In mid-March, I went to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with Pete and his family, and it was amazing. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and truly a breath of fresh air for the soul. We stayed at Now Onyx Punta Cana, went on a couple excursions, ate lots of pineapple, and enjoyed some time in the sun. Here's a recap of our trip and my favorite photos that I took while there.
The first thing I did after arriving at the resort was head to the beach! It was absolutely gorgeous and the water was more clear and blue than I have ever seen before. The weather was perfect every day of the trip, sunny with a temperature in the upper 70s or low 80s and a cool breeze. Coming from the unpredictable weather of Northeast Ohio, this was great.
See our resort hiding among the palm trees below.
We adjusted to the beach-bum life pretty quickly.
The morning view from the balcony. Not too shabby.
Pete and I spent our first full day in the Dominican on an excursion with Seavis Tours out of Bayahibe. We boarded a speed boat for a tour of Saona Island, an island south east of the mainland Dominican Republic. Saona Island is actually a protected nature reserve and part of a Dominican National Park, and we loved that this particular tour put an emphasis on the natural environment (it was actually called an Eco Tour). The owners of the tour company are originally from the Netherlands, so the tour was for both English and German speaking individuals, which made for a boat of people from all over the world. We cruised around the island seeing sights such as the rocks of Penon and a mangrove forest and stopped at the Piscina Natural to snorkel and hang out on sand bank which is known for starfish. Our next destination was Catuano Beach for some more snorkeling and a Dominican Barbecue lunch.
The tour headquarters in Bayahibe
Just two tourists cruisin' on the Caribbean Sea
The water was so clear and turquoise. Unlike any water I've seen before.
On the sandbar which is known for its starfish.
Underwater camera for the win. Here's my little starfish buddy. And by "little", I mean actually really big.
How perfect is this place!
For your viewing pleasure: Pete's model photo shoot. He is available for bookings worldwide.
Our boat for the day
The island cats were very friendly but admittedly, mostly interested in getting our leftover barbecue from lunch.
After lunch, we boarded the speedboat again for Mano Juan, the only village on the Island. It has around 300 residents, no cars, only solar electricity, and its residents are primarily supported by fishing. It was as beautiful as it was charming. The beaches were pristine, the houses painted in pastel colors, and we were followed around the streets by a gang of island dogs and children. Our tour guide knew many of the residents (and pet dogs) on the island, and you could tell that she was not just using the island for an income but was actually invested in the community, its culture, and its people, which was an aspect of the tour that was notable for me. We also stopped by the island's Sea Turtle Project which works to save nests of sea turtle hatchlings on the island (unfortunately, we were too early for the baby turtles this year, so didn't get to hold any new hatchlings. I guess an excuse to come back!). Our last stop of the day was a Caribbean beach called Canto de la Playa which is primarily untouched and the most remote beach on the island. This was a great location for snorkeling, which I loved (this trip was my first snorkeling experience, and it was amazing!!) and we also ate plenty of pineapple while enjoying the sunshine. If you are going to the Dominican, I would highly recommend an Eco Tour with Seavis. Awesome experience!
The island dogs recognized our boat the second we arrived at Mano Juan and came running as a pack towards us (like the cats, they also were excited for our leftovers). All of the Dominican dogs had the sweetest personalities and were clearly living the life there on the island.
How cute is Mano Juan?!? The pastel-colored houses were perfectly tropical.
Touring the village and the Sea Turtle Project
Our second day included a sunset catamaran cruise with Pete's parents and their coworkers. Unfortunately, this sounds much better that it was in reality. It was a bit of a dud, but at least we have some hilarious memories from the boat ride. We accidentally found ourselves on a booze cruise in the midst of spring break season (Spring breakers not pictured. Trust me, you can thank me for this one.). Our tour guide said his name was either "Crazy Mike" or "Blah blah blah", and he made every couple go through a series of painfully cheesy poses for photos. We ended up being the "geriatric boat" on the sandbar and started blasting Frank Sinatra music to match the college students' rap music. The one redeeming factor of this excursion was that I got to snorkel again, and I am always down for this. We got to see some new types of fish from the previous day as they baited the water a bit. But after spending several hours on the boat, we never even got to see the sunset! They took us back to shore before it went down. Well, on the bright side, I got to spend some time on a boat, eat some more fresh Dominican pineapple, and see some more cool fish, so it wasn't a total loss.
I loved how colorful the Dominican was. Let's take some notes, Americans.
We spent the next day beachin' and relaxin', and it was absolutely wonderful. I took a couple of walks down the beach on either side of our resort, snorkeled in the ocean with Matthew and Hannah, swam in the infinity pool, and of course, found some more Dominican dogs.
Pete's surefire way of preventing sunburn
A shoutout to Crazy Mike or Blah Blah Blah for this pose idea. Really original stuff here, folks.
"DON'T MAKE ME LEAVE!" -me
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My name's Ashley, and I'm the photographer behind Ashley Deanna Photography. I am a fun and quirky wedding and engagement photographer serving Cleveland, OH, Akron, OH, and the Northeast Ohio region. Thanks for checking out the blog!