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Dominican Republic is ‘a slice of paradise’

Suzi McKee • Oct 30, 2019 at 4:30 PM

One of our favorite places to travel is the Dominican Republic. We had been there twice already when very negative news about deaths of Americans began hitting news outlets in early spring. We had already planned our next trip for September with friends from Fort Lauderdale, so we began to follow the news very closely. In late July, we decided to move forward with our plans and make a third trip to this little slice of paradise known for beautiful beaches, exciting excursions and delicious food.

Before our journey, we called our friend Javier Martinez to ask his opinion of what was happening there. “You know my country family McKee. You have been to visit us twice before and you know that we keep you safe so no worries my friends,” was JB’s reply. With airfare booked, we were ready to go.

With 10 days ahead of us, we landed at Punta Cana and began our journey to our resort for another very relaxing vacation. People in the Dominican Republic (DR) are very kind, sensitive to your needs, and work diligently to make sure you have a wonderful time. You are called family (insert your last name) and when they greet you, they place one hand over their heart, tap it a couple of times, and smile.

You’ll find a myriad of activities that include zip lines, horseback riding, tours to local cities, snorkeling, and a host of other water activities.

One of our favorite things on this trip was the Boogie Adventure. You spend time in the countryside of the DR in a dune buggy of sorts; we learned about how their coffee and chocolate are made. Local vendors sell their products to support the small schools in each community. As you travel the bumpy and oftentimes muddy backroads, you’ll see plenty of people going about their daily business.

The vehicle of choice in many areas of the DR is a motorbike which is ridden with no helmet and sometimes with three or four people aboard. These bikes are used as Uber transportation that people hire to get to work each day.

On this visit, we rented a car and drove to a nearby small town called Higuey (pronounced ig-way) which means “land of the sun.” Since Higuey is on the easternmost point of the island, the Taino Indians named it Higuey because it’s the first to see the sun rise each day. The Taino people who first inhabited the Dominican Republic left a culture that is still visible today on the island. In fact, you can attend Taino dinners which feature Dominican food as well as cultural entertainment. As the eighth largest city in the DR, Higuey has an economy based on agriculture, fishing and tourism.

One of the most beautiful churches in the DR is the Basilica Catedral Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia, the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese in the DR. Legend says that long ago a young girl asked her father for a portrait of the Virgin Mary. He brought her the picture as a gift which she placed in her room. Each morning, the portrait would be found outside the house under a small tree. The place became sacred and this basilica was built on the same spot where the portrait always appeared. The picture hangs in the church today. With its spiraling arch out front, local photographers pose travelers in perfect harmony with the arch and cross atop it.

An exquisite treasure found in the DR is the stone called Larimar. The only mine in the world is found in the Dominican Republic and reliable sources on the island say that there are only about four years left for the mining of this precious stone. Larimar is set in both silver and gold, and can be found as earrings, rings and necklaces. This gorgeous stone is an excellent investment to add to your jewelry collection.

Visitors to the Dominican Republic should also place Macao Beach on their list of places to visit. Known for its clear and white sands, this beach is a popular destination for many of the tours around Punta Cana. You’ll be amazed at the different shades of blue in the waters off Macao Beach.

Whether you want to spend an entire day or just a half day out and about on the island, you’ll find a myriad of adventures to keep you engaged as you explore the Dominican Republic.