When it comes to the next vacation planning, the Dominican Republic maybe is part of the shortlist. A small island somewhere in the Caribbean with palm trees and mile-long beaches. Isn’t that the country where also all the All-Inclusive-Resorts in Punta Cana are located? I would like to show 7 examples of alternative tourism in the Dominican Republic to make you aware of all the possibilities of the country. Maybe you’ll find out, why the Ministry of Tourism communicates its country as ‘The Dominican Republic has it all’.
We all expect the Dominican Republic to be a country with a lot of sunshine, beaches and people with a laid-back mentality. I cannot deny this standard imagination of the Dominican Republic, because this type of All-Inclusive-Tourism is a steady characteristic for their national tourism. In that sense, your imagination of a colorful Caribbean country with music, dance, rum, and tropical birds, and exotic fruits is what the country can offer to every visitor.
The Dominican Republic is a pure paradise for alternative travelers
Spending vacations in a hermetically sealed all-inclusive resort might not be the preference for everyone. I was during all my time only twice for a couple of nights in Punta Cana and had soon enough from ‘tourism off the rack’ and impersonalized servicing.
For me, this type of tourism always seems a bit like a supervised vacation in artificial surroundings with organized feeding times. I am more the adventurous type of traveler and don’t really need to have this oversupply of service. It just makes you feel idle and unproductive. The few movements every day only makes you gain weight and sunburn as a souvenir.
But the most populous country in the Caribbean has much more to offer than the typical gringo vacations for honeymooners and senior golfers. For me, that’s always the main reason to get curious. What does a tourism destination have to offer apart from the expectable factors?
And the Dominican Republic has many interesting ways for individual tourists who are curious to explore beyond the mass consumption society. Maybe you’ll be surprised about all the thrilling opportunities for an ambitious traveler that the Dominican Republic can fulfill.
To push myself to the limit and to try out something new I am always looking for a crazy and adventurous moment. At the peak of my time during this trip, I reached a dangerous level of fear. I was never that high before I came down to earth so brutally fast. Read this article and consume yourself a fine piece of adrenaline.
If you know me better or for longer, you also know how much I like to provoke others with misleading words or texts. But this intro was until now the best of its kind and worth gold. I can’t deny to say, that I am curious how many people thought if I am crazy or a drug addict. “What the hell is this guy writing?” If already the title includes a drug like a magic mushroom, this author must’ve written it under the influence of psychedelic drugs as well.
No, I am not a drug addict. And yes, I have still followed a trip to the Magic Mushroom. But sometimes, things are not as clear as the water I dived into. If you are ever traveling to Cabarete in the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, don’t limit your time there to the beautiful beaches and water sport activities. Approximately 45 minutes away from Cabarete, you will have the opportunity to go on a real off-track and fun adventure. Hence, you can perceive it as a trendy and growing excursion, which still flies under the radar of the ‘mainstream Cabarete tourism’.
So, I left the office at 4pm and travelled from Santo Domingo to Cabarete on a Friday after work. Worst idea you can have, DOMINICAN TRAFFIC IS HORRIBLE. Took a bus to Sosua and from there a taxi to my hotel in Cabarete. At 11:30pm (!) I finally arrived. If you ever plan to use a national bus to travel through the Dominican Republic, please do it at noon to avoid bad vibes and lost lifetime. Arriving at this time after that time, I really wasn’t in the mood anymore to go out for a bite or a drink. My time was very limited in Cabarete, I only planned to stay for the weekend and already ‘lost’ an evening and night there. Great. Hopefully, I won’t get disappointed and the rest of my time will be better.
And yes, it was much better. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet Helmut Ludwig in Cabarete, an Austrian expatriate and who lives since more than 20 years in Cabarete. This man has a really good and warm soul, pulsates of energy and always smiles at you when he is talking to you. Thus, you feel all time in good companionship when he is around.
A very good thing about him is, that he might be the best contact with regards to adventurous tourism activities in this area. With decades of experience, the right contacts and professional equipment, he can help you to spend an extraordinary and thrilling time in the neighbouring villages of Cabarete. Helmut founded ‘Kajak River Adventures’ and took me to the ‘Magic Mushroom excursion’. And that was much better than remaining solely at the beach all day.
I didn’t research a lot about this excursion or the destination before. Only viewed a few photos of the ‘Magic Mushroom’ to not get spoiled and still be surprised. And yes, I didn’t expect such an overdose of adrenaline and a rush of blood to the head during this trip. If I would have researched and prepared myself better before, I wouldn’t have drunken a double espresso in the morning when having breakfast. Not needed, I obtained from all I’ve done during the excursion the same level of energy.
If you ever want to plan this trip, I encourage you to do so and can help you with the planning. But one important information up front: Bring your Go-Pro or another waterproof camera with. You can’t take your mobile phone with you during that excursion: Too risky with all the swims in the water and the danger of smashing it on a rock or losing it.
Luckily, Helmut had a waterproof Nikon camera and took some wonderful pictures of our small group. Maybe not the best photos quality wise, but hey: Without these photos, I would have nothing to show and not write this article. If I ever do that tour again, I will definitely buy a good and advanced camera to make some stunning photos and videos in HD.
However, the trip itself is a mix of hiking, rappelling, swimming, cliff diving, climbing and an overdose of adrenalized fun. There are two different tours which take 3 hours and 5 hours. I did a shorter tour and have now a good argument to come back one day to Kajak River Adventures and ask for the ‘Big Bastard Tour’ that takes 5 hours. Separates the men from the boys.
The only things you need to bring with are your bath suit, good and stable sport shoes for the hike and my recommended waterproof camera. I would not recommend this tour for people who are not in a good physical condition, who are scared of heights and/or don’t enjoy to get wet and dirty. Pregnant women rule out themselves anyhow to make that trip. Everyone else is welcome to do that trip and I am pretty sure, that you would like it as much as I did. Maybe you even smile:
And if you are a fearless bastard as I am, you can also try to jump from a 95ft. (15m) cliff. Do you dare to? I did! And it was for me not only the biggest height I jumped from, it was double as high than my previous high score of 48 ft. (7.5m).
I can’t tell what exactly happened to my subconscious in that moment, but I tried not to think and switched my – already in regular times malfunctioned – brain off before I jumped. It won’t work otherwise: If you think too much you will freeze and it paralyzes your legs.
One of the group members was Chris Conley, Wide Receiver of the Kansas City Chiefs, a professional NFL player. He was a very pleasant and friendly guy. Whenever I did my frontflip to enter the water surface, he was the one diving headfirst.
Telling me, that it was easier to do so than the frontflip. Well, I think it is the opposite 🙂
So why Magic Mushroom? Look at this photo:
Yes, it really looks like this and the rest of the nature is as beautiful as you can imagine and see on Helmut’s photos. Clear blue and azure water, green plants and many rocks and cliffs to jump from. In total, I jumped from 7 (or 8?) cliffs and every single time was a pure joy. Except the 95ft. suicidal one, that was a real dare for myself.
Do you want to get adrenalized by this Magic Mushroom, too? Contact me for more information and I help to plan your own mind-blowing adventure trip!