If you’re looking for an off-resort excursion at your all-inclusive in Punta Cana that doesn’t involve swimming with dolphins or a drive-by tour of the area, what about one that promises relaxation and rejuvenation — and involves dozens of tiny garra rufa fish picking dead skin off your feet?
The very unusual fish pedicure was just one of several treatments we had during our three hour cruise on the Dr. Fish Spa Boat, led by Ocean Adventures tours of Punta Cana.
After boarding the spa boat and setting sail on the blue, breezy Atlantic, we rotated in groups through five treatments. First, some light yoga on the deck followed by a dip in the “ocean Jacuzzi.”
For this, we descended from the boat by ladder and settled onto a floating mattress in the ocean. We were pulled on our individual mattresses to a line of rope and attached in a line beside others in our group, left to float under the warm Caribbean sun as the gentle waves of the ocean circulated refreshing salt water over our bodies.
Back on the boat, we moved on to massages, followed by a detox therapy meant to remove toxins from our bodies. Finally, it was time for the Dr. Fish signature treatment: fish pedicures.
We disembarked on a small dock and sat side-by-side on benches with boxes of water at our feet. In the wooden boxes: dozens of small, grey garra rufa fish.
These toothless fish are imported from Turkey and the Middle East, where for centuries they have been used to help those who suffer from psoriasis with their skin ailments.
The fish only eat dead skin from the body, and by the way they latched onto our feet once we lowered them into the water, I’d say they were mighty hungry. Dozens of the fish, ranging in size from an inch to more than four, lunged at my feet, tickled my toes and sent a sudden wave of queasiness over me.
Watching and feeling the fish nibble at my skin, especially so when there were multiples of the little guys latching on at once, was an odd sensation that took some getting used to.
I pulled my feet back out of the water more than once to give my nerves a break. But, over the course of the 10-minute treatment, the urge to squirm or shriek when tickled subsided and was replaced by pure awe at how amazing the treatment actually was.
My feet certainly were smoother after the fish pedicure, though I didn’t find the treatment to have the lasting effects a traditional foot exfoliation at a spa offers. Still, sitting on a dock in the Atlantic, a breeze blowing over my shoulders and dozens of small fish pecking away gently at my heels, I knew this truly unique spa treatment was one I would always remember.
What a perfect way to end our trip to the Dominican Republic.
For more information on the Dr. Fish Spa Boat excursion, visit oceanadventures-puntacana.com.
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For more images from this press trip, visit canoe.ca/puntacana