Punta Cana is a sun-drenched beach destination in the Dominican Republic. It's a coastal town that boasts tons of tourism, focused mainly on all-inclusive resorts. But there's more to this resort town than glamor and teeny bikinis.
From where to stay to what to do while you're there, here are 11 things you need to know while planning your trip to Punta Cana.
There's More To Do Than Lounge On The Beach
Yes, beach lounging is a priority for most vacationers. But you can also zipline, windsurf, kayak, sail, and take in some local culture. There's also upscale shopping at Cap Cana, plus more beaches.
In Bávaro, there's golfing, coral reef exploration, an Adventure Park, and of course, tons of resorts. Hoyo Azul has zip lines and other adventuring opportunities, Scape Park has diving and cave exploration, Manati Park is a zoo with sea life and rides, and you can snorkel with stingrays and sharks at Marinarium Excursions. Yes, please!
You Should Visit Punta Cana In Spring
From March to May is when the peak season is over in Punta Cana, but the weather is still spectacular, explains US News. The area enjoys 80-degree temperatures year-round, so there's really no wrong time to go. Keep that in mind when we discuss airline deals later!
Where To Stay In Punta Cana
If you haven't already noticed, Bávaro is where a lot of the highlights of Punta Cana are happening. It's a great home base from which to explore everything else the town has to offer. Essentially, it's a beach resort area, and you can see the coral reef through the calm, crystal-clear water. There are vendors selling goods in the area, including authentic Dominican cigars if those are on your shopping list.
Every Hotel Is Luxurious In Punta Cana
For adults-only luxury, check out the Barceló Bávaro, which is a five-star resort on a private beachfront. You'll get front-row seats to the gorgeous beauty that is Bávaro Beach, plus you'll be within walking distance of other attractions (like good eats!).
Other delightful hotels include Occidental Punta Cana, with over 9,000 positive reviews, and Meliá Caribe Beach Resort (which has nearly 7,000 great reviews).
Local Dominican Dishes To Try
According to Living Punta Cana, must-try Dominican dishes are influenced by African, Spanish, Middle Eastern, and Taíno flavors. You might find a traditional breakfast with everything fried: eggs, salami, cheese, and more. Mangú might show up on your plate for multiple meals; it's a bowl of boiled plantains with onions. Don't knock it 'til you try it!
Another popular dish is La Bandera (Spanish for "the flag"), named after the colors of the flag of DR. There are beans, rice, and stewed or roasted meat. Or, you can try Sancocho, a hearty stew of vegetables and meat. You can also expect seafood, of course, like Pescado Frito (fried fish).
Getting Around Punta Cana
If you stay in a centrally located area, you might be able to walk to many places in Punta Cana. But otherwise, getting around can be a bit of a chore. You can rent a vehicle, but that can get expensive quickly. Bus schedules are pretty irregular, meaning you could miss out on your can't-miss excursions. In reality, the ideal scenario is to stay at an all-inclusive resort (plus they often offer transportation options so you can still explore outside the confines of the property!).
Points Of Interest To Explore In Punta Cana
There are so many unique places to explore in Punta Cana. Though much of this seaside town is heavy into luxe tourism appeal, there are spots where its true roots shine through. There's Altos de Chavón, a historic Mediterranean village replica. There's the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve and quiet lagoons where you can float in peace with only nature to keep you company.
Also, the swing at Mount Redondo in Michés is worth a visit!
How Much Cash You Need In Punta Cana
While the Dominican Republic has its own currency (the Dominican Peso, or DOP), many vendors also accept US dollars and even Euros, says Punta Cana Travel. Still, it's good to carry some pesos for purchasing small items from street vendors and for emergencies.
Depending on what you plan to do, you'll probably need a couple of hundred dollars. Especially if you want to go golfing, try out water sports, or dine at fancy restaurants, you'll want plenty of cash in hand.
Flight Deals To Punta Cana: When To Go
The absolute cheapest time to fly to Punta Cana is in January, says Kayak. A round-trip ticket could cost you as little as $200, they note, which sounds like an amazing deal. And, the best part is, you'll avoid crowds (and hurricane season) in DR, plus it'll still be ideal weather for sunbathing and beachgoing.
History Of Punta Cana & The Dominican Republic
Originally, investors from the U.S. "acquired" the Dominican Republic, notes Medium. There were small fishing villages and a lot of undeveloped land. Later, a man from the Dominican Republic joined the American group of investors, and they schemed together to turn the Dominican Republic into a tourist destination. At the same time, they concentrated on conservation efforts and protecting the natural habitats of animals in the area.
The very first hotel sprang up in 1978 (Club Med, the modern version of which is pictured above), and that was the beginning of the tourist craze on the island. With roads cut in and industrial development happening, Punta Cana soon became a renowned vacation destination for people from all over the world.
Beaches Are Endless In The DR
Oh, you want beaches? Well, Punta Cana has plenty. From Bávaro Beach (complete with picturesque white sands) to Arena Gorda Beach (great for watersports), to Macao Beach (ideal for surfing), to Juanillo (with an adorable cafe), there's literally no end to the coastal enjoyment you'll find in the Dominican Republic.
And guess what? The water temperatures in Punta Cana are around 79 degrees at their coldest. That means a delightful dip in the sea will feel like you're having a spa day, even if it's mid-January. And, lots of coral reefs mean the beaches are calm and protected from big waves (except in those few big surfing destinations).