Dominican Republic Island Eats: Punta Cana's Jellyfish Restaurant

When Zickie and I arrived in Punta Cana, the famous beach resort region on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, the dinner reservation system at our hotel was down. “What does that mean, exactly?” I asked the concierge who was handling our check-in. The all-inclusive resort sprawled over dozens of acres along Bavaro beach and contained a smorgasbord of restaurants, with cuisine that ranged from French to Japanese.

“We can’t get you in,” the concierge explained. “The computer can’t book you a table.”

Apparently, we might have to go without dinner.

In our room, I teased Zickie, “This isn’t a very good introduction to all-inclusives.”

(Bavaro beach in Punta Cana. Photo courtesy of Jellyfish, Facebook)

But all kidding aside, their computer shut-down presented a real problem: it was Saturday night, getting later by the minute, in a Dominican town where we had just gotten totally lost (as I described in a previous post) trying to drive to the resort.

As we all know, however, hunger can be very motivating. A little Googling online uncovered a waterfront restaurant not far from our hotel. We threw on clean clothes and rushed out to the car, in hopes of eating dinner. (Getting off the resort property was a story in and of itself, but I’ll spare you the boring details.) Luckily, the helpful security guard at the entrance gave us clear, careful directions to get the place, whose name was…Jellyfish.

Reviews online sounded positive, and as long as we could find the dining establishment in question, I was ready to eat just about anything (except actual jellyfish, of course). We found a sign pointing to Jellyfish, then turned and drove down a bumpy road. As the town’s lights faded from view, I admit: I did get a little worried. What if we got lost again? What if the security guard had only sounded like she knew Punta Cana? Finally, after what seemed like several minutes, I spotted lights. Then a parking lot. Then the sign! “Jellyfish.”

(Upstairs at Jellyfish)

We found a place in the crowded lot and hurried up to the hostess. Did they have a table, I inquired anxiously. “Yes,” the lady replied in English. “We can give you a table, but you’ll have to sit upstairs. We’re having a wedding.” Suddenly, the sound of loud, happy music playing just outdoors by the beach made sense. We peered around the corner and saw loads of tables decorated to the hilt and set for dinner. No problem, we answered, happy to sit upstairs.

The restaurant’s mezzanine was decorated in a fun, beach-y style and the menu looked extensive, with a host of fish, seafood, and steak options.

“I’m having lobster,” Zickie announced.

After the day’s long journey and getting lost, he certainly deserved it. I ordered grilled fish, and we sat back to await our cocktails.

The beautiful seaview you can appreciate during the day wasn’t visible at night, but we had another kind of view. The wedding! Perched upstairs on an open air deck, we could see every dance move and every declaration of love. A bright neon sign reading “LOVE” glowed on the stage. Costumed dancers joined the guests as they kicked up their heels.

(Wedding at Jellyfish)

Meanwhile, Zickie nursed his rum and tonic, and I sipped on my cold Presidente beer. Our octopus appetizer came and we devoured it as though we hadn’t eaten in a week. At last our meals appeared. As usual, Zickie had ordered very well. His lobster? Nicely grilled, succulent, and delicious. My fish tasted fresh and the roasted vegetables on the side were irresistible.

(The lobster!)

The wedding party retired to their tables to eat, and eventually after coffee we paid the bill. The evening out ended with us feeling grateful that Jellyfish had provided us a much-needed dinner, and a yummy one at that.

The next day we walked down the beach from our hotel and what did we come across? Jellyfish, once again. In the daylight I could understand why people like to come there for lunch. What a view!

(That view. Photo courtesy of Jellyfish, Facebook.)

We told our friends also staying at the all-inclusive they had to try it. This was definitely a highlight of our Punta Cana visit, and once again, our decision to go exploring paid off for these island runaways.

Have you ever been to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic? If so, have any tips for our Guest Island Experts page?


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