We returned from Punta Cana a week ago today, and our experience was amazing! It was our first trip to the Dominican Republic and also our first time staying at an all inclusive resort, but Alex and I both learned a lot from our adventure. I thought I'd share some things we figured out while traveling to Punta Cana and staying at an all inclusive.
Try to speak the language. This is something Alex and I always try to do, but we're always surprised that others don't. More often than not, people will appreciate you trying to communicate in the local language, and I think the staff and others we interacted with treated us better because of this.
Always Tip. We researched this a lot before our trip and brought lots of cash for tipping. While talking to an employee at our resort, we learned that he works long hours and goes days without seeing his family. We had read similar stories, and I was surprised by how happy the employees seemed. The staff was very kind to us, so we were more than happy to tip.
Protect your skin and body. Alex and I take very good care of our skin. We brought tons of sunscreen and bug spray, but still got bit and sunburned. However, we saw many people worse off than us. On one of our excursions we saw a girl who had dozens of agitated bug bites because she didn't put on bug spray. Apply it religiously. . . especially if you're doing nature activities.
Bring a medicine cabinet. We brought ibuprofen, Benadryl, multivitamins, malaria pills, Lactaids (for Alex), probiotics, Pepto-Bismol, anti-diarrhea pills and more. At some point during our trip these were all used.
Get off the resort. We picked some cool excursions, and even just driving outside of the resort helped us see a little more of the island. Our trip would not have been the same if we stayed at our resort the whole trip, and we wouldn't have met half of the people we met.
Eat at the resort. We only ate off of the resort on the days we had excursions, but we considered going to a restaurant for Alex's birthday. The resort had a taxi service, and it would have been relatively easy, but at the end of the day the food at the resort is already paid for. Our resort also had more than enough restaurants to keep us satisfied.
Keep it under 8 days. This one is more of a preference issue, but Alex and I both agreed we stayed a day or two too long (our trip was 9 nights). At all inclusives there is a lot of drinking, eating and in our case sun exposure and activity. We were incredibly exhausted by the end.
A note about where we stayed: We stayed at the Catalonia Royal Bavaro which was about a 20 minute shuttle ride from the airport. We were always the last to be picked up and the first to get dropped off when we went on excursions. The Royal side is the adults only side. This was essential to our experience because we had access to restaurants and amenities on both sides. Like I mentioned earlier the resort staff was wonderful! The resort also hosted many events that we were happy to participate in. Our room had outlets that were compatible with our devices, a personal patio hammock, a blow drier, coffee (no tea), a safe, an iron and ironing board and other thing you'd typically find in US hotels. I would advise bringing your own shampoo, conditioner and shower gel because the hotel's were not so great, a very small let down considering everything else. Oh, and skip the money exchange. We didn't bring any Dominican pesos and didn't need any during our stay. The resort and our excursions both gladly accepted USD, and we also used credit cards a few times.
Feel free to contact me if you want to know anything specific about our trip.