Whether you are looking to escape the cold back home or just enjoy a great tropical vacation, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic should be near the top of your list. In addition to the beautiful weather, Punta Cana has some of the best beaches in the world. With beautiful, soft white sand and crystal blue waters, you won’t want to leave the beach and the water.
But Punta Cana isn’t all just sand and snorkeling. With some of the longest zip line runs in the Caribbean, world-class golf courses, and some of the most beautiful tropical parklands you will encounter in the region, the number of things to see and do in Punta Cana is seemingly endless.
If you are thinking about visiting Punta Cana in the near future, I have included all of the information that you will need to make your trip a success in this guide. You can use the easy to navigate menu below to jump to the different sections of this guide as you start to put your travel plans together. Whether you are looking for the best way to visit, the best places to stay, a great place to grab a bite to eat, or would like to supplement your trip with a fun excursion, you will find my recommendations in this guide.
|At A Glance|
|Top Things to See|
|How to Get There|
|Best Time to Visit|
|Where to Stay|
|Where to Eat|
|Recommended Tours and Excursions|
At a Glance
Before you start planning your trip to beautiful Punta Cana, take a moment and get acquainted with some of the basic information you will need to know before you travel. This includes what the passport requirements are to visit the Dominican Republic, what travel immunizations you will need, what languages they speak in the Dominican Republic, and what the form of currency is.
|Passport requirements exist. See below for details.|
|Immunizations are recommended. See below for details.|
|The official language in the Dominican Republic is Spanish.|
|The official currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso.|
As a general rule of thumb, you should always have at least 6-months remaining on your passport when you travel internationally. Even if the country you are visiting does not require it, some hotels and airlines may require it. In terms of the official requirements for the Dominican Republic, I have summarized those for you below.
- Passport must be valid at the time of visit.
- You must have at least one open page in your passport for a stamp.
- There is no VISA required for stays under 30-days.
Before you leave for your trip to Punta Cana, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations. Not only to protect yourself but to protect others. If you have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them, below are some general guidelines I can pass on to you from experience.
- Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
- Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
- Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you. This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultation will be covered by your insurance up-front.
- Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them. Walgreens is able to give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.
In case you are unsure of what travel vaccinations you might need, I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend in addition to any of the regular vaccinations you have yet to receive.
- Typhoid (either a shot, which is good for 2 years, or live virus pill, which is good for 4 years).
- Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
- Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
- Rabies (if you are going to be working in close contact with animals).
- Dukoral (gives you 3-month protection against travel diarrhea).
- Flu Shot
Top Things to See and Do
There are so many unique and amazing things to do in Punta Cana. Being the tropical location that it is, a majority of the activities will obviously be beach and water-based. However, the activities in Punta Cana aren’t limited to just the beach and the pool. There are a lot of adventure activities that you can partake in away from the water as well.
Hit the Beach
Clearly, one of the biggest draws for tourists visiting Punta Cana is the amazing beaches that the area has. Punta Cana has some of the softest sand beaches I have ever seen and they are great for soaking up the sun. If you are starting to put together your itinerary for your trip and are wondering which beaches in the area are the best, I have a list of the top five for you to review below.
Bavaro Beach – In my opinion, the nicest beach in Punta Cana.
Playa Blanca – Beautiful white sands. Open to the public, so can get busy.
Macao Beach – The best beach in Punta Cana for surfing.
Playa Juanillo – Beautiful public beach that is less busy than Playa Blanca.
Playa Arena Gorda – The party beach. Lifeguards are typically on duty during the day.
Get Out on the Water
No trip to Punta Cana is complete without getting out on the water. Not only are the beaches in Punta Cana amazing, but the water is clear and warm. It is an ideal place to learn to sail, paddleboard, go sea kayaking, or even learn to surf. Most of the major resorts and hotels have water sports equipment to rent, so there is no excuse not to get out on the water and have some fun!
Swim With Dolphins
If you have never swum with dolphins before, this is an activity that I cannot recommend strongly enough. It is an experience you will never forget, especially if you are an animal lover. If you are interested in swimming with dolphins, I have a tour recommendation linked below in the tour section of this guide.
Take a Snorkeling Tour
One of my favorite tours that we took when we were in Punta Cana was a snorkeling adventure tour. They have these large floating docks set up off the coast that they take you to and you can use them as a platform to dive the reef. Not only are you able to see all of the amazing fish and wildlife that live among the reef, but they also have netted off areas inside the docks where you can snorkel with sharks and rays.
Go Zip Lining
If you are into adventure, then you will absolutely love the zip lining tours that they have available in Punta Cana. The zip line course north of Punta Cana has 18 different zipline runs and the two longest runs in the entire Caribbean. They pick you up from your resort or hotel and drop you back off when you are done. For those who haven’t gone zip lining before, they are very safety conscious and take the time to make sure everyone is trained and comfortable before you start the course. It is an excursion that I really enjoyed, and I am sure you would too.
If you get a little burned out on water sports and adventure activities, Punta Cana has some amazing golf courses that you can play. There is a really great mix of high-end to mid-range courses in Punta Cana, so players of all abilities and interest levels can play. There is even a very nice 9-hole course available for beginners. If you are interested in learning more about the courses in Punta Cana, I have listed them below for you to review.
|Catalonia Caribe Golf Club||18||5,279-6,650 yds||$50|
|Punta Cana Resort & Club||45||5,123-7,605 yds||$140-$380|
|Catalonia Cabeza de Toro Golf Club||9||2,600 yds||$45|
|Barcelo Golf de Bavaro||18||6,100 yds||$75|
|Cocotal Golf & Country Club||27||5,712-6,855 yds||$112|
|Punta Espada Golf Club||18||7,381 yds||$220|
|Iberostate Bávaro Golf Club||18||6,897 yds||$165|
|Punta Blanca Golf Club||18||5,583-7,174 yds||$150|
Visit Hoyo Azul
Translated to mean the “Blue Hole”, Hoyo Azul is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Punta Cana. This beautiful natural water pool has crystal blue water that looks so clear and inviting that it almost screams for you to jump in and enjoy. If you are interested in visiting this amazing place, there are a number of different tours that can take you there (you must visit with a tour group).
I have included one of the most recommended tours in my tours and excursions section of this guide. You have the option to either cave dive in the Hoyo Azul or go zip lining into the water. Both options are amazing and worthwhile side excursions while you are in Punta Cana.
Visit Parque Nacional del Este
Founded in 1975, the Parque Nacional del Este is one of the most beautiful places in Punta Cana, if not all of the Dominican Republic. This beautiful park was set up to protect 300+ square miles of beautiful coastline and ocean. Visitors can take a walk thru a beautiful rainforest on a roughly 1.2-mile trail named Sendero del Padre Nuestro, visit one of the offshore islands of Saona and Catalina, or enjoy the roughly 400 sea caves that exist within the park.
How to Get There
The Dominican Republic is an island nation, so the only ways to get to Punta Cana are by airplane or boat. There are a number of major airlines around the world that fly into Punta Cana and several cruise lines that stop in Punta Cana on scheduled cruises each year. Which option is best for you will ultimately depend on how much time you want to spend in Punta Cana and what you want to see and do. If you plan on taking a cruise, your time will be much more limited than if you fly in and stay at a resort or hotel.
Flying to Punta Cana
If you choose to fly into Punta Cana, you will be arriving at Punta Cana International Airport. Punta Cana is located on the far eastern coast of the Dominican Republic and the airport is in very close proximity to the major resort area. I have included a map below to give you a reference to where Punta Cana and the international airport are located.
After you have landed and collected your luggage, you can either look for a taxi to take you to your hotel or plan ahead and arrange an airport transfer. If you would like to arrange an airport transfer, I have included some of the highest-rated airport transfer services for you below.
- Transfer from Punta Cana Hotels to Punta Cana Airport
- Transfer From Punta Cana Airport To Punta Cana Hotels
- One-Way Transfer: Punta Cana Airport to Punta Cana Hotels
Taking a Caribbean Cruise
If you are planning on taking a cruise that stops in Punta Cana, I would strongly suggest that you decide what you would like to do in Punta Cana and study the cruise itinerary before-hand. Some cruises stop in Punta Cana for only a short while and you may not have enough time to see and do everything that you want. After doing your research on Punta Cana, if you think a cruise would be your best option I have included a list of cruise lines that typically offer cruises that stop in Punta Cana below.
- Celebrity Cruises (Typically departs from Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA)
- Oceania Cruises (Typically departs from Miami, FL, USA)
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Typically departs from Miami, FL, USA)
- Royal Caribbean Cruises (Typically departs from San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Best Time to Visit
Average Temperature (°F)
Because the Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean, it should come as no surprise that it can get quite hot in Punta Cana. This is especially true during the summer months of June thru August. If you don’t deal with really hot temperatures well, then you might want to avoid these months. The rest of the year, the temperature gets hot, but not as stifling hot as it gets during the summer.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
The Dominican Republic typically gets a decent amount of rainfall each year, but most of the time the rain showers don’t last very long. The wettest months of the year tend to be in the fall months, with September typically being the wettest.
The best months to visit Punta Cana are during the months of December thru April. During these months the temperatures don’t get uncomfortably hot. However, you should keep in mind that these are also some of the busiest months in the Dominican Republic. During the winter months of December thru February, people from colder climates typically visit to escape the cold temperatures back home.
Late March and most of April are typically busy as well as these are the spring break months in the United States and many families take their vacations during this time. So if you are going to visit during the peak season, I would strongly suggest you book your flights, accommodations, and activities well in advance.
Where to Stay
If you are planning on flying into Punta Cana and staying at a hotel or resort, you are going to want to do a fair amount of research on which hotels and resorts best meet the needs of what you are looking for. In addition to the cost, you are going to want to consider the following factors when choosing the accommodations that are right for you:
- What room types do they offer and what are the amenities?
- Beach Access – Does it have exclusive beach access and which beaches is it near?
- Does it offer all-inclusive packages?
- How many restaurants does it have and what cuisines do they serve?
- What activities do they offer?
- Does it have a spa and what spa services do they offer?
- Does it have a golf course on-site? If so, how many holes and what is the rate?
To give you a head start on your search for accommodations, I have listed a number of highly-rated hotels and resorts at different price points for you to review below. All of these hotels and resorts are in the major resort area of Punta Cana.
Where to Eat
If you are looking for a great place to grab a bite to eat while you are in Punta Cana, I have compiled a list of highly recommended restaurants from TripAdvisor for you to review below. The list below has a good mix of high-end, mid-range, and local restaurants to choose from.
|Passion By Martin Berasategui||International, Mediterranian, Veggie||$$$$|
|Montserrat Manor Restaurant||Seafood, Sushi, Veggie||$$$$|
|Celina Restaurant||Italian, American, Steakhouse||$$-$$$|
|Saffron||International, Sushi, Vegetarian||$$-$$$|
|Toc Beach Bar & Restaurant||Caribbean, Latin, Seafood||$$-$$$|
|Kukua Beach Club||Caribbean, Seafood, Mediterranean||$$-$$$|
Recommended Tours and Excursions
If you are looking for some great tours and excursions to add some adventure to your trip, I have compiled a list of eight highly recommended tours below to get you started on your search. All of these tours are available thru Viator, which is a TripAdvisor affiliate, and have all gotten good reviews.
Punta Cana is such a beautiful and amazing place. Some of the most beautiful sunrises I have had the pleasure of photographing I saw while visiting Punta Cana. Below is a gallery of just some of the many pictures I took while I was visiting.
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This looks like a wonderful place to visit!
It’s amazing! 😀👍
Wow! Vaccinations? That kind of surprises me, but it also reminds me I’ll need to get some before going to Asia. Thanks for that reminder!!
Those floating snorkeling platforms look really cool!
This may sound weird, but your use of the past participle “swum” warmed my heart. So many people mess that up. 🙂
In March, during my frenzied afternoon of searching for a last-minute spring break spot, before I decided I wasn’t going anywhere, Punta Cana came on my radar. It looks beautiful and I hope to get there someday. I especially appreciate you including an “adults only” resort. We avoid family resorts when possible. Great post, Josh!
I just love your comments!!! 😀 I am stunned that I managed to get that right as I usually mess that up too. As for the immunizations, nothing major for the Dominican Republic. Especially if you are only eating on resort.
that’s a super comprehensive guide. I love your hotel recommendations, as they not only feature resorts, but also some budget options as well as off-resort luxury hotels – great picks.
If you need some budget restaurants as well, you could add Delicias, Don Camaron or Wacamole – some locals favorites. 🙂
Cheers from Punta Cana
Thanks for reading and for the great suggestions Chris!