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Dominican Republic

Punta Cana Banana Boat Ride

A banana boat ride is a thrilling Caribbean excursion -- unless you are a family of klutzes and named the "worst family" ever to take one.

Banana Boat RideMy wife and I first went on a banana boat ride during a Royal Caribbean cruise excursion at a stop in the secluded bay at Labadee, Haiti. A banana boat is a long, inflated, bright yellow tube that can seat about four or five people on top. A driver in a motor boat pulls the tube on top of the water at a high rate of speed. It's a fast, fun and wet ride. In the case of the Labadee experience, everything went fine.

Our luck didn't hold up at a Punta Cana resort in Dominican Republic. Unlike the cruise, which was a trip for just myself and my wife, the Punta Cana trip was a week-long stay for our three children as well. We wanted to give them at least one excursion during the visit, and we decided on a banana boat ride just off the beach where we were staying.

Banana Boat RideI love my children dearly, but I blame all three of them equally for what happened next. I of course am blameless.

It started with simply getting on the raft. It was lying in about two or three feet of water. We had to grab a handhold and pull ourselves onto the boat.

Somehow, as one of us pulled on, the boat would dip and another one of us would fall off. Then one of us would pull halfway onto the boat and get stuck -- with legs or arms pointing awkwardly in all directions.

By now, the driver in the boat who had been waiting patiently for us started to get an expression that said, "Oh no."

After what seemed like hours, we finally managed to get all four of us on the boat. The driver started up the engine and began pulling us.One of my children immediately fell off.

She struggled to get back on again and we took off. The driver made a turn, one of us fell off, then another and another. He waited while we slowly got back on again, arms and legs flailing in all directions because we were now in deep water and not able to stand on the bottom.

He took off again, and we fell off, he took off again and we fell off. What seemed like hours when we first got on the banana boat seemed like hours again.

I'm sure the driver wants people to fall off once or twice to add to the excitement of the experience. But I don't think he counted on us falling off several hundred times in a 15-minute ride. At least he got paid for his trouble.

When we finally returned to the beach -- what a relief -- he turned to me and said we were the "worst family" he had ever taken on a banana boat ride.

We actually are a somewhat athletic family. I really believe we just had a bad day.

Either way, a banana boat ride is a fun excursion for any family or anyone to do on a Caribbean vacation. I encourage you to take one, especially if your family is more klutzy than most and gets a chance to take away from us our title of "worst family."

I'm fine with losing that title as soon as possible.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Excursions   

January 29, 2011

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