Trip Coach: December 19, 2006
Ana Chavier Caamano, author of the new guidebook 'Moon Dominican Republic', answered your questions about the Dominican Republic.
Ana Chavier Caamano: Hi! My name is Ana Chavier Caamano. I'm glad you joined me. I'm ready to answer your questions and I hope I can be helpful.
State College, PA: My family will be traveling to Dominican Republic in March 2007. We will be flying into Santiago but we will be staying in Puerto Plata. Is there a form of transportation we can take to get from Santiago to Puerto Plata? There will be 8 of us requiring transportation (5 adults and 3 children). We will be staying in Puerto Plata for 1 week and would like to take a mounatin bike tour. Can you recommend a tour or area near Puerto Plata that we could go moutain biking? Thank you.
Ana Chavier Caamano: Thanks for writing!
I have a few options for your transportation question: (1) If you are staying in one of the all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata, check to see if they have a transportation deal (those can be expensive but might be worth it for 8 people--less hassle). (2) If there is no such offer, for transportation from Santiago to Puerto Plata, you'll need to take a taxi from the Santiago airport to the Caribe Tours bus station in Santiago. One leaves every hour (on the half hour) and should cost about US$ 2.50-3.00 per person. Then you'll take a taxi from the Caribe Tours Puerto Plata station to your hotel. (3) Hire a shuttle taxi right outside the airport--like a minivan. You'll want to haggle for a fair price. They'll quote you a really high one (on purpose because they expect you to haggle), get them to go lower. Ask if it has air-conditioning (it sometimes costs extra to run it). I know that was a lot of info, but I hope that helped.
Mountain Biking: My favorite tour company to recommend is Iguana Mama and they are located in Cabarete (only 20 minutes from the Puerto Plata airport). They have a few different biking packages to chose from and they'll even arrange for pick up from your hotel if you want (at an extra cost). They do more than biking too.
You're going at a wonderful time of year, Have fun!
Yonkers, NY: My wife and I will be celebrating our 40 anniversay in D.R. on 2/3/07 to 2/10/07. We will be staying in Punta Cana and friends have warned us to beware of food poisoning which they say is rampant. How do we protect ourselves and still enjoy our anniversary? We have been looking forward so much to this special time!
Ana Chavier Caamano: First, congratulations on your 40th anniversary!
Lots of people have asked me about stomach problems in general. So I'll try to help everyone in this:
To protect yourself from stomach problems ruining your otherwise fun vacation, drink lots and lots of bottled water! Don't drink the tap water. Many resorts and hotels have refrigerators that have bottled water. (Make sure first if you drink it, it is not an extra charge.) It's a very easy practice that many vacationers forget to do when they're on holiday surrounded by tropical fruity drinks (alcoholic or not), food plates brimming with delectable treats (familiar and new), all while toasting themselves in the sun for an unusual amount of time. It might not actually be food poisoning they're experiencing, but heat-stroke. Either way, water will help to flush out your system if it is a bug and hydrate you if alcohol and sun (sweating) have dried you out.
Concerning actual food poisoning; most resorts have a small medical clinic on site with a doctor and/or nurse on staff. Some of the larger complexes even have a small pharmacy in them. If you want to really play it safe, then at the buffet lines choose cooked food items. This is the safest route. As far as drinking goes, coffee, tea, canned and bottled beverages, carbonated drinks, beer and wine are usually safe. A step further, don't drink beverages with ice. Not a bad idea to pack an anti-diarrhea medication to take with you. They can be quite expensive there.
For more information on Traveler's Health go to cdc.gov/travel.
Payson, AZ: Dear Ana Chavier, I have always wanted to go to the DR, but can't get my husband to commit. We are divers and it seems that the dive reports from others show spotty conditions at best. We also like to hike and he golfs. Having so many choices - Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata and La Romana, which one would you choose for these activities? Thank you! Alana
Ana Chavier Caamano: Hi Alana, thanks for writing.
You're absolutely right! There are a lot of choices both for what to do and where to go in the Dominican Republic. While the DR is not known as the world's leading diving hotspot, it is a great place to do all of the things you mentioned in one trip. It's small geographically and easy to get around in, which makes a variety-packed vacation possible. Here's a suggestion: fly into Santiago's International airport, hike near Jarabacoa in the Cordillera Central (there are many different hikes here), travel north toward Puerto Plata to stay and golf at one of the resorts, then go toward Sosúa (not far from Puerto Plata) to snorkel and dive. It totally depends on how much time you've got. Another option (and my choice but might require more time) fly in to Puerto Plata and make your way over to the Samaná Peninsula, take the hike to Salto El Limón where you'll be rewarded with a swim at the foot of the 52 meter waterfall and then dive Cabo Cabrón during the migration of the Humback whales. The Samaná Peninsula is one of my favorite areas.