The last time we opted to Ask a Pro about destination-specific excursions was when we covered the Six Must-Do Tours & Excursions for First-Timers to Jamaica, one of top-trending destinations for ALG Vacations® on TravelBlogue this year..
Wondering what’s so appealing about Jamaica? Click here for our Visual Spotlight!
As popular as Jamaica has been for 2023, this island nation still hasn’t managed to knock America’s Caribbean sweetheart out of the number one spot. We’re talking, of course, about the all-inclusive paradise that is Dominican Republic.
While you’ll find anything and everything right on site at top resorts such as the exquisite and exclusive TRS Cap Cana, newly renovated classic Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Falcon’s Resort by Meliá, or Canary Islands-based Lopesan on Costa Bavaro, that doesn’t mean you should remain on campus. In order to find your perfect vacation vibe in the DR, it’s best not to miss out on a tour or excursion.
Here are the ones Amstar DMC – a World Travel Awards nominee for the Caribbean’s Leading Destination Management Company for 2023 – recommend for any traveler, whether it’s your first or fifth.
1. Saona VIP
Dominican Republic is inordinately popular. But that doesn’t mean crowds are unavoidable! Hop on this special tour to cruise to Saona Island on a catamaran. Sip on a drink on a 50-minute ride cutting through the aqua waves of the Caribbean Sea that gets you to the beach entirely too quickly. To soothe the disappointment of disembarking, the tour hosts offer a meal on the shore with sparkling wine and a opulent buffet to accompany tableside service and poured wines from the open bar. After you’ve had your fill of relaxation, you’ll be whisked away on a speedboat to return to Bayahibe, which brings you back to your bus to your hotel in no time at all.
The spectacular beaches of Dominican Republic tend to steal the headlines, but there’s much more to this island nation than that. It’s only a mark of how gorgeous the coastline is that it manages to draw attention away from the historical and colonial city centers like that of Santo Domingo. On this tour, you’ll get to see the American continent’s very first cathedral, Christopher Columbus’ family fortress, and enjoy a traditional Dominican meal at a restaurant. Get your taste buds ready for mangu, tostones, and sancocho. Plus, you’ll have time to shop for souvenirs in Columbus Plaza, allowing you to check that off your to-do list for friends at home.
As settled as the cities and touristic beach regions are, there’s still a lot of wilderness that remains protected in Dominican Republic. Tearing through established trails on an open-air all-terrain vehicle is one of the best ways to experience the inland landscapes near Macao with minimal impact on the land and its creatures as you ride through rice fields, rolling hills, jungles, and back roads. Even better, you can really let loose in the abandoned quarry stop that serves as a circular track to do your best doughnuts in! That is, if you’re riding solo. Those in pairs or in a four-seater will be subject to their passengers, of course! A stop to swim in a cave lets you dust off before driving through a few villages to arrive at a working plantation, where you’ll learn how coffee and chocolate, two of the country’s most famous flavors, are made.
For the best bang for your buck (and time!), you can’t go wrong with this all-day escape. Scape Park is the eco-park for the Punta Cana area, and it includes so, so many activities. Two of the biggest highlights include spelunking in Iguabonita Cave and the Hoyo Azul sinkhole, whose vivid blue waters and intriguing rock formations form a contrast to the thousands of years old stalactites and stalagmites of the cave. Active travelers will love the multiple ziplines that glide you over the canopy and the mountain bike tour, and families the Cultural Route walk that takes them through the peoples who have called DR their homes and El Rancho farm animal encounter. Kids might also love Iguanaland, where they can encounter a species exclusive to Dominican Republic. Lunch at the buffet restaurant is included, but our pros at Amstar recommend upgrading your admission to include a catamaran cruise for a snorkel break.
How much can you experience in just three and a half hours? A lot if you book this tour with your travel pro! It starts with a hotel pickup to your glass-bottom catamaran in the Cabeza de Toro beach area, where you and up to 110 new friends can watch the eastern Dominican coast get smaller in the distance as the fish get larger as you enter deeper waters. You’ll get a drink to further help pass the time before you arrive to the marine park and aquarium and are outfitted with snorkel gear to swim safely among stingrays and friendly nurse sharks. Light snacks and an open bar are your treats on the way back, but first, the captain will crank up the tunes during a detour to a natural swimming pool.
6. Happy Hour
This is an overly simplistic name for a great afternoon … but it’s not entirely inaccurate. This hour lasts three sun-drenched one, but there’s plenty of happy to be had from the modern catamaran you’ll be encouraged to snorkel off of. Much like the Marinarium tour, you’ll sail around Punta Cana with some Mamajuana or another locally inspired cocktail from the open bar and stop at a hidden natural pool, where you’ll hang out or shake it to merengue and bachata while drinking from a floating bar. But this time, you’ll have more time for all of the above while enjoying a different part of the island than the previously mentioned must-do tour.
Plan with a Pro to add these experiences to your itinerary. By having a professional travel advisor handle your excursions and add them into your travel, vacationers get the benefits of making all major payments from home, having everything put together on one bundled bill, and guaranteed confirmed space for all excursions, whose prices through Amstar DMC are guaranteed to be the same as in destination. Plus, stay at one of 12 available Hyatt Inclusive Collection properties for Unlimited=Luxury and more, including the new Dreams Flora Resort & Spa.