Category Archives: Caribbean Islands

Last Day was on Big Corn

We arrived back in Big Corn on the 6:30 a,m. panga from Little Corn.  We were able to get into our hotel room immediately and showered up and hit the beach (yes, we hit the beach by 8 am).  We spent the entire day at the hotel, hanging on the beach, swimming and just generally relaxing.  We went out for dinner, had a good sleep and then were able to spend all the following morning on the beach as well before we headed back to the airport for our long journey home.  Big Corn to Managua, Managua to San Jose – overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica and then San Jose to Toronto, Toronto to Ottawa…voila….home….to frigid weather and snow storms a brewing!

Some photos of our last day (or so) on Big Corn Island!

 

Wandering on Little Corn Island

No cars…..bicycles, horses … FEET ….. these are the mode of transport on Little Corn.  You can of course take a boat/panga from one end of the island to the other.  We didn’t do that.  Every day we went wandering, exploring the entire perimeter of the island, walking through the neighbourhoods and fields on the inside.  Little Corn Island was a pleasure to spend time on.  We would visit again!

 

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and we’re off …. our time on Little Corn Island over…the seas back to the calmness that allows the panga to run…..ttfn

This is why . . .

Some say – great to go away – but better to get home – however when home weather looks like this – the statement doesn’t ring true for me.  Lovely to be sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow but waking up this morning and looking out our windows at the frozen tundra just doesn’t feel inviting.  *sigh*  See below for my final words on our trip.

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To recap.  Christmas is the most expensive time of the year to travel.  Our vacation was from Dec.24.16 to Jan.7.17 – encompassing both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  As a result prices were high and we elected to stay in a hotel rated 3 star by expedia – 4 star by trip advisor.  Stars relate to amenities available, quality of service, rooms etc.   There was a time in my life I was a hotel snob and would only stay in high end boutique hotels.  However, when travelling south I have never felt the need to go for broke.  South is all about the great outdoors, fresh air, sand, sun & surf.  OK…I do admit that higher end hotels tend to provide better food with more selection, but honestly you can pay less for a hotel and then go for dinners out from time to time for a change.  That way you can experience off resort culture and new food.

We stayed at Whala Bavaro – a self-described ‘low key’ hotel.  What I liked most about it is that it doesn’t have nightly entertainment or many organized things.  A few nights of guitar players (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve & weekly BBQ night).  Once daily you can find aerobics on the beach.  The food is acceptable with little variety.  Probably the biggest complaint most people had was the food.  I did encounter some people complaining of a bit of ‘stomach issues’ – not necessarily linked to the hotel.  I’m a firm believer in Dukarol before travel, a daily traveller’s probiotic to keep the good bacteria up and metamucil as a binding agent (too much information? 🙂    I always have a bad tummy at least once every trip and in the old days it was worse, lasted longer and even into my trip home – I no longer have that issue with my daily regimen of the above!  (hey, this is VERY important travel info for those with weak constitutions or bad eating habits abroad 🙂 !!

So…Whala Bavaro – casual, don’t have to dress up for dinner (although you can if you like) – no long pants necessary kind of place.  We did buffet every night we stayed in the hotel, they have one small a la carte that we didn’t go to.  It has 3 pools – 2 of which always seemed a bit off colour.  We stayed in the highest priced suite section with our own pool.  It’s a new section and well worth the few dollars extra.  We aren’t pool users – we went in once, it was clean and only people from our section seemed to use it.  The rooms are very clean, the staff friendly and helpful (english is a challenge for them).  Whala isn’t actually on the beach, but has a small beach area a 2 minute walk.  The beach area could have been maintained a little better.  For our purposes, there was a bit of shade (we never sit in full sun for long), we were able to put our chairs steps from the water, there was a beach bar & snack bar (which we rarely used).  The best thing about Whala Bavaro is it’s location – in the El Corticito area of Bavaro Beach it is smack dab in the middle of a wonderful long, great for walking sandy beach and a block away from local restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacy etc.  Would we stay there again – maybe – but since we rarely go the same place twice – probably not.  Is it for everyone – absolutely not – but if you are ok with ‘nothing special’ but clean and less expensive, this might work for you.

I wasn’t fussy about my last trip to the Dominican.  We stayed in the Bayhibe area in a more remote hotel, filled with mostly Italians so it felt a bit more like Italy 🙂  There was little opportunity to mix with the locals.  This trip we came home with a far more pleasant ‘feel’ for the Dominican Republic.  All the Dominicans we spoke with and encountered were happy, pleasant people.  We didn’t encounter one situation that we felt might be dangerous, we felt safe at all times.  We are always ‘searching’ for places we might like to spend extended periods of time once we retire and we do feel that if we could find an area in the Dominican Republic that met our criteria that it would be a pleasant country to spend extended periods in.  Our criteria being a bustling little town on the sea close to amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies with a great beach.  Of course, #1 is that it needs to be affordable on a limited budget and I think you can do that in most places in the D.R.   Let us know if you have any suggestions (in D.R. or anywhere warm 🙂 !!

48 sleeps until we leave for The Corn Islands, Nicaragua!!!

 

 

DR Sunrise & some other stuff!

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Dogs love being near Johnny

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Our terrace view

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Another great piece of sand art

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This guy is patient

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Johnny beach walking

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Last night – dinner at a great little restaurant near hotel

Leaving Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic

The last couple of days were quiet.  Walks on the beach, sunning, swimming, dinner out both Thursday and Friday (had enough hotel food 🙂 . . …Once I get home I will do a recap of the holiday, my thoughts about the area we stayed in, the hotel we stayed in….my overall concept of DR.

Sitting in the lobby waiting for the shuttle trying to upload my photos from the past couple of days (great early morning shots) …. connection doesn’t seem strong enough *sigh* ……flight at 12:40 ….landing around 4:40 – should be home by 5:30/6:00 ….BRRRRR no coats, it will be about -12c plus wind chill and  we have sandals on LOL….we are Canadian and Norwegian – we CAN DO IT!  Check back for the photos – may have to wait until I’m home to upload them!

 

Para sailing!

Wednesday was a total beach day…..hung out on the beach reading.  I went para sailing about 40 years ago in Mexico and have never done so since.  One of the main reasons is that Johnny has been a bit apprehensive about about floating in the air.  Not sure how he is fine when we zip-line……well…..all that has changed!  He told me earlier this week that if he was fortified with rum that perhaps I could get him up in the air…..soo….around 3 ish we headed down the beach to a little beach bar, had a couple of rums and then hailed a beach ‘guy’ who arranged a trip….motor boat/panga came to pick us up on shore….took us out to the para sail boat, did the water transfer over……one couple was a head of us on the boat, they went up, we figured out what to do, harnessed up and it was our turn.  Johnny loved it (as I knew he would) and the first question he had was….”I wonder if you can do it for longer” 🙂

So now,  as a couple (not all on this trip) we have para sailed, zip-lined, rappelled, ATV’d, rode a donkey, rode horses, snorkelled, scuba-dived, sailed a mono-hull, sailed a hobie, canoed, kayaked, rode around an island on a golf cart,  flew on a float plane into a mountain lake, cycled, hiked Mt Fuji (johnny all, me a little bit),  hmmmm….wonder what’s next? !!!!  2 more sleeps, again, no plans for today and tomorrow…..

Oh Oh…we have never rented one of those scooter things……we are going to The Corn Islands at the end of February – I think that would be a perfect place to learn to scoot!!!

Living proof:

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Fortification Process

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The Panga

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The para sail boat

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The Brave Man

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They lower us to dip our feet in the water

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It feels a bit chilly 🙂

Energy Back!

Although we got out and beach walked every day of our stay, we are finally getting into more energetic mode.  Sunday we walked to the upscale mall and wandered about.  Very designer, all I bought was a sun hat for $48 US (which I later saw in a store close to our hotel for $20 US)  oops 🙂  All worth it though, because we were on a BIG walk and my forehead needed some protection!  We decided to take the beach route home, but first stopped at a beach restaurant/bar for a cold pineapple juice and some um….welll…not sure what they were for a snack and then beach walked back to the hotel.  Managed to get over 20,000 steps on my fit bit that day.

Monday we needed cash and amazingly so there are no ATM’s close at hand.  We had originally thought we had passed one about 1.5 km away and walked to that…they told us the nearest one would require a bus or taxi ride.  We opted to walk and luckily there was a shady side of the street because it was a few km away.  Found the Scotiabank ATM, found a ‘rest’ room, then stopped for a delicious fresh juice – I had pineapple, Johnny had tamarindo.  We decided to take the ‘local’ bus home – 40 pesos each (about $1.35 CDN).  We prefer to walk or take local styles of travel when we can.

Simply insert ‘went to the beach’ for each of the above days.  FYI, not sure if you know this but we are beach people, not pool people.  We love the sand, the surf and the sea swimming.  I personally can not figure out why people want to sit around the pool where it is generally much warmer.  I also find that most of the smokers are the pool people at this hotel, so it is definitely not my favourite place to be.  Speaking of smoking, one of my least favourite smells in the world is the smell of a cigar, almost makes me sick to my stomach.  Of course, cigar making/selling is a big thing here (as it is in Cuba) and everywhere I go there is the stench of cigar *blahhhhhh*.

Tuesday (yesterday), we did a tour called Outback Safari.  We were picked up at the hotel at 8:35 a.m. in a big safari style open air bus and headed off to the hills/mountains to get a taste of rural Dominican life.  A fellow named Angel was our guide and he was terrific.  This tour company is highly organized, very safety aware and runs everything like clockwork.   They are very interested in relating the history of the DR, explaining the people, their lifestyles.  Well worth it.  We travelled through small villages (many of my photos were taken from the bus), we stopped at an area run by the tour company with an area which housed local animals (and some not so local), examples of all the different species of trees, a cigar making demo, and an introduction to the rums and wines of the region, all quite enlightening.  We had a terrific meal and then headed off to the homes of some locals.  One family worked to produce coffee beans and cocao, another family coconut oil.  We were shown the various processes required to produce all of these things.

During the Outback Safari tour we encountered road construction on a narrow dirt road.  Our amazing driver Yuma managed to squeeze the bus between the edge of the road and the construction vehicles and a big school bus, the school bus had to flatten it’s mirrors and we must have been 1″ away from it…amazing really….a LOT of cheering once we cleared the area.

After that we headed to a beach on the outskirts of Punta Cana for some boogie boarding (or just jumping around int he surf as I don’t seem to be much of a boarder 🙂

Now that the Christmas/New Year rush is over the hotel has become a bit calmer, less people….this is a good thing 🙂

OH, did I mention we did go out to a restaurant for dinner on Monday night?  We elected to go to an Italian style restaurant (very unusual for us), pasta was great, wine was better…it was nice to eat outside the hotel for sure.

That’s it…no plans we have 3 more days here and for a change we might go to the beach 🙂 LOL

 

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Local Bus

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Outback Safari Truck

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Beach Walking ……

The Beach in Bavaro (just outside of Punta Cana proper) is incredibly long…..I tried to google exactly how long but can’t seem to find it….at least 10 k and probably much further.  At high tide it’s just minorly soft but most of the time it’s the hard flatter type of beach perfect for walking/running.  The water although beautiful isn’t that clear clear type but for the most part it’s rock and coral free close to shore and the only impediment to swimming is a bit of sea grass in the occasional place.

As you strong along you pass myriads of hotels, condo buildings, beach ‘guys’ trying to get you to take a tour or go visit a local vendor, beach ‘gals’ offering to braid your hair or give you massages.  Unlike Mexico there are very few people selling tourist stuff along this beach.  I think I’ve only seen one fellow who is actually selling selfie sticks….smart guy, huh?  There is also a guy who sells ice cream from a cooler – go figure!

My photos today are ‘things we saw while walking along the beach’….one VERY elaborate sand creation featuring a man and a woman who were being attacked by a shark – amazing detail….done by a true artist…some of it had eroded a bit by the time we saw it.  Another lovely little medieval village, a foot print (not ours).  Unfortunately, the one huge issue with this beach as with many beaches around the word is that with rising sea levels there are areas with massive erosion.  The area called El Cortecito is particularly hard hit with the small stores along the shore being destroyed.  Some of the older hotels were built closer to the water and their beaches have all but disappeared.  I talked to a young local fellow ‘Luigi’ and he pointed about 20 feet out from the current ‘edge’ to where someone was swimming and told me that not so long ago that was the edge of the beach and that in 6 months he thought that where we were sitting would be ‘taken’ by the sea.

As you walk along in some areas you see palm tree roots where once it was solid ground, big palm with their base ‘ball’ partially exposed, in one section there are a series of large covered berms that have been erected to stop the waves from crashing in and further eroding the beach.  This is a serious problem.  The rising sea levels are said to be caused by global warming.  Global warming of course said to be caused by what we are doing to our planet.  How does it stop?  Consumerism at it’s worst 😦   Of course, there is another side to this.  The earth has been moving and shifting forever (I’m assuming almost infinity here 🙂 …..continents always shifting, water levels rising and lowering, ice ages, meteor crashes causing catastrophic conditions ……

The beach also changes from day to day in different sections.  There is sargassum – not huge amounts and most hotels keep it raked up, one day there was all this bright green stuff that I had never seen before, but only one day so far.  Some days there are almost pine needle looking things being washed in.  Mostly, it’s clear and most evident in the early morning or at higher tides.  The sargassum I know is a product of the higher, warmer oceans, the others are just typical of a beach that has winds and surf.

Amazing what a beach walk can make one think about . . . .it’s not all about pretty sunsets is it?

most of these photos (not all) were taken on our first beach walk of 2017 on New Year’s Day before the workers had come out to rake.

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We like to call this the Great Wall of Steven 🙂

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A New Year – 2017

I awoke this morning to the sound of steel drums and roosters crowing…..a true Caribbean experience.    Honestly, I’m loving sitting here on the balcony enjoying the dawn and the sounds of the hard core revellers not so far away.  Johnny sleeps 🙂

New Year’s Eve was a lovely meal at the hotel with the staff even more excited than the guests.  Everyone adorned with party hats, sounds makers and the excitement one feels when yet another year draws to a close with a new one rolling in just behind.  Our favourite server Andrea (An DRAY ahh) had Johnny to a photo of the me with her and then did a selfie with the 3 of us….we sat next to a lovely Dutch couple and chatted, ate, sipped wine and listened to a guitarist for hours.  Finally, we went for a walk on the beach where all the partiers were gathering for music and eventual fire works.

YOU KNOW US….we really aren’t the group party kind of people,, so we headed back to the room (it was 10:30 ish), watched the rest of a movie and actually were awake with the TV off and lights out when the fire works started…they sounded great 🙂

So here I am in 2017.  We have been so sluggish the past week we spent the last day of 2016 walking….to a mall a couple of km away….stopped for a snack and pineapple juice on the beach on the way home….grabbed our suits, had lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach….went swimming (forgot to take my readers off my head and they are now just another piece of plastic in the sea)…..went back to room, changed and wandered up to the village like area a few blocks away and picked up a few needed items……over 20,000 steps on my Fitbit for the last day of 2017…not bad!

No photos….the music is still playing……the roosters still crowing……Welcome to 2017!  Happy New Year!!!  xo Johnny (asleep) & Melva (not) – 6:44 a.m. January 1, 2017.

Trying again . . . .

Miss Lynn wondered where my photos were….I’m usually SO much better at posting…..we arrived on Saturday the 24th of December……and then went on an all day tour on Tuesday 26th….the other days all look like this – not necessarily in this order….

  • wake up
  • shower
  • breakfast
  • beach/swim
  • beach/walk
  • lunch
  • beach/swim
  • cocktails on our balcony
  • dinner
  • walk
  • reading takes place on the beach, the balcony
  • one afternoon we went to a local mall

Our next excursion is a Safari style excursion inland – on Tuesday 3rd of January 🙂

We are having a VERY relaxing v acation . . .  some photos….

Honestly, if I tell you I want to go to an all inclusive again…..remind me that it’s really not our style…kk? 🙂

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reading on the balcony

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beach erosion is destroying the waterfront stores in el Corticito

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browsing the local shops in el Cortecito

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This area is VERY popular with Russians

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These ones are at the medieval village outside of La Romana

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These are on Isla Catalena on our catamaran tour

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cruising the River Chavon on a paddle wheeler (with an outboard)

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Nativity Scene at the San Juan Shopping Centre

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