After Cuba we wanted something a little more upscale for our next vacation. We knew a few people who had been to Punta Cana and loved it, so we started investigating. Having already been to Puerto Plata we were familiar with the Dominican Republic, but we really wanted to see Bavaro Beach.
We found a really good deal to the Grand Palladium Bavaro Beach. So along with two other couples we packed up and headed to Punta Cana for a week.
The resort was massive – a ‘mega’ resort (or as I heard them called many time – the ‘Walmart’ of resorts). It was the first time we had seen a resort of that size. Crazy big. Bavaro Beach was spectacular! The resort itself wasn’t anything special. Fun yes, but memorable – meh not really, well except for the sore feet. Even though there are little trains and golf carts to ferry people around, you still walk a lot. Rooms were average, service – well there are just too many people for it to be great, grounds were pretty, food was way better than Cuba and there were more off resort things to do.
None of the resorts in Punta Cana are far from the airport. It is mainly a trip along the main hotel strip to get to any resort. It is kind of neat to see all of the other resorts as you go along on the bus.
We had an awesome time on the Dune Buggy’s in Puerto Plata, so we booked that in Punta Cana. Not even close to being as fun. It was more about the stops and shopping then buggying.
We went snorkeling with Lorenzo on a small catamaran. It only held 14 people and no alcohol or loud music. This trip was about the snorkeling and the sailing. The snorkeling was good for the Dominican. The sail back was amazing! No motor just the sound of the water under the boat and people talking softly as we went by the non-tourist beaches. Amazing. So peaceful.
It was that moment where I realized that going off the beaten path and staying away from the guided tours was such a better way to do and see things. Don’t get me wrong, some of the tours can be fun, but to really see a place you have to separate from the group.
We enjoyed this trip a lot. It really set the stage for a lot of our future trips. We learned likes and dislikes, discovered things we wanted to try and things we just didn’t like or want to do. We were becoming more confident travelers. Most importantly we discovered our adventurous side.
We went to Punta Cana two more times, most recently in 2016. It is funny when I look back to this trip now. Of the three resorts (all different areas) we have been two this is the one I liked the least. At the time I thought it was great, big but still great.
It was this resort however which set us on a course for our first trip to the Riviera Maya. Had we not stayed at the Palladium in Punta Cana we probably never would have booked the Palladium in the Riviera Maya. If we hadn’t been to the Palladium, we never would have known how beautiful and amazing the Riviera Maya is. We never would have had the opportunity to fall in love with the area like we did.
We all wanted to see the Riviera Maya, but were nervous. You know, all those stories people tell. So, we figured with a resort that big if we were afraid to go off the resort there would be plenty to do on the resort.
It took us about 10 minutes after arriving at the resort to realize that there was nothing to fear and that the people telling the stories clearly had never been there or people who had not necessarily been smart travelers.
Next up: Our first trip to the Riviera Maya. My favourite destination of them all so far!