The newest tour of 2013 in Punta Cana is the MINI Tour! It’s a unique experience where you get behind the wheel of your own Convertible MINI Cooper. The full day outing is billed as the excursion that lets you visit the most exclusive areas and most picturesque towns of the Dominican Republic. And they may just be right.
After getting some quick safety tips and directions on how to operate the radio, and the ever important convertible top, our caravan of Mini Coopers left Punta Cana and headed West towards the exclusive community of Casa de Campo. For those of you that don’t know, Casa de Campo is one of the most prestigious resort areas in the Dominican Republic with private villas and affluent communities alike. Its most recent celebrity guests, that make headlines wherever they travel, were the Kardashians. the property is also home to some of the best golf courses in the world including Diente del Perro, (Teeth of the Dog) designed by Pete Dye, who also has a home there too. But on this tour, we headed towards the most popular attraction within Casa de Campo – Altos de Chavon.
Altos de Chavon, a re-creation of a medieval 16th century European village, was created in the early 1980’s. With narrow cobblestone streets lined with lanterns, shutters, and limestone walls, it’s a photographers paradise. Casa de Campo also features several Mediterranean style restaurants and a number of quaint shops that feature the crafts of local artisans who live there. You also wont want to miss the Roman style 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheater that hosts many modern day concerts.
After our visit to Altos de Chavon, we got back into our Mini Cooper, top down of course, and head back out onto the highway. This time driving East towards La Estancia, another exclusive residential golf community. It is here that we visit La Flor Cigar Factory, one of the most amazing boutique hand-made cigar factories in the world.
The tour then follows the path of the tobacco leaves from the fields to the packaging of their premium hand made cigars. You’ll walk into the tobacco preparation areas of La Flor Dominicana where the workers condition and classify the leaves, then continue on to their blending room. Next you’ll come to the manufacturing floor where you’ll witness firsthand the cigar making process: bunching, rolling, cigar aging and packaging. Come visit the largest hand-made cigar factory in the world, employing more than 5,000 people, and you’ll see the proud handwork of the cigar industry’s most experienced craftsmen and women.
After an opportunity to purchase some of the best hand-made cigars in the world, we again get back behind the wheel of our Mini Cooper and head to the remote fishing village of Boca de Yuma. By now, if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling pretty hungry. Sitting in a quaint cafe overlooking the Caribbean Sea, you’ll dine on a typical Dominican cuisine. Enjoy fresh and locally caught fish, chicken, rice and beans, with fresh fruit and vegetables. And don’t forget to try the tostones, a local dish of thinly sliced fried plantains. After lunch you’re free to wonder around and explore the sites of this once bustling international fishing town.
Boca de Yuma was originally known as the “Port of Higuey.” Centuries ago, it once had a Spanish colonial fort located here overlooking the Yuma Bay. You can easily walk to the ocean cliffs, where the community park is located, and you will find the remains of some cannons that were used as the main defense of the fort. In 1989 Hurricane George devastated the entire region, and Boca de Yuma has never since recovered.
We again get behind the wheel of our Mini Coopers for a short drive to the town of San Rafael de Yuma. In this town you’ll find the Ponce de Leon museum, which brings to life the legacy of Juan Ponce de Leon, who was known as the Spanish explorer who was on a quest to find the fountain of youth. But Ponce de Leon was a much more than just an early Spanish explorer; he was a conqueror as well. Ponce de Leon commanded the last military battle against the indigenous Tiano Indians, driving them from their home in Higuey to the small offshore island of Saona before massacring them. It was there that the last battle was won, and the entire Island of Hispaniola was under Spanish rule. Ponce de Leon become the governor of Higuey and was rewarded substantially. This new found wealth helped fund his further expeditions. It was this house, what is now the museum of Ponce de Leon, which acted his base from where he fought the native Taino Indians, conquered Puerto Rico and set out to discover Florida. You will see historical artifacts in his house that is still filled with his furnishings and utensils.
After a full day of driving with your top down, and seeing some of the most picturesque and historically significant sites in the Easternmost part of the Dominican Republic, it’s finally time to head back towards Punta Cana. So if you are looking to visit exclusive areas and some of the most picturesque towns of this country, and you would you like to learn more about the Dominican culture, then I think I’ve found the right excursion for you.
Join this tour today and enjoy all this and much more. Taking the wheel of your own Mini Cooper Convertibles for a day, it’s a unique experience that you wont soon forget. Enjoy Mini Fun!!