Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (location)
Graeme and I decided that Dominican Republic would be an interesting place to visit. So we shopped around and found that Sunwing was offering a discounted ticket for an all-inclusive stay at the Bavaro Princess so, as the plane arrived to whisk us away, we were thinking warmth and sunny beaches. (Ottawa +2C, Punta Cana +30C)
The outward bound flight went well.
Update: Coming home wasn’t so smooth. Plane was late in arriving to pick us up in Punta Cana and communication wasn’t great. Those waiting in a queue for a long time weren’t too happy!
It was nice to see the shoreline appear through the light clouds and then as we got closer, waves striking those sand beaches were a welcome sight.
Both the visitor visa and the departure tax payments are handled very efficiently by the staff that greet you at the Punta Cana airport! The Punta Cana airport process is a bit like: – Show me your money – Thank you very much – Welcome to the Dominican Republic – Have a wonderful visit. All smiles, efficient and friendly :-).
Nothing fancy at this airport, so it is straight from the air-conditioned plane out into the hot and humid +30C air for a nice walk to the terminal. Some, like me, were dressed for the +2C Ottawa temperatures! Planes just park one beside the other on a first-come, first-served basis (or so it appeared), and those disembarking from planes at either end of the parking lot get to walk a lot further before they get to the partially air-conditioned terminal.
After walking along the tarmac, we reached a spot where we were directed into one of terminal entrances. There we had our photos taken with similarly dressed young ladies (photos for sale later at time of departure at $9 each – we declined). After the photos, it was on to an immigration booth where we paid our $10 for a visitor card which we got to hold in our hands for about 3 strides before it was handed over to another agent, who scanned it and kept it – an interesting system but with a million or so visitors each year, a great way to add $10 million to the government or terminal’s bottom line.
Arrival of the luggage was not a long wait but definitely a warm wait.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and has a population of about 10 million. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion (approx. 95%). Power is 110V as in Canada and USA but a plug adapter is required.
As we leave the airport and head out to our home-away-from-home for the next seven days it is easy to see that there is construction everywhere . The main road leading to and from the Punta Cana airport is being twinned, so we encountered a few construction slow-downs along the way. It was somewhat reassuring to see a large sign announcing that air ambulance service was just a call away!
Construction was cinder block and appeared to be a bit more haphazard than I am used to seeing in Canada. Construction was everywhere along our route. Building age was relatively new in some locations versus the much older and more shanty-like in appearance in other locations. The tourist building boom in this area is fairly recent. Vacant lots are being filled in quickly.
A number of malls were being built along the route between the airport and the resorts. Whether these are being built to service tourists or the local population is a bit tough to determine. I expect that the prices of goods in these new malls might be a bit high for the locals to afford but at the same time a bit hard to imagine a strong tourist clientele given the advisories that tourists should be cautious/vigilant outside the walls and gates of the resort complexes. Personally, I would prefer to see mahogany trees being planted to replace the mahogany trees being harvested, but palm trees were in abundance as the edging tree of choice. I know nothing about tropical vegetation, so perhaps palm trees are the best in these situations where the trees are surrounded by concrete and asphalt.
We stayed at the Bavaro Princess Resort Complex, Punta Canta, Dominican Republic. Advertising brochures for this resort complex tend to show a beach-side fresh water pool and long stretches of white sand beaches. It is a large resort with a two story hotel section near the front reception area. The following shot shows a different view of the resort area and represents the type of view that we saw each day as we made the long trek from our junior suite, in the hotel section, down to the beach area. The grounds themselves were well kept and pleasant to walk through, but still a long walk. A wider pathway accommodated the various trucks, passenger vehicles, etc that moved goods and people around, but I was on vacation and prefer to walk, rather than ride, most of the time but will admit to riding more often as the week progressed.
During the day, it was sometimes difficult to see the ocean for the trees 🙂 but light evening breezes and smooth white sand made for comfortably enjoyment of the evenings.
Considering that the temperature was only about +5C in Ottawa, this was a nice way to finish the day in a warmer location.