My birthday falls in early March. Terrible, horrible, inconvenient time for a birthday, if you ask me. But, it has been the case for the last fifty years, and so to mark this landmark occasion my husband booked a short break to Punta Cana.
Traveling with a bunch of college kids wanting to party the night away was not really my idea of fun, but this is what happens when one’s birthday falls during Spring Break. Nevertheless we found a peaceful piece of heaven among the chaos of hell for three wonderful days.
Here is our story.
Punta Cana is a resort town in the easternmost tip of Dominican Republic where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its inhabitants enjoy an all-year tropical climate which transitions between wet and dry. The average temperature is 30 deg. Celsius (86 deg F).
As well as being a place where one would go to unwind, Punta Cana is also a place of where one would go to party, especially during the Spring Break.
We left Boston on the 6:20 a.m. flight. So our day began at 3 o’ clock in the morning. There are no direct flights from Boston to Punta Cana. We traveled via Chicago.
As we were travelling out in the middle of the Spring Break season, we expected the airport to be packed with college kids. And our expectations were confirmed. The flight from Boston to Chicago was full, as was the flight from Chicago to Punta Cana.
The energy and the excitement of the spring breakers filled the atmosphere, and it was like being a kid again, though I was only a day away from being 50!
Punta Cana Airport
Three flights had already arrived at the airport when we landed. So the tiny airport was bursting at the seams with tourists. It was noisy, busy, and full of life. But the downside was, we had to line-up for everything. We even had to line-up to get into existing lines!
Tourist Pass Line – A couple of days before we left for Punta Cana, we learned about the Tourist Pass. This is basically a 30-day Visa, and it costs $10 per person. However, what we did not know was that this Pass could have been purchased before travelling. So like all the others who did not know this, we lined up.
Passport-Stamping Line – After the Tourist Pass line, which actually moved pretty fast as all they did was take our money and give us a pass, there was the Passport-Stamping line. This was pretty slow, and we made a few friends whist we waited.
Customs Line – The third and final line at the airport was the Customs Line once you collect your luggage. We didn’t have luggage to collect as we were travelling light, so we jumped ahead of many of the youngsters who were not travelling light.
Walk on by…
When you come out of customs into the main lobby of the airport, you will be greeted by many tour guides. They force themselves on you and will insist on assisting you. They are very polite, and very friendly.
Ignore them and keep moving!
I say this because this happened to us in Cancun. A young man approached us as we came out of customs and insisted on assisting us. We thought he was a rep from our tour company. But he wasn’t.
He took us to a table set up at the airport and told us about all these exciting places we can go in Mexico. He was very informative, and very good at what he was doing. But his intention was to get us to book into the holiday resort he was representing.
So from our experience from Cancun, we learned to just walk on by. And we did with a polite “No thank you.”
Peaceful Piece of Heaven
We eventually found our tour guide, who took us to another tour guide, who walked us to the driver of our shuttle to take us to our hotel!
My husband has booked our very own 10-seater air-conditioned transit van because our hotel was the furthest from the airport. This was an additional cost, but I was grateful to not have to stop at several hotels along the way to get to our final destination – ZOËTRY AGUA PUNTA CANA
Let me tell you about Zoëtry Agua
We have stayed at many different hotels and resorts over the course of our travels. But if I were to be brutally honest, I would say Zoëtry Agua was the most amazing resort I have had the pleasure of staying at. The adjectives I would use to describe this place (in no particular order) are: peaceful, tranquil, clean, friendly, calm, happy, romantic, picturesque, exotic, unique, and beautiful.
Our room was perfect:
We had a bath tub you can swim in, and I wasted no time in taking advantage of that situation…
… and just outside was the ‘swim through’ pool, which my husband preferred.
The resort also had a spa, three restaurants, a coffee shop, gardens, a lounge bar, and a pool bar. Our meals and beverages were all inclusive. So we could pig-out on pastries at the coffee shop as much as we wanted to, and get hopelessly drunk at the bar. Or we could just wonder around the gardens then lie on the beach till our bellies burned.
The spa, however, was not free. There was a complementary 20 minutes couple massage, but that was the only freebie. Everything else which included such things as marine algae treatments, sea mud treatments, hot stone massages, reflexology, facials, body scrubs, and other fancy spa experiences were at a cost. They even had feet treatment where you have little fish eat away the dead skin on your feet.
On our first day in Punta Cana, and settled into our room, we met with our butler.
Yes, we had a butler assigned to us to whose job was to make sure we were well looked after and attend to our every need. He did a great job and arranged our freebie massage and our excursion. He also delivered us an “apology cake,” and that was totally unexpected!
What was the apology for?
Well, you see on our first night in the room, we were a little peckish, and we thought we should raid the mini-bar (which was all inclusive), and we found a half-eaten tube of Pringles. So we called the front desk and asked them to bring us a tube which was not eaten. Ten minutes later, the butler arrived with our Pringles. Then another half-hour after that he turned up with a cake, which we called the “apology cake.” It was the yummiest cake I have ever had!
Second day began with breakfast at one of the restaurants, followed by coffee at the coffee shop, getting our massage, wondering around the resort, relaxing on the beach, and drinking and eating.
And that was terribly exhausting!
This was a Saturday, and I woke up 50!
We had arranged an excursion – the Outback Safari.
One of the things we love doing when we go abroad is to wonder off to meet the locals, but we were not encouraged to wonder outside the resort, so this guided tour was our way of ‘wondering off.’
The Outback Safari was indeed an adventure. The vehicle was naturally air-conditioned, and we had a great view of the Dominican countryside as we passed through.
Our first stop was at the school the tour company was funding. They really wanted us to see this and collect more money from us for the children.
As it was a Saturday, the school was not in session, so we could not go inside the school. But we met some of the children that came to greet us. We were advised not to give money to the children as it encourages them to beg. We were also discouraged from giving candy to one child, as that causes rivalry and fights.
After this stop the real adventure began.
We meandered through the rough and rugged countryside, we crossed flooded roads, and saw pretty and colorful houses, busy streets, and lively people as we made to our planned and organized stops.
Was at a place where they made the “best coffee and best cocoa in whole of Dominican Republic!” Well, that was what we were told – Chappy’s place.
Chappy was indeed a happy chappy. He was very inviting, showed us around his tiny little house, and made us coffee and cocoa – and yes, it was really good. In fact the hot chocolate was so good, that it was impossible to leave without buying a couple of packets of El Chappy Cocoa!
Was at a coconut plantation where we saw how they extract coconut oil.
And Finally …
We drove through several villages, taking in the colorful sights of people and their homes.
At our final stop, we had lunch, hung around for an hour or so interacting with more locals, tasting the local adult beverages, seeing how they roll tobacco into cigars, admiring local art and crafts, photographing some local wildlife, and buying local produce.
All in all it was a wonderful cultural experience of a day exploring the life and soul of Dominican Republic.
But the most fascinating, yet the creepiest was what we saw as we were heading back to our hotel. And I called him the “Snake Man of Punta Cana!”
While a few people, especially the kids on the tour with us wanted these slimy creatures curling around their tiny bodies, I was quite happy to stay far away as I can from them and hope there won’t be a situation of ‘snakes on the bus!’
End to a perfect day …
The Outback Safari was just a half a day, so we got back to the hotel to catch some time on the beach, sit out in the sun, enjoy what was left of our “apology cake,” complementary chocolates, and of course a Coco Loco.
Bye Bye to Punta Cana
Our stay in Punta Cana, and especially at the Zoëtry Agua was short. I would love to have stayed longer, but it was not meant to be. Yet a short break in paradise celebrating half a century of life on this planet with the love of my life was just perfect.
If you enjoyed reading about our travels in Punta Cana, maybe you may also enjoy reading about our adventure in Tromsø, Norway.