Ocean World is located in Puerto Plata. It was the highlight of our holiday. I had a fabulous time here and had lots of fun swimmng with the dolphins and we also did the Sea Lion encounter, these are amazing animals and are full of character and life. They perform an amazing show which shows off the clever skills of the lovely Sea Lions.
You may think it is an expensive day but what we got for our money was excellent value.
We swam with dolphins which lasted around one hour, then you have time to spend with the dolphins to have photos and also they record you onto dvd.
We also did the sea lion encounter, this includes a show which is part of the entrance fee, then everyone leaves and there was only 6 of us left, we then got to spend time with the sea lions, we fed them fish, played and stroked them and then had a kiss and a hug which again they take photos of.
All of this cost us 180 Dollars per person... this was for the dolphin swim, sea lion encounter, fees into the Ocean World park and all the shows. We then went to the restaurant and had pizza and chips and some 7up.
The day starts at 8.30am and you get back to your hotel for around 6.30pm.
It was a bargain and definetly a once in a lifetime experience too.
This is a very popular excursion in the Dominican Republic. Enjoy a fun day out with professional guides and explore the unspoilt Dominican countryside. You can see breathtaking views over the beautiful island aswell as going through back street county roads, crossing rivers, streams and lovely sugar cane fields.
Then you visit small villages and can chat to the friendly local people, see there lifestyle and schools. Included is an all you can eat buffet, unlimited soft drinks for everyone and free flowing Rum for the adults. I will warn you though the rum is very strong so do take care!
The locals live a very simple life and do not have much so if you decide to do this tour they love anything given to them, the rep said they love pens, pencils, paper and even toiletries. If your not prepared for it then you can just take the little bottles of shampoo and shower gel, shower caps and soap which you get in the hotel rooms. They are very grateful as they do not have little luxuries like these as they are very expensive here.
I recommend you to take a towel, camera, sun lotion and some cash for sovernirs.
The cost is 85 US Dollars per adult and 42 US Dollars per child and the tour lasts all day.
This is bookable through your tour operator on arrival at your hotel or you can book direct with any of the tour desks at the hotel.
Mel Tours offers most of the tours that are offered at the hotels. At the hotels, the tour reps really push the buying of excursions through their reps. They will try to scare you off from purchasing tours from companies like Mel Tours and others. Their pitch includes that the other tour companies are not insured, have inferior buses, poorer guides, etc. This may be true for some of the outfits on the beach selling excursions, but this is not true for Mel Tours.
Linda was a lot of help. She was not pushy like some companies. She was straight forward and honest. Above all, she had the best prices around.
We booked the Jeep Safari for $25 US per person. Most other places were charging $75 US. Even though we enjoyed the Safari, there is no way it would have been worth $300 US for our family of 4.
Check out Mel Tours for the following:
Puerto Plata Tour
Sport Deep sea fishing
Santiago & Jarabacoa
Tropical Sun Jeep Safari
Santo Domingo Historical & Cultural tour
GRI GRI Lagoon & Playa Grande
Four wheel Funny Bike tour
Haiti One Day trip
Yup, this is Sosúa Beach , some twenty years ago...... no way to shoot the same picture today because on pic 2 you can check out what they have placed on the spot from which I shot the first pic in 1987....... Since the early 80's Sosúa has gone through a major change and it has turned from Paradise to Babylon , Sodom and Gomorrha..... LOL.... that's slightly exagerated but the many languages spoken there are a reminder of Babylon.... Anyway , when in Sosua , check out the main Playa Sosúa that connects El Batey on the east side with Los Charamicos on the west side..... Los Charamicos is poorer , more dominican and authentic , loud and turbulent , while El Batey is the cosmopolitan center , maybe of the whole northern coast......
What's different about Sosúa Beach is the excess of beach enterprise shacks , 200 or so literally glued one to each other, not counting the businesses on the streets leading to the beach..... To see and resist the temptations of this amusing and almost ridiculous chain of dreams-come-true (I'll live in a tropical country and run a bar/shop/restaurant on the beach.!!!.) is an experiece in itself..... (check out my shopping/what to do/tourist trap tips - coming soon). The sandy beach though is still as nice as it was eons ago. Just don't forget to carry some 10 Peso banknotes with you on the beach , in case you have to take a loo or something else..... Some beach entrepreneurs have constructed beautifully nice and well kept toilet facilities for the case of the cases..... You use them , you pay for it.... 10 Pesos = 30 US cents..... That's good business because no matter the economy and tourist flow, there's always a demand for toilets.....
Larimar, a blue green stone which is available in a variety of hews, is a special stone unique to the Dominican. Found only in the mountainous regions of the Dominican Republic, the stone usually ends up adorning jewelry and decoritive items in stores and market places. Because Larimar is unique to the island nation (it is the national stone, in fact!), it is perfect for a gift or as a momento of a great visit. Be warned, hawkers and market vendors do try to sell unsuspecting tourists cheap imitation stones called cat's fire. If you are wondering how to tell the two apart, look carefully at each stone: cat's fire is a single uniform blue while a larimar stone appears to have several shades of blue, green, and white.
Along Sosúa's main stretch of beaches, a market caters to tourists with tacky souvenirs and a plethora of booze and cigars. I observed items for sale ranging from masks (of Indonesian design) to phallic bottle openers and Bob Marley posters, and perhaps even enough shot glasses to contain the copious amounts of Dominican and Puerto Rican rum in every stand. While most of the vendors offer cheap, overpriced garbage, several quality items can also be found. SOME of the jewelry is well crafted, making a great gift for those back home. Some local artists also set up shop here, selling affordable art that can even be beautiful.
Vendors will generally approach tourists who come to close to their stands, asking for "a moment of time" or "just one look." Most are not pushy, and will back away from those who politely decline and continue walking. Note that, like most markets where haggling is involved, vendors usually inflate their initial prices from 200 to 400% of the item's actual cost. Use good judgment when selecting an item. Be confident to ensure you don't walk away with your pockets empty.
(Photograph courtesy of Terri)
As I mention in the "Warning and Danger" section, buying real estate in the DR can be tricky, dangerous and a real tour de force if you have no idea what exactly you're doing and whom to trust. Don't just walk into the next real estate office and show interest.... Take it easy.... I know Sosúa since 22 years and I have dealt a lot with real estate companies in town. This here, Coral Bay Real Estate, a ReMax franchise, is THE one I'd like to recommend to you for its hands on approach and real concern for the customers interests. First of all, ReMax is to real estate what MacDonalds is to hamburgers.... The worlds real estate industry leader.... So, Coral Bay Real Estate is a privately owned and operated ReMax office, almost entirely run by British people. The owner , Sandy (on the right on pic # 4) is from England and so is Eddie, his close coworker (on the left). When you enter the premises of Coral Bay RE though, you will probably be greeted by Jinette ( pic # 3), the very pretty, charming, friendly and competent general secretary of the office, the Good Fairy of Coral Bay.....
Whether you want to buy your dreamhouse on the beach ( have a few liquid dollars ready for this ) or if you're fed up with your finca ( = acres and acres and acres of farming and campestral land ) buy or sell it through Coral Bay RE because they will really work for YOU and not only for their own pockets. ( If you want to know who's only working for his pocket , check out the Warning and Danger section....)
We went to Sosua Bay on the advice of SosuaGal. This is where most of the excursions take people to snorkel. After finding a spot on the beach, we rented some snorkeling gear. The first time we went out, we only went about 100 meters from the beach. There was some coral and a few fish. Lots of sea urchins.
Once my son got braver, we decided to head out to where the excursions drop people off. This was about 3/4 - 1 km from shore. We passed numerous types of coral and few fish on the way. When we got out to the coral reef, instanly we were surronded by hundreds of fish. The fish are use to people feeding them Bananas and bread. It was quite the sight. My son was amazed.
The sad part of the experience was the fact that most of the coral was dead. There were too many boats dropping anchor and too many snorkelers abusing the reef. On our way out, there were two people standing on the reef waving to people on shore.
We rented the equipment for $20 for both of us for the day. An excursion for 1 hour of snorkeling runs between $25 - $65 per person.
This is a light tip.... just take your legs and go for a walk , there's always something new to discover......
Pic 1 shows you the other kind of street hustling, propaganda signs in a row like dominos....
I found this exhibition of these announced services pathetic and funny at the same time.....
I hope they have a reasonable transaction volume after all......
Pic 2, taken on Calle Ayuntamiento during one of the many, short rain gushes in the "winter" period, December to February.....
Pic 3 shows the street from my lots down to the main highway in Sosua...... Last time before this recent trip to Sosúa, this street was a dusty , unpaved and pot-holed path , mostly muddy and a danger to your ankles.... and now.....
Pic 4 is old , from about 12 years ago or so..... A little outside from Sosúa , if you venture away from the main streets, you might have to face this "imminent danger".... "lol". Most of these kids are well behaved and are just curious to exchange a few words with gringo tourists.....
As in any broad mass tourist place on a shore there are foreign owned and run scuba schools en masse too.... Walk down the Playa Sosua and you'll find all these diving outlets and more....
the north coast is pretty nice for diving albeit it doesn't have the splendid diversity of fish and other ocean wildlife as in southern Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kenia or the Carribean. Nevertheless it's a good place to dive or start to dive as most hotels give two free one hour lessons in the pool..... then you decide if you want to go on your first dive in the ocean which won't be much deeper than 3 meters anyway.....
One thing is for sure, there's plenty for the beginners all the way to the experienced.....
Sea World Dominican-German style in Cofresi , about 15 km west of Puerto Plata. I haven't been there but just can imagine judging by the propaganda pictures. Probably a fun filled day for couples young at heart and families with kids between 5 and 12 years....Better take swimming trunks and suits with you. You can swim or pet with dolphins , shmooze with sea lions, caress sting rays and about the sharks and tigers I'm not sure..... You can place macaws , one on each shoulder and another one on top of your head...And you'll probably have a lot of motifs for shooting at least 300 digital pictures if your battery lasts that long and your memory card has a minimum of 512 Kb
( 1 Gb is better )...
Anything else or more , see the pictures.....
There are several beaches in Sosua. The nicest one is the public beach (see pic).
There is the one from Casa marina, which has more waves.
Playa chiquita, like the name says, is a really small beach (20 meters long). It's close to the Casino.
And now there is a new beach (2 years old) which is also close to Casa Marina and the Waterfront hotel.
Just leave your notebook at home..... Nothing more ridiculous than dragging your work along on a sunny carribean holiday... And do not expect too many wi-fi areas anyway.... Maybe at the airport ? And hooking it up to a telephone line and dial up...???? No way, right ? Too slow.....
But then what if you HAVE to check your emails or bank account ?
Sosúa is filled to the gills with Internet Cafés... CyberCafés or LanHouses or whatever they're called today..... Can you remember the days when you could still live without a pute ? Like some 12 years ago when a mouse was still a cute little rodent to you or something from Disney...? And they got us slowly hooked and dependent like junkies..? And one day without internet gives us cold turkey today..??
So if you need to check on your bank account ( like I had to ) and on your emails ( like I wanted to ), visit one of the many convenient and cheap internet cafés.... so you can get your rocks off ( like I had to ). One hour, maybe two and you're calm, reassured and appeased and can then enjoy the rest of the day without worries ( except if a hacker has cleaned out your bank savings....)
And besides staring into the boob LCD screen or at the typoboard in front of you, you can also order icecold passionfruit or apple juice or coffee or beer, eat some snick snacks, smoke your cigarette in some of them and even try to make a pass at the cute waitress ( like I had to.... no luck though....).
I have no notebook anyway, exactly because I don't want to take this thing around the world with me and because when I'm gone from home and in another surrounding, I don't want to be tempted by internet, chatrooms, games and VT reports, I just want to enjoy what I do not have at home.....
So, leave your notebook at home, the internet cafés will console you.....
We went to Cabarete, the next town over, via a rented motorcycle and really had a lot of fun. It's a bigger beach with a younger, more bohemian crowd. I like the beach better, really more interesting things to see, specially if you enjoy (or doing!) windsurfing and kiteboarding. Plan to spend the whole day there, even stay the night if you can. I bet there's a better party scene there.
Sosua is a handy place to walk as it is small enough. There area a couple of very nice things to see: even if you don't like going to the beach; it is worth walking almost there as from there you can find local people selling their handicraft, paintings and many other nice things. Many have made them themselves; so it so supermarket stuff.
The town is fascinating; the streets may be urban or like jungle.
A good tip if you want to save money: don't eat at the western looking restaurants; they are usually tourist traps, the price is many times higher than in local restaurants and food may even not be worth its price. And...do you really enjoy to have your meal among dozens of other tourists or rather among local people?
Walk also a little aside from the main street; I found a wonderful looking Italian restaurant by the cliffs on the seaside; evenings they light dozens of lights and it was breathtakingly beatiful.