Just before Xmas, I went for a short break to Lanzarote and did 4 dives while I was there. It was good viz and there were lots of fish including some large barracuda. I also saw a couple of sea horses which was good. As I was on a hand baggage only flight and equipment hire was €40 for the 2 days, I decided not to take my own kit. Normally, I dive with a long hose and a wing, so a traditional regulator set up and a jacket BCD is a bit of a novelty for me. It wasn't too bad though, but the big difference I did notice was fins.
My previous experience of the Domincan Republic had been a week in an all inclusive hotel in the north with very average food and drinks of a dubious provenance served in plastic cups.This time, I booked a flight to Punta Cana with British Airways and a room in an apartment in Bavaro with booking.com. The taxi from the airport cost US$30, which seemed a little on the high side.
I first went to Cuba back in 1999. I stayed at an all inclusive hotel in Playa Santa Lucia and I wrote this trip report. Obviously it was a long time ago, but Lonely Planet currently describes Santa Lucia as "an isolated resort strip that's seen better days", so I wouldn't be surprised if it had changed very little.
Santa Marta is another city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. It's a major port, but there is a small beach and a marina. The town itself has some nice old colonial style buildings. The Plaza de los Novios is a square around which are several bars and restaurants, and it's a nice and safe place to go for a drink or a meal. I stayed at the Nueva Granada hotel, which had a nice courtyard to relax in and a small swimming pool. Daytime temperatures were as high as 34C, so the pool was welcome.