Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and the Bavaro coast form the La Costa del Coco–translated into English as the Coconut Coast. This mecca for all-inclusive resorts centers on the nearly 20-mile stretch of beach known for its white sand, swaying palms, and calm waters.
It is located in the easternmost point of the island just west of Puerto Rico. It has a population of 43,982 (census 2010), mostly working in the 50 resorts owned almost exclusively by European companies. Spanish is the official language of the island, but English is spoken in most resorts and restaurants.
Punta Cana has a reputation for being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. So, it no surprise that it also offers some of the most unforgettable excursions you can think of. Here, check out all the things you can do in Punta Cana.
How’s The Weather in Punta Cana?
A responsible traveler knows how crucial it is to determine which time of the year is the most ideal to visit a certain country. So, in the case of Punta Cana, here’s what you need to know.
Generally, the temperature in the Dominican Republic is relatively high throughout the year, particularly in the plains. In Punta Cana, the average temperature is 86°F/35°C and the weather is mostly consistent all-year round with minimal rainfall due to its flat landscape.
The months from May to October make up the hot and humid season with daily temperatures averaging 95°F. The cooler season runs from November to March with evening temperatures averaging 68°F.
If you’re planning on visiting Punta Cana anytime soon, create your itinerary with this information in mind so that you can make the most out of your vacation.
Can you leave the resort in Punta Cana?
First of all, being a tourist in a beautiful place such as Punta Cana will naturally urge you to venture off someplace else that offers a different vibe than your typical Punta Cana resort. While there is nothing wrong with that, a responsible tourist must travel with caution at all times. So, here are some facts to keep in mind.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is one of the cities in the world with the lowest crime rate since 2006. Drug-related crimes are low, but the possibility of being sold drugs and marijuana is still considerable.
The same is true of prostitution. It is illegal but is not actively pursued by the authorities. So, tourists can expect to receive some offers here and there. However, common-sense should tell you how dangerous it is to engage in such in such activity.
The food and water outside your Punta Cana resort should also be taken into consideration. If you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to stick to drinking bottled water and be very picky when it comes to the food that you eat.
Always take into account the language barrier. While there are people in some areas and commercial establishments who can speak English, you can’t expect every local to do the same.
Lastly, never travel alone especially at night. This is not to scare tourists, but it is more of a precaution. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If any problem arises, look for police officers who are commonly known in the area as Politur. They are particularly designated to help tourists, so you will most likely see them patrolling the areas outside the resorts.
Things To Do In Punta Cana Dominican Republic
Punta Cana and Bavaro are major water sports destinations, so you can expect activities such deep-sea fishing, sailing, wind and kite surfing, whale watching, snorkeling, cruises, speedboat racing, jet skiing, shark and stingray interactions, and swimming with the dolphins. Popular land sports include golf, tennis, and off-road trail riding.
Punta Cana excursions and tours in the surrounding cities, villages, and islands are also some of the things to do Punta Cana. In fact, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Punta Cana to help you out. Take your pick and hopefully, this will inspire you to take more Dominican Republic vacations in the future.
Free things to do in Punta Cana
Spending money on a trip overseas is both natural and inevitable. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to make your trip memorable. Having said that, here are some of the free things to do in Punta Cana that will surely give you the same excitement as those pricey tours and excursions.
Historical day tour at Santo Domingo
What better way to start your Dominican Republic vacation than to visit the capital city–Santo Domingo. It is home to the colonial zone–the first European settlement in the western hemisphere. UNESCO has recognized the 500-year-old settlement as a world heritage site.
If you are a believer, you can visit the Americas’ first cathedral–Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. You can also visit the Alcázar de Colón–the oldest Viceregal residence in the Americas built by Diego Colon, Christopher Columbus’s son.
If you want a historically-rich excursion, a quick tour of Santo Domingo will definitely satisfy your historian heart.
Unwind at the Playa Blanca beach
Among the several beaches of Punta Cana, Playa Blanca is the only one that’s open to the public. You can spend an entire day at the beach–lay in the sand all day or swim in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea. Either way, it will surely be a great experience.
Playa Blanca is accessible through the Punta Cana Resort & Club which is located between two other resorts in Punta Cana: The Westin Punta Cana Resort & Club and Club Med Punta Cana. Punta Cana airport is also just 2 minutes away, so it can be a good place to kick-start your Dominican Republic vacation.
- Delicious treat and tour at ChocoMuseo
The ChocoMuseo is another great place to include in your Punta Cana excursions especially if you’re a chocolate-lover yourself. You can visit the museum for free and get the chance to tour around the chocolate factory. Your takeaway? Well, it’s not every day that you get to see how locals make chocolates from their famous Dominican cacao.
Fun fact, the Dominican cacao is one of the country’s top export products, so you can expect to taste some really good quality chocolates during this excursion.
City tour at Higüey
Punta Cana is located within the municipality of Higüey. It is the capital city of La Altagracia, the easternmost province of Dominican Republic. The city gives you an insight of how the locals live. So, if you want that kind of experience, Higüey is a good place to tour around and immerse yourself.
The most prominent tourist site in the city is the Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. It is a minor basilica and cathedral dedicated to the country’s patroness, Our Lady of Altagracia. The Higüey excursion is particularly meant for those who are interested in learning more about the Dominican culture and history.
Join the Punta Cana Carnival
Punta Cana Carnival is a yearly festival set on the first Saturday of March. So, if you happen to be in the country during that time of the year, it is definitely one of the many Punta Cana activities you don’t want to miss.
You can expect some live music, dancing and of course, the parade of nations which includes delegates from Haiti, Curaҫao, and Aruba among others. Apart from that, you also get to see some elaborate costumes and masks that come with interesting backstories.
Overall, the carnival is a reflection of the country’s beautiful people and rich culture. As a tourist, that is one of the things you should witness firsthand.
Fun things to do in Punta Cana
Now, let’s get to those Punta Cana activities that are worth your every penny. Punta Cana is a popular tourist destination for a reason. It offers some of the most interesting excursions you can engage in while in the Dominican Republic.
Here’s a list of activities for the laid-back souls and for the adrenaline-chasers. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick only the activities you are willing to try.
Tour the Saona Island aboard a catamaran
The island was dubbed “Saona” by Christopher Columbus who discovered the island in 1949. At present, Soana Island or Isla Soana has become one of the top destinations in the country. Note that Punta Cana is approximately 2-3 hours away from the drop off point to the island, the village of Bayahibe. However, this activity is still one of the best things to do in Punta Cana.
From Bayahibe, take a catamaran to this stunning island that’s set in a natural reserve in the national park or Parque Nacional Del Este. This day trip lets you unwind under the swaying palm trees that run along the spectacular beach, swim above the beautiful coral reefs, and enjoy the colorful life underwater. But, please keep your hands off the wildlife here. Remember that you are in a protected area.
A day tour in the Manati Park is also one of the must-do Punta Cana activities that you don’t want to miss. It is the first theme park in the Dominican Republic and boasts of having the largest animal collection in the entire country.
If you’ve always wanted to swim with the dolphins, you can do so at this animal park. Dolphins are one of the smartest animals in the world and it would certainly be worth your time in the Dominican Republic to pay them a visit and learn more about them. Other animals in the park include horses, parrots, and some exotic fishes.
Punta Cana tours often include visiting white sandy beaches in some of the best Punta Cana all-inclusive resorts. So, if you want to take a break from the beach, there’s another way to tour the area.
A tour with Bavaro Runners is the best excursion to take if you want to learn more about what life in the Dominican Republic really is like particularly in the countryside. From the breathtaking scenery, the hospitality in typical Dominican homes, the abundant plantations up to the thrills in boogie-boarding, beach horseback riding, and dune buggy trips, it is the absolute cultural adventure that will complete your Punta Cana tours.
For Eco-park lovers, the Scape Park has it all! It is located inside the Cap Cana Resort on the east coast of Dominican Republic. If you’re flying from outside the country, you only need to travel for approximately 15 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport to get to Cap Cana.
Park activities include cave exploration, zipline, horseback riding, Eco-tour, and buggy rides among others. You can also go on a beach getaway or swim at the popular cenote in the park–the Hoyo Azul. Now, if you want to take your trip up a notch, you can also go in-shore or deep-sea fishing for a whole new experience.
Enjoy the adrenaline-pumping activities or relax in the tranquil natural surroundings–it’s your choice. Either way, these are some good addition to your list of “things to do in Punta Cana.”
Always wanted a scuba diving experience but lack the certification? Try Seaquarium’s unique underwater adventure where you can walk on the seafloor wearing a diving helmet and get the chance to see some spectacular views of the life underwater. And if that’s not enough, you can also swim up-close and personal with sharks and manta rays afterward.
This adventure may not be for the faint-hearted, but it’s still one of the best things to do in Punta Cana.
HorsePlay Punta Cana
If you need a quick and unforgettable escape from the usual palm trees and white sandy beaches of Punta Cana resorts, the HorsePlay is the place to go for some laid-back things to do in Punta Cana.
The view is always great on a horseback, so this tour is highly recommended. Your bilingual guide will take you through the mountains, rivers, plantations, and even take you on a cattle ride. Get off your horse and zip line across the river then sit down to a tasty Dominican lunch. You don’t have to have any horseback riding experience to enjoy this excursion.
Rafting in Rio Yaque del Norte
River rafting fans who took part on this adventure tour can boast that they conquered the Caribbean’s longest river, The Rio Yaque. Located in the Dominican Alps, there are 18 waterfalls to gaze on and challenges such as the Mike Tyson’s 12-foot drop to look forward to. Since this is one of the more extreme Punta Cana activities, it’s another excursion that is not for the faint-hearted. However, it’s still a worthy alternative to the usual beach getaways
Altos de Chavón
Located on a cliff, overlooking the Chavón River, is an artist village resembling a Mediterranean town of the 16th century. Altos de Chavón showcases an archeological museum, a 5000-seat amphitheater, craft workshops, galleries, and restaurants.
A quick note, Altos de Chavón is situated in La Romana which is approximately an hour away from Punta Cana. So, it might be more convenient for some people to book a tour package from Punta Cana that includes a quick stop at the village.
Bird’s-eye view of Punta Cana
Did you know that you can also enjoy Punta Cana and Bavaro from the sky? You can book a helicopter tour that will give you an experience like no other. Fly over the coastlines and white sandy beaches of Punta Cana and Bavaro.
Depending on your tour package, you can even fly as far as Uvero Alto beach and Macao Beach. Uvero Alto is in the northernmost part of Punta Cana while Macao Beach is located in La Altagracia, the eastern region of Dominican Republic.
Now, if you want something even more romantic, get on a hot-air balloon and witness the sunrise like you’ve never done before. This hour-long excursion will take you floating above different landscapes, plantations, beaches, and so much more. At the end of your journey, you get to enjoy a tasty breakfast and a champagne toast too.
There are so many things to do in Punta Cana. From the classic relaxed beach day to the adrenaline-fueled zip lining and river rafting, Eco tours that shine with various terrains and animal life, the surrounding cities and villages that offer culturally- and historically-rich immersion–all worthy of your time in the Dominican Republic.
Whether you want a quick swim or a fun-filled experience with the dolphins, both are possible in Punta Cana. Whether you simply want to chill in the white sandy beaches or party with other tourists aboard a catamaran, the choice is yours. Whether you’re an artist, a history buff, a beach bum, or an extreme sports enthusiast, you will enjoy Punta Cana just like everyone else does.
Ultimately, the overall quality of your travel experience relies on the actual memories you make in the country. So, make some good ones.