This family vacation we stayed at Playa Turquesa in Punta Cana January 1 – 11, 2014. We booked all of our tours through Lise and Edwar of El Tour Caribe, also full time residents of Playa Turquesa. I can’t say enough good things about Lise and Edwar. Their customer service and their passion put them on a level that would be hard to compare to. No detail is left unplanned or unchecked. Whether we were with them on an excursion or with a representative of El Tour Caribe, we felt like royalty. Even more importantly, we felt extremely safe. Keep in mind my wife and I are both registered nurses in the US, so things like safety don’t go unnoticed with us.
Prior to arriving in PC, we prearranged 5 different tours with El Tour Caribe (parasailing, dune buggy, horseback riding, zip-line, and snorkeling at Catalina island) for this family of 4. Lise gave us the option to upgrade to the scuba diving option for Catalina Island once we arrived. I was very hesitant to commit prior to arriving and then again once we arrived because I had a very bad experience attempting to dive several years earlier in Jamaica at a “mega resort” resort that resulted in injury. When we met Lise and Edwar for the first time, they both took the time to find out what concerned me about scuba diving and any possible medical issues. After listening, they suggested that I attempt it again. The difference this time would be that it would not be a “mega resort” type dive and Lise and Edwar would take all the time I needed to assure my scuba dive was a success.
It started off with instruction and competencies in the pool. Lise and Franklin (El Tour Caribe employee) worked with my wife, my daughter (16), son (12) and myself. My kids interacted with Lise as if she was a longtime friend or family member. Her instruction with the kids was structured, serious but obviously enjoyable seeing as the kids were disappointed when the lesson in the pool came to an end. Instruction with my wife and I was also very structured, professional and yet enjoyable. After our lessons in the pool, my wife and kids were excited for the next day’s open water dive. As for me, I was still leery and concerned.
As planned, we were picked up at our door at 8 AM sharp by Lise and Edwar. We made the hour long trek in their car, not a big open air bus or taxi van filled with other tourists, to the town of Bayahibe. We were fitted for wetsuits and fins at a local PADI dive shop and then made our way down the marina. When we turned the corner and I saw all of the people in the marina waiting to board boats for snorkeling and scuba diving my anxiety immediately rose. Much to my surprise, we were escorted by Lise and Edwar onto a big boat that I was told could easily have shuttled 30+ divers out to the reef. However, on this boat, it was my family of 4, Lise and Edwar, the “skipper,” a deckhand, and 4 other divers with their dive instructor for a total of 12 people on board. There was plenty of room on the boat and it never had that “group dive” feeling.
We arrived at our first dive site and by then Lise and Edwar had all of our gear tested and ready to go. Within minutes we were in the beautiful water of the Caribbean awaiting the descent to the ocean floor. It was decided before hand to have my wife and kids descend first. Lise and Edwar accompanied them without incident to the ocean floor before Lise came back up to get me. It took awhile for me to ascend, but Lise stayed with me the entire time. She never pressured me to go faster or further than I was comfortable. I eventually joined my family below and our first dive was a huge success.
The rest of the day was even better. Our first dive lasted a total of 39 minutes below the surface. After a short rest back on the boat where we had snacks and beverages, our second dive was at a different reef, even better than the first. The second dive lasted a total of 49 minutes. I should mention that both dives Edwar took possession of our personal camera and took over 400 pictures of the family and ocean life during both dives. This certainly would have been an added cost with most anyone else, it was in Jamaica! After the second dive we had a private and catered lunch on Saona island. Majestic doesn’t come close to explain our time on this island. After lunch we had some time to take a nap, swim or walk along the beach. My family and I are extremely happy that we upgraded to dive option of the trip.
I spent a lot of time talking about the dive because that was the highlight of our trip, hands down. Scuba diving in Punta Cana alone is awesome. When coupled with the experience, service, and professionalism of Lise and Edwar with El Tour Caribe, you are destined for an absolutely wonderful experience.
The other excursions we booked thru El Tour Caribe were just as enjoyable and memorable. The zipline tour was amazing. Any concerns we had regarding the safety of such a excursion in a third world country were quickly put to rest. We all felt very safe the entire time. Be it the speed, the height, or the views, the zipline tour should make anyone’s list of top 3 things to do in Punta Cana. Parasailing, horseback riding and dunebugging were provided some diversity to the trip and we left with many memories from those excursions as well.
Again, you have many options when it comes to tours while in Punta Cana. Just take one step onto Bavaro beach and within the matter of minutes you will be approached by vendors selling tours. The benefits of booking thru El Tour Caribe are numerous without incurring a lot more cost, if any. If you want your vacation to be just that, I would highly recommend El Tour Caribe to anyone. They take all of the worries out of planning and enjoying excursions. We will return to Punta Cana in 2015 and we will book again thru El Tour Caribe, especially scuba diving!
Thanks Lise and Edwar, you absolutely blew away our expectations.
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