By Jacob Aldridge

Think Caribbean island, and you’ll think fabulous beaches and luxury resorts. Flying into the Dominican Republic last night, that was exactly what this chain of islands looked like peeking their sandy beaches out from the greenery.

Flying into the Dominican Republic. Photographs from airplanes are hard to take - a beach holiday in Punta Cana is much easier to take.

Flying into the Dominican Republic. Photo by Krawiec, CC License.

But Punta Cana, on the very eastern edge of the Dominican Republic, is definitely not a poor man’s substitute for Barbados, or Richard Branson’s private island. Nope – this is the adventure capital of the Caribbean, and we’re here to rip it up!

Today’s Experience

The sun rises over the ocean in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The sun rises over the ocean in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Photo by Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire, CC License.

Don’t worry – you won’t be expected to jump off a bridge (again) today. In fact, we’ve got a quiet drive from our hotel to the beautifully named Lemon Lagoon Bay.

Assuming a 4WD Dune Buggy fanging it off road could ever be considered quiet!

Little Dune Buggy is a song by POTUSA (Presidents of the USA) - and it seems appropriate for this photo!

Little Dune Buggy, in the Sand; Little blue dune buggy, in my hands! Photo by Raleigh Woman, CC License.

Yeee Haaaaa! It’s the only thing we can think to say as we finally get the hang of these controls, and open up the throttle.

Can you smell the sea air as it whistles through the open cabin of the dune buggy? Our destination is Laguna del Limon, to the north of the island. It’s an amazing, 90km journey – plenty of chances for everyone (who wants, and can handle a manual stick shift) to have a drive, and also loads of time to stop and explore the island – and the ocean that surrounds it!

Our first stop is Uvero Alto, a beach resort town. Wide sandy beaches fringed by palm trees – this is the tropical island lifestyle; we’ve arrived too late in the year to be bothered by Hurricanes, and early enough in the day to beat the ‘crowds’.

The beach at Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic. Peaceful and not crowded, perfect for a beach holiday.

The beach at Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic. Photo by Jaime W, CC License.

That’s a sign of a good holiday destination, by the way. At the really crowded beaches on the French Riviera or the Caribbean, tourists are out before breakfast to claim their preferred spot. When you find a beach mid-morning that’s not full of towels, you know it’s unlikely to be full of people later in the day. If you’ve had enough of a buggy joyride for today, you can probably siesta on a sunbed here and we’ll collect you on the way home. But you’ll be missing out on…

…the inland experience, as we swing through Nissibon. There are workers in the fields (it is Monday, after all!), and most don’t even look up as we coast by. Crazy tourists in dune buggies are obviously a regular thing in the Dominican Republic!

Dune Buggy Tour, from Punta Cana to Laguna del Limon via Uvero Alto and Nissibon, Dominican Republic.

Dune Buggy Tour, from Punta Cana to Laguna del Limon, Dominican Republic. Photo by Rob Wiss, CC License.

Our final stretch takes us back to the coast, along the Playa La Vacama and 15 kilometres (9 miles) of beach driving. If you thought Uvero Alto was quiet, then you’ll reckon this place is a silent monastery. Sure, there’s the low rumble of our various engines, but it barely resonates above the sound of waves lapping onto the shore. The hum of the wind in our ears and the wheels on the sand creates a trance-like state. You want to scream some more yaaa-hoooos to break things up – and before you know it they’re echoed by the passengers in the other buggies.

Yahoo! Yahoo! Yahoo!!! What a way to feel alive!

Lunch is served at the Hotel Limon, next to the Laguna del Limon. We’ve got plenty of time to experience the freshwater lagoon … by kayak, as we move ourselves around the inland body of water and observe the variety of birds feeding and nesting among the mangroves.

There’s a moment as we find ourselves in the middle of the lake where civilization feels like a work of fiction. The great cities of the world are calling to us, appealing to our traveller and cultural instincts, but right here, right now … it’s hard to believe anyone ever chose to leave their waterside community and go build a skyscraper. Who in their right mind would trade a kayak for the subway?

A bird takes to the air, mangroves and a sunset in the background of this Dominican Republic wildlife photograph.

A bird takes to the air, mangroves and a sunset in the background. Photo by Barbara Walsh, CC License. If you love this photo, visit Barbara Walsh’s photography site and buy a copy for yourself.

No doubt we’ll see some of them on our return dune buggy drive to Punta Cana. Those tourists at the end of their travel, heading back to the grind. Tomorrow, we’ll be at the beach and they’ll be in the office – hopefully they’ll do what all good travel lovers do, which is subscribe to Every Daydream Holiday and enjoy everyday with their morning coffee break.

For now – wherever you may be reading this – let out a few more loud yahoos, to let the world know you’re alive!

A beach sunset in the Dominican Republic. Beach sunsets are easier to photograph than beach sunrises.

A beach sunset in the Dominican Republic. Photo by JDN, CC License.

Want to go? Need to know!

  • Remarkably, it’s possible to organise this whole experience for about $150 each – and half day tours are also available.
  • Punta Cana is best known as an all-inclusive resort destination – as we’ll discover tomorrow, that’s missing half the story!
  • We craft these experiences every day so that travel lovers who might be stuck at work or on their daily commute have a chance to escape – even just for ten minutes. Are you receiving your daily dose of travel escape? It’s free, click here.

What travel experiences have made you feel alive? Share them with the world in the comments below or on our Facebook page.