Even though I knew since January that I was escaping the woes of winter for my 3-day holiday weekend in Punta Cana, I procrastinate until the night before my flight to pack. My Siamese cats (Henry & Eliot) promptly lay down in my suitcase. “Where we going Mom?” they mewed. I gently lift them back onto my bed and begin neatly placing my clothes in my carryon suitcase.
This is not a trip where I plan to get up at 6 am to go hike 10 miles up a mountain. This is not a vacation that will be spent in a major city visiting museums. This is the old-fashioned Bacchus-style “Go to the beach and sun thyself.” I will consume liberal amounts of frothy girly cocktails on a lounger sitting at the pool in the Dominican Republic.
It is a 4-hour direct flight from Dulles Airport to Punta Cana International Airport—yet a world away from my winter-weary life in Washington, DC. Punta Cana—as a destination—is laid back yet high-energy. It is also not one city but rather a vacation region consisting of a collection of towns which include Cap Cana, Cabeza de Toro, Bavaro, El Cortecito, Arena Gorda, Macao and Uvero Alto. There are scores of family-friendly as well as adult-only resorts. There are 10 different beaches. Although my mini vacation consists of only three nights spent in Cap Cana, they are precious days filled with sunshine, surf and smiles.
It only rains briefly during my stay. The temperature ranges from 78-85 degrees F. The ocean outside my hotel balcony sparkles like the cerulean blue in a Monet painting. People bask on the beach, dousing their bodies with 50 SPF suntan lotion. The coconut smell makes me crave a pina colada with a pool of dark rum floating on top. (I average 2 pinas a day. I just can’t say no!) I can chose so many places to lay—a poolside recliner, a beach bed, an airy rattan room by the sea.
People are rowdy because there are two wedding parties at the resort over the long Presidents’ Weekend. Two outdoor spaces transform into romantic wedding receptions on Saturday night as the sun sets. Afterwards the restaurants fill up after 9 pm for late night dinners.
Instead of dancing the night away, I prefer to rise by 630 am. I want to enjoy the stunning sunrise on the beach. I am surprised to learn that a lot of other people also get up early. We all wrap up in the resort’s tangerine-colored towels and watch the big orb turn golden in the sky.
During my brief stay, I choose to balance my overriding need for pure laziness with two daily bouts of activity—morning yoga and afternoon water aerobics. The yoga class is rather ridiculous because I can’t hear the soft-spoken yoga teacher over the crashing waves. I sneak peeks at my neighbors. A lot of the poses seem made up but it is a heck of a lot of fun to practice yoga at the beach. Plus my reward for getting up early to attend the 8:30 am yoga class is a mimosa with my breakfast.
I think the vacation highlight is my water aerobics class. I can’t remember having so much fun since I body surfed in 8-feet high waves in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We have either Looky-Looky or Fido teach our class. (Fido is our fav.) Their energy, enthusiasm and exhilaration has to be seen to be believed. We are jumping, bending, swinging and dancing in the pool. There is a whole lot of splashing. Typically over 30 people swam up to join the class while another 20 folks stand and watch us at the swimup bar. Our class typically ends with us holding hands and forming a large circle in the pool and shouting “Aye! Aye! Aye!” (The staff also entertains us daily with a dance routine. I still can’t get the lyrics for Danza Kuduro out of my head!)
I will end this blog by saying if you are debating whether you should escape the cold and spend a long holiday weekend in a warm place, the answer is yes. There is absolutely nothing that compares to exchanging a winter coat for a bikini in February and laying on a lounge chair by the ocean. Pure relaxation.
And remember all those clothes I hurriedly packed on the night before my vacation started? Total waste of time. I wore my bikini from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm each day! (I did change into a sundress for dinner but only so I could eat at the resort’s fancy Italian restaurant which had a dress code.) There is a slogan for Punta Cana—“Seas the Day.” This play on words—substituting Seas for Seize—is the truth.
Trip Notes: Punta Cana is served by its own international airport so you won’t waste a lot of time on rough roads. It took 20 minutes for our van to travel from the airport to our resort in Cap Cana. The all-exclusive resorts are a good deal if you only have 48 or 72 hours on land. There are a lot of fun tours (zip line, blue cave, hiking) to book but I wanted maximum time to chill out by the pool and on the beach. Plus the resorts cater to your every whim—whether early morning yoga to late night disco, nightclub and karaoke parties.
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