Jessica Perkins on Voluntourism in the Dominican Republic

Posted By : travelshore/ 19 0

Being a university student I always wanted to go travel to another country and do a volunteer project. Throughout my studies in Physical Geography, I became very fascinated with the Caribbean and saw it as the perfect place to go on a volunteer trip. After a lot of searching, I decided to go with a student only project in the Dominican Republic that incorporated learning Spanish, working in a small village both building and teaching kids, and also an adventure portion. A well-rounded program that would give a raw insight into the countries culture, natural environment, and charm. Turns out this was one of the best experiences I had ever gone on and was an eye-opening, life-changing experience.

Getting to volunteer in the village for a couple weeks really let me get to know the children and families in the village. Throughout the volunteer project, we helped build a wall and sidewalk to the elementary school in the mornings and taught the children about how to be environmentally sustainable citizens in the afternoons. The people in this small village were incredibly friendly and invited us into their culture with open arms, always inviting us to the domino and meringue dance nights at ones’ house or on an afternoon hike to a secret swimming hole. Immersing yourself in a culture like this is truly the best way to understand another way of life. It really draws the line between going on vacation and being a traveler. It forces you out of your comfort zone and keeps you on your toes and ultimately gives you an incomparable experience than staying in a fancy 5-star resort could never do.

This program also incorporated some adventure on the weekends and after the volunteer portion was over. Everything from zip lining to caving and windsurfing. All in the stunning nature of the Dominican Republic. Some highlights included Diamond Beach, Los Haitises National Park, Laguna Du Du Park and of course, sipping pina coladas in fresh pineapples. The rich history of the country was also fascinating learned through walking tours of cities like Santa Domingo and Santiago. Spending 6 weeks in The Dominican Republic also helped my Spanish, by the end of the trip I felt comfortable to walk into markets and practice my Spanish in a real environment.

If I had spent more time I am sure it would have become even more natural. By the end of the trip, I didn’t want to leave but had to leave a day late due to a hurricane and flight delays which seemed like a blessing and curse all at once. All in all, I would recommend heading to the Dominican Republic with a company like Travelshore to guarantee an ultimate well-rounded experience of adventure, culture, volunteering, and any other surprises the vibrant country has to offer. You can’t beat a trip led by locals who know the country and the secret spots better than any traveler would.

Our trip to Playa Rincon

Posted By : travelshore/ 25 0

If you enjoy a long rugged road trip with sightseeing along the way, you will really enjoy a trip to Playa
Rincon, located in the Northeast region of Dominican Republic. The beach is a Paradise of white sand
and clear waters hidden in a jungle. We rented a car in Samana and packed some fruit and drinks for the
way! The ride was full of spectacular views and small villages along the way. Some of these remote
farmers have some of the most priceless views right from their small humble homes.
We headed out from Samana following the signs leading us towards Las Galeras. This was going to take
us in the right direction towards this beautiful tropical beach.
We passed several villages of colorful homes and some not-so-colorful, that were still cement grey.
Several villagers were sitting on their porch, maybe relaxing and mingling with neighbors, women with
children and mothers taking care of infants.
As I was driving, my husband was taking care of our baby in the back seat behind tinted windows, so I
got a lot of whistles and hollers from guys who must have thought I was alone – they must not see too
many blondes driving through their neighborhood. It also seemed as though time was not an issue
here, no one was in a rush.
There were a lot of fruit stands on the side of the road, filled with mangos, bananas, papayas,
pineapples, passion fruits, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, squash, and watermelons. There
seems to be no shortage of food here, they grow naturally from the tropical trees surrounding their
homes. Although we were really on a mission to get to the beach we didn't stop to visit with the locals,
except to ask for directions.
When we arrived at the entrance to the town of Las Galeras, we almost missed our turn. We asked a
few people for directions, which were very specific – like they are telling us a story about their
neighborhood. All I could understand was ” la derecha” so my husband translated. It seemed the rest
of the way was full of turning right.
Some of the most breathtaking views were up in the mountains when you could see the ocean breaking
through the lushes green forests of palm trees. It was almost picture perfect!
As we continued our drive towards the ocean; the roads seemed to get really rocky, which got me a little
nervous. We saw a farmer riding a horse along the way, he assured us we were almost there! When we
arrived at the beach it was filled with clear water, white sand and not a single person in sight, we drove
along a sandy path towards a restaurant where they grilled fresh fish, lobster, and chicken in front of
your eyes.
This was worth the time it takes to get here! A remote beach in the corner of the Tropics!

You have not been to the Dominican Republic if you never left the resort

Posted By : travelshore/ 18 0

After spending 4 months in the Dominican Republic and traveling to every corner of the country, visiting as many beaches as possible, sleeping in some rusty motels, I believe that I can honestly say “I have been to the Dominican Republic”.

I was fortunate to the opportunity to have;  tasted the traditional-style cooking, mingled with locals, tried new sports such as; kite-surfing, zip-lined in the jungle, jumped into natural pools of water, hiked through caves, enjoyed local festivals, explored the mountainous villages, snorkeled amongst the reefs, travelled by local transportation such as; guagua’s (large caravans), cars, vans, pickup trucks – packed with as many people as possible, buses, taxis and motorcycles, I can’t forget -speedboats, practiced my Spanish, slept in Dominican-style motels with nada-inclusive anything, enjoyed the entertainment of local musicians and traditional bachata and merengue music playing from loudspeakers built into vehicles and storefronts everywhere!

As I was leaving to head home from my fun-filled adventurous trip, I was in line at the airport with my family, chatting with a few other travelers, I asked them, ‘How did you enjoy your trip to the Dominican Republic?’. With an unhappy face, they replied, ‘The entertainment at the hotel was not that great.’ They had stayed at one of the most popular well-known all-inclusive resorts. I asked them if they had a chance to leave the resort, but they did not.

So their only experience of Dominican Republic was all based on what they had done while staying at the resort.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that the pools are great with servers at your side offering refreshing cool drinks, food is delicious with a large fabulous buffet and a fancy air-conditioned room with fluffy clean white sheets and pillows, not a mosquito in sight, friendly 24-hour maids at your service and a beautiful private beach where only guests have the pleasure to enjoy while relaxing on a long beach chair. I am sure you can imagine a few other fine luxuries while staying on the resort.

You may be one of the travelers who only enjoy what is offered at the resort, possibly you are a bit timid to explore what is beyond -Or- you just have no idea what else is offered in this mysteriously beautiful country. Whatever the reason may be, I really hope that each person could have an opportunity to enjoy some Dominican-local time! The people are so friendly, charming personalities that will welcome you with a smile!

When I came home, my Canadian family thought I was so brave for visiting all of these places. I don’t feel brave but I am not scared of people. Most people are good. Of course, it is always important to keep your valuables locked up, take only the amount of cash needed for the day(no need for credit cards either), be friendly, support local gift shops, practice a little Spanish and give a little extra tip to your driver! You will make so many friends and don’t go wandering off in no-man’s land. Always listen to your intuition and I promise you will have an enjoyable adventure!c_column_text]I have truly enjoyed meeting some of the most lovely Dominican people. They made me feel so safe and they really go out of their way to make you feel at home! I already miss the clean beaches and local faces! We will definitely go back and hopefully for much longer!

I have truly enjoyed meeting some of the most lovely Dominican people. They made me feel so safe and they really go out of their way to make you feel at home! I already miss the clean beaches and local faces! We will definitely go back and hopefully for much longer!

I invite you to find out more information about traveling to the Dominican Republic at travelshorecentre.com!

Awesome Day of Excursion

Posted By : travelshore/ 18 0

Thanks, Emile and Christy for the awesome day of excursions! That was by far the highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic. I can’t wait to come back for more! For those reading this, here are some of the reasons why these guys rock. Sorry for the novel, I just wanted to be thorough.

1-Planned Amazing Activities

Our first excursion of the day was the 27 Waterfalls Hike. If you are not familiar with this hike, it is a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Emile suggested we do it first so we had time to do the whole thing. We were blown away! It is a fairly strenuous hike, but the experience was incredible! The way up to the top of the 27 Waterfalls is hot and sweaty, but it’s in the shade so it’s bearable. The first part of the hike getting to the top of the waterfalls is hot and sweaty. But the shade made it bearable and we had fun talking to the guides.

Then the real fun begins! You get to walk and swim your way down the river, sliding and jumping down the waterfalls!

Everyone in our group agreed this hike was the highlight of the trip (even beating out snorkeling!). If you want to see the elevation changes and length of the hike, check out the map of it here: https://www.strava.com/activities/613411193
After lunch, Emile took us on the tram ride up to Mount Isabel de Torres. It was a perfect restful activity after a morning of hiking. We were grateful for his suggestion—the view on the top was breathtaking, and the statue of Christ was very inspirational.

I definitely think this is worth seeing, and Emile took care of securing the lowest prices for this and the other days’ activities.

2- Tied up all the loose ends for us, like securing our travel and planning the details!

You really don’t want to drive yourself in the DR. Believe me, it’s crazy. (Skeptical? Search YouTube for driving in the DR.) We experienced several different taxi drivers chauffeuring us around, most of them drove like everyone else (i.e., scary, stop-and-go, making me want to puke because of my motion sickness, etc.). Emile booked Leonardo for us, a very nice Dominican with a vehicle large enough to accommodate our group of 8. He was great to talk to, and best of all, he was an excellent driver! He shuttled us around the whole day. It was obviously more expensive but was completely worth not having to worry about. motorcyclists (on their cell phone or carrying a family of 4) darting in front of you.

Emile planned an overall schedule for the day but kept it flexible so that we could do what we wanted at our own pace. It was nice not to have to worry about the when’s, where’s, what’s the little details but simply enjoy ourselves along the way.

3-Mixed it up with some native culture!

After the hike, we went to Laura Algo Diferente, a local outdoor diner, for lunch. I didn’t see any other tourists there; as far I could tell, this was not a tourist trap. While we waited for our food, Emile and Christy taught us some Latin dancing.

Then came the food. I couldn’t understand anything on the menu (except piña colada sin alcohol!), but the waiter suggested something similar to chicken cordon bleu. I was not prepared for the deliciousness that followed. There was some sort of heavenly white sauce that just made that chicken melt in my mouth. We were all tasting everyone else’s food and everything was amazing. I told the waiter that was the best I had eaten in the DR. He told me they get that compliment a lot! We were so happy to have met Emile and Christy of Travelshore Center while we vacationed in the DR. I have no trouble recommending them to hook you up with amazing experiences at great prices for your excursions.

Learning Kitesurfing from Scratch

Posted By : travelshore/ 13 0

I thought it would be fun to learn to kitesurf since we just moved to Cabarete, the Dominican Republic, a well-known surfing town. I had absolutely no experience surfing – of any kind. Although I was a good wakeboarder, water-skier, and snowboarder. I was not in the best shape since I had an 11-month-old baby, which kept me very busy. So this was a huge step for me, learning how to kitesurf!

DAY 1:

I started my lessons with Robertico, a recommend local surf instructor. He picked me up in his truck and took me to a nearby spot where the wind was perfect for the day. He asked me to carry a few pieces of equipment to the beach. He looked for the perfect spot on the sandy beach to start our lesson. He showed me how to pump air in the kite. The kite had to be sitting directly in the wind so it didn’t blow away while we finished hooking everything together – we tied and untangled the string to the kite. He drew a picture in the sand of the different degrees the kite should be at while in the air.

  • Straight up – 12:00 o’clock
  • 1-3:00 o’clock to the right
  • 9-11:00 o’clock to the left

Holding the kite: Bring kite slowly up in the air by holding onto two bars(Red for right hand). The arms, hands and shoulders should be relaxed.
Body position: Lean your body back since the kite is tied to a harness around your waist. Bend knees
with right foot forward.
Robertico demonstrated how to hold the kite up moving it to the right and left in a slow motion. He made it looks so easy. He instructed me to practice moving the kite from 1 – 2:00 o’clock back and forward then 10 – 11:00 o’clock. Once I became more comfortable with the kite, he had me walk backward and forwards along the beach.I dropped the kite a few times on the sand – Ooops! Robertico helped me get the kite back up in the air.

I dropped the kite a few times on the sand – Ooops! Robertico helped me get the kite back up in the air. My biggest worry was dropping the kite on somebody’s head – Robertico assured me that would never happen with him by my side.

DAY 2 – 3: Practice with 1 hand into the water:
  • Right hand holding the bar at 1 – 2:00 o’clock
  • Left hand holding the bar at 10 – 11:00 o’clock
  • Robertico had me practice walking and then swimming with the kite in the ocean – always right beside me.
DAY 4: Practice with the board:

While the kite is held steady in the air, walk with a board in other hands- switching sides a few times. My ride-side was definitely stronger than my left.

I managed to get up on the board for less than a minute, Yeah! it seemed a lot easier to get up on the board than learning to manage the kite in the air! I will definitely continue my adventurous journey of kitesurfing!