From Punta Cana to Isla Catalina & Altos de Chavón (Dominican Republic)
Days passed slowly in Punta Cana. At Bávaro Beach, the daily routine started with waking up very early (because of the heat and the jetlag), then a quick run before breakfast and soon afterwards “filling the stomach”, taking advantage of the “all inclusive” regime. We continued with a walk to the beach, where the seaweed invasion insisted on bother us, not letting us see the translucent waters (which we unfortunately didn’t get to see at Bávaro Beach). After lunch, a well-deserved nap and some reading were necessary, and then take a jump to the pool. The day ended with dinner at a themed restaurant or at the main buffet, after which we watch the evening show prepared for tourists.
This is not our favorite type of vacation, but I must confess that we were adapting well to this change.
But we needed something to break the routine and so, in the middle of the week, we booked a full day excursion to visit the paradisiacal Isla Catalina and the emblematic Altos de Chavón.
At Isla Catalina we can see and feel the postcard of the Dominican Republic and in Altos de Chavón we took a trip back in time, a return to the past.
Early in the morning the bus arrived at the hotel with the guide waiting for us. After checking in all the passengers, we left for about 100 km trip to La Romana where we took the boat to Catalina Island. It was a fun trip, with music and dance performed by the crew, perhaps to try to distract us from any eventual waves, but nothing too complicated.
The first images of the Catalina island were stunning. In the distance we observed an immense expanse of white sand, with palm trees, bathed by a crystal clear water that allowed us to see the bottom of the ocean perfectly.
The vivid colors of this scenario reminded us of that iconic “wallpaper” that we had so long as a desktop background, on our computer.
The boat stopped and we dived in those warm waters for a few moments of snorkeling. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much underwater life, because the current was too strong to stayed in the same place. Between fighting against the current and putting your head under the water to see anything, time passed at a glance.
The group returned to the boat and shortly after we stepped on the fine sands of Isla Catalina beach, where the buffet lunch was being prepared. A variety of meats, fish and side dishes were served to comfort the stomachs that, by these days, assumed abnormal dimensions, taking into account the amount of food eaten.
A word of advice: stay away from the wine or what they called “sangria”. Being portuguese and get used to quality nectars, what we drank was far from being wine. We tried it and didn’t like it.
While we were having lunch under a huge palm tree thatch, with cement tables lined with ceramics and with our feet in the sand, a group of artists was preparing to entertain us and show us some of their traditions. At the first drumming, I fell in love with the sounds of Mambo, a street “merengue”, traditional of Dominican Republic Carnival. I hit with my foot in the sand following the frantic rhythm of those sounds, accompanying the energy of the performers.
After lunch, there was still time for a few more photos in this stunning landscape before returning to the boat.
When we arrived at La Romana marina, our bus was waiting to take us to Altos de Chavón, a recreation of an Italian village in the Mediterranean style of the 16th century, built by hand in coral stone. This village created for tourists, located about 100 meters above the Chavón River, benefits from a privileged views to it. It was in his imposing open-air amphitheater, with a capacity for 5000 people, that Frank Sinatra played in 1982 at the inauguration of the village.
We walk through its streets feeling a medieval atmosphere at every corner. In the heart of the village, we found St. Stanislaus Church and it was in the opposite square, with breathtaking views over the Chavón, that we said goodbye and returned to the bus to move on to the hotel.
If at Isla Catalina we can see and feel the postcard of the Dominican Republic, in Altos de Chavón we took a trip back in time, a return to the past on a well-filled day, full of good mood and unique experiences.
Points of Interest:
Isla Catalina, Altos de Chavón.
- Book the tour in advance to ensure better conditions and availability.
- If you get seasickness easily, is always a good option to take something to avoid it, as you have to travel by bus and boat.
Not accessibleto stroller
1125melevation gain uphill
1092melevation gain downhill
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