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A Vacation to the Dominican Republic | Where To Stay & What To Do

Punta Cana Pool
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My bucket list is a kind of length that has me searching travel sites for anything and everything. When we booked our summer vacation, the one thing we did know was that we wanted a chilled holiday. We didn’t want one of the trips that you return from and need another holiday to get over it.


We eventually found a deal that we loved the look of on Secret Escapes. An all-inclusive package holiday to the Be Live resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We stayed in one of their Master Suites which was absolutely beautiful. This option automatically allows a $200 resort credit (for bookings 5+ nights). One, rather large, gated complex hosts both the adults only and normal hotels. In it are stores, restaurants, a spa, and a casino nightclub.


Overall we had a wonderful time on a beautiful resort. However, there are a few things I wish I’d have known and been prepared for.


Which is great because everywhere is modern and up to date. However, while we were there they were carrying out works which meant that some areas (including our room at various points throughout the day) were off limits if you actually wanted to relax. It also meant that very few of the staff didn’t really seem to know what they were doing.


Which means that they rely on tips. On long stay holidays abroad we’ve always tipped particularly pleasant or helpful members of staff. In the Dominican it seemed that staff only go the extra mile once they’ve already been tipped and not vice versa. I don’t have a huge problem with this as a principle. However, the Be Live had so many staff that it was impossible to tip everyone. The best advice I can give is to single out and slowly but steadily tip the members of staff who you encounter the most.


We had a really helpful member of staff assigned to be our point of contact. Problem was, he left mid-stay and we then had to rely on general staff. We were advised that the a la carte restaurants needed to be individually booked on the day, which was a slight inconvenience. However, we weren’t advised that there were various exceptions to this rule. Certain restaurants were closed on select days, so bad communication saw us leaving without having tried around half of the restaurants. We were also a little disappointed to find that certain menus weren’t actually included in the all inclusive. It didn’t affect us, but we weren’t overly impressed by the principle.



In the past, Jamie and I have gotten quite bored of limited all inclusive selections. Be Live has six a la carte restaurants as well as two buffet style restaurants and two lunch and snack stops. The lunch selection is naturally more limited than dinner, but almost every day we went to the little bar right on the beach. We tipped the server there well and he couldn’t do more for us. We visited the Mexican, Brazilian and Steak House for evening meals and the food was brilliant at all three, although the Steak House was the only one with service worth tipping. $100 of our resort credit we allocated to one of their four course romantic meals on the beach which was brilliant.

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Although the normal hotel is lovely for a family, the adults-only hotel is definitely the one to book if you’re not attending with children. Not only is it generally much quieter on the beach, but it allows you access to the whole resort, leaving more options in terms of pools, beach space and restaurants to choose from.


The hotel itself was beautiful. Everywhere was clean and the pools were lovely. The beach front was full of various sun loungers and cabanas and the resort offered all you could really want. The rest of our room credit was spent in the spa, which I’d also highly recommend.


I don’t want to say too much about the area itself but our personal feelings are that we didn’t feel as safe here as we did in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. A lot of people urged us to stay within the resort and with the exception of walking a very short distance to an ATM, we did. Despite advise from locals that tourist areas like Punta Cana were safe, advice to the contrary did unease us slightly.

Before our trip we were slightly worried that the weather forecast storms almost every day. Despite arriving to rain, we enjoyed clear skies and strong sun for the vast majority of our stay. We took three bottles of suncream but were forced to spend another $100 on more while we were there. I’d highly recommend taking as much as possible alongside aftersun, mosquito repellant and bite relief.

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The internet advises that the Dominican will accept euro, peso and the US dollar but we found that the US dollar was by far the most favoured.



The Dominican beaches certainly aren’t lacking in sales people, for tours or anything else. However, we followed suit of another couple we met and booked online with SeaVIS tours, an eco-tour company. Essentially, we paid a higher price for a company that was conscious of protected animals and areas. The tour picked us up from our hotel for a speedboat excursion, stopping at the rocks of Penon, the sandbank; home of starfish, the mangroves, Catuano beach, Mano Juan village and finally, Canto de la Playa. Although the whole day was fantastic, as was our tour guide, we were united in wishing that we’d had more time at Canto de la Playa. Earlier stops definitely could have been easily shortened to enable this. Canto de la Playa truly was paradise; white sand, perfect palm trees and snorkelling for tropical fish.

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I’d definitely recommend the Dominican Republic for resort holidays. Excursions make resort holidays a little more exciting and Saona Island is definitely somewhere worth seeing with your own eyes. Punta Cana is warm all year but the rainy months are September, October and May so those might be worth avoiding: We travelled early June and were more than happy with the weather.

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  • Reply Kayleigh Zara

    This sounds like an absolutely gorgeous holiday I’ve heaed some really great things about the Dominican Republic, ive also heard before about taking all the sunscreen because of the sheer hotness.

    Kayleigh Zara 🌿

    June 30, 2019 at 12:11 pm
  • Reply Lozza

    I’m loving the photos!
    Looks like such a beautiful place 😊

    I’d love to go there one day!

    Love Lozza xo

    June 30, 2019 at 12:39 pm
  • Reply Kristin Harris/Tales from Home

    This seems like a really neat place to visit. The dinner in the beach seems espechially fantastic!

    June 30, 2019 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply Lucy

    I’ve never really thought of going to the Dominican Republic, it’s never been on my travel list, but these pictures are so lovely, I agree with excursions, they do make holidays a little more exciting! xx

    Lucy |

    June 30, 2019 at 9:28 pm
  • Reply Bexa

    I saw your photos pop up on Instagram and it looked amazinggg, so was really looking forward to this post! I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic, but it is somewhere I’d love to visit someday. The romantic meal on the beach looks dreamy and it is fab you got to explore other islands – Canto de la Playa really does sound like paradise! Thanks for sharing Soph, fantastic photos and your tips are really useful too, I will remember them if I ever book a holiday there! <3 xx

    Bexa |

    July 1, 2019 at 4:33 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thank you, it certainly was, we absolutely adored Canto de la Playa! I’m so glad you think so x

      July 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm
  • Reply Chloe Chats

    Your photos are always so pretty! I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic, I’ve never thought about going before but this makes me want to go visit. I love the meal on the beach, that’s the cutest thing!!

    Chloe xx

    July 1, 2019 at 10:05 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thanks Chloe! I hadn’t thought about it specifically but when we saw an offer on Secret Escapes we couldn’t not! x

      July 2, 2019 at 10:54 am
  • Reply April Rodea

    You guys are beautiful. Glad nothing bad happened during your trip and you had a wonderful time. x

    July 2, 2019 at 6:36 am
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thank you so much, we really did!x

      July 2, 2019 at 10:24 am
  • Reply Aleeha

    These photos are beautiful and I love the white dress you’re wearing! Sounds like you had a lovely trip!!
    Aleeha xXx

    July 2, 2019 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply Deborah Kos

    The Dominican beach water looks amazingly beautiful. It really is a beautiful place to visit. I’m glad you guys had a good vacation and stayed safe.

    July 2, 2019 at 10:06 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      The water was insane- so blue and clear! Thank you! x

      July 7, 2019 at 11:01 am
  • Reply Radi

    How did you know… Punta Cana is my next dream destination. Really enjoyed this post!

    July 3, 2019 at 7:37 am
  • Reply Mercy

    The photos are incredible! Such a detailed and honest review. Nice to hear about this place and the hotel.

    July 3, 2019 at 2:53 pm
  • Reply Jasmin white

    Sounds like you had an amazing time and your photos are so beautiful. I always look on Secret Escapes for deals, they have some great deals!

    July 3, 2019 at 10:14 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thank you! I’ll definitely be looking there again, they have some beautiful places listed for sure x

      July 4, 2019 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Sophie Wentworth

    This sounds like a lovely trip, the photo of the two of you on the beach is adorable! You both look so happy. I agree that the some things not included in all inclusive is a bad principle, isn’t that the point of all inclusive?? It’s a shame that they were still developing the site and it was a little disruptive, but I love that there’s an adults only option x


    July 3, 2019 at 10:41 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      It was, aw thank you! I totally agree about the all inclusive, when you’ve been to a few amazing all inclusives, to be told that certain things don’t count is definitely disappointing! I agree- I’m all for adults only! x

      July 4, 2019 at 9:56 am
  • Reply Sarah Hudson

    You’re really selling this place with you photos. Looks like an amazing place, thank you for sharing 🙂

    July 4, 2019 at 7:04 am
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thank you! It was amazing overall x

      July 4, 2019 at 4:46 pm
  • Reply Anna

    Was interesting to read about your impressions of the Dominican Republic, as it is on my travel bucket list and I was really wondering whether it would be safe to plan anything besides the resort stay! The hotel itself and $200 resort credit look amazing! We´ve also done a similar vacation to Mexico, and it felt safer than I initially expected! Let´s see how it goes with the Dominican Republic…

    July 5, 2019 at 6:56 am
    • Reply sophhearts

      It definitely is safe but just be wearing of ‘pirate hosts’ so use the usual common sense, check that any the providers of any travel already know your name etc. before boarding. Mexico definitely felt safer to me than the Dominican but I suppose it’s highly dependant on what parts you choose to visit! I hope you have a great time there x

      July 7, 2019 at 11:15 am
  • Reply Lucy

    The Dominican Republic looks like such a beautiful place to go!

    Lucy | Forever September

    July 8, 2019 at 10:22 am
  • Reply Simon

    I really enjoyed visiting the Dominican Republic. Would love to go back to a different area and this hotel sounds like a good option. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, warts n all!! As it’s great to have an idea of the real experience!

    July 14, 2019 at 9:11 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      I’m so glad you liked it too! I always try and be as honest as possible so that people can make well informed judgments- overall we thought that the resort was fab. It’s just a shame they were still doing works in some areas!x

      July 16, 2019 at 10:12 am
  • Reply Nicole

    Wow, gorgeous pictures! I would love to visit the Dominican Republic! x

    Nicole Batley

    July 14, 2019 at 11:04 pm
  • Reply Johnny

    This was a cool read Soph! Sounds like it was quite a luxury one, especially with the large types of cuisine you were spoiled with 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your time there. Though it’s a shame there’s been those mysterious cases of US tourists dying at their hotel bars and rooms – can be damaging for the island in terms of tourism.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

    July 14, 2019 at 11:52 pm
    • Reply sophhearts

      Thank you! I have to say I am more into luxury travel than anything else, haha. It is a bit scary isn’t it, it did feel less safe than the places we usually travel to, I must admit x

      July 16, 2019 at 10:09 am
  • Reply tuva’s world

    Great read! Dominican Republic was actually my first ever travel, when I was like 3 months old or something so I don’t remember anything but from your pictures it looks real nice! I love that you shared your absolute honest thoughts! xx

    August 6, 2019 at 11:36 am
    • Reply sophhearts

      It’s fun to say you’ve been somewhere even if you can’t remember it, isn’t it? I’d definitely recommend a trip back as an adult! x

      August 9, 2019 at 12:53 pm

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