Food and Beverage:
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated and sterilization should be considered essential. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should first be boiled or otherwise sterilized. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferable served hot. Pork, salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Exercise caution at the beach. Swimmers should remain in well-marked areas and children should be supervised closely. Most beaches and pools, including those at hotels, are unsupervised. The beach at our resort was well marked with buoys, but there were no lifeguards on duty. While we were there, it was very windy and the waves were very high. Avoid swimming alone and avoid deserted and unpatrolled beaches after dark.
Unaccompanied female travelers should exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances and be especially careful about accepting rides, including those on motorcycles or invitations to go for a drink. There have been reported cases of robbery and assault, including sexual assault.
Ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Most resorts provide an in-room safe, usually for a fee. In the event that documents are lost or stolen, travelers should obtain a police report in order to receive a passport or an appropriate travel document from your country's embassy.
The Tourist Police (POLITUR) can provide assistance to tourists. They can be reached toll-free at 1-200-3500
Many Canadians have reported financial problems and complications involving time-share arrangements and other property investment activities. Exercise caution whenever approached by time-share representatives, since they use pressure sales techniques. Do not reveal personal information or show your passport or plane tickets and NEVER provide your credit card.
When we took our trip to Isla Saona-it ws amazing-but!
The beach is even whiter then at the resort, so I thought the sand was even finer!! Wrong, it is not sand but very, very finely grated corral. Nice to walk in, nice to jump into waves-but-not nice to lay in the "sand" and let the waves carry you all over the place. Reason- the corral gets stuck in your bikini bottom, it is so fine you don't feel it. It rubs against yur skin-apparently corral has some sort of chemical-anyway the next day you wake up with 2 HUGE blisters on your ass in the shape of your bottoms-then they get even bigger. And there is no hiding them. But at the pharmacy they have a great antibacterial cream to put on them so they don't get infected!! Another cure-rum-it makes you forget!!;)
On the way out of Punta Cana we were faced with a $50 "tax" for overweight luggage, even though we were leaving with less stuff then we arrived with. We were too mellow by that point in the vacation to argue, and figured it was some sort of DR airport tax/scam, but I have since discovered numerous complaints about this "tax" from people travelling Sky Service in particular. Apparently, if you are energetic enough to protest, the employees checking in your luggage may waive the tax. As you will see from my travel tip about Sky Service, I was not happy with the service generally, so this is yet another reason to find a different carrier to the DR.
Tip: Eat one chewable Pepto Bismo tablet per day starting a day or two before vacation and continue throughout vacation. This tip has really helped me with the typical stomach ailments usually caused by a diet change and too many cocounut drinks. I was told it coated your stomach.
When you leave the resort, wether by yourself or with a tour company. Always keep an eye on your property. Even if the tour company tells you that you can leave your bags on the tour truck.. Take your bags with you or at least keep an eye on them at all times. The tour company we were dealing with, told us to leave our bags on the truck. The driver of the tour truck would keep an eye on our bags, well guess what the driver was inside the establishment we were touring. In the meantime a 10 year old girl was going through our bags and decided to help herself to my Ipod Nano. So watch your bags at all times. It would only be fair to add that the tour company (Jurassic Safari) reimbursed. me for the theft of my Ipod.
It's funny that back at home consuming alcohol was always followed by the consumption of water....and yet when I went to an all inclusive resort and proceeded to drink my own body weight in beer I did not bother with the two beer=one water rule that I follow so strickly at home. Day four found me on the beach in the sun for the day drinking cool refreshing beer. That night found me curled up in the fetal position on the couch in the room....a dried up husk of my former self. Shaking with chills and nauseous, I will from this day forward remember the importance of water.
Beware of the Rum they serve!!! It has side effects- blurriness, slurred speach, inability to walk, loss of direction-loss of room and it makes you think you know how to speak Spanish(really well), but man it makes you salsa like a son of a b#$%^!!
Our first and likely last trip to Dominican Republic. The Bahia Principe Punta Cana all inclusive resort exceeded our expectations, the rest of the country didn't. Rent a car at your own risk as local drivers are INSANE! No rules, white knuckle passing and tailgating is the norm here. Traveling outside your walled & guarded resort without a tour operator is like walking into a lawless wild west town. Peddlers, purse snatchers and muggers are around every corner. Review the U.S. State Dept website for D.R. travel advisories. A few words about Prieto Tours, we booked a trip to the island of Soana via catamaran. What we assumed was a short afternoon excursion to an exclusive paradise turned out to be a 13 hour trip in which 7 hours was for the bus ride and unadvertised stops (the last was at a flea market where prices where no better than the high priced resort shops). The long bus ride did allow people to see the local town of Higuey and vast sugar cane fields in the countryside. The worst part of the trip was returning from Saona via speedboat when we stopped at the popular sandbar in the middle of the ocean. There were hundreds of people from both private and charter boats enjoying the knee high water, splashing about, playing drinking games and using it as a huge toilet. Raw feces floated right past me. Final opinion: beautiful five star resort and beach, happy dancing & signing staff and locals. Many European tourists, expect some topless sunbathers. Very poor country littered with trash and crazy drivers. Motorcyclists don't require a license and it shows.
I just came back from a great 8 day vacation in Dreams Punta Cana. I learned a few things after the fact that I would like to share.
(1) If the website you are booking your vacation package offers a shuttle pay it because it cost $60 American dollars each way from airport to hotel.
(2) Beware w/ phone charges. I used the phone in the hotel that gave me the option of paying w/ a credit card and today I looked at my statement and almost had a heart attack. Ist of all I live in NJ which is a 3 hour and 45 minute flight to Punta Cana.
A one minute phone call was $10
A eight minute call was $47.00
I made 4 calls in today during my stay and I owe $116.00 worth of calls. I reached out to the company and they have all sort of fees. They said they provide service to resorts, hotels and airports. Therefore, beware. They told me if I would have spoken to the operator they would have told me how expensive it was. I don't believe that but my fellow travelers beware!
We were often approached by a man in a boat who called himself 'Fishy Keth'. He tried to sell us various illegal substances. Shamefully my friend Andy Sirman bought some and was glued to the toilet for 4 days and had to make a pair of makeshift underpants out of the room curtain resulting in a $50 fine and a ticking off from the hotel manager
When traveling around Punta Cana, outside of your resort, be prepared for a culture shock. There is no waste management, so you will see litter everywhere. Also please note that, everyone there carries concealed and unconcealed weapons. There are also large roving groups of people everywhere. It's also not uncommon to see a very beautiful mansion sitting next to a run down shack. As with any third world country- DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! Don't even brush your teeth with it.
Don't let any of this scare you, the residents of Punta Cana love their tourists.
Like I said, the food did a number on our stomachs.We were talking to some lady who said to eat all greasy foods because it kills any bacteria in your stomach,but I'm not too sure how well that works either.Anyway just be careful, don't pile too much food on your plate.
On the beach there are Dominican women who set hair with the typical little braids. If you want to choose this hairstlyle, take care of your head skin under the sun. Usually little braids don't ruin your hair, but uncover skin strips. Wear a hat or simply apply a high protection sun cream over your head. A friend of mine who didn't do it, burnt by the sun and ruined her hair!
We travelled with a rather large group - it was a destination wedding. We stayed in resorts next to each other in Punta Cana, both were on the beach. One of the couples in the other resort went night swimming. They were ordered out of the water by sentries with guns who patrolled the beach for the resort. A little disconcerting, I'm sure! It's a good thing that safety is a priority but most of us are not accustomed to armed beach guards. Probably a good idea to stay out of the water after dark!
Prieto tours bus staff broke one piece of our bags. We wanted to file a complaint, but the bus driver did not speak english and after ten minutes he told the bellboy that he had to go and drop other people off at another hotel so he left us there on the curb with broken luggage; he said when the Prieto rep gets there he will take care of us.
Well nothing on monday, but on tuesday the rep came and told us that the bus driver said the luggage was damaged before we got on the bus and he filed a broken suitcase report with the company on monday. the company said that since we did not file a report that they can not do anything - even though we tried to file a report but the bus driver refused, and we have another family as witnesses. The prieto manager came over and said that it had to break before the bus got ahold of it, but that would have been the plane and customs, and the bag was fine there.
The Prieto Tours staff just wanted to cover their butts and created a fake report by a lying driver and refused to take our report at all. At one point the manager who talked to use called me an F%&$/ing lier about it and said he is going to do nothing. He said the company has been around 40 years and that the travel agency will listen to them and not some tourist.
They are very bad, rude, and deceptive. Avoid them at all costs.