Dear readers, in this blog post I am going to describe our fourth day from the five days that my boyfriend and I recently spend in Dominican Republic. If you like to see the rest of our adventures in this amazing country, please check out my previous blog posts.
SeaPro Divers is one of the premier scuba diving and water sports provider in the Dominican Republic, with more than 24 years of experience leading aquatic excursions and scuba diving in Punta Cana (Bavaro, Uvero Alto, Cabeza de Toro) and Puerto Plata.
Our adventure began early in the morning around 8:20. The bus picked us up in front of our hotel in Punta Cana.
Later bus did its round to pick up the rest of the people from the group from their resorts. As usual some people were late again. And this is something that really pisses me off when it comes to group tours. But at the same time is unavoidable. As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, some people just do not have respect toward the others and we can’t do anything about it.
From there we head to the La Romama city.
During the drive to La Romana we passed by the sugar cane fields. Our guide provided a lot of interesting information about the history of the area, general culture, rum and cigar making techniques of the country.
I did not expect that cigars and tobacco are the most exported product from Dominican Republic. Handmade cigars are the Dominican ambassador par excellence. It is the product that promotes the country and its culture around the world, and is the only Dominican product present in more than 160 countries. Tobacco is linked to their culture; it’s the product with the most permanent presence in their history, and even in prehistory.
Very interesting fact is that the Dominican Republic has remained as the top tobacco exporter around the world for almost 23 years.
But enough about the tobacco. Lets continue with the tour description.
Upon arrival to La Romana, we passed by the baseball stadium of La Romana.
Our guide Wilson explained to us that the baseball is the most popular sport in Dominican Republic.
Right next to the baseball stadium, was the marina and the headquarters of the SeaPro Divers company.
There we relaxed for a while and enjoyed the soft drinks at the Coral Bar.
Later on they gave us snorkeling and diving equipment, deepens of who was going to do what.
Since I don’t have a diving licence I was only going to do snorkeling.
I got only the flippers.
The mask for snorkeling was given to me on the boat later.
Next step was our boarding on a catamaran and then we departed towards Catalina.
We passed through La Romana sea channel. There were some extremely beautiful mansions on the shore.
They had amazing gardens too.
Our first stop before we reached the island was “The Wall,” a majestic coral wall that extends from the island to the Caribbean Sea. There we were able to see various Caribbean fish species, including the parrot fish, French grunt and sergeant major.
A lot of colorful corals and sponges was covering the bottom of the sea.
During our snorkeling a shoals of colorful shiny fishes were swimming around us.
It was an incredible experience.
You get a feeling that you can almost touch them with your hands.
But they were sliding so quickly though the water, around our hands and legs it was a mission impossible to actually touch any of them.
After snorkeling, and after all the divers were back on the catamaran, we made our way to a private beach club at the Playa Grande, the finest beach on the Island and exclusive only to our tour company as they said to us.
Catalina Island or Isla Catalina, that Dominican call it, is a tropical island located 1.5 miles from the mainland on the south-east corner of the Dominican Republic, near La Altagracia and La Romana.
It is a small uninhabited island recognized for it’s stunning coral reefs and as one of the best destinations for snorkeling in the Dominican Republic.
Our guide Wilson was our diving master as well. He made this experience truly amazing. He was really friendly guy with a great sense of humor.
The landscape we saw in front of us looked almost the same as the one we experienced at the Cayo Levantado island.
It was the heaven on earth or as Dutch people like to say ,,hemel op aarde”.
We saw a paradise in front of us with almost 2 kilometers of white sandy crystalline beaches, a beach bar in the middle, and some stalls with local products.
There we had some free time for swimming and some more snorkeling.
I was really amazed how many fishes were swimming there in the shallow, but mostly I was surprised with so many different kinds of sea urchins.
Later we enjoyed a delicious Dominican bbq lunch and buffet right at Playa Grande.
Everything was super clean in general.
We had unlimited drinks at the beach before and after lunch.
Facilities were super clean and shiny.
Bbq was super delicious.
After lunch we went back on the beach.
Here I am going to share some more images from the beach.
I was truly excited and I felt blessed to have a chance to visit such an amazing place.
You can actually see the excitement on my face.
I drank so much beer that day.
The name of the beer was Brahma light.
That beer was amazing. The bottles were huge. They reminded me of the German beers.
If you had a chance to visit Germany you will know what I am talking about. Or if you never did, then on your next journey to Germany visit one of the German super markets, you won’t be able to find small beer bottles in Germany.
Anyway you should definitely try this beer if you ever visit Dominican Republic.
There are a lot of locals at the beach.
Most of them are involved with the beach chairs.
Others are workers that work at the restaurant and the beach bar.
There were also some shop owners, they will approach you to advertise their little souvenir shops. One of them had amazing business skills. He approached us, he said that he owns a little shop in the island. He gave us two necklaces for present to advertise his shop. Just simple necklaces with some wooden totems. We appreciated his move and later on we visited his shop and we bought few things.
Others will try to sell you fresh coconut.
Some local ladies are providing massage too.
One local boy approached me, he was selling beautiful sea shells.
I bought few of them. Now while in Amsterdam I am putting the biggest one over my ear very often.
You are probably wondering why I do this.
I am keeping that shell on my working desk. Every time I need an escape from my every day life, I am escaping through this sea shell back to the Catalina island again.
When you cover your ear with the sea shell, you can actually hear the sound of the ocean waves from the shell.
And no, am not lying to you. If you ever buy a big sea shell, please try to cover your ear with it.
Then you just have to calm down and focus.
Close your eyes, that might help you to focus better.
You are going to hear it I am sure, and only then you will realized that I am telling the truth. Actually the rushing sound that one hears from the sea shell is in fact the noise of the surrounding environment, resonating within the cavity of the shell. But it really sounds like the roar of waves crashing on a distant beach.
Look at these photos, that I borrowed from my boyfriend’s camera.
This is me, enjoying that amazing beer and taking those photos that you can see above and below.
Boarding time was around 17:00.
Even our guide Wilson nicely asked everyone to be on time for departure, some people from the group were late as usual. Wilson was counting all the passengers again and again and few people were missing from the boat.
There was one more group from the same company on the island.
They came half an hour before us. So they were departing half an hour before us.
Suddenly few ladies from our group that were late finally departed on the deck, after their shopping at the market, they were running and shouting, please don’t leave without us.
Our guide Wilson decided to joke with them little bit.
He said, sorry ladies your boat just left as you can see, pointing with his lips at the boat from the previous group that had already left. Then he took the serious look and he said to them, this is not your boat ladies.
Everyone was laughing. It was so funny especially the way he pointed with his lips toward the boat that left.
Dominican people do that always. They never point with their hands or fingers like Europeans. If they want to point toward something they do this with their lips.
He finally let the ladies on the boat, and the captain started the engines.
The wind was getting stronger and stronger in the area.
Finally we departed from the island at around 17:30. While our catamaran was departing from the marina my eyes were attached to the majestic landscape of this stunning island. I wish I will have the opportunity to visit this place again.
As I said this island have no inhabitants. Catalina is only 9.6 square kilometers in size, and is a diverse preservation of ecosystems including sand dunes.
Sand dunes are the hills of loose sand built by wind or the flow of water. Dunes occur in different shapes and sizes, formed by interaction with the flow of air or water.
The island is also known for its reefs. The reefs are a group of rocks, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from abiotic processes, but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and calcareous algae.
On the island you can also see a lot of mangroves trees. This is a small tree that grows in coastal area. Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees. They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action. They are adapted to the low oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud.
The seas around the island are rich in wildlife, with many species of birds and tropical fish. The island itself is a very popular destination. There are daily ships traveling to Catalina from La Romana.
The sea has corals very close to the shore which attract many people to spend their leisure time on the sun beds and snorkeling around. This island as I earlier mentioned is a protected natural park where there are not any buildings. Therefore we actually paid the entrance to the natural park. That’s why I had paper bracelets that you maybe noticed on my hand. The entrance is included in the tour price. The money from the tickets are going for perseverance of the national park.
I think the only building that is actually constructed and made of bricks there is the public toilet. Which was very clean and luxurious by the way. All the people who work on the island every evening they are going back home. Nobody stays at the island during the night. Maybe only some guards.
On our return to La Romana the waves were getting bigger and bigger because of the wind. Our captain was very professional and he was doing his very best. The boat was going up and down because of the big waves. At some point I felt like I was on the roller coaster, but it was an incredible experience.
We were sitting on the top of the catamaran, right next to the captain together with some fellows from Russia, Germany and USA. At some point one of the ladies started to scream. She was so afraid, you could actually see the fear on her face. She thought we would overturn, and fall into the sea.
It was so funny, so the rest of us started to scream together with her in order to save her from embarrassment, because she was the only one who was screaming.
It was a wonderful act of solidarity, but it was also very entertaining. Later on everybody was laughing including the scared lady.
My father had a small boat and I remember how he was always telling that the level of the risk involved overturning is much more about the skill and experience of the one who is in the control of the boat, than about the quality, size and the shape of the boat in general.
As soon we approached the marina of La Romana and entered the sea channel the waves calmed down.
At the meeting point we gave the equipment back to the staff members.
Later on we enjoyed some more soft drinks at the Coral Bar. In the late afternoon they took us back to our hotels.
It was an amazing day and amazing tour organized by very serious and trusting company SeaPro Divers.