Room-We were in Room 001 the first one on the ground floor beachfront on the Duarte St. side of the resort. It was a bit worn scratches on the furniture and some scuffs on the walls but big, comfortable and very clean. I loved the location of this room just walk out the sliding glass door and you were on the beach in 30 seconds. I also enjoyed sitting on the patio during the afternoon and evenings. The maid, like all the workers, was great I tipped her $5 a couple of times and there were lots of towels, water and the room was always meticulously cleaned.
Food – Sometimes it was very good but always lots or choices and very adequate. I loved the Boca Chica fish in the Dominican you do have to deal with the bones but very tasty. The Italian was very good, great tenderloin one day, seafood the next the Tex Mex had good ribs. I never ate dinner in the buffet and ate at each restaurant twice and didn’t need reservations never waited more than 10 minutes but there is kind of a rush at about 8:30. For breakfast or lunch I either ate at the buffet or the place on the beach (Mangos?). During the main meal times they serve a smaller version of the buffet on the beach. Also if you want something you don’t see ask and they will try and get it for you.
Beach- I enjoyed it a lot, a little crowded at times but fun. There was some (very) shallow water snorkeling that could be done right off the beach not fantastic but quite a few fish and some fan coral. They run a boat to the other side of the reef for $18 for better snorkeling each day at about noon. I brought my own mask and fins so every day I went off the beach and once with the snorkel trip.
Staff – Universally great, friendly, courteous and if I asked for something they always tried to satisfy me whether it was food, towels, water, booze, music. The staff was a big part of why I enjoyed the resort.
The much complained about construction – no big deal. They were building the pool right in front of my room it was never dusty or dirty and only noisy a couple of times for a few minutes. I actually enjoyed talking to the workers building the pool had a couple of rums with them at the end of the day, very nice people. Only complaint about the resort was the noise from the recreation staff at the beach I hate that techno/disco/ragatone or whatever it is but I’m kind of and old man give me Salsa and Meringue anytime and actually I wouldn’t mind some piece and quiet. This wasn’t a problem at night only during the day.
Boca Chica- Duarte St is fine during the day and enjoyable to walk. The Tourist Police were quite visible but that doesn’t mean the locals won’t be trying to sell you something you don’t need for 10 times what it worth. It does get pretty sleazy at night.
Boca Chica Public Beach- If you are there on a Sunday or holiday you have to walk the local beach it is a show unto itself, families, kids, old men playing Dominoes, music and salesmen. The Dominicans take there families, kitchen and living rooms and transport them to the beach for a party.
Fishing- I am a fishing nut so I brought a three piece travel saltwater rod and some tackle. There are a number of options for fishing. If you walk down Boca Chica beach there is a sports fishing pier, you can see it from the Hamaca Beach. There are a variety of charters available from full blown 30+ Foot Sports Fisherman for $500 to $800 for ½ or full day to modified Yolas (the local open fishing boats16’ to 20’ fitted with mono and wire trolling rods) $40 -$50 and hour. I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money or leave my wife for hours while I went fishing so I took another route. Almost every morning I was out early walking the beach casting I did catch some small jacks and a small barracuda. The second morning I was fishing off the pier of the Pelican restaurant and some local guys came by in a yola catching bait. I called them over and they were willing to take me out for $10 an hour. This is a basic boat, they fish with hand lines, didn’t speak any English and you supply your own tackle though the next day they did come back with fresh ballyhoo for bait. I had fun with them they took me out to the point to the east and we caught big barracuda, spanish mackerel (that’s what I think they were) and jacks.
Side trips- We took two side trips during the week and probably would have done another but do to a change of schedule I couldn’t arrange the other trip. We went to Santo Domingo by public bus and back by taxi in was fun and the bus trip was easy, enjoyable and cheap. I hired a driver and went to Jarabacoa and that was fantastic there is a there is a more detained description of the side trips in the trip report section of the DR1 website.
On the whole the trip was very enjoyable but AIs are probably not for me I like to get out in to the local culture more.