Along the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic lies Punta Cana, a gorgeous enclave where pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters meet the endless sky. Here, Punta Cana gives way from the Caribbean Sea to the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. But Punta Cana is more than just a beautiful beach. From Colonial America to nature retreats to sailing the seas, Punta Cana brings travelers unforgettable luxury, adventure and cultural discoveries.
Take a day trip from Punta Cana to explore the country’s capital, along with 500 years of history and culture. See the land of Christopher Columbus and the history of the New World. I chose to go with I Heart DR.com and learned insights and stories from local guides who are passionate about their country. Your first stop begins at the Three Eyes National Park with its amazing caves and natural lagoons. Then, you’ll head into the city for a tour of the Columbus Palace, palatial home of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher. Diego served as governor of the island and his fortress displays authentic furniture and exhibits of period dress. Walk through the 16-square block Colonial Zone, which showcases the historical significance of the Spanish conquest. You’ll take a break for lunch at a traditional Domingo restaurant where you’ll indulge in local fare and watch live dancing. Walk through Plaza de Espana and then admire the first cathedral built in the Americas. Get a glimpse of the president’s stately home and return to Punta Cana like a conqueror! www.iheartdr.com
Jungle Fever at Scape Park
Adventure awaits at Scape Park, a natural theme park, which combines heart-pumping excitement with fun, educational experiences. Choose either a half day or full day excursion with activities ranging from ziplining to horseback riding to an eco-tour, caving to relaxing on a Sunshine Cruise. Interact with macaws, parrots and other tropical birds at the complimentary Animal Encounter. I chose the Waterfall Expedition, which took us deep into the jungle aboard an open air safari truck with stops at a typical rural home and the beach to taste organic coffee. We ended at a cavernous waterfall, where we splashed in the refreshing waters and celebrated with a natural fruit snack. Get truly immersed in the natural beauty of the island. A day at Scape Park is like a retreat to nature like none other. Save 10% when you book online. scapepark.com
Party Hearty on a Catamaran
Welcome aboard the Dream Sail, an exhilarating cruise along Bavaro Beach. Snorkel in the Natural Coral reef and snap pictures of the tropical fish and colorful flora before you. With tropical drink in hand and lively Caribbean Music, you’ll cruise around Dolphin Island as well as the Sharks and Stingrays Tank. Finally, swim in the refreshing, waters at the natural swimming pool, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea and the sun meets the sky. www.elgringoexcursions.com
New Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort at Karisma Celebrates Families
Karisma Hotels & Resorts recently opened the world’s first Gourmet Inclusive® Nickelodeon Hotels & Resort, a five-star property that blends a luxury experience for adults with Nickelodeon fun for the kids. Karisma’s Gourmet Inclusive experience features deluxe accommodations, culinary excellence, outstanding entertainment and impeccable service. With the Swim up Pad Suite, the pool is right out your door. For those who desire, you can even stay in SpongeBob SquarePants’ Under the Sea Home, all in a pineapple. This luxury villa features two bedrooms and three baths with your own private butler. The Aqua Nick waterpark is tons of fun with waterslides, splash pads and a lazy river as well as games and other activities that keep everyone happy. Meet & Greet DORA, BOOTS and other characters, have a Turtle Power Breakfast, get slimed with your family and enjoy a Splash Mob; the Nick Resort is the place to play. Day Passes available for $125 per adult and half price for kids 4-12. For reservations, call (844) SEE-NICK or visit www.nickresortpuntacana.com.
We came home from Punta Cana, loaded down with Santo Domingo Coffee, a larimar bracelet made of blue stone only found in the mountains of the Dominican Republic and bottles of Mamajuana, an elixir of rum, red wine and honey. But mostly, we came home with incredible memories of an amazing experience…and we want to return.