Lagoon in the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve

Lagoon in the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve

A hermit crab seems to have outgrown his shell

A well camouflaged green snake

Lagoon in the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve

The trail through the forest

Lagoon in the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve

Alsol Luxury Village

One of the pools

Expensive yachts docked at the marina

The deserted main plaza

Empty commercial area

The resort along the water

Walkways along the turqouise water

Cliffs loom behind palm trees at the point

Developments along the coastline

Another pool

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Days at a Resort

March 10, 2015

When you're on a golden sea

You don't need no memory

Just a place to call your own

As we drift into the zone

- Weezer

Punta Cana is sort of an epicenter of resorts and all-inclusive style hotels. Located on the far eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, its airport draws travelers from all around the world with the alluring draw of easy and relaxing vacations. The shopping areas show hints of this international crowd with signs in English, Spanish, French, Russian, and German.

North of the airport is Bavaro, a town that seems to consist of resorts lined up side by side with their gaudy entrances off the main street far from the beach. With the resorts packed so closely together, it is actually difficult to find any public access to the beach as the resorts seem to have bought up all the available land. On the back sides of the resorts one can see the effects of such dense development on the fragile environment. As with any sandy coastal area, the location isn’t suited for such intensive use of resources. The smell of sewage hangs thick in the air as the treatment systems struggle to keep pace. There is considerable trash littered on the streets and walkways and dead palm trees sprout from a polluted lake just off the main road.

South of the airport it is a little bit more relaxed. Here there are large and spread out private developments including resorts, marinas, condominiums, and houses. The construction here has drastically reshaped the land with the new developments bringing artificial marinas, man-made beaches, and finely landscaped roadways. In some places the roads seem to lead nowhere, lined with an endless array of palm trees, available lots, and partially finished developments. There are some remnants of the natural ecosystem here, one being the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve. The small park features some naturally formed freshwater lagoons and peaceful trails through the surrounding forest.

For a change of pace from my usual travels I decided to stay in one of the resorts in the area. The Alsol Luxury Village seemed newer than some of the other resorts, had some good price specials, and received some good reviews. The property itself was constructed in the fashion of a faux-European village, which seemed rather odd considering this was the Dominican Republic, but perhaps the designers thought this would put the tourists at ease. There were two large pools and a maze of walkways through a “Commercial Street” that had yet to see its first store open. Maybe there will be plans to one day open up stores here but for now it all felt rather abandoned. Across the waterway there were nice views of the marina and some very expensive yachts. The small man-made beach was pretty, although the sand wasn’t very soft. All things considered it was a nice place to relax for a couple days but I think that spending any more time there would have become boring.

It wasn’t all that hard to leave the Dominican Republic, especially knowing that I wasn’t going back to winter-like weather in Houston. If I do come back I would like to explore the north coast of the island and the Samana Peninsula, along with the more remote southwestern corner. I’m sure there are also some interesting things to see across the border in Haiti…there may have to be another trip after all.