The Dominican is known for its white sandy beaches, golf, all inclusive resorts and many ecological parks. In fact, nearly 90% of the resorts in Punta Cana are all inclusive. But it’s also known for it’s rich traditions and culture. On my most recent visit to Punta Cana, I had the opportunity to partake in the Dominican's Independence Day festivities, which are celebrated on February 27th. The Dominican Republic's Carnival is celebrated every year during the entire month of February, culminating with the largest celebration on Independence Day. This marks the independence from Haiti. A speech is given every year by the president of the Dominican and celebrations happen throughout the day. Dancing in the streets and lots of traditional food, such s mangu. Mangu is a plantain mash topped with red pickled onions, usually served for breakfast along with a fried egg, fried cheese and fried sausage. Bacalao is a Dominican flaked codfish stew complete with tomatoes, olives and chiles.
Did you know: The Dominican Republic has two unique precious stones that can’t be found anywhere else in the world: Dominican Amber and Larimar.
Currency: Don't worry about exchanging U.S. dollars for Dominican pesos, as dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Punta Cana and the exchange rate is close enough if you're planning on making small purchases like souvenirs. Don't forget cash at the airport.
Americans are required to purchase a $10 visitor's card, also known as a traveler’s card. It is valid for 30 days. Payment is required in cash, and if you pay with a larger bill, you'll get your change in U.S. currency.
Weather: For the majority of the year, expect sunny and 80’s. Hurricane season usually hits in September and October. The rain comes and goes quickly like the afternoon showers in Florida. It’s a refreshing downpour that lasts a little bit and then it’s back to sunny again. However, the wine in the DR can be crazy at times. During the day it’s a mild breeze and you welcome it since it’s hot. At night, it can get up to 20mph or higher and whipped your hair around like no other. A lot of restaurants are open air, especially on the all inclusive properties. I had to put my hair up to eat or my hair would be in my food or in my mouth – just a little tip for you ladies with long hair. Bring lots of hair ties!
Activities: Truly, there is an endless opportunity of activities to enjoy in Punta Cana. Visitors also have plenty of opportunities to go scuba diving and enjoy beautiful coral reefs, as well as hiking, biking, horseback riding, ATV’s and many more experiences to delight your senses.
Whales, Whales, and more Whales: The Dominican is the winter home of massive, beautiful whales. Every year between 2,000 and 3,000 of giant humpback whales gather. They migrate from the north Atlantic to the warm Dominican waters for calving and breeding as their newborns don’t have enough fat to survive the cold winter waters up north. They stay until March before returning to their summer feeding grounds between North America, Greenland, and Iceland.
Tipping: It’s customary to leave 10% for gratuity if you enjoyed the service. Most restaurants already add 10% onto the bill, so make sure you look at your check before leaving extra.
Beverage Recommendations: Try the mamajuana. No, I didn’t say marijuana. The mamajuana is a traditional Dominican Republic drink with rum, red wine, honey and local leaves in many resorts there are classes and materials for guests who want to make their very own souvenir bottle of mamajuana.
Health Tip: Don’t drink the tap water! Tap water in Punta Cana does not undergo any filtration treatment. However, clean and bottled water is readily available wherever you go. For extra caution use the bottled water that the resorts provide when you brush your teeth too.
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