Where do I start? I had a blast! The weather could have not been more perfect, the sights were breathtaking, the food and drinks were extremely tasty, and I recommend the Dominican Republic to anyone who wants sand, surf, and adventure.
Melia Caribe Tropical
In my opinion, all-inclusive is the way to go! They give you a bracelet and you do not have to worry about paying for food and drink. Which was awesome. I did not need to walk around with my wallet but I did bring a smaller one with a bunch of singles to tip. At the resort, they had a variety of restaurants and buffets. My friend and I did not have one bad meal and at the buffets, they try to cater to various people’s pallets and cultures. I still loved how they still offered Dominican food because I was so excited about trying it. When it comes to drinks, they will literally serve you at anytime. But because it is all-inclusive, they do not put as much alcohol in it. My friend and I literally had 6 drinks and did not feel anything (and my friend is a well-known lightweight). If you are drinking to party or have intentions of getting drunk, I recommend you order shots or drink wine. Mamajuana is the liquor of choice in DR, it sort of tastes like Fireball. Also, the staff is always ready to remind you to neverrrrr drink to water. Water bottles will become your bestfriend.
It was amazing how similar to the resort was to the pictures offered online. You can literally print out the pictures they show online, print them, bring them with you, and walk around and match them with the sights. This particular hotel takes pains to make sure the landscaping is always beautiful. At one point, my friend and I joked how swiftly a landscaper would come by when a random branch fell onto one of the paths. I love how the Melia intertwines the comforts of a hotel with the beauty of the Dominican Republic. It was literally like walking through a jungle. Every morning, I loved looking off the patio and staring at the palm trees. The fountains were picturesque and it was so cool because there were a bunch of peacocks and flamingos causally walking around!
Looked literally like the pictures offered on the website. My friend and I are recent college graduates, aka we got no $$$ so we did not upgrade our room and just got the room that came along with the package. I have no complaints. A/C was a godsend, the patio was perfect, and we were a 2-minute to the pool and a 5-minute walk to the beach. The refrigerator was also packed with water bottles! if you ever need some more, ask one of the maids, they have a bunch.
Lovedddd it! So cool how they have a pool bar and its so wide. Could have not asked for a better pool. The lounge chairs were great and they offered a variety of shade because lets be honest here, that sun is no joke!
The sand is white, the ocean is blue, the sun is hot, and the drinks are cold! Very nice beach. The reviews did note how there would be a bunch of people all over you trying to sell you stuff. It is true, my friend and I just ignored them. But don’t ignore the guy selling coconut water–it was tasty!
Things to know!
- Tipping: Before going on the trip, I was pretty concerned about the proper way to tip because I am a waitress and I know how it feels to be stiffed! Call it “tip karma” but I always make sure to ask about tipping before I go anywhere. To get a sense of how much a single US dollar can matter to an employee there, 1 American Dollar=47 Dominican pesos. The average salary of a Dominican citizen is $200. So yes, tipping a $1 to your favorite server, maid, or driver would be super helpful. Obviously, you do not need to tip but my friend and I tipped a few employees who truly made our time special. We made quick friends with the bartender, who always made sure to serve us first.
- Tu hables español?: The staff members who work closely with guests, like higher ups or the front of desk, are more multilingual and we found that their spanish was pretty good. My friend and I were thankful we paid attention in Spanish class because it did in some ways, help. Most of the staff is decent in English but we found it beneficial that we were able to communicate with the staff in a different level.
- Staff: I remember when looking at reviews for various hotels, that a lot of people would comment that the staff was unfriendly. I do not know about other hotels but at the Melia Caribe Tropical, my friend and I loved how the staff treated us like family. Eager to help us out when were lost, offer suggestions, and always ready to smile at us and say “Buenos dias/tardes/noches” or “Hola, como estas?”, I am shocked some people found the staff rude. Whenever I left our villa, I always made sure to greet everyone with a friendly smile and a wave and the staff always greeted me back.
There is a bunch of excursion that are offered at the resort but my friend and I decided to only do one, which was to visit Saona Island. We booked it through Amstar, who we booked our private transportation from.
History: I liked learning about the history of DR. Our tour guide was very helpful and loved telling us little tidbits about the country. Of course, we talked about Christopher Columbus, the sugar can plantains, the tension between DR and Haiti, and how tourism is the countries main source of wealth. I love learning about other cultures so it was interesting. It is sad to know how devastating it still is in Haiti and hurts to hear how much the people suffer while we frolic on their land and beaches.
Culture: Boy, do the people love to dance and party. When we got on the boat, we were immediately handed coke and rum. And mind you, it was not even 10 am. It was so fun. On the boat, the captain and our tour guide wanted to show us a slice of the Dominican lifestyle so as we cruised through the Carribean sea, we danced bachata, sang, drank coke and rum, and watched in delight as we saw dolphins.
The island: Ahhhh! So beautiful. I could literally go all day about how blue the water was. I am mean, how can I ever go back to the Jersey Shore after experiencing that?
What to bring:
- Sunscreen: Don’t be a hero. I have light brown skin and I still someone found a way to get sunburnt.
- Bug spray: Nothing worse than mosquito bites!
- Comfortable shoes: Wear your sneakers and back some sturdy flip flops. Comfort over sexy!
- A backpack: I wish I would have brought one when I was on the excursion
- Hair products: Between jumping from the pool to the beach and vice versa, I needed to deep condition the heck out of my hair. Bring helllaaaaaaaa hair products, especially if you have curly/kinky hair. My friend was smart enough to get her hair braided.