We finally did it! We packed our bags and we left for the sunny Dominican Republic. For a week we took a break from Covid-19, working from home and the cold weather from Europe and we enjoyed the sun, ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.
It all started in February when a local agency announced a charter flight to one of the destinations I had on my list for a while, the Maldives, after thinking and almost booking it, we found that it went on the yellow list and we would need to stay in quarantine for 2 weeks once we returned. So we decided to take a leap of faith and try to book a trip to Kenya, a safari, and a couple of days in the resort. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t good either, since they suspended the flights and kept only the ones from the end of April when the wet season is present. Therefore, the third time was a charm, and we finally booked the destination that was meant to be, Punta Cana. For 7 nights we would be in a tropical paradise, enjoying the sun and the ocean, in probably one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Since it was a package bought from a travel agency we had the flight, transfer, hotel with all-inclusive plans and local guide included. The price was 2700 euros for two persons, we also booked full insurance for around 100 euros per person. The insurance included the Covid-19 coverage, remember this if you plan any vacation in the near future. Since I am on the topic of costs, I will also mention that in the Dominican Republic it is better to have dollars, since they consider Euro and Dollar the same, we had around 1500$ in cash. You can also use cards, but keep in mind that you will buy items from locals, or at least you should, and only cash is accepted. We ended up spending around 1000$, including tipping, additional trips, and gifts.
Having a direct flight was the thing that sold the trip to us, even in normal times, not having to deal with the hustle of changing flights or getting your baggage lost, but in the year 2021, a direct flight is a blessing. We had a night flight, and after 11 hours, we finally arrived at the airport La Romana. The Punta Cana airport was closed for renovations, so we landed 40 minutes away from it. The hotel that we chose was Iberostar Selection Bavaro. I cannot say that I am a fan of the resort type of vacation, but I do acknowledge the fact that it is a risk-free and worry-free type. The junior suite that we got was amazing and the fact that we were 100m away from the ocean made us fall in love with the place.
Although we traveled to many beautiful places, the color of the ocean was amazing and quite unique. It is indeed windy, but the view is worth it. We preferred staying at the pool and only swimming in the ocean, but this was also because we got to see the tropical rainy days as well, and after that, the temperatures dropped a little and the ocean shore was filled with algae. I do recommend the visit to be in the dry / winter season, from November until the end of March. Because of my work schedule, we went at the beginning of April, I definitely do not regret it, but I would do it differently if I were to repeat it.
While here, there are a couple of day trips that one can make, we ended up changing some of the plans that we had because of the weather, but in the end, experienced the beauty of this place.
The first trip we made was to the capital of the island, Santo Domingo. It’s a cultural day trip where a guide will walk you through the National Park Tres Ojos, where the 3 natural pools will enchant you. After that, we were shown the Mausoleum of Christopher Columbus, downtown of Santo Domingo, and a shopping sprint in the suggested shops. One thing to keep in mind, in most trips you will be taken to a shop that is suggested by the guide, yet they are never aggressive and they will never “force” you to buy anything. We found the local people to be kind and very welcoming, despite the hard life that they are having. I encourage everyone to tip well and buy from their stores.
The second trip we made was to Saona Island. Here we got to see the Caribbean sea in all its glory. A short bus ride to the La Romana area, from where the catamaran boat is going to take you to the island with a stop to see the sea stars. Not as many as found in Zanzibar, but we did manage to see a few. Most of the stars are in an area near where the boats are allowed to stop, and you can see those while sailing.
We got to enjoy lunch on the island and a couple of hours of relaxation and sunbathing. I cannot say that I was impressed by the island, but we did have the unfortunate of being there on a cloudy day. Upon returning to the hotel, it started raining and the temperatures dropped a lot. It was because of this, that we decided we will not make any more trips to the sea if the weather forecast is showing rain. We got a little bit of temperature during the night and given the worldwide situation we decided it’s just not worth the risk.
Since we had to replace the trip to Catalina island we decided to go on a buggy ride. It is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience, where you get to ride in the mud and get so dirty that you will have to throw your clothes in the bin afterward. Yet, I think it was a fun time and we definitely got this out of our system.
Our last trip, if we can even call it that, was a helicopter ride over the resort area. For 10 minutes we saw the “drone” view that is present on all the wallpapers from here. Apart from the amazing feeling of being in a helicopter, the view cannot be expressed in words and pictures don’t do it justice. It is definitely in my top 5 best experiences of my life, cannot recommend this enough.
After 7 days we had to say goodbye to this amazing place and return to Romania for our “normal” life, but with a promise to return to the Caribbean area in the upcoming year. From the language that I love, to the amazing people that live here, I found the place to be a perfect destination for anyone who is trying to escape winter. I am so grateful that I was able to take a break from it all and enjoy some vacation time.
Disclaimer: I know that 2020 and 2021 are very difficult and many are struggling with the Covid-19 disease or with job loss. This article is not meant to flex or to encourage people to be reckless and put themselves in danger. Before we left we had our first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine that offered us some immunity and we made sure we didn't present any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus. We wore masks in all public places and we made sure to regularly change them while on the plane. I strongly recommend everyone to be as responsible and stay safe.
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