Your Ultimate Punta Cana Travel Guide 2023
Are you planning a trip to the beautiful destination of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic? If so, you’re in for an unforgettable experience! From its stunning beaches to its unique attractions, Punta Cana is the perfect place to soak up some sun and explore the Caribbean. To make sure you get the most out of your trip, here is your complete guide to exploring Punta Cana. Here you’ll find the top tips on where to stay, what to do, and which must-see attractions you won’t want to miss.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Punta Cana
- Relax On The Beach: Punta Cana boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. White sand, turquoise water, and swaying palm trees make for the perfect paradise getaway. Popular beaches include Bavaro Beach, Macao Beach, and Juanillo Beach.
- Go On An Adventure: Punta Cana is full of adventure activities, from zip-lining through the rainforest to ATVing to cave exploring. Take a day trip to the nearby Hoyo Azul, a natural pool formed by a cenote, for a refreshing swim in crystal clear water.
- Take A Catamaran Or Yacht Tour: Explore the stunning coastline and turquoise waters of Punta Cana on a catamaran or yacht tour. Swim in secluded lagoons, snorkel in the coral reef, and enjoy a cold drink while watching the sunset.
- Visit The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park: This nature reserve is a hidden gem in Punta Cana. It features 12 lagoons that are home to various species of birds, fish, and plants. Take a guided tour and learn about the flora and fauna of the Dominican Republic.
- Discover The History And Culture Of Punta Cana: Visit the nearby town of Higuey, which is home to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, a famous Catholic cathedral. Learn about the Dominican Republic’s history at the Altos de Chavón Archaeological Museum or the Casa de Ponce de León museum.
Best Punta Cana Tours
Tours in Punta Cana are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Punta Cana (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
Where To Stay In Punta Cana
- Bavaro: This is the most popular neighborhood in Punta Cana and home to many of the region’s best resorts and hotels. Bavaro Beach is a long stretch of soft white sand, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops along the beach and in nearby areas.
- Cap Cana: For a more upscale experience, consider staying in Cap Cana, an exclusive community that offers luxury resorts, private beaches, and world-class golf courses. You’ll find beautiful marinas, spas, and fine dining options here.
- El Cortecito: This charming beachside community is known for its lively atmosphere, with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops lining the streets. The beach here is great for swimming, and there are plenty of water sports available. El Cortecito is also home to many affordable hotels and vacation rentals.
- Uvero Alto: If you’re looking for a more secluded experience, consider Uvero Alto, located on the eastern end of Punta Cana. This area has fewer resorts and hotels, but still boasts beautiful beaches, natural landscapes, and peaceful surroundings.
- Macao: For an authentic Dominican experience, head to Macao, a small village located between Punta Cana and Uvero Alto. You’ll find traditional houses, local shops, and small restaurants here. Macao Beach is a popular spot for surfing and swimming, and there are also several caves and natural attractions to explore in the area. There are a few budget-friendly accommodations in Macao, as well as some luxury villas for rent.
Top Punta Cana Hotels
- Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort: This luxurious all-inclusive resort features stunning ocean views, a beautiful private beach, and top-notch amenities including an impressive spa, golf course, and numerous restaurants and bars.
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana: With a unique rock n’ roll theme, this hotel offers everything from live entertainment and a massive casino to multiple pools, restaurants, and an on-site water park.
- Excellence Punta Cana: This adults-only resort is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway. Its all-inclusive package includes a variety of dining options, top-notch amenities, and a stunning beachfront location.
- Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa: Situated on a beautiful beachfront property, this family-friendly resort offers plenty of activities and entertainment for both kids and adults. It boasts several restaurants, bars, and pools, as well as a spa and a casino.
- Zoetry Agua Punta Cana: If you’re looking for a peaceful and secluded getaway, this all-inclusive boutique resort is the perfect choice. With just 96 luxurious suites, guests can enjoy a truly intimate experience. It features a private beach, a spa, and several gourmet restaurants.
Where To Eat In Punta Cana
When it comes to dining in Punta Cana, there are endless options to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Dominican cuisine or international flavors, there’s something for everyone. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Punta Cana:
- La Yola Restaurant: Located at the Puntacana Resort & Club, La Yola offers waterfront dining with a stunning view of the marina. The restaurant specializes in seafood and Mediterranean cuisine, using fresh, local ingredients. Be sure to try their signature dish, the Seafood Platter, which is loaded with lobster, shrimp, calamari, and more.
- Bamboo Restaurant: This restaurant is a must-visit for anyone looking for a romantic, upscale dining experience. Located in the Bavaro area, Bamboo features a beautiful outdoor garden setting and serves up gourmet Asian-inspired cuisine. Be sure to try their sushi, which is freshly made with top-quality ingredients.
- La Palapa by Eden Roc: Located at the luxurious Eden Roc Cap Cana resort, La Palapa offers a fine dining experience in a relaxed, beachfront setting. The menu focuses on fresh seafood and classic Dominican dishes, with a modern twist. Don’t miss their ceviche, which is made with the catch of the day.
- Kukua Beach Club: This beachfront restaurant is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Kukua offers a laid-back atmosphere with a fun, party vibe. The menu features a mix of international and Caribbean cuisine, including grilled seafood, burgers, and salads. On Sundays, they host a lively beach party with live music and entertainment.
- Ceviche 301: This casual restaurant is located in the heart of Punta Cana and specializes in ceviche and seafood dishes. The menu features a variety of ceviche options, including traditional Dominican-style, as well as international twists. Be sure to try their mango ceviche, which is a unique and refreshing flavor combination.
No matter where you choose to dine in Punta Cana, you’re sure to enjoy the fresh flavors and beautiful settings. Bon appétit!
How To Get Around Punta Cana
Punta Cana has several options when it comes to transportation, making it easy for visitors to explore the region. Here are the various methods of transportation around Punta Cana:
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available throughout Punta Cana and are a convenient way to get around. The rates are relatively affordable, but it is advisable to agree on the price before getting in.
- Car Rental: Visitors who prefer more independence and flexibility can opt for car rentals. It’s best to reserve a car ahead of time and check the condition before driving off. Also, be sure to bring your international driving license.
- Public Transportation: Public buses called “guaguas” run throughout Punta Cana and are inexpensive, but it can be difficult to navigate for non-Spanish speakers. Some visitors prefer to hire a private guide to help with transportation and translation.
- Motorbikes: Renting a motorbike is also an option for visitors looking for an affordable way to explore Punta Cana. But, it is essential to practice caution as motorbike accidents are prevalent in the region.
- Hotel Shuttle: Some hotels provide shuttle services for their guests, making it easy for visitors to get around the region without much hassle. However, it may come at an extra cost, so it’s best to check beforehand.
Visitors should choose their mode of transportation based on their preferences and needs, taking into account cost, convenience, and safety. Regardless of the option chosen, visitors will be able to explore the natural beauty and attractions of Punta Cana with ease.
Punta Cana Weather
When it comes to the weather in Punta Cana, it’s pretty consistent throughout the year with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. However, there are some differences in temperature and precipitation depending on the season.
- Spring (March – May): Spring is a popular time to visit Punta Cana, as temperatures are warm but not scorching hot, ranging from mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. Rainfall is also less frequent during this time, making it a great time for outdoor activities.
- Summer (June – August): Summer in Punta Cana brings warmer temperatures, with highs reaching into the 90s Fahrenheit. Humidity levels are also high, making it feel even hotter. It’s also the rainiest time of the year, with daily showers or thunderstorms common.
- Fall (September – November): Fall in Punta Cana brings more moderate temperatures, with highs in the mid-80s Fahrenheit and lows in the mid-70s. Rainfall remains high, but starts to decrease as the season progresses.
- Winter (December – February): Winter is peak tourist season in Punta Cana, thanks to warm and dry weather. Temperatures range from the low 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit, with occasional cool evenings. Rainfall is also minimal during this time, making it perfect for beach lounging and water sports.
Overall, Punta Cana has a tropical climate that remains warm and sunny year-round, but visitors should consider the season they are traveling in for optimal weather conditions. Make sure to pack accordingly and check the weather forecast before your trip.
Best Time To Visit Punta Cana
The best time to visit Punta Cana is from December to April, when the weather is dry and the temperatures are comfortable. This is considered the peak tourist season, so you can expect larger crowds and higher prices. However, it’s also the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful beaches, go on water activities, and explore the nearby attractions.
If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful vacation, consider visiting Punta Cana during the shoulder season. This is from May to July and from September to November. The weather may be a bit more unpredictable during this time, but you can still expect warm temperatures and occasional rainfall.
If you’re planning a trip to Punta Cana during the hurricane season, which runs from June to November, be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast and take appropriate precautions. It’s important to note that some activities may be limited during this time due to safety concerns. Ultimately, the best time to visit Punta Cana will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Consider what you want to do and see, as well as how much you’re willing to spend, when choosing the best time to visit this stunning Caribbean destination.
How To Stay Safe In Punta Cana
As with any travel destination, it is important to take necessary precautions to ensure your safety in Punta Cana. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your trip:
- Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: It’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar place. Be alert and avoid dark or isolated areas, especially at night.
- Protect Your Valuables: Keep your valuables in a secure place and don’t carry too much cash with you. Avoid leaving your belongings unattended on the beach or in your hotel room.
- Use Trusted Transportation: Stick to using licensed taxis or other trusted transportation options. If you plan on renting a car, make sure to take necessary precautions and drive defensively.
- Be Cautious When Drinking: Be careful when drinking alcohol, especially if you’re not accustomed to the local drinks. Never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.
- Respect Local Customs: Respect the local customs and culture of Punta Cana. Dress appropriately and be aware of local laws and customs.
- Know Emergency Numbers: Make sure you have emergency numbers on hand in case of an emergency, such as the local police or ambulance services.
By taking these precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Punta Cana.
Punta Cana Customs and Etiquette
When visiting a new destination, it’s always important to be mindful of the local customs and etiquette to avoid offending anyone or coming across as disrespectful. Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Punta Cana:
- Greetings: Dominicans are warm and friendly people, and it is common for them to greet one another with a kiss on the cheek. Don’t be surprised if someone you just met greets you in this manner.
- Dress Code: While Punta Cana is a tropical destination, it’s still important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Men should avoid wearing tank tops, and women should avoid short shorts and revealing clothing.
- Tipping: Tipping is expected in Punta Cana, especially in restaurants and for hotel staff. It is customary to tip between 10-20% of the total bill.
- Language: While Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic, many locals speak English as well. However, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak Spanish and learn a few basic phrases.
- Time: Dominicans are known for their laid-back attitude, and punctuality is not always a priority. Don’t be surprised if someone is running late or if a meeting or appointment starts later than scheduled.
- Bargaining: Bargaining is a common practice in Punta Cana, especially at local markets and street vendors. However, it’s important to be respectful and not haggle too aggressively.
By following these simple customs and etiquette tips, you’ll be sure to have a more enjoyable and respectful experience when visiting Punta Cana.
Other Things To Know About Punta Cana
Aside from its beautiful beaches and attractions, there are some practical things to keep in mind before your trip to Punta Cana. Here are some important details you need to know:
- Country: Punta Cana is located in the easternmost region of the Dominican Republic. It is a part of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. The country is known for its rich history and diverse culture.
- Currency: The currency used in Punta Cana is the Dominican Peso (DOP). US dollars are also widely accepted, but it is recommended to carry some pesos for small purchases and for transactions in local markets.
- Language: The official language in Punta Cana is Spanish, but most locals can speak English. However, it would still be helpful to learn some basic Spanish phrases to make your trip smoother.
- Time Zone: Punta Cana follows Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is the same as New York City. However, it does not observe daylight saving time, so it is one hour ahead during the summer months.
By keeping these details in mind, you can better plan and prepare for your trip to Punta Cana. Make sure to also research on the customs and traditions of the locals to show respect during your stay.
Punta Cana Travel Costs
Traveling to Punta Cana can be both affordable and expensive, depending on your budget and travel preferences. The cost of your trip can vary depending on factors such as accommodation, activities, food, and transportation. Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs you can expect when traveling to Punta Cana.
- Accommodation: Punta Cana offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious all-inclusive resorts. Budget-conscious travelers can expect to pay around $10-$20 per night for a dorm bed in a hostel, while mid-range hotels and resorts can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per night. If you’re looking for high-end luxury, expect to pay upwards of $300 per night.
Food And Drink: The cost of food and drink in Punta Cana can vary depending on where you eat. Street food and local eateries offer affordable options for budget-conscious travelers, with meals costing anywhere from $5 to $15. If you prefer upscale dining experiences, expect to pay around $30 to $50 per person. Drinks can also be pricey in Punta Cana, with cocktails at high-end bars and resorts costing around $10 to $15 each.
- Activities: Punta Cana offers a variety of activities for travelers, from water sports and beach activities to cultural experiences and tours. Excursions and tours can be expensive, with prices ranging from $50 to $150 per person. Water sports and activities can also be costly, with prices ranging from $20 to $100 per person. If you’re looking to save money, consider renting a car and exploring the island on your own.
- Transportation: Transportation costs in Punta Cana can be reasonable, with public transportation options such as buses and taxis costing around $2 to $10 per trip. If you’re planning to rent a car, expect to pay around $30 to $50 per day, plus additional fees for gas and insurance.
Overall, the cost of a trip to Punta Cana can vary greatly depending on your travel preferences and budget. Budget-conscious travelers can expect to spend around $50 to $100 per day, while those seeking luxury experiences can easily spend $200 to $500 per day. Regardless of your budget, Punta Cana offers plenty of affordable and memorable experiences for all types of travelers.
Finding Affordable Flights To Punta Cana
If you’re planning a trip to Punta Cana, the first thing you’ll want to do is find affordable flights. Luckily, there are a few ways to save money on flights to this popular destination.
- Book In Advance: Booking your flight at least a few months in advance can save you a significant amount of money. Last-minute bookings are usually much more expensive.
- Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates: If your travel dates are flexible, you can often find cheaper flights. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest days to fly, while weekends are the most expensive.
- Compare Prices: Don’t book the first flight you find. Instead, use travel comparison websites to compare prices from different airlines.
- Look For Deals: Keep an eye out for airline deals and promotions. Sign up for newsletters and follow airlines on social media to stay informed.
- Use Budget Airlines: Low-cost airlines can often offer cheaper flights than traditional carriers. However, be sure to read the fine print and understand any extra fees or restrictions.
Remember, finding affordable flights to Punta Cana can take some time and effort, but the savings will be worth it in the end. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a budget-friendly vacation in this beautiful Caribbean paradise.
Backpacking Punta Cana Suggested Budgets
If you’re on a tight budget but still want to explore Punta Cana, you’re in luck. There are plenty of ways to experience the beauty and culture of Punta Cana without breaking the bank. Here are some suggested budgets for backpackers:
Low Budget: $30-40 per day
If you’re traveling on a shoestring budget, you can expect to spend around $30-40 per day. This budget will allow you to stay in a dormitory-style hostel, eat street food and local cuisine, and use public transportation to get around. You can also take advantage of free activities such as visiting the beach or exploring local markets.
Mid-Range Budget: $60-70 per day
For a slightly more comfortable backpacking experience, you can spend around $60-70 per day. This budget will allow you to stay in a private room at a budget hotel or guesthouse, eat at mid-range restaurants, and participate in paid activities such as tours and excursions.
Luxury Budget: $100+ per day
If you’re looking for a more luxurious backpacking experience, you can expect to spend $100 or more per day. This budget will allow you to stay at a mid-range or high-end resort, eat at upscale restaurants, and participate in premium activities such as water sports and golfing.
Keep in mind that these budgets are just suggestions and can vary depending on your travel style and preferences. Be sure to research and plan accordingly to ensure that you have an enjoyable and affordable backpacking experience in Punta Cana.
Punta Cana Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Punta Cana doesn’t have to break the bank. With some careful planning, you can save money without sacrificing your experience. Here are some money-saving tips to keep in mind:
- Choose a Budget Hotel: There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations in Punta Cana, such as hostels or guesthouses, that are great for travelers on a budget. Check out online booking sites or ask for recommendations from locals.
- Avoid The Peak Season: Prices in Punta Cana can skyrocket during peak tourist season, which is usually between December and February. If possible, try to plan your trip during the off-season (April to May or September to November) to take advantage of lower prices.
- Shop Local: When it comes to souvenirs and gifts, avoid touristy areas and head to local markets and shops instead. Not only will you find unique items, but you’ll likely pay a fraction of the cost compared to buying in tourist hotspots.
- Use Public Transportation: Taking public transportation like buses or shared taxis is a great way to save money on transportation costs. Just be aware of your surroundings and use reputable services.
- Cook Your Own Meals: If you’re staying in an apartment or hostel with a kitchen, consider cooking some of your own meals instead of eating out every night. This can save you a significant amount of money over the course of your trip.
- Drink Local: If you’re planning on indulging in some alcohol during your trip, consider trying the local brands instead of importing your own. Dominican beers and rums are excellent and much cheaper than imported alternatives.
- Bargain With Vendors: It’s common practice to haggle with vendors at markets and shops in Punta Cana. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a lower price, but remember to be respectful and fair in your bargaining.
By using these money-saving tips, you’ll be able to stretch your budget further and make the most of your Punta Cana experience without breaking the bank.
What To Pack For Punta Cana
If you’re planning a trip to Punta Cana, packing smart is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation. Here are some tips on what to pack:
- Light, Breathable Clothing: Punta Cana is a tropical paradise, and temperatures can soar, so packing light, breathable clothing is a must. Loose-fitting cotton or linen clothes are ideal for keeping cool in the hot and humid weather.
- Swimwear: Punta Cana is renowned for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, so don’t forget to pack your swimwear. Be sure to pack more than one swimsuit, as you’ll be spending plenty of time in the water.
- Sunscreen And Hat: With temperatures regularly reaching 80°F (27°C) or higher, it’s essential to pack sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. A hat will also provide additional protection for your face and scalp.
- Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes and other biting insects can be a nuisance, especially at night, so packing insect repellent is essential.
- Comfortable Shoes: While flip-flops or sandals may be the footwear of choice for many beach-goers, it’s important to pack a comfortable pair of shoes for exploring. Sneakers or walking shoes are ideal for activities such as hiking, zip-lining, or exploring the nearby towns.
- A Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential, and carrying a reusable water bottle is a smart and environmentally-friendly way to do so. You’ll find many water fountains around Punta Cana to refill your bottle.
- First-Aid Kit: Pack a small first-aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic cream, pain relievers, and any medication you may need.
By packing smart for your Punta Cana trip, you’ll ensure you have everything you need for an unforgettable vacation.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Punta Cana?
It is not recommended to drink tap water in Punta Cana. The water may be safe to use for brushing teeth and showering, but it is advised to drink bottled or filtered water instead. Many hotels and restaurants offer filtered or bottled water for their guests. It is also important to avoid ice made from tap water. Be sure to check the label of any bottled water you purchase to ensure it is sealed and unopened. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so prioritize your health and stick to bottled water while in Punta Cana.
Other Things To See And Do In Punta Cana
If you’ve already checked off the top attractions on your Punta Cana itinerary, there’s still plenty of things to see and do in this tropical paradise. Here are some of our top picks:
- Explore The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve: This nature reserve features 12 freshwater lagoons that are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and even zip lining.
- Take A Catamaran Cruise: Set sail on a catamaran and soak up the sun while enjoying stunning views of Punta Cana’s coastline.
- Go Horseback Riding On The Beach: Experience the beauty of Punta Cana’s beaches on horseback. This is a popular activity for visitors of all ages.
- Visit The Marinarium Marine Park: Get up close and personal with Punta Cana’s marine life by snorkeling or diving in this protected marine park.
- Try Your Luck At The Casino: Punta Cana is home to several casinos, where you can try your luck at the slots or table games.
- Take A Day Trip To Santo Domingo: This vibrant city is the capital of the Dominican Republic and features historic sites, museums, and delicious food. Visiting Santo Domingo is a must!
- Go On A Safari Adventure: Experience the Dominican Republic’s natural beauty by going on a safari adventure. You’ll have the chance to explore local villages, see sugar cane fields, and visit a coffee plantation.
No matter what your interests are, there’s always something to see and do in Punta Cana. With its beautiful beaches, lush nature reserves, and rich culture, this destination is sure to leave you wanting more.
The Bottom Line
Punta Cana is a paradise for beach lovers, adventurers, and relaxation-seekers alike. With so much to see and do, it’s important to plan your trip ahead of time to make the most of your vacation. From the stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to the vibrant nightlife and cultural experiences, Punta Cana offers something for everyone.
Remember to pack accordingly for the tropical climate and plan for potential weather fluctuations. It’s important to always stay safe, follow local customs and etiquette, and be mindful of your belongings. Punta Cana can be an affordable destination, but costs can quickly add up, so budget accordingly and search for deals on flights and accommodations. Overall, Punta Cana is a must-visit destination and with the right preparation and planning, it can be a memorable and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, the breathtaking beauty and charm of Punta Cana is sure to captivate you.