An October 2004 trip
to Punta Cana by MikeInTown
Quote: My wife and I traveled with cousins and friends to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was a reasonably priced trip that consisted of round-trip airfare and a 7-night stay at the all-inclusive resort, Iberostar Dominicana. The resort, beach, and surrounding countryside are absolutely beautiful. The people were extremely friendly.
Iberostar Dominicana is situated between Iberostar Punta Cana and Iberostar Bavaro. Dominicana and Punta Cana look almost identical with their motel-style buildings. Bavaro has villa units. Each of the three complexes has a pool, a show area, restaurants, bars, a reception desk, beach access, and other facilities.
The resort was beautiful and always clean. There are palm trees, a big pool, and a gorgeous beach to name a few. The evening breeze off the ocean was magical. One thing that was strikingly different than the beaches I've been to in the US is that many of the women at this resort go topless - even with children playing on the beach.
To add to the atmosphere of the beautiful resort, there were flamingos, peacocks, roosters, and other birds that roamed the grounds. There were other animals, such as frogs and turtles, that swam about contently in the various fountains on the property. The animals generally do not bother the guests; however, there were one or two mornings I could hear roosters doing what roosters do at sunrise. Also, if you sit near the water in the main dining area of Dominicana and Punta Cana, there is a good chance a flamingo will come along and peek over the railing at your plate.
Our room, a standard garden view, was a nice size and had a balcony. It had a refrigerator filled with free soda, beer, and water. Housekeeping always kept our room spotless. The one thing that did seem to be a problem, however, was the lack of washcloths. With the exception of 2 days, housekeeping always seemed to be out of them that week. There are no irons in the rooms, but the front desk will bring you one if you ask.
There is a daily list of activities scheduled at half-hour increments from 10am to 5pm. The activities were lead by the energetic activity coordinators. These coordinators were very personable and hardworking. I was impressed that some of them had managed to memorize our names despite the huge number of tourists they come in contact with daily. The activities included exercise classes, dance classes, volleyball, ping-pong, mini golf, bingo, and many other activities. They even offered a daily Spanish class, which I enjoyed attending each morning.
The shows normally got started around 9:45pm. The emcees spoke Spanish and immediately translated to English. Audience participation seemed to be the main focus of the shows, so sit in the back if that's not your thing. There was an excellent stage band that played everything from merengue to Top 40. Despite this, the shows rarely kept our attention for longer than the time it took us to finish our drinks.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 22, 2005
Playa Bávaro Higüey
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
1809 221 65 00
The Iberostar Resorts are all-inclusive resorts, meaning your food and drinks are included in the cost of your vacation package. You could get something to eat or drink pretty much 24 hours a day. There is a huge variety of food. The presentation was fabulous; however, in most cases, the taste was only so-so at most. To add insult to injury, most of us complained of bubbling stomachs during our stay. We were warned not to drink the tap water. Fortunately, housekeeping was very good at making sure our room always had a supply of bottled water.
Each resort has a main dining room where breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets are served daily. We all normally met for breakfast each morning but did not worry about coordinating schedules for other meals.
My wife and I normally ate lunch at the grill near the pool and beach. Grilled food such as hamburgers (smelled good but didn't taste like beef), hot dogs, chicken, kabobs, and pork chops (pretty good) were served there. There was also a nice little ice-cream stand.
In addition to the main dining room, there are several specialty dinner restaurants at the resort. These include La Sabilia (seven-course gourmet), a Mexican restaurant, an Oriental restaurant, a steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, and the Rock Cafe (American). With the exception of the Rock Cafe, you are required to make reservations for the specialty restaurants. I guess this is necessary to avoid a situation that we experienced on our last night, when we showed up at the Rock Cafe for dinner only to be told there is an hour wait to be seated. There is a dinner reservation desk at the resort, but you must make your reservation before 3 pm.
You are guaranteed to get reservations in at least two restaurants during a 1 week stay. My wife and I managed to eat at all the restaurants at the resort. I wasn't impressed with the food in any of the specialty restaurants other than the steakhouse, the Rock Cafe, and the Mexican restaurant. I don't actually like Mexican food, but the chicken wings on the appetizer buffet were good and the dessert buffet was good. The Rock Cafe was also good, but don't expect to carry on quiet dinner conversation. The stereo was blasting in that place. Some nights, if we didn't enjoy our dinner at a specialty restaurant, we would just head over to the main dining room and get something to eat from the buffet there.
Regardless of where you ate dinner, the resort has a dress code for dinner. Beachwear is not allowed and men must wear long pants. The dress code was enforced.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on January 22, 2005
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The ATV Excursion consisted of riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV) through towns in the Dominican countryside and on beautiful Macao Beach. There was a stop at a souvenir store at a cave, where we were given the opportunity to cool off in the cool cave water.
My wife and I shared an ATV and took turns driving. As our group rode through the streets of the small country towns, the people would smile and wave at us, especially the children. I felt an atmosphere of friendliness from strangers that I can't ever remember experiencing in my life.
We rode on Macao Beach, which is picturesque and deserted. We were given the opportunity to take a dip in the ocean. One our tour guides told us that this beach won't be deserted for long. There are plans to build hotels and resorts in the area as the Dominican tourism business continues to grow. It is a beautiful beach.
The stop at the souvenir shop was interesting, not because of the merchandise, but because as we parked our ATVs, the neighborhood children came running to give us the little flowers they had picked. They did not seem to want anything in return other than a smile. There was one amusing little fellow who couldn't have been older than 4 years old. He was trying his best to keep up with the older children. He came up to me and proudly handed me a twig and a blade of grass. I thanked him. He gave a big smile and ran off to catch up with the other children.
It was a hot and humid day, so the cave stop was an opportunity to cool off. Most of our group swam in the water inside the cave. I'm not much of a swimmer, so I opted to just enjoy the cool shade the cave offered.
By the time we had gotten back to our starting point, the tour company already had pictures of us on CDs and a bottles of rum for purchase. The pictures were low resolution and blurry, so we did not purchase ours. We boarded the shuttle back to the resort, where we could get cleaned up. If you ever decide to do this excursion, make sure you wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty or throwing away. We rode the ATVs on dusty dirt roads and through puddles of hot, muddy water. Our shoes and legs were muddy and dusty by the time we finished this excursion.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 22, 2005
Punta Cana, DR
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Attraction | "Outback Safari Excursion"
The name of this excursion is somewhat misleading; nonetheless, it was my favorite excursion. The Outback Safari has nothing to do with a safari. Instead, it is a 6-hour cultural tour through the countryside of the Dominican Republic.
Our tour guide, Tony, was outstanding. He told us about Dominican culture, products, farming, history, and even politics as we traveled from town to town and into the mountains.
Our first stop was a Dominican country house. It felt strange to be walking through these people's house and on their property, but our tour guide assured us the residents don't mind. They are also paid for opening their house to tourists.
This pink-and-green house was nicely decorated. One of the more interesting aspects of this home is that it has no running water. There is a large black bin to capture rain water. The first half of the week we were on the island, it rained heavily every evening as the tropical thunderstorms moved through. With the amount of rain these storms bring, the rain collecting bins probably never become empty. Alternately, the family can receive water deliveries if necessary.
After touring the house, we were lead down a path in the woods where coffee beans and cocoa beans are grown. We were able to sample some fresh coffee and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was delicious.
The Outback Safari tour continued as we rode the flashy truck through the potholed roads of the small country towns. As we rode through, the people smiled and waved. The children seemed very excited to see the truck. They would yell, laugh, and wave as we passed. At one point, we got caught in what our tour guide called a "Dominican traffic jam." We had to stop temporarily as a cattleman lead his herd of cattle across the road.
We continued on into the mountains, where we made a stop to sample some of the agriculture and products produced on the island. We sampled sugar cane, vanilla, and a terrible-tasting alcoholic beverage called Mama Juana. Mama Juana is purported to be a cure for all types of ailments, in addition to being a potent liquor. Whether this is true or not, it certainly tastes like medicine. Yuck!
We eventually stopped for a Dominican lunch at a ranch. There we had beans and rice, plantains, and chicken. There were some musicians there playing merengue and some girls waving their long skirts from side to side.
After leaving the ranch, the Outback Safari tour headed to Macao Beach. We were each given a boogie board, a crash course on boogie boarding, and 1 hour to give it a try in the ocean. We had a good time.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic