When it comes to popular sun destinations, Punta Cana is a relatively new kid on the block. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the tourism industry caught on to the fact that the Dominican Republic’s easternmost tip is home to spectacular, virtually untouched beaches. This eventually led to the opening of a fresh crop of contemporary all-inclusives and attractions that offer innovative, out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
Cigar aficionados regard Dominican stogies as among the best in the world. Many tours visit factories where you can see artistry in action as leaves are cut and deftly shaped into cigars. But, for those who prefer a hands-on approach, a number of resorts (Paradisus Palma Real and Paradisus Punta Cana) have complimentary cigar-rolling classes for guests.
Taste Dominican chocolate
The Dominican Republic’s tropical climate makes it a perfect spot for producing cocoa beans, the star ingredient in chocolate. At ChocoMuseo in Punta Cana, you can experience it right at the source by rolling up your sleeves for a two-hour workshop, “From Bean to Bar.” It includes oodles of samples to taste and a chance to make your own artisanal chocolates to take home.
Take a segway tour
You can hike through the world-famous Punta Cana Ecological Reserve, but that might seem like a lot of work. Instead, sign up for a four-hour Segway Eco Tour that hits some of the area’s hot spots like a sugar cane plantation, a bee farm and the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve, where you can peel down to your bathing suit and jump into one of 12 freshwater lagoons.
At Club Med, the CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil lets both adults and children tap into their inner performer. This giant interactive playground features more than 30 activities, from flying trapeze and juggling to clowning and tightrope, guided by well-trained staffers. Non-guests of the resort can also join the fun thanks to day passes offering access to the facilities.
There aren’t too many places in the Caribbean where you can watch a polo match that pits top players from around the world against one another, but that’s just what you’ll find at Casa de Campo resort in La Romana, a 50-minute drive from Punta Cana. The polo season runs from November to April, and the cost of being among the horsey set to see the “sport of kings?” Nada.
[This story appears in the October 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine.]
Five Places to Explore in Puerto Plata
The 16th-century city of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic is the perfect spot for travellers looking for a bit more than lounging on the beach. Get a bird's eye view of the city from the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, explore a historic fort at Fortaleza San Felipe and visit the many historical monuments in Puerto Plata's colourful downtown.