We visited the Dominican Republic in April of 2017. This was the first time we’d stayed in an all-inclusive resort. We’ve been a bit spoilt with some of the holidays and hotels we’d stayed in recently in Jamaica and Mauritius so were expecting the same calibre in the DR.
The hotel itself was beautiful, set on an idyllic beach with white sand and beautiful crystal clear water. Perhaps not the best for swimming given it was quite choppy and there were a lot of boats out doing day trips, but amazing for an early morning and/or late afternoon run/walk.
Despite being on holiday we woke up early most days to do exactly that. It’s funny how waking up early doesn’t feel quite so painful when you’re watching a beautiful sunrise as you go for a gentle jog along the beach! The only downside of this hotel was the food. Despite having around 16 restaurants the options for me being coeliac were quite limited.
We’d heard some negative things about the DR from family members who had recently visited. We were told it was quite dangerous and we shouldn’t really venture out of the resort. I wasn’t so keen to stay cooped up in the resort and wanted to find out for myself so we spoke to our rep about what was available from our hotel.
There was plenty of options and we opted to do three trips: one which explored the culture of the DR, one which explored the sea life and the final one which allowed us to experience the nightlife!
Exploring the Culture
The cultural trip was run by Outback Adventures and took us to see many aspects of life in DR including the education system, the agriculture and the flora and fauna.
We saw a school and learnt about how the education system is one of the worst in the world but also what they’re doing to improve it! This was something I found particularly interesting being a teacher. What was great about this tour compared to others was that they didn’t let you into the school and waste precious time out of the 4 hours that students have in school. Instead, they contribute money from the sale of merchandise to the school!
The next stop was a cocoa plantation and agricultural park where we saw all manner of animals, got to try the fruit of a cocoa pod and saw how cigars were rolled before being allowed to try the freshly rolled cigars! There was an ‘original’ flavour but also various other flavours. We opted for chocolate and mango which we brought home with us.
After the cigars, there was a chance to taste a selection of different rums including the famous mamajuana. Now I’m not a big rum drinker but this is a pretty scrummy drink known in the DR for its baby-making properties!
Our adventure in the cocoa plantation continued with a visit to the owners house which can be seen in the photo at the top of this post. We were very warmly welcomed, got to have a little nosey around the house before having some delicious coffee.
The owners showed us how they produce sugar from sugar cane, whilst we happily sucked the sweet nectar from the sugarcane plant. This was followed by another demonstration, this time of how the sweet white fruit from the cocoa plant is converted to the more familiar brown chocolate we all know and love followed with a cup of hot cocoa.
Our journey continued to a coconut farm where we saw how coconuts are used to produce coconut oil, milk, water and how the shells are used for the production of jewellery and animal feed! The final part of the trip took us to a beach where the waves were insane – perfect for a spot of boogie boarding! The trip had so much to offer and we were well and truly knackered by the time we returned home!
Exploring the Sea Life
Our second adventure involved a quick 7-minute boat ride to a structure anchored out to sea. Part of it was secured to the ground which was great for my seasickness! This trip was amazing because it was self-paced.
There were lots of different activities to do: kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding and a number of different massage options. I’m not the strongest of swimmers so was a bit nervous getting in but snorkelling when you have sharks and stingrays swimming underneath, you forget all about that. It was nothing short of extraordinary.
Exploring the Night Life
Our final excursion was to Coco Bongo, a nightclub-cum-show. This was one of the best nights out I’ve had! The shows were Marvel themed and had a mixture of acrobatics and dancing. We paid for the VIP package which meant free flowing drinks bought directly to us. Our server was great and bought us out new drinks before our current ones were even finished…
My three favourite things about the DR
1. The music – I just love the Latino music, it’s contagious and you can’t help but want to shake your hips
2. Snorkelling with sharks and holding a stingray – are there even any words?
3. Beautiful beaches with powder white sand and crystal clear water
Leave us a comment below if you’ve got any questions about the DR, or you’ve visited before and have any good tips!
The Rambling Travellers