Partying and Pleasure Trips in Punta Cana
The imposing villa Casa Ambra offers the perfect springboard to a voyage of discovery in the beautiful, verdant nation of the Dominican Republic. With complimentary transfers from Punta Cana airport, six luxuriously appointed bedrooms and a stunning infinity pool, the property is a picturesque and decadent bolthole in a nation which plays, and parties, hard.
The regional calendar in Dominican Republic is dotted with significant festivities. Restoration Day is the country’s version of carnival. Celebrated everywhere, it involves gaudy costumes, parades, and plenty of loud live music. Right in Punta Cana itself, the one-day Carnival event is a gigantic ocean front celebration with photo opportunities galore as locals compete for the best costume award. It’s also a great way to sample the best of the fresh produce, beverages and street food on offer.
Punta Cana enjoys proximity to some of the very best beaches in DR, including Macao Beach, which remains remarkably unspoiled and undeveloped. Uvero Alto is a similarly peaceful white sand retreat, with few distractions from the allure of rustling palm trees and some of the country’s best snorkelling.
Dominican Republic is highly regarded for its wild marine attractions. Areno Gorda beach offers an interesting shipwreck to explore. The Astron freighter foundered in 1978, and sunk at a depth of about 16 metres, with its mast still protruding for curious beachgoers, accidentally creating the perfect wreck site. Sailing to Saona Island creates the opportunity to snorkel amongst countless shoals of tropical fish in a shallow lagoon with excellent visibility and innumerable lovely starfish. The island itself offers volleyball, cocktails and the chance to sample Merengue dancing.
There are numerous glass bottom boat trips and shark and ray tours departing from Punta Cana. Operators can virtually guarantee memorable encounters with stingrays, nurse sharks and reef sharks, as well as beautiful and intricate natural corals and sponges. Bull sharks, tiger sharks and white tips are rarer but sometimes present for more adrenalin-fuelled deep water encounters. Punta Cana is also a great place to acquire a PADI qualification and graduate from snorkeling to diving with the diverse and compelling marine residents.
It’s the Bay of Samana, however, which offers the globally important attraction of a major breeding ground for humpback whales. Plenty of Caribbean destinations offer the opportunity to see dolphins and smaller whale pods, but seeing, and often hearing, a mighty humpback whale is a different experiential category altogether.
If a picnic or watersports on a desert island paradise is a bit too self-starting, Bavaro Beach has an array of funky beach bars and snack shacks. There are plenty of more sophisticated dining options in Punta Cana too. Upmarket seafood is a common and delicious theme, particularly well-executed at Restaurante Club Acquamare, La Palapa by Eden Roc and Blue Marlin. The latter offers dining right on a pretty pier, with fresh catch of the day provided by the restaurant’s own fishing boats. La Yola offers great lobster and shrimp in the appealing surroundings of an indoor/outdoor eaterie designed to look like the traditional fishing craft from which it takes its name. Glitzy ORO nightclub is a magnet for beautiful people and a memorable way to end an evening.
With so many attractions just outside Casa Ambra’s doors, the only dilemma is which of them to enjoy first.
By Phileas French, Travel Writer