View Full Version : Punta Cana, Dominican Republic?
10-25-2005, 03:05 PM
My DH and I are headed to Punta Cana in 9 days (November 3) for 5 days. We are going for a friend's wedding, so we are staying where everything is being held (Sunscape Punta Cana Grand). It is all-inclusive, so we will probably be there a lot, but I was wondering whether anyone who had been to Punta Cana had any suggestions for things to do while there. We are thinking about doing some sort of excursion one day.
10-25-2005, 04:11 PM
I would recommend that you not leave the compound...it may have changed a lot since we were there on our honeymoon in 2002 but we took a day excursion that was a nightmare. We had to take a bus to the nearest town (over an hour away) to get on these big four wheel drive things and they took us to a persons house to see how the natives live (totally depressing - they actually had a flushable toilet in these peoples yard that was deadbolted - only we could use it - not the people living in the house), to a **** fight (yes, a **** fight - it was awful, apparently it is the biggest sport over there), to a school, to a store, and to a voodoo doctor's house - DH and I think they were running drugs because they picked up a block of white stuff at one of the stops and took it to another stop where they met up with different people - then the truck broke down on our way back and we were stuck for 2 hours on the side of the road.
It is extremely dangerous there - there are armed men everywhere with machine guns. Like I said, it may have changed.
10-25-2005, 04:27 PM
I was there this summer and it was amazing. I certinaly didn't see any men with guns or drug running. We did a tour where we got driven aroudn to se the neares town (the name escapes me right now), a sugar cane field, a "typical" Dominican home (though there was no bolted toilet!) where they showed us how they make fresh cocoa, and then horse back riding or loungind on a beach. On the way home we drove through rice fields which wer also so interesting to see. I loved seeing how the people there lived and to me, staying at resort means you haven't really experienced the country at all, or seen what it's actually like there.
I never felt like I was in danger or that there was anything shady. We did bok the tour throug a major provider and it was arranged through our resort, which seem like a smart precaution, I suppose. The street peddlers are agressive, moreso than other places I've expereinced, but a firm "no" works. I never felt in danger but it was a bit intimidating for a person who tends to worry far to much about hurting feelings or beign rude.
We found the people there to be amazingly friendly and warm. They are relaxed and happy and generous, as a whole.
We also did some scuba diving, which was good but not great compared to places really know for their diving, and a helo tour, which was amazing but pricey.
One tip, if you plan on doing any kind of tour, got to your local Dollar store or something comparable and buy school supplies that don't take up much space (colored pencils and pens, glitter glus sticks, etc.). The children there are so poor and have a hard time with basic school supplies. The run out to the tour vans to wave and say hello wand when they did, we handed them the supplies and the looks on theri faces were amzing. Even when given a basic pencil and cheap Bic pen, they were so thrilled. It's a little thing and you can get a ton of supplies for $20 (or more or less) and really make a big impact with it. The biggest hit was the little calculators we brought that cost us 99 cents for two.
10-25-2005, 05:47 PM
Thank you for the responses. I have been to Mexico many times, and I am not generally afraid of being out and about in a poor country. I love Mexico so much (especially the people) so I am hoping it is somewhat like that in the DR. Mexico has men with machine guns at the resorts too (one place I have been), but I never felt unsafe there. We will be at the all-inclusive most of the time (based on reviews I think it is pretty nice and everyone said the people were great) but we probably want to get out once because I feel the same way you do villanelle75 - like if I don't get out we won't feel like we have seen the place.
As far as poverty and stuff, I am not too concerned. I have been to Jamaica and that place is a dump. On top of it, the people are horrible and I was robbed. I'm sure the DR will be better. Plus, it's not like it was my pick to go. Our friend is getting married there so we really had no choice.
10-26-2005, 10:28 AM
I think DR is a lot more comparable to Jamaica than Mexico. We were in an all-inclusive in DR last spring and hated it. We loved Mexico and will definitely be going back there, but will not be returning to DR. This might have been just our experience but it may help to go with lower expectations.
10-26-2005, 10:49 AM
It's so weird how there are such contradictory reports about the DR. With Jamaica, pretty much anyone who has been there hated it (at least people I know). But with the DR it is so different. The reason my friends are getting married there is because their friends honeymooned at this resort and loved it. And it gets great reviews on tripadvisor.com (which I always use when planning trips). If I thought it would be like Jamaica I would refuse to go, but I guess I will just go with an open mind (since I have no choice, as it is my friend's wedding) and not expect anything in particular. I know the AI we are staying at is supposed to be really nice, so maybe we will just stay put there.
11-15-2005, 09:20 PM
DH and I went in '03 and are planning another trip this Jan or Feb.
Needless to say, we absolutely love the place.
I have no complaints whatsoever, and we did a couple excursions.....I guess its your expectations and desires in a trip. It may not be for some people, but for me - it's my paradise.
DR has the best beaches and white sand...that's why I'm not too eager to do Mexico...I'm all about the beach and water.
How was the trip, rosa727???
11-16-2005, 05:18 AM
We stayed at the Sunscape Punta Cana Grand for our honeymoon in 2003. How did you like it Rosa?
11-16-2005, 05:59 AM
It's so weird how there are such contradictory reports about the DR. With Jamaica, pretty much anyone who has been there hated it (at least people I know). But with the DR it is so different.
Interesting. I hated the DR, but loved Jamaica. Everyone I know who has gone to both places preferred Jamaica. This is why when I use Trip Advisor, I take what I read with a grain of salt. Everyone's opinions are so different, and everyone focuses on different things. I've hated some "dream" locations and loved "dumps" before.
I'll just have to visit every country in the world and make my own opinions. ;)
11-16-2005, 07:50 AM
I just wanted to report back that we really enjoyed the Sunscape and Punta Cana in general. The weather was amazing - literally never a cloud in the sky. The people were extremely nice - we got involved in tons of activities at the resort because we really liked the staff. The beaches were gorgeous - white sand, turquoise water, clean, etc. Even on the beach, we really were not bothered by locals or anything. We did not do any excursions since we were only there for 4 days and one was the day of the wedding.
I will say that the Sunscape was not as fancy as the resorts we have stayed in Mexico, but that is because it is a lot more affordable. That has nothing to do with Punta Cana or the Dominican Republic. It also did not make it less enjoyable. It was very fun and laid back. I am a big believer that you need to just get into the thing wherever you are and enjoy it. I would definitely go back and would stay at the same place again. I would also like to try Secrets in Punta Cana since it is adult only and we have been to Secrets in Mexico and loved it.
I still think I like Mexico a bit better - the beaches there are incredible too. But DR was a close second and it was WAY better than Jamaica. With Jamaica we were just harrassed, robbed, yelled at - it was misery. The whole plane applauded when we took off to leave. But that was in college, and it was just my experience. I understand that if you stay somewhere really fancy (probably an all-inclusive) you could have a very nice time.
I look at tripadvisor a lot, but usually only to decide between hotels in a particular place. I also go with chains that I know I like (Sunscape is owned by Secrets which we had been to and liked). The best way to find a new place, I think, is to go on recommendations of people you know, especially if they have a lot in common with you. That's why we are going to St. Lucia in January - we have heard great things from everyone that has been.
Sorry about getting off topic a bit, but I didn't feel too bad since I started this thread :)
I will come back and post some pictures later. Or you can see tons in my journal :)
11-23-2005, 08:43 AM
Oh my gosh, I LOOOOOOVED my honeymoon in Punta Cana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stayed at Secrets Excellence and it was AWESOME!
The food was better than any 5 star restaurant, the drinks were NOT watered down, and the service was the best I've ever seen anywhere! The beaches were pristine and the water was perfectly cool. They raked and swept the beach every day!
All workers there were happy about their jobs and about serving you! Smiley-est, happiest, prettiest place anywhere on earth!
11-23-2005, 08:49 AM
heather1029: Our friends who got married at Sunscape honeymooned at Secrets Excellence. We were just at Secrets Capri in Mexico and loved it - the food, drinks, people, etc. were great there too. By the sounds of your review we should make a plan to return to Punta Cana and try out the Secrets there!
We really did enjoy Punta Cana immensely. It was gorgeous.
01-10-2006, 09:28 AM
I just posted a big recap of my honeymoon in Punta Cana in my journal. Here's a little sampling of it!
01-10-2006, 09:37 AM
Oooh - pretty pictures heather!! I want to go back and stay at Secrets!
01-12-2006, 07:31 AM
DH and I just got back from Palladium Bavaro in Punta Cana (we went from the 3-10th)......isn't Punta cana just gorgeous!!!!!
It was our second tme, and we're already talking about our next!
I want to try Secret's one day.......
04-19-2006, 04:04 PM
bumping because Punta Cana is awesome
04-20-2006, 08:08 AM
Well, I know you have already seen these on my journal, Heather, but I thought I would share pictures of the resort we are going to in two weeks! We loved Punta Cana so much when we went for our friends' wedding that we are going back for a week. We will be staying at the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana. It is ranked #3 on Trip Advisor. We were going to stay at Secrets, but they were booked up forever, so we decided on this. It looks great and has 10 restaurants which are all supposed to be great - yum!
One of the 4 pools (The resort was voted as having the best pools in the Caribbean on Trip Advisor)
We are so excited!
04-20-2006, 08:13 AM
I just have to add that I was looking back at some of the earlier posts and I am completely baffled as to what people are talking about that mention DR seeming unsafe and scary and all that. I only went to Punta Cana, but never felt unsafe, even in the airport or in the cab or walking down the beach far from the resort. It just was not scary. We were not harassed and it was super clean. And the place we are going this time is supposed to be nicer than where we stayed before, so I'm sure I will only like it more. I have been to Mexico a bunch and, while I love it and plan to return, I cannot see how someone would think it was so much better than DR. I guess it is true that people have very different opinions. I try to see the good in every place we go. The only reason I hated Jamaica is because it is hard to see the good when you get robbed and every minute are being ripped off or sold drugs or someone is begging.
12-24-2006, 11:11 PM
I guess it is true that people have very different opinions. I try to see the good in every place we go. The only reason I hated Jamaica is because it is hard to see the good when you get robbed and every minute are being ripped off or sold drugs or someone is begging.
Yes, I would have to agree with you about everyone having different opinions. I LOVE Jamaica! Yes, it's a third world country where poverty is rampant but to me it's no different than many of the islands - or even NYC. As a tourist I expect that people will try to take advantage of me to some extent since the natives make their money on tourism. I do believe that there are some places in Jamaica that I wouldn't go by myself - like Kingston but when I stay at the Ritz or the Rose Hall I love it. Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril - I have been to all of them. I hope my trip to DR will be even better.
Thanks to all for your advice - very helpful!
12-26-2006, 10:13 AM
kimbyj: I'm sure there are some really nice places in Jamaica. I should have mentioned that my experience was limited, as I only went once and it was to Negril. I did not stay in a fancy all-inclusive. I was on spring break and stayed in a mid-range hotel. It was terrible for me, but that does not mean that others would not enjoy it.
I have been to the DR twice and felt very safe both times everywhere I went. But again, I have only been to Punta Cana and I have stayed in fancy places both times. I hope you have a really great trip!
12-27-2006, 12:39 AM
Thanks Rosa727! We are headed to Puerto Plata I think. I liked the Iberostar hotel but our travel agent suggest Gran Ventanas as nicer.
I can't wait! Cheers!
01-01-2007, 06:41 PM
Rosa727 - Hi! Just wondering how you liked the 2nd hotel you visited. My DH and I are looking at hotels in DR as I type and also wanted to stay at Secrets ... but just like you said, it's booked forever. Thanks!
01-01-2007, 07:39 PM
tgoody: Oh, we loved the Bahia Principe! It was very nice. As compared to Secrets (the one in Mexico, not DR), some things were better, some were not as good. It was just different (especially since Bahia Principe is not adult-only). I should post a few pictures from our trip on here. Some things I thought were great at the Bahia Principe were the spa, the pools, the bars (I can't comment on the drinks, personally, as I was PG when we went, but there were lots of bars everywhere and they presented the drinks nicely, etc., and a fun atmosphere. Secrets was more low-key and quiet whereas Bahia was very festive and fun.
I would love to hear where you decide to stay - come back and let us know!
01-02-2007, 10:00 AM
Just wanted to share a few pictures from my May 2006 trip to Punta Cana. We stayed at the Bahia Principe.
swim-up bar at one of the small pools:
Looking towards the theater:
landscaping - it was so beautiful:
01-31-2007, 07:11 AM
Would love to have the resort question below answered by any of y'all that stayed at different resorts in DR!
hey rosa727 - thanks for those pics! We had decided to go to Costa Rica instead of DR until we found a glitch in our hotel reservation ... they are closing the resort in Sept & Oct ... we were going in Sept ... um, Oops.
Anyway, back to square one. I'm back to ask about the resorts you stayed at in the DR. Can you tell me some of the activities they offer at the pool and around the resort? We like AIs because we get our monies worth at the various bars - specifically the pool bars! :) As dorky as it might be, we end up playing a lot of pool volleyball and other various pool games ... guess that's what sitting at the pool bar for so long gets ya! :rolleyes:
Just an FYI - we have been to MX (Adventura Spa Palace) and Negril (Sandals Negril) and loved every minute of both trips. Both were incredible! The resorts at both were very fun. We are looking for a similiar type experience. Thanks for all your help!
One more thing - although we'd prefer an adults only resort, it's not necessary since the dates we are traveling usually do not have a lot of children at the resorts.
01-31-2007, 10:39 AM
I highly reccommend Palladium in Punta Cana.
Went twice, love love love it!!!
I think I've posted here before about it, though.
01-31-2007, 08:18 PM
ez2luv - Hi! Thanks for replying. I don't think you've really talked about your trips on here just that you enjoyed them. Can you give me some kind of recap or point me towards your journal that has one? Do you have any pictures? Is it a fun atmoshpere with activities or does it just have the random pool volleyball game that everyone dreads? I am trying to talk DH into DR ... don't really want to go to MX again ... for some reason he thinks it might be unsafe in the DR.
02-01-2007, 09:06 PM
We booked our flights to the DR!! Now, all we have to do is pick a resort.
ez2luv - Can you tell me which Palladium you stayed at ... Palladium Bavaro Grand Spa & Resort OR Grand Palladium Palace Resort?
rosa727 - Just wondering which you'd recommend for a fun vacation - the Principe or Sunscape?
02-02-2007, 07:52 AM
tgoody: I would look into the Bahia Principe or maybe the new Sunscape (it's called Sunscape - the Beach and it gets great reviews; the old Sunscape was bought out so I can't promise it would be the same). Bahia Principe is cool because there is an adult-only section, if you are interested. You have your own adult-only pool and restaurants (2, I think). The resort has a really fun feel - lots of activities, shows, contests, etc. It also got "Best Pool in the Caribbean" on Trip Advisor last year. Oh, and it has a GREAT spa!
02-07-2007, 09:25 PM
tgoody03 - Sorry I didn't reply sooner, I forget to come on here, so busy these days!!!
We stayed (both times) at Palladium Bavaro.
Bavaro has little villas. The palace has appt. style buildings.
I prefer the villas, they are quieter....just feels like vacation more to me.
Plus, they (from what I heard) are nicer rooms.
There is so much to the resort, that the added ammenities of the palace (adults only, more $) just isn't necessary.
I walked thru the palace side, people just weren't as happy.
It's hard to describe, but I loved the P. Bavaro and would go again (for a third time) in a heartbeat.
I'll try to post some pics, it's just too pretty there. Any specific Q's, feel free to ask.
I'm not a huge activity person, but there is language, dancing lessons by the pool everyday. There was volleyball too. But, that was at the one pool that I loved to hang out at - the other 2 probably did the same things. The nightly entertainment can be cheesy at times, but guaranteed a good laugh!!!
There are poepl of all ages around you - you choose where to hang out and attend. I heard the disco was a blast - I tried it one night (but not too long) I love to get up early and hit the beach, I didn't have too many late nights!!!
DH and I went into town by cab alone - I had an uneasy feeling at first. Just becasue it was something new and you are unfamiliar. They do pressure you to buy, but not in a threatening way. I got a "Hey Jennifer Lopez, I've got a great neacklace. For you, cheapee cheapee!"
I have to admit, I blushed and looked in his store.
There were no problems going into town. Just like anywhere - act respectable, be polite and mind your own.
Ask for trouble and you will get it, but that's anywhere!!!
OK - I'll try to post pics of Palladium Bavaro in Punta Cana....................
02-07-2007, 09:30 PM
I hope we're still using snapfish......
The pool on the bavaro side (my fav)
02-07-2007, 09:35 PM
why is it so small???
If I use a bigger pic ffrom snapfish, they're all distorted.....
This hasn't happened before. Maybe I'll use flickr....
I'll fix previos post soon, got to attend to a wee-one first....
02-09-2007, 08:01 PM
ez2luv - Thanks so much for the info! Did you use the spa? I may have more questions. Thanks for being willing to help. I'm looking forward to seeing your beautiful pics. :)
Rosa727 - I also want to thank you for your help. Sunscape the Beach is the one we were considering, but have since changed our minds. DH and I decided we do not want to travel an hour away this time around. Plus, I think we'd prefer the Caribbean side rather than the Atlantic Ocean side (we both grew up in FL so we've seen plenty of the AO!)
03-03-2007, 08:10 PM
We are considering visiting DR in late May/early June with our son who will be 23 months old. While we have been to DR before (years ago) and were not too fond of it, we thought we would go back + give it another try as so many people have said they enjoyed it...
We want to stay in Punta Cana this time (we didn't last time and that could have been the mistake). We're looking at Casa De Campo. Anybody have any feedback?
03-04-2007, 08:54 PM
tgoody03 - The spa was beautiful inside and the staff were more than friendly and professional.
I....well.....I had a very sore neck, the muscles were tight. I wanted a tough and deep massage. I didn't get it.
I got a nice relaxing massage, which would have been good if not for the pain that i wanted worked out.
But, DH got a massage from another lady and said it was the best ever.....
Needless to say, they were great and vacation is the time to pamper yourself.
That is the only thing I had at the spa.
But, a girl was leaving after the 'complete' for her wedding that day. It looked like she had massage, hair, nails, amkeup....she looked great!! And so relaxed!!!
I can't get the pics any bigger for some reason???
I tired both pic-posting sites, and they both come out that small.
I miss shutterfly!!!!!!!!!!!!
04-09-2007, 03:16 PM
My friend is getting married in Punta Cana next May and they think they have finalized on the Occidental Grand. I read the reviews on TripAdvisor and they are awful. Have any of you been?
05-01-2007, 12:59 PM
We're going to stay at Secrets Excellence and I have a dumb question. Do I need a voltage converter/adaptor?
And also, are there any reasonably healthy eating options, especially for snacks? I want to have a great time, but I also don't need to gain 5 lbs when I'm walking around in a bikini. Anything else I should know about going to an AI?
05-01-2007, 01:20 PM
I went to Secrets before it changed management, but I'm sure it's still quite similar. We didn't need any special voltage adaptor. I brought all my normal stuff. The guy in customs did steal my hairspray, though, and offered us money for condoms!
I think, if anything, I lost weight while I was there. We were swimming or walking each day. We never had snacks --only beverages in between meals.
My only advice is to bring a bunch of $1 bills to leave in your room for housekeeping. If you do it each day, they leave special things in your room, like fresh flowers or extra drinks in the fridge.
05-01-2007, 01:34 PM
Thanks. That's great on them stealing stuff :rolleyes: I did see they're on the same voltage as us, but I need to be able to use my laptop (sigh) and I've heard the prongs are different. Good to know you didn't have a problem.
I figured to bring a bunch of $1s - for tipping occasionally, housekeeping, etc... That will likely be all the cash we bring. I'll probably bring some shelf stable stuff for eating, hopefully it doesn't get snagged in customs :p
10-04-2007, 06:48 PM
My inlaws are taking the whole family to Punta Cana (Iberostar Resort) in December. I have a 2 and a half year old that I"ll be traveling with, and a 4 month old. We went to Jamaica last year with our toddler, so I'm not concerned about him, but I AM concerned about bringing a four month old.
Am I crazy to go ahead with the trip? If not, do you have any tips for bringing an infant to the DR? :)
10-08-2007, 07:53 PM
scout, I don't have any tips on traveling to DR with an infant, but I just wanted to say that you are definitely NOT crazy for doing a trip like that with your kids! We've taken a lot of trips with our two and I have to say that it was always easier when they were in that infant "sleep anywhere, I'm happy as long as I'm fed" stage. I just kept the baby close to me in my Peanut shell sling and we were good to go. I say go and have a great time! Plus it sounds like you'll have a lot of family around to babysit if you and DH want a night out. :)
10-09-2007, 07:12 AM
Thanks for the vote of confidence! I have a sling, so I think that will help a lot. This is a good point:
I'm happy as long as I'm fed" stage. :) I'm getting excited!
10-11-2007, 03:25 PM
Scout We had four weddings all over the country when Jack was 4-7 months old and he did great on all the trips (three 6 hour flights). I wrote this huge post about tips for traveling with an infant that I compiled from suggestions given to me. Let's see what I can remember.
1. Diaper change - for a quick diaper change place one diaper, ointment and wipes in ziploc bag with changing pad so you don't have to lug your entire diaper bag to the small airplane bathroom.
2. Buy a few new toys for the plane and the trip.
3. Extra shirt for you for the plane (jack was a spitter) if you think you'll need it.
4. A sling is a great tool. We took Jack to France (from Los Angeles) when he was 14 months and he slept four hours in that all the time.
5. Bring a few photos of family. If I remember correctly Jack was about 4-6 months when we used photos on a plane. He stared for a long time at photos. Also, a mirror can distract a kid pretty easily.
6. Jack loved his carseat (lucky us) so we always took it with us and it made everyone comfortable. At times we bought a seat for him but mostly we lucked out with an entrie row to ourselves. If your baby has something like that bring it.
7. Relax and enjoy!!
10-11-2007, 08:09 PM
Thanks for the tips, Meatpie :)
Hi All! DH and I planning a trip to Punta Cana, and we're looking at staying at Excellence Punta Cana. Is this the same place that's been mentioned throughout the thread as Secrets Excellence, but with a name change?
Has anyone stayed at Excellence Punta Cana lately? It's gotten great reviews on trip advisor, just wanted to know what the CCers have to say. Thanks!
03-10-2008, 09:52 AM
JFlo: Haven't stayed at Excellence PC (it was booked up when we went to PC for our babymoon) but I HAVE stayed at other Secrets resorts (it's still owned by Secrets), and they are amazing! The one I stayed at most recently (Secrets Capri - Riviera Maya) won all sorts of top award in Conde Nast magazine. I am sure their PC property is up to the same standard - great food, amazing service, beautiful property.
03-10-2008, 11:27 AM
Has anyone stayed at Excellence Punta Cana lately? It's gotten great reviews on trip advisor, just wanted to know what the CCers have to say. Thanks!
Yes, we stayed there and it was incredible. I highly recommend it.
Thanks rosa and kitty! Glad to hear that the brand name and the actual place are recommended!
We are headed to Punta Cana on the 31st and I can't wait! There will be 9 of us total, I'll have the only 2 kids.......but lots of sitters:D. We are staying at Iberostar Domincana and the tripadvisor reviews are very good. Anyone ever stayed there? Any must do excursions you could recommend?
We just got back from a very nice (baby free! I SLEPT!) though brief trip to Puerto Plata - JetBlue flies direct from JFK now.
Number one flight tip with a baby - have LOTS of diapers and at least one change of clothes for the baby. Without fail, our kid has a MAJOR blow out on every.single.flight.
03-25-2008, 09:28 AM
Well after fighting with my travel agent on the best pricing for Jamaica (Runaway Bay), I happened to check online for packages to Punta Cana and they are about $600 cheaper! So, I might end up taking DD there for a grad present instead of Jamaica.
The reason I chose Jamaica in the first place is because I've been there before, and feel at least somewhat "familiar" with the island. However, DD strongly wants to do the Dolphin Cove encounter, and they have something similar in PC. There is one package in PC itself, but it looks like the one in Puerto Plata is much better. There is an all day package (I think it's $360 per person) that includes a plane trip from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata, and the Dolphin Swim plus other things there.
Ugh, I'm just not sure which to do!! :confused:
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