Panic en La Playa in 2012 (Josh Timmermans, provided by Cloud 9 Adventures)

Panic En La Playa: Tropical outing for Widespread Panic

Just as the SXSW Music festival wraps up, the real rock party is heading even farther south for four nights of Widespread Panic on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

Now in its third year, Panic En La Playa (PELP) March 17-20 is the ultimate fan experience for followers of the legendary jam band. After an inaugural trip to Cancun, Mexico in 2012, PELP is taking over the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana for the second year in a row courtesy of destination concert company, Cloud 9 Adventures. Best known for their “Jam Cruise” and “Holy Ship” experiences at sea, Cloud 9 has continually changed the way concert lovers vacation since 2002.

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The all-inclusive packages went on sale in August and ever since, the full on freak-out over spending a week on the beach with “the boys” has taken over. It’s largely in part thanks to the secret group on Facebook: Playa Freaks, where newbies and alums alike trade travel tips, sell Panic swag, post photos and share sheer excitement for the infamous island experience.

Widespread Panic at Red Rocks 2013
Widespread Panic plays the first show of a four-night run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on June 27, 2013. (Candace Horgan, Reverb)

There’s a considerable Colorado contingent among the estimated 3,500 attendees and The Cannabist is here to help the lucky few of you en route to “Tres” next week.

For those missing out on the #WSMFP freak show? Follow me on Tout/Twitter/Instagram and start the countdown for Widespread Panic’s annual summer run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, June 27-29, 2014. KBCO’s pre-sale begins April 4 at 10 a.m. MDT.

Pack yer bags

Although Travelin’ Light is encouraged, don’t forget these essential extra items collected from our fellow Playa Freaks.

Bonus PELP Packing List:

  • $2 bills: Like a lot of island locales, the Dominicans love their tips in the form of Thomas Jefferson’s.
  • B12 shots: A daily dose of those magic B12 shots will be available (refer to Facebook for time and location posted each morning).
  • School & medical supplies: A donation drive is set up on-site for Cloud 9’s official non-profit partner, Positive Legacy, which supports area schools and clinics. A full list of requested items is available online.
  • Kites: March is wind season in the Dominican, which means your kite can get just as high you. Bonus points for attaching glow sticks/LED lights at night.
  • Miniature liquor bottles: Rumor has it that most inbound flights actually ran out of minis last year, so throw a few into your toiletry bag just in case.
  • Panic gear: While Cloud 9 doesn’t allow guest merch sales, there’s plenty of trading that goes down. Koozies, tee’s, trucker hats, stickers with new designs will be making their way around the pool daily. It’s also the best way to find a travel buddy during a layover if you’re traveling solo.
  • Poster tube: Take home a piece of paradise with a limited edition PELP by renowned artist Jeff Wood. Pre-order is available but a vehicle to transport it home safely is not.
  • Fanny pack: Hands free at a show is the only way to go. We’re taking Topo Design’s mini hip pack ($69).
  • Cape: As in your favorite superhero’s…it’s the official theme of Wednesday night’s show.
  • Yoga mat: Classes are offered daily and plenty of guests teach their own on the beach, but on site mats are limited.
  • Tumbler: All-inclusive means free rum punch refills all day long and bringing your own cup makes it all that more convenient (er, dangerous). Or use it for Chilly water to stay hydrated.
  • Beach read: Everyday Companion ($25), what else?

  • PSAs:

  • Zero tolerance: An excerpt from Cloud 9’s official statement reads: “Even if certain substances are legal in the state where you live, that does not mean you can travel internationally with them. The Dominican Republic does not recognize your medical card as a valid document. If you have a legally-prescribed medication with you, it needs to be in its original bottle with a sticker indicating that it is prescribed to the person who is carrying it.”  We also hear that Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) has a new crew of dogs to greet you upon arrival, so just be smart and let’s not get locked up abroad.
  • Carry on: The odds are not in your favor if you’re connecting, plus PUJ is notorious for losing luggage.
  • Text free: Download Viber or Whatsapp. Service via Voxer is apparently spotty.