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Dominican Republic

Punta Cana Vacation Review

© Dominican Republic Tourist Office
Punta Cana was a vacation of sunshine, smiling faces and the turquoise ocean.

Punta Cana is located in the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola. This island is in the middle of the Caribbean and is shared with the country of Haiti. Punta Cana is on the easternmost tip of the island and it has an international airport.

I only mention this because it is quite a nice facility, open air with large thatched roofs. It gives you a sense of the island feel right when you get off the airplane.

Punta Cana is a major tourist area and every year the numbers of visitors grow. Hotels and resorts line the beaches; my choice was the Hard Rock Punta Cana.

This resort is humongous! Restaurants, bars, clubs, casino, swimming pools, a lazy river, and kids area -- the list goes on and on.

You could literally stay on the resort grounds your entire vacation and never get bored. Of course, that would be silly. Traveling is about exploring new places and cultures, so exploring I did!

I chose to do a snorkeling tour, which I booked at my hotel. Let it be known that this was one of those tours where they shoot video of the day and want people to purchase it at the end of the trip. This means they are constantly trying to get you to wave at the camera, dance, cheer, etc. I don’t really like that type of scene, but I laughed it off because I knew I would enjoy the snorkeling.

The first stop was in the middle of the ocean at the stingray/shark bay. I had previously swum with sharks so this time I chose the stingrays. They are absolutely magnificent! These animals are gentle and glide through the water with ease. It was a beautiful experience.

The next part of the tour, we went to another area above a reef to snorkel. It was a bit crowded with so many people, but I was able to spot some amazing fish. Overall, the tour was well worth it. The staff was friendly and I got what I came for.

Another day of my trip was spent on the Punta Cana Mike Tour. This was absolutely the best part of my vacation. Mike is a local resident who provides tours around the city and has great insight into the culture and people.

Stops throughout the city include a cigar factory, an elegant jewelry store, a car wash (where the locals hang out), an elementary school, a farmers market, a beach and outdoor eatery. The tour opened my eyes to an amazing country. They may not be rich with money, but they are truly rich in happiness.

My favorite part of the tour was visiting the elementary school. It is an old stone building with bars in place of windows. Four rooms separate the children by age/grade level. As guests, we were allowed to go in to meet the students. Their little faces was were so adorable. All of them were grinning and excited to meet us. I researched ahead of time, so I knew guests were able to bring gifts for the kids. I had some candies and stickers, and it was so fun handing them all out. Since I am a teacher, I think it was an extra special experience for me.

Traveling to Punta Cana was an experience I will never forget. The beaches are stunning with aqua waters and soft white sand. Locals are friendly, always offering a smile. It is a destination I would recommend to anyone pursuing tropical happiness.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Vacation Reviews   

January 17, 2013

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