OK, so loads of people come to Punta Cana, on the edge of the Dominican Republic in the middle of the Caribbean, to stay in an all-inclusive resort. This means they don’t have to pay for drinks, or dinner, or think about activities or (really) think about anything at all.
We know that sometimes, that’s exactly the blissful holiday you want. And after the recent news, you have every reason to go for a resort as opposed to a cruise ship!
BUT… we want to make choices, we want to be in control, and today, in Punta Cana … we want to go kite surfing!
Kite Club Punta Cana offers beginner kitesurfing lessons, ranging from the group session we’ll be taking (two hours after breakfast, and two more hours after lunch) to private courses that can spread across multiple days and all levels of kitesurfing experience. Punta Cana isn’t Tarifa, Spain, or any of the Brazilian beaches where kite surfing is the main event – we’re hoping that makes it easy for us grommits (does that newbie term apply to kiteboards like it does to surfboards?).
We’re starting on the beach (as we did when we learnt to surf in Byron Bay, Australia) with a training kite … and HOLY WOW, there’s some strength in that wind. Ever wondered what whips the kite surfers across the water at such a rapid rate? It’s the power in that wind, and we can see why it’s crucial that we get the feel for it on dry land.
Laugh now as I fall over and eat a faceful of sand! I promise I’ll be more co-ordinated when we get wet.
(OK – maybe that’s me being optimistic. Thankfully, the one thing I can handle easily is the international hand signals every kite surfer needs to know before hitting the water).
So we’ve ordered the Bandera – a traditional Dominican Republic meal, and it’s almost as surprising as that first gust of wind. After a couple of weeks tripping across central and south america, we weren’t surprised to see the rice, beans, and meat combination … the fried bananas, however, we didn’t see coming, and the sweetness cuts through the other flavours just right – you’ll be putting the second spoonful in your mouth before you’ve even fully registered the flavour.
We’ve put another Dominican delicacy, the Habichuelas con dulce (a sweet dessert), on hold – think of it as a reward for when we return from the afternoon’s kite surfing.
How can we describe the experience of using the kite to surf across the waves of the Caribbean? Wet. Wet really sums it up!
There are the exhilarating moments when the wind and the waves combine in the right direction and at the right time. The pure joy when we feel ourselves being held aloft by the equipment, when we have foresight and control over this combination of board, leash, kites, and mother nature herself.
These moments are short-lived as a beginner! More often than not, mother nature responds to our feelings of control by kinking the kite, or compelling us to shift our weight on the kiteboard just too much in one direction. And then SPLASH! We’re in the drink.
Thinking of visiting Haiti?
When it came to planning this trip through the Caribbean, the opportunity to visit both the Dominican Republic and its neighbour Haiti was top of the list. Having researched it thoroughly, however, we cannot in good conscience recommend Haiti as a tourist destination again just yet.
You may remember the earthquake devastation in Christchurch, which remains a pop-up city two years later. New Zealand is a wealthy western nation – Haiti (for fascinating and tragic reasons dating back 200 years – this Guardian article is amazing) is an impoverished nation, and was hit by an earthquake that released ten times as much energy as Christchurch’s. As a sad result, 3 years later, the country still carries risks of violence and disease (in particular cholera).
More importantly – even though it is possible to be patient and make the drive across the border, remember that your involvement in the country will likely take away scarce resources. Even today, humanitarian volunteers are still being told that their money, not their food-and-water-consuming presence, is required.
There’s the obvious – miles of perfect beaches, begging us for an afternoon walk along the sand or an hour spent lying on the beach and listening to the waves.
There’s also the alternative, resort way to spend time in the sand, and that’s at any of the nearby golf courses. Here, the idea is to avoid the sand and the water … we’re going to blame the workout kitesurfing does on our upper body for the … multiple … wayward shots. Good thing we chose to only play 9 holes!
Over the past few weeks we’ve pointed out how some great travel destinations (especially those off the beaten track) share names, from Antigua (volcanoes v beaches) to Trinidad (reggae v Jesuit priests). Possibly the most confusing is Dominica v the Domincan Republic (tiny Caribbean island v small Caribbean island). So if you’re looking for tips on visiting the Dominican Republic, here’s tip #1 – check everything to make sure you haven’t accidentally booked transport, accommodation or an amazing tour … on another island 500 miles away!
(And if you think it’s a mistake nobody would make, check out this genuinely (normally) great travel blogger – his list of top 5 things to do in the Dominican Republic includes the Boiling Lake in Dominica. If it can happen to him, it can definitely happen to you!).
All that really tells us … is just how amazing and wonderful this world is when you head out there and travel through it. So thank you for being part of the Every Daydream Holiday experience, and with particular thanks to those readers who have signed up for our daily email stories and who have shared our website on their blog or on Facebook and Twitter. See you tomorrow when we we depart Punta Cana for … well, you’ll just have to find out!
Want to go? Need to know!
- Because of its appeal to “all-inclusive” resort vacations, Punta Cana also has a reputation for … um … not quite honest resort marketing. In fact, several Punta Cana resorts are mentioned in this article about not trusting hotel photographs.
- If you’re looking for some Kite Surfing Dominican Republic spots away from the resorts, you can head out to Cabarete or Las Terrenas and hit the waves at all levels.
- The Punta Cana resort and club has 45 holes over two courses. It’s a peaceful way to spend an afternoon … or at least, it can be.
- Seize your wanderlust travel bug and never let go with our free daily travel newsletter.
Would you rather be kitesurfing, golfing … or lying on a beach somewhere peaceful? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.