Our two excursions gave us the opportunity to experience a small portion of the local culture and see a few different towns. The only town we actually explored was Sosua, where our resort was located. We chose it for two reasons, the first of which was the flight schedule. The flights were in and out earlier than the others, arriving around 6PM Dominican time and home approximately 8PM Toronto time. The second reason to choose this resort was the fact it was in a town. It was nice to be able to walk out the front of the resort and step into the local community.

The excursion we took part in on Tuesday was to Paradise Island for snorkeling. We chose the VIP option, which took a bit longer and gave us a richer experience. We started out early and went to other resorts to pick up more adventurers. Once we arrived at the beginning location, we were all taken by speedboat out to the two tiered cruising boat waiting off shore. From there we slowly sailed around the island while eating breakfast and refreshments they provided.

We cruised to a quiet cove where we anchored down and were let out to swim in the ocean. We swam for about 20-30 minutes (as I said the passing of time became unnoticeable). We continued on through a mangrove and onto another cove for lunch. We were greeted on shore by pelicans and a fresh coconut cut open for us to drink the natural milk on the inside. My first taste on ice was amazing. How did I never do this before? I have been in Florida and California so why wasn’t I ever as adventurous?

After lunch we then continued on to the little oasis in the middle of the ocean. As we pulled into view, you could only see a small patch of white sand and four huts. We cruised up close to shore and jumped out. As we walked through the clear water onto the soft powder the locals call sand, they had a photographer to take pictures of couples and families in the water and on the beach.

We were fitted with the snorkeling equipment and a briefing on how to use it. They also provided us with wrapped cheese sandwiches to feed the fish and then were led into the water. Right away you could see the colourful fish and exotic underwater jungle. The fish were ready immediately to be fed! It was like being in a large, beautiful salt water aquarium.

I struggled for the first half of the tour with getting used to my goggles and mouth piece, but after I got the hang of it I would get lost in the flowing sea life, both growing from the ground and moving around. It was nature at it’s best, an underwater rainbow of life. It is one thing to see these same things in a large aquarium behind glass, but quite another to be able to touch it. It’s visually overloading and seemed impossible to take it all in.

After returning to shore and relaxing a while, we began our journey back to the cove where we had lunch. We had time to relax, have something to drink and then begin our return trip to the resort.

Our next excursion on Wednesday was a VERY active and surprising one. After making the rounds again to resorts to pick up everyone, we made it out to where we would start the hike and waterfall exploration. We arrived receiving helmets and lifejackets, which wasn’t nearly as telling about what was in store than it should have been. The hike up the mountain was long and worth it. The guides were extremely helpful and interactive, making the long hike enjoyable. We were all looking forward to seeing the waterfalls, but I don’t think any of us knew what we were in for.

We hiked through streams, so by the time we reached the first waterfall we were already wet. We had heard there were natural slides made from centuries of erosion, but what we found was astonishing. There were many little slides we had to go down to get to lower levels of the flowing river, but when we came to the first large one and was given the option to jump or slide. I chose to jump, not realizing the hight at first. It was 12 meters approximately and the water below had an unknown depth, but we knew it was well beyond deep enough to jump. I was the first to jump! It was exhilarating. One by one the others in the group either jumped or slid down.

The next slide was little, but we had to swim through a narrow canyon to the next open area. This was where we ran into a bit of a “roadblock”. A tree had fallen in the river and workers were busy cutting away at it. We had to climb around it, down some stairs and then down a rope back into the river. The slides continued and so did the swimming in narrow openings. It was now obvious why we had helmets and life jackets! All of this, but we still were able to enjoy the amazing rock formations. Mother Nature takes pride in her beauty and it was apparent we were seeing some of her best.

The last large water fall we came to had a jump or rope to climb down to the final slide. Again I jumped, which was a bit lower, and then slid into the end of our water journey. We had made it! It took us and hour and half more than normal, but there had been a lot of rain recently and it changed the landscape of the hike. This was just the first half of the day!