Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Travel Journal

Written by Ann Cook.

Sun, Dec 20, 2009
We left the freshly fallen snow in Lansing early in the morning and took the Michigan Flyer to the Detroit airport, arriving in the Dominican Republic at about 3:30 p.m. local time. The first thing we saw as we disembarked the plane was the thatched roof of the airport, which immediately set the mood for a tropical island getaway. The Apple Vacation representatives met us in the lobby and took us by bus to the Ocean Blue and Sands Resort. During the ride to the hotel, it was fascinating to see the Dominican homes, shopping, transportation, agriculture, and native people. By the time we got to the room we were so tired that we collapsed on the beds while we waited for the bellhops to bring up our luggage. Afterward we went to the pool and swam over to the bar for tropical drinks. Just about that time the sun went down and we went back to the room to get ready for dinner at one of the resort’s many restaurants or the buffet.

Mon, Dec 21, 2009
In the morning we met with our Apple Vacation representatives to set up some excursions. We jumped right in and signed up for the day’s reef exploration outing. We left the hotel at 12:30 and took a bus to the dive setting, holding onto the rails as the bus ride was pretty bumpy. From the bus we were able to take in some more of the Dominican terrain on the way to the reef. Once we arrived at the site, a boat took us out to a large docking station and it only took a few minutes to put on our snorkeling gear and get in the water. We were so amazed when we looked in the water; who knew all those little fish were swimming around us! The first thing we saw when we put our heads in the water were beautiful blue fish with a long, almost stick-like snouts. We swam along under water following our guide among other kinds of colorful fish and reefs. The guide handed us a sea urchin and a conch shell. We came back to the boat for sandwiches, smoothies and a massage. After a short break, we went to swim with the stingrays. Our guides would catch one of the stingrays and bring it up for us to hold. They were quite heavy and felt like wet rubber. We then went on to the shark area. We were so excited to be able to pet one of the sharks.

Tue, Dec 22, 2009
Today we got up and went to a buffet breakfast. They had everything you could think of; fruit, cereal, madeto- order omelets, bacon, etc. The Dominican coffee was awesome, definitely the best we have ever had. After breakfast we headed to the beach and lay out in the sun. We took out a four-seat catamaran, which was really easy to operate. The ocean water was warm and the sailing was peaceful and relaxing. We walked the beach and spent some time shopping at the beach fl ea market. The Dominicans really like to haggle so we were able to find some great prices on souvenirs. The fl ea market was full of beautiful paintings, trinkets and jewelry made from amber and blue Larimar, for which the Dominican Republic is well known. We met a lot of people from all over the world, but especially from Canada and France. We loved hearing all the different accents.

Wed, Dec 23, 2009
We got daring today and went zip lining in the jungle! The zip line company truck picked us up in front of the hotel. The truck had nine rows of benches and was open on the sides with a canvas roof and the ride to get there was half the fun — probably just as scary as the zip line! The last third of the ride to get up to the mountain was an extremely bumpy road, only as wide as a single lane. When trucks came from the other direction we all held our breath as they somehow got around us. Once we arrived at the top of the mountain, we were geared up and sailed across ten different zip lines through the jungle. We really enjoyed this outing. On the ride back to the hotel, children would run up to the bus for gifts. The guides supplied us with little bags full of candy and small toys, which the children loved, and the looks on their faces were priceless.

Thursday, Dec 24, 2009
Today we decided to golf at La Cana. A taxi took us to the golf course, which was about a half hour away and in the richer area of the island. There was a twenty-minute rain delay due to a severe storm. Once the storm was over, we were introduced to our caddie. The caddie was not allowed to ride in our cart, so he ran alongside the cart. The golf course was gorgeous, with a lot of palm trees and an interesting layout. Five of the holes played along the ocean. For dinner we went to the buffet and they had quite a feast for Christmas Eve. It was incredible! After dinner we relaxed in the lobby and listened to a piano player.

Friday, Dec 25, 2009
When we woke up today, we were all exhausted and glad we didn’t have any plans! We spent the day working on our tans at the pool. The zookeeper walked around the pool with a monkey and parrots. We took turns trying to hold the monkey as it climbed from our arms up to the top of our heads. The monkey was lively; his hands felt like rubber and his fur was as soft as velvet. At the end of the day we relaxed in the room watching the four English speaking TV channels. In the evening we saw a show that the Dominican staff put on at the outdoor theater — quite entertaining with a lot of audience participation.

Sat, Dec 26, 2009
Since it was the last day of our trip, we decided to spend the day soaking up the suns rays at the beach. We decided to go parasailing. There were about ten people in our group and each person took a turn. The ride was about 15 minutes and it felt like you were on a big swing in the sky. Looking down from up in the sky we saw a sea turtle swimming along in the ocean. The ocean was the most amazing teal blue color. The rest of the day we spent lying out in the sun and swimming in the ocean.

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