Discovering Punta Cana
Punta Cana is perhaps the most visited place in the Caribbean by the Portuguese. And there are several reasons for this fact. The most critical will say it is massive but, for me, it remains a place where we can spend a fantastic vacation! There is 35 km of amazing beaches with resorts for all tastes.
When the plane doors open, we immediately feel the typical moisture of these places. Punta Cana airport, nowadays it's a little more modern than what I met when I first visited it, but even so, its ceilings are still made of palm sheets and so keep its rustic and relaxed aspect.
Hotel Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana
A monstrous resort!
Hotel Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana is equal in everything to the other hotels from the same chain that I already know from other places, and this is huge and made up of different zones or clubs that adapt to the different tastes of tourists. All top!
This resort in practice consists of several hotels with different levels of exclusivity. But even standard accommodation allows ordinary mortals to enjoy a few days where they will feel like a king!
The GBP chain specializes a lot in the Portuguese and Spanish markets, so it's not surprising that we're always hearing Portuguese or Spanish languages!
Its enormous size is not a problem. These "trains" are always circulating that take us from the lobby to the sea! The gardens are impeccably well-maintained and contribute to the relaxed atmosphere that you want on a Caribbean holiday!
Still inside the hotel, there are some shops where you can buy various handicraft items or something that has been forgotten at home. The Taina paintings and articles made from coconut are spectacular. There is also an area where evening shows keep tourists entertained after dinner.
For all tastes and according to the color of the bracelets, but always with great variety, even with the standard level, leaving a few extra kilos. No one around here goes hungry!
There are also thematic gourmet restaurants, which always offer us very pleasant and sometimes even fun moments... Here, for example, I asked Jorge if I could take a picture... and this was the result... LOL
There are themed nights every week and the menu on those days varies according to the theme.
This hotel has several swimming pools, all of them large and with swim-up bars. In the morning there are usually fewer people as they prefer the beach, but in the afternoon it is difficult to find sunbeds available.
Some are busier, others are quieter, but all are very pleasant.
Beach (Arena Gorda)
There is a small wall separating the pool from the beach. Ideal for those who don't want long journeys between the beach and the resort's main pool.
The sunbeds and shades start to be occupied early in the morning.
There are kilometers of sandy beach that allow for long and relaxed walks.
Warm water, white sand, and lots of coconut trees, that's how I define the beach at this hotel. It is possible to go for walks, and to the right, there is a small market by the sea where you can buy everything at friendly prices. Note it is mandatory to negotiate...
Dominican El Corte Inglés
Some people call it the Dominican El Corte Inglés as it is the busiest area where everyone goes to buy souvenirs. These are small stalls by the sea. A few years ago there was still an extensive beach in between. Today we can already see the impact of rising sea levels. Soon they will have to build them further back.
This is the best place to buy souvenirs, such as precious stones (larimar), t-shirts, bracelets, cigars, paintings, rum bottles, hats, bags, fridge magnets, key rings, necklaces, wood or coconut carvings, etc.
The sellers who are used to so many tourists are true specialists. They sit down and call everyone who passes in front of their stalls offering treats and trying to guess where we are from! If we answer we don't have a chance, the next thing you know they're already making money!
Incredible view from the stalls...
The Dominican beauty
A vacation in Punta Cana offers the possibility of visiting other places of interest, and not only the beaches and the hotel pools, without having to travel long distances.
It is possible to carry out these tours with operators or with local companies.
Here I'll show you some places I've visited that I consider being real hotspots.
In this area of the D.R. more than once I came across extensive fields of sugar cane as far as we can see. Now I know why this country is one of the biggest exporters of sugar to the United States... The main sugar companies are North American but their workers are Haitian...
I had already heard that some movies had been filmed on this river, the most famous being Apocalypse Now, but it was only by boarding a typical raft and traveling through its waters that I realized the beauty of the place... It is worth traveling by speedboat or "raft boat" here.
It is a very zen environment that gives us incredible peace!
Perhaps the most famous tour from Punta Cana. Saona Island!
Isla Saona is part of the Del Este National Park and is known for its beauty. Its mangroves, coral reefs, coconut trees, and turquoise blue waters make this island one of the most paradisiacal places in the Dominican republic. It is about 50 km from Punta Cana.
The visit to Saona is either carried out with speedboats or catamarans. If the objective is to arrive quickly, speedboats, if, on the contrary, there is no hurry, the catamaran is ideal.
Leaving from Bayahibe towards Saona, it is common to make stops far from the coast in shallow water areas. There are usually huge starfish here. With so much tourism, they must be used to so many selfies!!
Saona is also a place of passage for those who wish to emigrate to American territory illegally. The island of Mona, which is a USA territory, belongs to Puerto Rico and is only 70 km away and Puerto Rico is about 140 km in a straight line.
Saona is one of those places where pictures are stronger than words.
If there are places that define paradise, this is definitely one of them...
Canto de La Playa beach
Another fantastic place where every photo makes a postcard!...
Canto de la Playa is a dream beach on Isla Saona.
Saona is visited daily by several tour operators who take tourists from all over the world to visit this "paradise on earth".
As this beach is the most remote on the entire island, it is not visited by everyone. If you want to know this piece of paradise, make sure you go there.
Mano Juan is a small village (the only one in Saona) where its inhabitants are the only permanent inhabitants of the island.
Here we can meet "Negro", a former fisherman who has always lived on the island and who until a few years ago hunted turtles and their eggs. Today he has a sea turtle conservation project.
Negro signs and collects eggs from turtle nests and frees the small baby turtles on the first full moon after their birth.
You can also buy some souvenirs and enjoy the landscape that invites you to contemplate.
The few inhabitants live in typical houses and in a genuinely Dominican way. They don't care about tourists...
Mangroves have several functions such as defending against hurricanes or conservating the zone, where many juvenile species hide until they reach adulthood.
Frigatebirds also nest in the mangroves, being this a very important ecosystem.
There is a place where the Atlantic Ocean touches the Caribbean Sea and we can clearly see this "border". This place is between Saona Island and the main island and is called Catalinita Island.
Around here the currents are quite strong and only the mangroves hold the millions of whelks. The color of the water changes abruptly and doesn't let us forget that we are in a border area...
Millions of whelk shells deposited by the sea are piled up on this small islet.
Small village built in a privileged area and very close to Playa Juanillo.
This area is very exclusive, with its Marina being its central area.
It has some channels that allow its inhabitants to move with their boats to their homes. It reminds me of Venice, but in the Caribbean.
It has tennis courts, restaurants, and very luxurious hotels and the surrounding waters are some of the most beautiful in the D.R.
Several famous people have their holiday houses in this area and one day I will be able to buy one in this area too..... -LOL
In conclusion, the Dominican Republic is a beautiful country that I personally love and Punta Cana is a place that I would come back to without thinking twice!