the outside world. Dream vacation alright <3
Don’t forget guys, if you need anything, make sure to ask I’ll be glad to answer. Oh and this is what the lounge at the airport starting from December will look like.
I’m already packing my stuff.