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San Juan Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – San Juan Travel Deals

A – Overview

Founded In 1510, San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, spreads out along the northern coast and also inland. Its nucleus is Old San Juan, a seven square block walled area, sitting on a point of land between the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay. Old San Juan is filled with history and culture, and is a living museum. It is preserved in all its natural grace and beauty, and at 500 years of age is far from being decrepit. Some of its narrow streets are paved with small blue-gray cobblestones which came to the port hundreds of years ago as ships’ ballast.

san juan overview

San Juan is a place to park the car and walk. The terrain is hilly and the sidewalks steep, but walking is safer than driving under these conditions, and there is so much to see! There are many charming cafés at which to stop, rest and enjoy a cup of fine Puerto Rican coffee or a meal along the way.

The newer part of San Juan is a thoroughly modern, bustling city of a million people. A series of bridges link the inlet with the resort areas of Condado and Isla Verde as well as the residential communities of Santurce and the suburbs of Hato Rey and Rio Piedras.

Puerto Rico is a perfect family destination. The smallest children love the sandy beaches, the warm shallow seawater and the swimming pools constructed especially for them. Kite flying on the breezy days is a favorite pastime. There’s no end to the activities available for older children, including boat rides, shell collecting, horseback riding, hiking, wind surfing, and snorkeling. The adults in the family will also enjoy exploring the underwater wonders of Puerto Rico. On land, they will have the opportunity to play on what are considered the best golf courses ion the Carribean. the best golf Most resort hotels offer programs of activities, and many have play directors and supervised daily fun for various age groups.

Music is a special source of Puerto Rican pride, and the bold Latin beat is best characterized by the music and dance form known as salsa, which shares not only its name with the Spanish word for “hot sauce” but also a zesty, hot flavor. This fusion of west African percussion, jazz (especially swing) and big band and other Latin beats produces mambo, merengue, flamenco, cha-cha, and rumba.

San Juan is home to ballet, fine drama, symphony orchestra performances. It is also the scene of many lively and colorful festivals, which can take place at any time due to the warm, sunny weather that is present year round. Government regulated casinos operate in the larger hotels, and provide enjoyment to many visitors. Most are open 20- 24 hours a day. Horse racing is another favorite sport on which to wager.

Puerto Ricans welcome visitors and are eager to show off their city. They are justifiably proud of its timeless beauty, its warmth and its zest for life

B – City information

Population:
Pop. 437,745;
Metropolitan Area Population: 1,086,376
The largest part of the population is of Spanish descent. There are also Portuguese, Italians, and French. About 85 percent of the people are Roman Catholics

Location:
Puerto Rico, commonwealth of United States of America 1000 miles southeast of Miami and 1600 miles from New York.

Elevation:
8ft

Area:
300 square miles

Country:
Puerto Rico

Time Zone:
Atlantic Time (GMT -4 Hours) Same as Eastern Standard Time without Daylight Saving Time.

Climate:
Tropical, Hot

Weather:
Average Temperatures (in Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 81 70
April – June 85 72
July – September 86 75
October – December 85 72

Temperatures average 78-83F year round. December-April are the coolest months. Sweaters are necessary in the mountains during winter. In the hottest months, July-September, temperatures often top 90F. Sunblock is essential year round! About 59 in. of rain falls annually on the island, most of it during hurricane season June-November, but rain can fall in brief torrents year round. This is a warm rain in San Juan, and one can easily “drip dry” after a shower.

Tourist Assistance:
Tourist Offices: In The U.S., Puerto Rico Tourism Company, 575 Fifth Ave., New York, Ny 10017, Phone 212-599-6262 Or 800-223-6350.

Currency:
Currency: U.S. Dollar. Traveler’s checks and credit cards are widely accepted.

Banks:
Mon-Fri 9:30 -3 . Some are open on Saturdays. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are widely accepted.

Post Office:
If you travel to San Juan on a cruise, The easiest way to mail letters and postcards is from the ship. The U.S. Postal Service dispatches mail daily. The old post office on Recinto Sur in old San Juan is open Mon-Fri 8am – 5pm and Sat 8am – noon.

Documentation:
Passport/Visa Requirements: proof of citizenship recommended but not necessary for U.S. Citizens. All others should have proof of citizenship. Reconfirm documentation requirements with carrier before departure.

Departure Tax:
None

Electricity:
110 Volts, 60 cycles AC, same as US.

Telephones & Fax:

International Dialing Code:
International telecommunications are good. The pay phones have instructions in English And Spanish. You can also place long-distance calls from world service telephone at Pier one: phone 721-2520

Telephone Area Code:
787

Emergency:
911

Hospitals:
while the drinking water is considered safe, many residents drink bottled water. Medical facilities are plentiful in San Juan and outside the city. The Ashford Memorial Community Hospital is located in the tourist area of Conrad phone 721-2160. For municipal ambulance service, call 343-2550.

National Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 6 Three King’s Day
Jan 11 De Hosts Day
Feb 22 Washington’s Birthday
Late Feb. Ponce Carnival
Ma22r Emancipation Day
Apr 5 Good Friday
Apr 7 Easter
Apr 16 De Diego Day
May 30 Memorial Day
Jun 24 San Juan Bautista Day
July 4 Independence Day
Jul 17Munoz Rivera Day
July 25 Constitution Day
July 27 Dr José Cellos Barbuda’s Birthday
Sept 1. Labor Day
Oct 12 Columbus Day
Nov 11. Veteran’s Day
Nov 19 Discovery Day
November 25 Thanksgiving Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

How To Get Around:
Much of the sightseeing and shopping can be done on foot as distances around the City are not great.

Driving in Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rico’s 3,500 square miles are a lot of land to explore. Although you can get from town to town via público, it’s not the best way to travel unless your Spanish is good and you know exactly where you’re going. In spite of traffic signs in Spanish and aggressive fellow drivers, a rental car may be best for exploring outside the old city. Roads in Puerto Rico are well marked with distances posted in kilometers and speed limits in miles per hour. Be aware that many of Puerto Rico’s newer roads are toll roads, so keep change handy. Roads in the interior of the island can be narrow and steep. Chickens and dogs share the road with vehicles. You may find that local drivers travel at high speeds regardless of road conditions or narrowness of the roads. Drive defensively and make sure to buy a good road map.

Public Transportation:
catch one of the free, open-air trolleys by getting on near the terminal or anywhere along their routes: one follows a northwesterly path Boulevard De Valle and Calle Norzagaray To Calle Cristo and La Fortaleza while the other travels northeasterly along San Francisco Street, Plaza De Armas and Fortaleza Street.

Taxis:
Taxis are readily available at the ship terminal, with dispatchers supervising loading and unloading. They are usually the best way to get around San Juan quickly and easily – as long as you and the driver agree on rates and routes beforehand. a word of caution: in the past some taxi drivers have been accused of overcharging passengers, especially tourists. The public service commission has set up a system to try to improve this situation.

Local Bus Service:
Air-conditioned but crowded, public buses run from the harbor to various locations in the greater San Juan area the Metropolitan bus authority or AMA, its Spanish acronym covers the greater San Juan area, which consists of San Juan, Santurce, Rio Piedras, Hato Rey, Bayamon and Carolina. Small bus companies serve island towns and environs. Publicos vans and cars are low priced and offer rides along established routes but may not keep to a schedule or be very comfortable. In one of these packed public cars, typically a mini-van or sedan whose license plate includes the letters “pd” or “p”, the 15-minute trip from San Juan to Rio Piedras, for example, stretches to 45 minutes.

Ferry:
The Aqua Express, a daily ferry service, connects Old San Juan at Pier Two with Cataño and Hato Rey. .

Airports:
Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is located about 20 minutes east of downtown San Juan, and 10 minutes from Isla Verde. It is the largest and busiest in the Caribbean. If you take a cruise that begins in San Juan, most cruise lines will arrange your transportation from the airport to the pier. if not, a taxi ride to the port will take about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. There are also a number of limousine services. The airport has just undergone a $30 million facelift.
Isla Grande airport, a mile south of the port, handles general aviation within the island and to other Caribbean islands. An airplane with pilot can be rented from one of the flying schools there for a sightseeing flight around the city or the island. Contact Hill Aviation phone 723-3385

C – Attractions & Things To Do

El Bosque Nacional Del Caribe
Take Route 3 East From San Juan And Turn Right South On Route 191, About 25 mi. from the city. stop in at the Centro De Información El Portal El Portal Tropical Forest Information Center on route 191 at the entrance to the park.
787/888-1810
Daily 9-5
Admission is charged
The best way to see the 28,000-Acre Caribbean National Forest (Or El Yunque, as it’s commonly known) is to go with a tour guide. Dozens of trails lead through the thick rain forest, and guides take you to the best observation points, bathing spots, and waterfalls.

La Fortaleza
721-7000 Ext 2211
9:00-4:00 Mon-Fri
Guided tours in English on the hour, in Spanish every 30 minutes The governor’s palace, built between 1533 and 1540, was used as a fortress against Carib attacks but greatly expanded in the 19th century. It is believed to be the oldest executive residence in continuous use in the western hemisphere. Access to the official areas is not permitted.

el osque nacional del caribe

Catedral De San Juan
153 Calle Cristo
787/722-0861
Weekdays 8:30-4; Masses Sat. 7 pm, Sun. 9 am; 11 am, Weekdays 12:15
Built in the 16th century but extensively restored in the 19th and 20th. the remains of Ponce de León are in a marble tomb near the transept. The Catholic shrine of Puerto Rico had humble beginnings in the early 1520s as a thatch-topped wooden structure. Hurricane winds tore off the thatch and destroyed the church. It was reconstructed in 1540, when the graceful circular staircase and vaulted Gothic ceilings were added, but most of the work was done in the 19th century.

Centro Ceremonial Indígena De Tibes
787/840-2255 Or 787/840-5685
Admission charged.
Tues.day – Sunday 9-4.
Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. At Tibes, are found pre-Taíno ruins and burials dating from ad 300 to ad 700. Some archaeologists, noting the symmetrical arrangement of stone pillars, surmise the cemetery may have been of great religious significance. The complex includes a detailed re-creation of a Taíno village and a museum.

Castillo Serrallés
17 El Vigía Hill, 787/259-1774. Admission Charged.
Tues.-Sun. 9:30-5.
A splendid Spanish revival mansion perched on El Vigía Hill that recalls the era of the sugar barons.
After hurricane damage, El Morro Trail, a jogger’s paradise, is being reconstructed. The trail provides Old Town’s most scenic views across the harbor. The first part extends to the San Juan Gate; it then goes by the well-preserved walls of El Morro, a 16th-century fort, and eventually reaches a scenic area known as Bastion de Santa Barbara. The trail is designed to follow the rhythm of the movement of the ocean surf, and sea grapes and tropical vegetation surround benches that are perfect for a rest. The walk is romantic at night, when the walls of the fortress are illuminated.

Fuerte San Felipe Del Morro/Fuerte San Cristóbal
Daily 9:00-5:00
Small admission charge.
San Felipe Del Morro was built in 1591 to defend the entrance to the harbour, and the 11-hectare fort san cristóbal was completed in 1772 to support El Morro and to defend the landward side of the city. The massive six-level fortress covers enough territory to accommodate a nine-hole golf course. It is a labyrinth of dungeons, barracks, turrets, towers, and tunnels. its small, air-conditioned museum traces the history of the fortress. Tours and a video show are available in English.

Plaza Del Quinto Centenario
The Plaza Del Quinto Centenario, Inaugurated On 12 October 1992 To Commemorate The 500th Anniversary Of Columbus’ Landing, is a modernistic square on several levels with steps leading to a central fountain with hundreds of jets good view of El Morro, the cemetery and sunsets.

Bicardi Plant
787-788-1500
2.5 miles west of Cataño at km 2.6 on State Road 888, across the straits from El Morro Castle, is the world’s largest rum factory.
Take the ferry and then a taxi. Displays and samples are offered. A one hour tour leaves every 30 minutes.
Mon-Sat 8:30-4:30
Free admission.

Cuartel De Ballajá
724-5052
Mon-Frid 10:00-4:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-5:00
Guided Tours Available Weekdays 1030, 1130, 1230 And 2:00
Free
Once the barracks for Spanish Troops and their families, was also inaugurated 12 October 1992 with the museum of the americas on the second floor tracing the cultural development of the history of the new world.

Dominican Convent
724-0700
Chapel museum open Wed-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Built in the early 16th century, later used as a headquarters by the US Army, is now the office of the institute of culture, with a good art gallery. Cultural events are sometimes held in the patio, art exhibitions in the galleries.

Iglesia De San José
Calle San Sebastián, Plaza De San José, 787/725-7501. Admission Free.
Mon-Sat 8:30-4:00, Sun Mass at noon
With its vaulted ceilings, this is a splendid example of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture. The church, one of the oldest in the western hemisphere, was built in 1532 under the supervision of Dominican friars. The body of Ponce de León was buried here for almost 300 years before being moved in 1913 to the Catedral De San Juan.

Casa De Los Contrafuertes
724-5949
Wed-Sun 9:00-4:30
Early 18th Century, believed to be the oldest private residence in the old city, now has periodic art exhibitions on the second floor and a small pharmacy museum with 19th century exhibits on the ground floor.

Casa Blanca
1 Calle San Sebastián
724-4102
Tue-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Guided Tours Tue-Fri By Appointment.
Admission charged.
Built in 1523 by the family of Ponce De León, who lived in it for 250 years until it became the residence of the Spanish and then the US military Commander-in-Chief. It is now a historical museum which is well worth a visit.

The Alcaldía, Or City Hall
724-7171 Ext 2391
Mon-Fri 8:00-4:00 Except Holidays
Built 1604-1789.

The Intendencia
722-2121
Mon-Fri 8:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Formerly the Spanish colonial exchequer, a fine example of 19th century Puerto Rican Architecture, now houses Puerto Rico’s State Department.

The Naval Arsenal
724-5949
Wed-Sun 9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:30
The last place in Puerto Rico to be evacuated by the Spanish in 1898, exhibitions are held in three galleries.

Casa Del Callejón
725-5250
Both Museums Closed For Restoration
A restored 18th-century house containing two colonial museums, the architectural and the Puerto Rican Family.

Reserva Natural Las Cabezas De San Juan
The reserve is open to the public, by reservation only, Friday-Sunday and to tour groups Wednesday-Thursday. Tours are given on request in advance, by phone four times Daily; An English tour is available at 2 Pm. Rte. 987, Km 5.8
787/722-5882 Or 787/860-2560

Most of Puerto Rico’s natural habitats are rolled into Las Cabezas Reserve’s 316 acres. nineteenth-century El Faro, one of the island’s oldest lighthouses, is restored and still functioning. The wide variety of birds makes this a favorite spot for bird watchers.

Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden)
Intersection Of Rtes. 1 and 847 at entrance to Barrio Venezuela, Río Piedras
787/767-1710.
Admission free.
Daily 9-4:30
The main attraction at the University of Puerto Rico is the lush 75-acre forest of more than 200 species of tropical and subtropical vegetation. Gravel footpaths lead to a graceful lotus lagoon, a bamboo promenade, an orchid garden with some 30,000 plants, and a palm garden. Signs are in Spanish and English. Trail maps are available at the entrance gate.

Additional Museums

Pablo Casals Museum
723-9185
Tue-Sat 9:30-5:30
Pablo Casals museum is in an 18th century house beside San José church, with Casals’ cello and other memorabilia.

San Juan Museum Of Art And History
Norzagaray Y Macarthur
724-1875
Tue-Sun 10:00-4:00
Built in 1855 as a marketplace, now a cultural centre with exhibition galleries.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
787/977-6277
399 De Diego Avenue in Santurce
Tuesday through Sunday 10 – 5
Admission charged. The museum’s gallery is open to the public on Wednesdays until 8pm for special interactive and educational programs.
Launched in the summer of 2000, this is one of the island’s most important art museums. It houses more than 250 pieces, including works by two of Puerto Rico’s most recognized artists: Campche and Rafael Tufiño.
Visitors may also view works by gifted international artists, attend films in the state-of-the-art theater, or participate in classes in the 5 acre sculpture garden.

Observatorio De Arecibo
This facility is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center of Cornell University. Rte. 625
787/878-2612.
Admission Charged
Wed.-Fri. Noon-4, Weekends 9-4.
The town of Arecibo is home to the world’s largest radar/radio telescope: a 20-acre dish, with a 600-ton suspended platform hovering over it, sits in a 565-ft-deep sinkhole. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the observatory. This is where where groundbreaking work in astronomy, including SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, continues.

Casa Del Libro
723-0354
Tue-Sat, Except Holidays, 11:00-4:30
An 18th century house on Calle Cristo, has a collection of rare books, including some over 400 years old.

Museum of the Sea
725-2532
On pier one, with a collection of maritime instruments and models. Open when the pier is open for cruise ships.

Museo De Arte De Ponce Ponce Museum Of Art
Av. Las Américas, 787/848-0505 Or 787/848-0511
Admission charged
Daily 10-5.

The Indian Museum
Calle San José 109 On The Corner Of Luna
724-5477 Or 722-1709
Tue-Sat 9:00-4:00
No admission charge
The Indian museum concentrates on Puerto Rican indigenous cultures, With exhibits, ceramics and archaeological digs.

Fort San Jerónimo
77245949
Wed-Sun 9:30-12:00, 1:00-4:30
Another museum in the old city, it is a military museum.

Río Piedras
755-7979
Tue-Sat 9:00-1:00
Founded In 1714 but became incorporated into San Juan in 1951. On the edge of Río Piedras, the gardens and library of the former governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, are open to the public, with a museum showing his letters, photos and speeches.

The University Of Puerto Rico
764-0000, Ext 2452
Mon-Fri 9:00-9:00, Weekends 9:00-3:00
The University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras is in a lovely area. The University Museum has archaeological and historical exhibitions, and also monthly art exhibitions.

Botanical Garden
250-0000 Ext 6580
Daily 9:00-4:30
The Botanical Garden at the agricultural experiment station has over 200 species of tropical and subtropical plants, a bamboo promenade one variety can grow four feet in a day, an orchid garden over 30,000 orchids, and an aquatic garden.

Hato Rey
The financial district of San Juan nicknamed ‘The Golden Mile’.

Luís Muñoz Marín Park
Avenida Jesús T Piñero
Tue-Sun 9:00-5:00
Covers 35 Hectares, which can be toured by a one kilometre cable car.

Parque Luis Muñoz Marín
Next To Las A
Admission Free; Parking $1 Per Vehicle.
Tues.-Sun. 9-5.
This idyllic 90-acre tree-shaded park is dotted with gardens, lakes, playgrounds, and picnic areas. An aerial gondola connects it with the parking area and provides a 61/2-minute tour of the grounds. An outdoor amphitheater is the venue for plays, concerts, and folk performances.

Museum Of Contemporary Puerto Rican Art Santurce
The Sacred Heart University
268-0049
Tue-Sat 9:00-4:00, Sunday 11:00-5:00

Fine Arts Center
724-4751
Opened in 1981, with theatres and halls at the corner of De Diego and Ponce De León.

Parque De Las Cavernas Del Río Camuy
Rte. 129, Km 20
787/898-3100 or 787/898-3136
Admission and parking fee.
Tues.-Sun. 8-4. Last tour starts At 3:50
The 250-Acre Río Camuy reserve contains one of the world’s largest cave networks. Tours take you on a tram down through dense tropical vegetation to the cave entrance, where you continue on foot over underground trails, ramps, and bridges. The caves, sinkholes, and subterranean streams are all spectacular. Be sure to call ahead; the tours allow only a limited number of people, and hours change slightly in the off-season.

San Cristóbal
Admission Charged.
Daily 9-5.
787/729-6960 More Info
This 18th-Century fortress guarded the city from land attacks. even larger than El Morro, San Cristóbal was known in its heyday as the Gibraltar of the West Indies.

Miramar
A residential area having several moderately priced hotels as well as some expensive ones. Miramar is separated from the Atlantic coast by the Condado Lagoon and the Condado Beach area, where the luxury hotels, casinos, nightclubs and restaurants are concentrated. From Condado the beach front is built up eastwards through Ocean Park, Santa Teresita, Punta Las Marías and Isla Verde. Building is expanding along the narrow strip beyond Isla Verde, between the Sea and the airport. Along this road, Avenida Boca De Cangrejos, there are lots of food trucks selling barbecued specialties.

Scuba Diving And Snorkeling

The diving is excellent off Puerto Rico’s south, east, and west coasts as well as its offshore islands. it’s best to choose specific locations with the help of a guide or outfitter, who will know current conditions and safety concerns. Snorkeling and scuba instruction, equipment rentals, and tours are available at the following:

Boquerón Dive Shop
Main St., Boquerón, 787/851-2155.

Caribbean School Of Aquatics
Taft St. No. 1, Suite 10f, San Juan, 787/728-6606.

Caribe Aquatic Adventures
Radisson Normandie Hotel,
Corner of Av. Rosales And Av. Muñoz Rivera,
Puerta De Tierra, San Juan, 787/724-1882 Or 787/281-8858.

Coral Head Divers
Palmas Del Mar, Rte. 906,
Humacao, 787/850-7208 Or 800/635-4529.

Dive Copamarina
Copamarina Beach Resort, Rte. 333, Km 6.5,
Guánica, 787/821-0505, Ext. 729, Or 800/468-4553

Mundo Submarino
Laguna Garden Shopping Center,
Av. Baldorioty De Castro, Carolina,
787/791-5764.

Parguera Divers Training Center
Hotel Posada Por Lamar, Rte. 304, Km 3.3,
La Parguera, 787/899-4171.

Puerto Rican Diver Supply
A-E6 Santa Isidra 111,
Fajardo, 787/863-4300.

The Artisan Markets
Sixto Escobar Park Calle Cuevillas,
Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, 787/722-0369 Luis Muñoz Marín Park
Next to Las Américas expressway West on Av. Piñero,
Hato Rey, San Juan, 787/763-0568.

Casinos
By law, all casinos are in hotels. The government keeps a close eye on them. Dress for the larger casinos tends to be on the more formal side. the law permits casinos to operate noon-4 am, but individual casinos set their own hours. hotels that house casinos have live entertainment most weekends, restaurants, and bars; drinks are usually served in the casino to players. The minimum age is 18

D – Family Fun Attractions

Plaza Acuática
787-754-9800
Fax: 787-751-9009
For beach lovers and water fanatics. There are water slides, a giant wave pool, spiraling body slides, activity pool and kiddy pool. Professionally trained lifeguards, first aid and security staff are on duty. There are also gift shops, two 18-hole mini-golf courses and a large, dry play area for children. Facilities are available for birthday parties and private activities.

Luis A. Ferré Science Park
Rt. 167, Ave. Comerio
787-740-6868
Wed -Fri 9-4, Sat-Sun 10-6
A science park for the whole family to enjoy

Plaza del Quinto Centenario
This plaza is the cornerstone of Puerto Rico’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1492. Dominated by a giant stone pillar and a beautiful ground level fountain (it’s not enclosed and the children get soaked, which makes it that much more enjoyable).

Museo del Niño
787-722-3791
Tues-Thurs 9-3:30 Fri. 9-5; Sat., Sun. 12:30-5
A very popular children’s museum with educational exhibits. On the Plaza de Catedral.

Ponce Boardwalk
This is the boardwalk on the Caribbean Sea, just across from the Ponce Yacht Club. There are lots of food kiosks in this open air venue. Free transportation to the central plaza on the Chu-Chu Train.

Río Piedras Botanical Garden
787-763-4408
Daily 8-4:30
Rt 1 at Rt 847, San Juan
A major botanical garden, located in San Juan. Affiliated with the University of Puerto Rico.

Ponce Trolley Tour
Ponce
787-284-4141
Free daily tour of the historic zone starting at the central plaza.

Parque de Bombas
Plaza las Delicias, Ponce

In the central plaza, behind the Catedral de la Guadalupe, this century-old wooden firehouse is open to the public. It is painted bright red and black. Antique fire engines on the first floor; exhibits on the second floor.

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center
Rt 503, Km 2.1, Ponce
787-840-2255
This major historical site goes back to 400AD. An impressive museum and grounds. Tues-Sun 9-4.

Isabela Trolley
Calle Corchado #75, Isabela
787-782-2100 EXT 201
Call Isabela City Hall for reservations.
A trolley service for visitors.

Humpback Whales
Rincón
Humpback whales may be seen in the winter from the observation park at the Rincón Lighthouse.

El Yunque (Caribbean Nat.Forest)
Rt 191 Km 4.2, Río Grande
787-888-1810
Daily 7-6
Forest hikes, camping, visitors center, exhibits. The only rain forest in the US forest service system.

Aguadilla
This is one of the world’s great beach, surfing and sports beach areas. The beaches are too numerous to mention as the run they entire coastline from Rincón to the south to Isabela to the east. The surfers, windsurfers, beach scuba divers and all their support crew and admirers are great fun to watch. It is even more fun to join in. Winter is the peak surfing season.

Beaches

By Law, All Puerto Rican Playas Beaches are open to the public. The government runs 13 balnearios public beaches, which have dressing rooms, lifeguards, parking, and in some cases picnic tables, playgrounds, and camping facilities. Admission is free, parking is $2. Most balnearios are open 9-5 daily in summer and Tuesday-Sunday the rest of the year.
For more information contact the Department Of Recreation and Sports 787/722-1551 Or 787/724-2500.

Isla Verde
This white-sand beach has good snorkeling, with equipment and chair rentals along the beach. Close to San Juan, It’s a lively and popular beach.

Parque De Tercer Milenio
Third millennium park. On the Puerta de Tierra stretch at the entrance to old San Juan, the park encompasses Balneario Escambrón, a patch of honey-color beach with shade from coconut palms and a mostly gentle surf. There are showers available, and several restaurants; and the park is open daily 7-7.

Playita Condado
Kids will like Playita Condado, marked Condado Public Beach on its sign. The small beach has an even surf and some shade from trees and is adjacent to the Condado Plaza Hotel off busy Avenida Ashford.

Balneario Boqueró
On the southwest coast is a broad beach of hard-packed sand fringed with coconut palms. It has picnic tables, cabin rentals, a basketball court, a minimarket, and scuba-diving and snorkeling outfitters nearby.

Playa Luquillo
Crescent-shaped Playa Luquillo comes complete with coconut palms, changing rooms, lockers, showers, picnic tables, tent sites, and stands that sell Puerto Rican savories and tropical cocktails. Coral reefs protect its crystal-clear lagoon from the Atlantic waters, making it an ideal place to swim. It’s one of the island’s largest and best-known beaches and is crowded on weekends. It also has a “mar sin barreras” (sea without barriers), ramp that allows wheelchair users water access 787/889-4329 or 787/889-5871.

Playa Flamenco
This spectacularly beautiful beach is on the north shore of Culebra island. The 3-mile-long crescent has shade trees, clear, shallow water, picnic tables, and rest rooms and is popular on weekends with day-trippers from Fajardo. In winter, storms in the Atlantic often create great waves for bodysurfing.

Playa Soni
This wide strand of sparkling white sand is located on the eastern end of Culebra, on a protected bay with calm waters. The views of the islets of Culebrita, Cayo Norte, and St. Thomas are stunning. Snorkeling here is popular, too. As there are no facilities and little shade, bring lots of water and an umbrella.

Vieques
Nothing in Puerto Rico in recent months has generated more headlines than the 52-square-mile island of Vieques (about the size of Aruba), off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Local residents have protested the presence of the U.S. Navy here since the 1950s. The Navy has long found the island an ideal terrain for use as a bombing range. Activists charge the Navy is ignoring health and environmental hazards. A compromise has been reached, which includes the promise of $90 million in aid if residents will allow exercises with live ammunition to continue.
Most of Vieques consists of long, natural, and pristine beaches of white sand.
The visitor information center 787/741-5000 is in the fishing village of Esperanza

Other Vieques beaches are: Playa Sun Bay, a gorgeous stretch of sand with picnic facilities and shade trees.
Red and blue beaches, on the U.S. Marine/Camp Garcia base open to the public 6-6 when military exercises are not in progress, are superb for snorkeling and privacy.
Bahía Mosquito Bay is best experienced on moonless nights, when millions of bioluminescent organisms glow when disturbed

E – Events & Entertainments

Festivals
Everything is closed on public holidays. One of the most important is 24 June, though in fact the capital grinds to a halt the previous afternoon and everyone heads for the beach. There is loud salsa music and barbecues until midnight when everyone walks backwards into the sea to greet the Baptist and ensure good fortune. 25 July is the Día de la Constitución and when this takes place on a weekend it is almost impossible to get a hotel room. Reservations should be made in advance. Every town/city has local holidays for harvest festivals (pineapple, tobacco, sugar cane, etc) and for celebration of the town’s saint. There is a festival somewhere every week.
Several towns and regions also have pre-lenten carnivales, complete with parades, folk music, local dishes, a carnival queen pageant, and music competitions. all are in early to late February.

January:
New Year’s Day (1 Jan) – Public holiday; most businesses closed.
Three King’s Day (6 Jan) – Religious holiday celebrated around the island with feasts and parties.
De Hostos Day (11 Jan) – Half-day holiday honors Eugenio Maria de Hostos, an educator and patriot.
San Sebastian Street Festival (mid-January) – Street party in Old San Juan with music, dancing, food and crafts.

February:
San Blas Marathon (early Feb) – Half-marathon in the southern town of Coamo attracts international and local runners. It’s Puerto Rico’s biggest race, and the crowds are always large.
Ponce Carnival (late February) – Every city in Puerto Rico honors its patron saint with a festival, but Ponce celebrates in grand fashion with processions, parades and floats. Colorful paper-mache masks are worn by many of the revelers.

March:
Emancipation Day (22 Mar) – This half-day holiday commemorates the emancipation of slaves.

April:
Good Friday and Easter – These religious holidays are the most solemn days of the year. The island nearly comes to a halt.
De Diego Day (19 Apr) – Celebration of the birth of Jose de Diego, writer, poet and statesman who was the first Puerto Rican president under U.S. rule.

June:
Casals Festival (mid-June) – The island’s premier cultural event honors Pablo Casals, who founded the festival in 1957. It showcases top musicians from around the world as well as local talent. At the Performing Arts Center in Santurce. Tickets US $20-$40; phone 809-721-7727 or 728-5744.
San Juan Bautista Day (23 Jun) – The island’s patron saint is celebrated at the beach, as “sanjuaneros” take to the water backward in order to bring good luck for the coming year.

July:
Barranquitas Artisans Fair (mid July) – The original artisans’ fair in the hill town of Barranquitas still draws hundreds of crafts people (carvings, masks, jewelry, and paintings).
Munoz Rivera Day (19 Jul) – Celebration of birth date of statesman Luis Munoz Rivera, Puerto Rico’s first resident commissioner in Washington and father of Puerto Rico’s first elected governor, Luis Munoz Marin.
Loiza Carnival (late July) – St. James the Apostle is honored as Loiza residents masquerade with masks and costumes designed to frighten off the evil spirits. Music, dancing, food and crafts.

October:
Bomba y Plena (7-9 Oct) – Music festival celebrating the island’s African-Caribbean heritage with music and dancing in Old San Juan.
Columbus Day (21 Oct) – Half-day holiday, known as La Raza, that commemorate Columbus’ landing in the New World.

November:
Discovery Day (19 Nov) – Public holiday commemorating the day in 1493 when Columbus reached Puerto Rico; all businesses closed.
Thanksgiving Day (mid-November) – Businesses and offices closed. Most families gather for dinner; many restaurants offer special meals at reasonable prices.

December:
Bacardi Arts Festival – The largest festival for artisans on the island. Just about every craftsman turns out for this fair on the grounds of the Bacardi Rum Distillery.
Christmas Day (25 Dec) – Religious holiday; most businesses closed

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Montego Bay Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Montego Bay Travel Deals

A – Overview

Jamaica’s cultural life is rich and varied, with its own unique music, art, and cuisine. Jamaica’s lush vegetation, scenic mountaintops, clear waterfalls, and pristine beaches are among the highlights of this magical island. Jamaica is the third largest, and certainly one of the brightest, stars in the Caribbean constellation.

montego bay overview

Montego Bay (Mo Bay), along with Ocho Rios, are Jamaica’s north-coast pleasure capitals. The region’s appearance in numerous Beach Boys’ tunes is now ancient history, but the fabulous beaches and resorts continue to enchant visitors and residents alike. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city, after the capital of Kingston, in terms of population, but is the undisputed tourist capital of the island. The city is divided into three parts: the city center, the hotel area, and the surrounding hills with their picturesque villas. The city streets of Montego Bay are crowded and lively: full of crafts and culture. The architecture is a mix of wood frame houses, Georgian design, and modern office buildings. Not far from the city center are the deep water piers where enthusiastic passengers disembark daily from visiting cruise ships.

Montego Bay offers attractions that are both natural and manmade. The most famous of its beaches is the Doctor’s Cave beach. The beach is said to be fed by healing mineral springs, and it has some of the clearest and most sparkling water to be found at any beach in the world. Visitors will also want to tour the local rum-producing estates for a taste of Jamaica’s best. Just minutes away from the center of the city is the Barnett Estate Plantation, home of the oldest plantation family in Jamaica. The Belvedere Estate is also nearby. It encompasses thousands of acres, and is still in operation. An evening on the Great River is an experience not to be missed. The evening boat rides along the river’s torch-lit banks are spectacular.

Montego Bay’s world-famous beaches attract thousands every year. Some seek solitude in a phenomenal setting; others are attracted to the feeling of romance and excitement that pulses through the island’s air. The sun shines on Montego Bay, inviting visitors to experience the vacation of a lifetime.

B – City information

Population:  2.5 million

Time Zone:  Eastern Standard Time

Highest Point:  7,402 feet (Blue Mountain Peak)

Lowest Point:  sea level (Caribbean Sea)

Language:  English

Government:  Independent.  Member of the British Commonwealth of Nations

 

Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean archipelago are part of a mountain range, which in prehistoric times probably formed a land bridge between what is now Mexico and Venezuela. The island is about the size of Connecticut.   It is 146 miles long and from 22-58 miles wide.

 

Many years ago, volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor, forming Jamaica’s mountains, which reach up to 7,402 feet in height.  The mountains, located in an east-to-west line in central Jamaica, contain more than 120 rivers and many waterfalls, as well as thermal springs. In the high mountains of the east, the landscape features semitropical rainforest and copses of mist-covered pines. The mountains are bordered on the north and east by a narrow coastal plain fringed with beaches. The flat, arid southern coastline reminds visitors of African savanna or Indian plains, whereas the moist, fertile North Coast slopes steeply from hills down to excellent beaches. Much of Jamaica is underlaid by limestone, so the landscape is dotted with dozens of caves that store large reservoirs of naturally filtered drinking water.

 

Average Temperatures:

 

 Month  

   High

 Low

January  

   86F  

  67F

February

   86F

  67F

March  

   86F  

  68F

April  

   87F

  70F  

May  

   87F

  72F  

June  

   89F

  74F 

July  

   90F

  73F  

August  

   90F  

  73F

September  

   89F

  73F

October  

   88F

  73F

November  

   87F

  71F

December  

   87F

  67F

 

 

 

When to Visit: 

The weather is perfect all year, and Jamaica is more and more a year-round destination. There is, however, a high season running roughly from mid-December through mid-April. Hotels charge their highest prices during this peak winter period, when visitors fleeing cold north winds crowd the island.

 

Reservations should be made 2 to 3 months in advance for trips during the winter. At some hotels and resorts it is necessary to book a year ahead for Christmas holidays or February.

Along the seashore, in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the island is naturally air-conditioned by northeasterly trade winds, and temperature variations are slight. Coastal readings average between 71°F and 88°F year-round. The island has two rainy seasons: May; and October – November.

The Hurricane Season:  The hurricane season, officially lasts from June 1 to November, but satellite weather forecasts generally give adequate warning  several days in advance so that precautions can be taken. If you’re heading to Jamaica during the hurricane season, you can call your local branch of the National Weather Service (listed in your phone directory under the U.S. Department of Commerce) for a weather forecast or check The Weather Channel online.

 

 

 

National Holidays: 

 

New Year’s Day Jan. 1

Ash Wednesday

Good Friday

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday

National Labour Day (late  May)

Independence Day (a Monday in early August)

National Heroes Day (3rd Monday in October).

Christmas Day and Boxing Day Dec. 25 and 26

 

A Word of Caution:  Travelers to Jamaica should be aware that despite the widespread presence of ganja or marijuana, its use is illegal in Jamaica.   Drug-sniffing dogs are employed at all airports, drug laws are strictly enforced, and penalties can include imprisonment.

 

Arriving:

There are two international airports on Jamaica:

Donald Sangster in Montego Bay (tel. 876/952-3124) and

Norman Manley in Kingston (tel. 876/924-8452

The most popular flights are from New York and Miami. Remember to reconfirm all flights no later than 72 hours before departure. Flying time from Miami is 1 1/4 hours; from Los Angeles, 5 1/2 hours; from Atlanta, 2 1/2 hours; from Dallas, 3 hours; from Chicago and New York, 3 1/2 hours; and from Toronto, 4 hours.

 

Cruise Ships

Most cruise ships heading for Jamaica travel at night, arriving the next morning at the day’s port of call, perhaps Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. In port, passengers can go ashore for sightseeing, shopping, and a local meal. Prices vary widely.

 

Currency:  Jamaica has its own dollar, which is far less valuable than the U.S. dollar. In all monetary exchanges, determine which dollar unit is being quoted in the price, Jamaican or US.

 

All the major resorts and first-class restaurants quote prices in U.S. dollars, so many visitors can go through their entire trip without converting their currency into Jamaican dollars. Its still a good idea to carry some Jamaican dollars: For some transactions, such as a drink of coconut water from a roadside vendor, prices are only quoted in Jamaican dollars.

 

If you have Jamaican dollars left over at the end of your trip, you’ll need to show exchange receipts from a bank or other official bureau for the local dollars you purchased. This is a rather cumbersome process. Exchange only the amount of Jamaican money you think you’ll actually need.

 

Getting Around

Jamaica is a large island without a highly developed public transportation system.  If you plan to stay in the general area of your hotel or resort, a car is not necessary.  If you plan to explore the island, a rental car is a wise choice.  Rental rates are high.  Be sure to deal only with agencies whose names are known in the US.  Rentals are available at both airports.

 

Driving in JamaicaDrive on the left side of the road. Gas is measured by the imperial gallon (a British unit of measurement that’s about 25% more than a U.S. gal.); most stations don’t accept credit cards. Your valid driver’s license from home is acceptable for short-term visits to Jamaica.

 

A coastal route designated by an “A” plus a number encircles Jamaica. It’s well marked and easy to follow. More complicated are secondary roads, urban streets, and feeder roads, whose markings sometimes are infuriatingly unclear. Recognizing this problem, the Jamaica Tourist Board has issued one of the best maps of the island, the Discover Jamaica road map. It contains a detailed overview of the entire island, as well as blowups of Kingston, Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville, Spanish Town, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios; there’s also a very useful street index to Kingston. Get it from any Jamaica Tourist Board office or car-rental agency.

 

Mileage Information:  Subject to road conditions, driving time from Montego Bay to Negril (about 52 miles) is 1 1/2 hours; between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios (67 miles), 1 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Port Antonio (66 miles), 2 1/2 hours; between Ocho Rios and Kingston (54 miles), 2 hours; between Kingston and Mandeville (61 miles), 1 1/2 hours; and between Kingston and Port Antonio (61 miles), 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

 

Taxis can be flagged down on the street or summoned by phone. Rates are per car-not per passenger-and 25% is added to the metered rate between midnight and 5am.  JUTA cabs are supposed to have meters, but most of them are not in working order. Agree on the price of the trip before booking. Cab fares should be posted inside the taxi; if you don’t see them, you have the right to request a copy from the driver. A 10% to 12% tip is usually added.  Avoid pirate or unlicensed taxis. Not only are they not metered-they are illegal and rarely carry insurance.

 

By Moped & Motorcycle

The front desk of your hotel can usually arrange the rental of a moped or motorcycle

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Regions of Jamaica

Montego Bay: This is the number-one destination for all of Jamaica, appealing to the widest possible range of visitors. “Mo Bay,” as it’s known, has the best golf in the West Indies, and four of the largest resorts on the island; and duty-free shopping as well. This is about as far from rural Jamaica as you can get: The tourist dollar drives its economy. But it also boasts several attractions in its environs, including former great houses of plantations, decaying old towns such as Falmouth, and daylong adventures into remote Maroon Country.

Negril: Situated near Jamaica’s relatively arid western tip, Negril’s Seven Mile Beach is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of sand in the Caribbean.  That beach, its laidback lifestyle, and its wild parties are the main attractions in Negril.

The South Coast: The little-visited South Coast, lying east of Negril along the A2 (the road to Kingston), is undiscovered Jamaica, although it is becoming better known all the time. In contrast to the island’s lush, tropical image, this area is dry and arid. Hotels are few and far between, and they are frequently small, family run establishments. The chief draw is Treasure Beach, tucked away on the secluded coast.

Mandeville: Located in south-central Jamaica, Mandeville is the country’s highest-altitude town and is built in a style strongly influenced by the British. It is now the center of the island’s noted coffee cultivation; a sense of slow-paced colonial charm remains a trademark of the town.

The North Coast: This region’s primary natural attractions include its steeply sloping terrain, the setting for panoramic public gardens and dramatic waterfalls. Set on a deep-water harbor easily able to accommodate cruise ships, Ocho Rios boasts a dense concentration of resort hotels and other vacation spots. Its surrounding area contains a number of Jamaica’s premier attractions, including Dunn’s River Falls. What the area offers in abundance, are some of the grandest resorts in the Caribbean

Runaway Bay: Directly west of Ocho Rios is the satellite town of Runaway Bay, which boasts a handful of resorts opening onto some good beaches and has the distinct advantage of not being as populated by tourists as  Ocho Rios.

Port Antonio: The hub of eastern Jamaica, Port Antonio still basks in nostalgia. Frequently photographed for its Victorian/Caribbean architecture, it offers a change of pace from Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay. Beaches such as San San are among the most alluring in the country, and this is also a base for exploring some of the major attractions in Jamaica’s eastern region, including rafting on the Rio Grande River.

Kingston & Spanish Town: Located on the southeast coast, Kingston is Jamaica’s capital, largest city, and principal port. It is a cosmopolitan city with approximately 750,000 residents in its metropolitan area and serves as the country’s economic, cultural, and government center. Residents proudly call it the world’s reggae capital, as well. Twenty minutes west of Kingston by car is Spanish Town, a slow-paced village containing the Cathedral of St. James.

Port Royal: once an infamous hideout for pirates and renegades.

The Blue Mountains: A land of soaring peaks and deep valleys with luxuriant vegetation, the Blue Mountain range rises to the north of Kingston. Mountain roads wind and dip, and are in bad repair. Tours from Kingston are a safer bet. You can book tours throughout this region of coffee plantations and rum factories. Maintained by the government, the prime part of the mountain range is the 192-acre Blue Mountain-John Crow Mountain National Park.

 

 

 

Attractions

 

Appleton Express
Book with your hotel tour desk or 876-952-3692
Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday through Thursday
Admission charged

The Appleton Express is an air-conditioned bus that travels from Mo Bay to the Appleton Rum Distillery on the south side of the island. (If you traveled to Jamaica a decade ago, you may remember that the Appleton Express was formerly a train that took day-trippers across the island.

There is a tour of the distillery, and every visitor gets a complimentary bottle; children get soft drinks. The tour also makes a stop at Ipswich Caves.

 

Plantations & Great Houses

 

Barnett Estate
Granville Main Road
876-952-2382, fax 876-952-6342
Open daily
Admission charged

“Barnett” and “Jarrett” are names well known on the island. Still among Jamaica’s most powerful families, the Barnetts and Jarretts were plantation owners and have owned land for many generations. Today, a visit to the Barnett Estate offers a look back at the past to the days when this land grew everything from sugarcane to coconuts. You can take a one-hour horseback tour of the estate or a guided tour by a costumed docent. This plantation tour is one of the island’s best.

 

 

Belfield Great House
876-952-1709
Hours: daily, 10-5
Admission charged

This restored historic house is open to visitors, with guided tours available before or after dinner. Located on the 3,000-acre Barnett Estate near Montego Bay, the site is also home to the Belfield 1797 restaurant, operated by Elegant Resorts International.

 

Belvedere Estate
Chester Castle
876-956-7310 in Montego Bay
876-957-4171 in Negril
Hours: 10-4, Monday-Saturday
Admission charged

Look back at the plantation days with this heritage tour. Belvedere was one of the first estates to be burned during the 1831 Christmas Rebellion, so today most of the sites on the plantation are ruins or reconstructed. The uprising brought about the end of slavery in 1838.

Tours include a look at the ruins of the great house, dating back to the early 1800s, the ruins of a sugar factory, a horse-drawn sugar mill and herb garden. Belvedere is staffed by many craftspeople in period costume. Visitors can watch a blacksmith at work, see a bakery using a clay oven, talk with an herbalist in a wattle and daub house and see a canoe-maker carving the trunk of a cottonwood tree. Also on site is the Trash House Restaurant and Bar (where the sugarcane trash was once stored). Lunch is served daily and visitors can picnic on the grounds.

 

Inaccessible Cinammon Hill

Cinammon Hill on the North Coast Highway is presently the home of country singer Johnny Cash, who spends quite a bit of time on the island and has done charitable work in Jamaica. Cinammon Hill, located near Greenwood Great House, was the birthplace of Edward Moulton Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s father.

Croydon In The Mountains
Located 20 miles into the interior near the town of Catadupa
in St. James (take B6 out of town)
Hours: 8:30-5:30 daily; tours from 10:30-3:30
876-979-8267
Admission charged

This 132-acre working pineapple and coffee plantation offers half-day estate tours. The property was the birthplace of Samuel Sharpe, a national hero on this island. Sharpe led a slave rebellion in 1831 that helped bring about the abolition of slavery. You can learn about the preparation of coffee, honey, pineapples and more.

 

Greenwood Great House
North Coast Hwy., 15 miles east of Montego Bay
876-953-1077
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

This was once the home of the Barrett family (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Tours include a look at the finery enjoyed by the plantation families. Like Rose Hall (below), Greenwood is a reminder of the turbulent period in Jamaica’s history when wealthy plantation owners lived in luxury thanks to the profits of the slave labor used to power sugar plantations.

 

Rose Hall
North Coast Highway
876-953-2323
Hours: 9-6 daily
Admission charged

Rose Hall is the best-known great house in the country and is an easy afternoon visit from Montego Bay. This was once the home of the notorious Annie Palmer, better known as the White Witch. Guided tours take you to the ballroom, dining room, and Annie’s bedroom and grave. The gift shop displays photographs of what many believe are ghostly apparitions in the bedrooms of Rose Hall.

 

The White Witch

As the story goes, Annie was born in 1802 in England to an English mother and Irish father. At the age of 10, her family moved to Haiti, and soon her parents died of yellow fever. Annie was adopted by a Haitian voodoo priestess and became skilled in the practice of voodoo. Annie moved to Jamaica, married, and built Rose Hall, an enormous plantation spanning 6,600 acres with over 2,000 slaves. According to legend, Annie murdered several of her husbands and her slave lovers. To learn more about the tales of Rose Hall, read the novel, The White Witch of Rose Hall, which you’ll find in gift shops around the island.

 

 

Bob Marley Experience
Half Moon Shopping Village
North Coast Highway
Hours: 10-6 daily
Free

This new attraction features a 68-seat theater where you can watch a documentary on the life and works of reggae great Bob Marley. The film runs several times daily. The largest part of the attraction is a huge shop filled with Marley memorabilia – CDs, books, T-shirts. The shop claims to have the largest collection of Marley gifts in the Caribbean.

 

Golf

 

Montego Bay has the best collection of golf courses in Jamaica; most take full advantage of the city’s location, offering gorgeous views of the sea and hills. Fees include golf cart and clubs. Caddies are mandatory and will cost an additional fee

montego bay jamaica golf vacation

D – Family Fun Attractions

Montego Bay Marine Park
(876)952-5619
Jamaica’s first national park, protects the beautiful reef fish, corals, turtles and other marine creatures and their spectacular “underwater rainforest” habitats of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves.

Sailing Trips
White Sands P.O.
Montego Bay
(876) 940-4465
Go sailing with Calico pirate style on the blue waters of Mo-Bay, aboard an old wooden sailing ship. A Day trip includes snorkeling, lunch and drinks. Sunset Cruises are also available.

Croydon in the Mountains
25 miles from Montego Bay
(876) 979-8267
This working plantation offers to visitors a wealth of knowledge and history about Jamaican life in the rural areas. There are interesting insights in coffee cultivation and processing. Samples of exotic fresh fruit, fruit juices and fruit drinks are available. Unusual fruits like: Carambola, Oneca, Otahiti apples and Passion fruit are available during season.

AguaSol Theme Park
is a one of a kind beach park located at the Walter Fletcher Beach on Montego Bay’s “Hip Strip”. AguaSol features a large white sand beach, MoBay 500, a new go-cart racing course, Kiddies snack bar, Voyage Sports Bar and Grill, 42 large screen satellite television sets, Coordinated beach activities, Games, Table tennis, Water sports, a gift shop, and a discotheque at night.

Barnett Estates
Granville Main Rd
876-952-2382
The Barnett Estates showcases a captivating tour that is led by guides in period costume. The guides are unique in that they recite period poetry and sing period songs. The Estate is still active and grows coconut, mango, and sugarcane on most of its 3,000 acres. Samples are offered to those who join the optional plantation tour by horseback.

Maroon Village Tour
32 Church Street, Montego Bay – Jamaica
876- 979-0308
All day excursions are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to Cockpit Country, the mountain home of the Maroons, runaway slaves who defeated the British to gain their independence. This tour provides a fascinating historical, educational and cultural journey! Buffet lunch and beverages are served.

Doctor’s Cave Beach Bathing Club
White Sands Beach P.O.
Montego Bay – Jamaica
876-952-2566
The most well-known and famous beach in Montego Bay is the Doctor’s Cave Beach Bathing Club. Visitors can enjoy the brilliant waters and smooth beaches.

James Bond Beach
(876) 975-3663
This beach was named after the James Bond movie” Dr No”. It is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Ian Fleming, the author of the 007 legend, is said to have come here regularly for a swim. The beach also features many restaurants and bars. Glass bottom boats, kayaks, wave runners and snorkeling facilities can also be found here.

MoBay UnderSea Tours
Casa Blanca Hotel, Gloucester Ave
(876) 940-2493
Explore Montego Bay’s marine sanctuary aboard the most advanced vessel of its kind. Panoramic underwater view of the marine environment, colorful coral reefs, exotic tropical fish and other sea life. Air-conditioned cabin holds 53 passengers, live and educational narration by marine experts.

Rocky Point Riding Stables
Montego Bay – Jamaica
876- 953-2286
At Rocky Point Riding Stables visitors can enjoy a variety of equestrian activities, from riding lessons to adventurous trail rides.

Rose Hall Beach Club
(876) 953-3506
White sand, picnic areas, hammocks, bars, dining pavilion, kitchens, gift shop, a stage, showers, changing rooms and other amenities, CPR trained Lifeguards and staff. A place one dreams of. Relax, swim, sail, water-ski, jet-ski, many watersports equipment and beach games. Frozen tropical delights, sumptuous food and all-inclusive picnics!

E – Events & Entertainments

Annual Events

 

January

Accompong Maroon Festival, St. Elizabeth. Annual celebration of Maroons of Western Jamaica, with traditional singing and dancing, feasts, ceremonies, blowing of the abeng (cow’s horn), playing of Maroon drums. 876/952-4546. January 6.

 

Jamaica Sprint Triathlon, Negril. Hundreds participate in a three-part competition joining swimming, cycling, and running in one sweat-inducing endurance test. Contact the Jamaica Tourist Board. Late January.

 

February

Tribute to Bob Marley-Symposium in Music, Ocho Rios. Seminars for students of music.  876/926-5726. First week in February.

 

Bob Marley Birthday Bash, Montego Bay. An annual concert that celebrates a local star.  876/978-2991. February 6.

 

Reggae Summerfest, Ocho Rios. Annual reggae bash, featuring top reggae stars. Call  876/960-1904 for dates.

 

March

Montego Bay Yacht Club’s Easter Regatta. Annual sailing event of several races staged along the North Coast over a 6-day period around Easter. ( 876/979-8038). (March or April)

 

April

Carnival in Jamaica, Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay. Weeklong series of fetes, concerts, and street parades. Contact local tourist offices. First week of April.

 

June

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. International performers play alongside Jamaican jazz artists; other events include barbecues.  888/637-8111 or 876/927-3544 (www.ochoriosjazz.com). Second week in June.

 

National Dance Theatre Company’s Season of Dance, Kingston. Traditional and modern dance, as well as notable singers.  876/926-6129. June through August.

 

August

Reggae Sunfest, Catherine Hall, Montego Bay. Annual 5-day music festival.  876/952-0889 (www.reggaesumfest.com). First week of August.

September

 

September

Falmouth Blue Marlin Tournament, Montego Bay. Very popular locally.  876/954-5934. Late September.

 

October

Port Antonio International Fishing Tournament. One of the oldest and most prestigious sport fishing events in the Caribbean, with participants from Europe and North America.  876/927-0145. Mid-October

 

November

Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, Montego Bay. Series of concerts at Rose Hall Great House.  876/952-4425. Third week of November.

 

December

Motor Sports Championship Series, Dover Raceway, St. Ann. Prestigious championship event.  876/960-3860. Early December.

F – Montego Bay Travel Deals

We offer deeply discounted rates for Montego Bay travel vacation packages,
airline tickets, hotel rates and car rental services. Build your own trip now
through our travel products:

– Get cheap airline tickets from our “Seat Inventory” source, best price and
seats for your family.

– Find your cheap hotel rates from our “Best Rate Guarantee” at over 300000
global properties.

– Rent a car at the price you want to travel Montego Bay. We offer cheapest car
rental
service from wide selection of inventory rates

– Best travel deals for our cheap vacation packages or last minute travel
deals
. We offer best vacation package rates with deeply discounted prices (up to
70% of regular rates)

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Punta Cana Travel Guide – Deals

punta cana overviewQuick Links:

A – Overview

B – Attractions & Things To Do

C – Family Fun Attractions

D – Events & Entertainments

E – Punta Cana Travel Deals

A – Overview

Exquisite fine white sand beaches stretching into the distance, lush tropical rain forests, and spectacularly beautiful mountains jutting toward the sky: this is Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s foremost resort area. Punta Cana is synonymous with championship golf, world-class casinos, exciting nightlife, and elegant spas.

40 miles of unspoiled beach line the coast. Visitors revel in tropical warmth year round as they enjoy the finest accommodations at spectacular, all-inclusive resorts offering value-added vacations at an affordable price. Punta Cana is a traveler’s dream.

The origin of the Punta Cana resort complexes can be traced back some 15 years to the time when a dawning realization by investors from Spain and other parts of Europe occurred. The idea came to them that the many acres planted in sugar cane at the tip of the island of the Dominican Republic could be converted into a superb resort area with sun and sandy beaches available year round.

During the 1990s, as development began, many Europeans rushed to take advantage of Punta Cana’s desirable climate where it is consistently sunny and warm and rarely rains during daylight hours. Capitalizing on the low cost of the land and the desire for sunny holidays in the depths of winter, a half-dozen European hotel chains acquired large tracts of sugar-cane plantations and pastureland on which they erected more than a dozen resorts, most with no fewer than 500 rooms, some with even more, that attract visitors from around the world. The hotel designs range from the modest to low-rise mega complexes designed by the most prominent Spanish architects.

The resorts come complete with the most lavish beach and pool facilities in the Caribbean, spectacular gardens, and relatively new concepts in architecture, focusing on postmodern interplays between indoor and outdoor spaces. There is no town, though the resorts use tiny, nondescript Higüey (Ee-Gway), 40 minutes away, as a mailing address. Don’t expect native culture and crafts exhibited along dusty streets in quaint villages. Look rather, for large, all-inclusive resort properties that are self-contained to meet the visitor’s every need for rest, recreation, and relaxation.


This area is made up almost completely of large all-inclusive resorts populated by couples or by families. Some resorts in the area cater to sports-minded people. Most of the resorts focus on family entertainment. The exception is at spring break time when groups of university students fly down from Canada and the US. The hotels preferred by spring breakers are the larger complexes, where nighttime entertainment is the liveliest.

The Punta Cana area caters to those looking for the type of vacation where the resort has everything and one never has to go outside the gates. The nearest city, Higuey (Ee-Gway), is about a 40 minute drive away. Beyond the resorts, there is mostly unpopulated countryside. You can literally walk for miles along the beach without seeing anything but an occasional unfinished construction project or the next hotel.

Off the beach, just a day trip away, is Santa Domingo, the oldest European city in the New World Even after five centuries have passed, the palace of the Columbus family can still be found here, as well as the city’s sixteenth-century cathedral, the oldest in the New World.

Besides historical sites, rugged mountains, and beautiful beaches, Punta Cana has a wider range of sports than any other Caribbean Island. Fishing, wind sailing, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, horseback riding, and golf are a few of the many offerings. The resorts provide programs to keep children happily occupied during part of each day.

Experience the spectacular sunrises and sunsets; revel in the beauty and enjoyment of each sun-filled day; and at night, swing to the rhythms of the Caribbean. For an unforgettable resort vacation, take a break in the tropical splendor of Punta Cana.

B – Attractions & Things To Do

The beach is the No. 1 attraction in the Punta Cana area, stretching an amazing 50 kilometers. Here are some other activities to consider:

punta cana attractions

Manatee Park Bávaro. 130,000 square meter preserve with permanent exhibits of birds, reptiles, and fish. A show with parrots, dolphins and dancing horses is included in the admission fee. Optional possibility of swimming with the dolphins for an extra fee. Reservations should be made as soon as you arrive in the country if you want to swim with the dolphins. Free shuttle bus to and from principal hotels in the area.

Ecological Walk at the Punta Cana Beach Resort, which ends in a refreshing bath in a cool spring. You will be walking through a real jungle. Bring long sleeves and insect repellent.

Safari Tour. Open jeep takes tourists to visit a rural school, a colmado (country store), sugar cane fields, tropical fruit groves, plus you’ll take a dip in a river and ride horseback on virgin beach after lunch. Operated by Bávaro Runners.

Punta Cana Ecological Reserve. Experience the wilds of exotic fauna and flora

of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean through daily-guided tours, which

traverse subtropical forests and freshwater lagoons. Made available through the

conservation efforts of the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation.

Petting Farm and Iguana Habitat. The Ecological Reserve offers a chance for children to interact with live animals at the Petting Farm. Your kids will love feeding the animals and seeing the indigenous species of iguanas located in an enclosed habitat near the Farm at Rancho Punta Cana. The Farm is within easy walking distance from the hotel, just in front of the Main Gate to Punta Cana Resort and Club. Open daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Punta Cana Resorts (Spread over 23 miles of outstanding local beaches)

Allegro Resort Bávaro is set on a gorgeous 20 mile stretch of dazzling white sand beach. Close to the famed “Nautical Club”, its tropical setting inspires an aquatic style that leaves nothing to the imagination, from swimming in the clear blue ocean to sailing on the calm blue sea. When the sun goes down, the action heats up with exciting live shows and dancing in the disco.

Grand Palladium Palace Resort & Spa is set in an exceptional spot right on the sea front in the well-known Bávaro beach. It is constructed on a 320,000 square metre site next to the neighbouring Grand Palladium Bávaro Resort & Spa and Fiesta Beach Resort & Spa, and is surrounded by a coconut palm plantation and exuberant tropical vegetation. Only 20 kms from the Punta Cana airport, the hotel offers its guests an extensive beach of fine white sand. A coral reef lies near the shore where those fond of diving and marine life will find their dream.

Barcelo Bávaro Beach dwells beneath the shade of lofty coconut palms, amid orchids and mangroves. The immense coral reef of the only true Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana creates a natural aquarium with extraordinary underwater vistas and tropical fish of every specie. The sheltered coastal frontage of the Bávaro Beach embraces activities which range from merely relaxing peacefully in cool seas through enjoying an active day at watersports. And, it all takes place in the midst of the most wonderful landscape imaginable. Reservations are required for á la carte restaurants.

Barcelo Bávaro Casino is located in the center of the Barcelo Bávaro complex next to the Barcelo Bávaro Golf Resort. This Hotel Casino’s unbeatable location and infrastructure make it an ideal place for holding conventions and meetings of every kind. Try your luck at Caribbean Black Jack, Progressive Poker, American Roulette or choose from an exciting range of slot machines. Barcelo Bávaro Casino also features spectacular nightly entertainment including “Tropicalissimo,” a cabaret show full of dazzling musical performances and colorful Caribbean styles.

Barcelo Bávaro Garden Resort is set in the enormous Barcelo complex surrounded by palm trees and shady tropical gardens. Hidden by exuberant vegetation, this is the perfect place to relax on the only true Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana. In addition to its lush gardens and tranquil setting, this All-Inclusive resort features 2 restaurants and 3 bars, including the Banana Beach Bar with soft drinks and fruit. Each room has its own private balcony with views of the beach or gardens.

Barcelo Bávaro Palace Sitting on Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana is the Deluxe Barcelo Bávaro Palace. Ride the resort shuttle through the Barcelo complex and enjoy full exchange privileges with over a dozen restaurants and a dozen bars. Enjoy the 18- hole par 72 championship golf course, play tennis, dance the night away at the disco, try your luck in the casino or simply lounge around the over- sized lagoon style pool.

The Catalonia Bávaro Resort is situated in Playa Bávaro in the Altagracia province on the East side of the Dominican Republic. Playa Bávaro is characterized by its tranquility, turquoise-blue waters, coral-sand beaches, lush vegetation and coconut palm trees. Located on a beautiful white sand beach next to shimmering Caribbean waters, this resort invites you to savor Italian, Brazilian, Japanese and French specialties. Choose from 8 different restaurants, 5 bars and a variety of water sports, nightly entertainment and many other activities. Catalonia also features a magnificent pool with green islands, fountains, Jacuzzi and a swim-up pool bar.

Club Viva Dominicus: La Romana Located in the Bayahibe area, this hotel borders on both the warm blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the rich vegetation of “National East Park”. Its picturesque beach provides the true definition of a Caribbean vacation. Located 90 minutes from the airport.

Club Viva Dominicus Palace This new resort in Bayahibe lies in the southern coastal region between the two small islands of Saona and Catalina. Located 90 minutes from the airport, this natural divine paradise offers some of the area’s best diving. The natural beauty of this resort makes it a find both above and below the water’s surface.

Hodelpa Caribe Club Go diving in the morning, play tennis in the afternoon, then relax by the sparkling pool with a refreshing island drink. Enjoy a variety of gourmet dining choices, live music, nightly entertainment and disco dancing to end a perfect day.

IberoStar Bávaro Enjoy 636 spacious and elegant junior suites in bungalow-style buildings, each room with it’s own private balcony. This luxurious Caribbean resort features an a la carte restaurant by the beach with international cuisine and a gourmet restaurant, “La Sibilia”, where resort guests can receive a 30% discount. Enjoy all the activities at the exclusive Caribbean Street with themed events and shops.

IberoStar’s Punta Cana & Dominicana are situated on a spectacular palm tree-covered resort, bringing to Bávaro Beach the best in Caribbean hospitality and cuisine. These twin All-Inclusive resorts offer a splendid atmosphere of relaxation, comfort and enjoyment within a gorgeous 4-story mid-rise hotel complex. Enjoy sumptuous dining and courteous service at Iberostar’s 2 a la carte restaurants (Italian and Mexican), a buffet restaurant and a gourmet restaurant. Each resort features nightly shows and Caribbean dances presented by the entertainment team.

LT-I Beach Resort Punta Cana This resort is located 25 minutes from the Punta Cana Airport on a beautiful white sand beach. Honeymooners receive an upgraded room with double bed, bottle of sparkling wine, fruit basket and fresh flowers in room.

Melia Caribe Tropical combines an “All-Inclusive” vacation with full service facilities, endless activities and world famous Melia service. An exceptional value! An untouched eco-zone runs through the middle of this resort that separates the main hotel facilities from the stunning beach and oversized swimming pool in Punta Cana.

Natura Park and Spa Each facet of this spectacular All-Inclusive resort is designed to enable guests to feel at one with nature, while also fulfilling every vacation desire. This unique eco-resort, with its pristine tropical foliage and mangrove forest, is located in the heart of the large and unspoiled National Park of Bávaro Beach. Stroll through spectacular gardens, enjoy the colorful sights of exotic birds, turtles, fish and other wildlife. Relax by the lagoon-style swimming pool with Jacuzzi and swim-up bar. Enjoy Natura Park’s Metamorphosis Spa featuring a complete gym, massage parlor, sauna, mud baths and a beauty salon.

Grand Flamenco by Occidental is located on the famous “Playa Bávaro” Beach. Stroll through beautifully designed gardens or relax on white sand beaches surrounded by tropical palm trees. Enjoy a luxurious free-form pool with cascading fountains and a bungalow-style swim-up pool bar. Stay at the Grand Flamenco by Occidental , and let their professionally-trained staff pamper your every need like never before. Only 15 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.

Paradisus Punta Cana Set amidst one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, the grounds include a magnificent lake and a nature area with a mangrove swamp waiting for you to explore. This deluxe, all- inclusive resort offers á la carte and buffet dining at over a dozen restaurants, a wide variety of daily and nightly activities and non- motorized watersports.

Punta Cana Beach Resort and Club Discover the passion of living at the Punta Cana Beach Resort. Enjoy personalized service, a complete entertainment program, excursions, ecological walks, sports activities, live shows, meringue and international music at the disco or piano bar. Located just 7 km. from Punta Cana International Airport, this resort is situated on one of the most beautiful and exclusive beaches in the Caribbean. Punta Cana Beach Resort is one of the Caribbean’s best PADI dive centers.

Riu Bambu This lavish resort opened in February 1999 and has become an instant favorite. Located on “Arena Gorda’s” Beach, the Riu Bambu offers a variety of exciting leisure activities for both day and night. Riu’s “Service with Heart” makes it a perfect hotel for the vacationer who wants to experience the best of the Caribbean and enjoys attentive service. Riu Bambu features a magnificent fresh water swimming pool, children’s pool and a lively aquatic bar where guests keep cool to the sounds of the Caribbean. Located just 23 km. from the Punta Cana International Airport.

Riu Palace Macao is a luxury resort, built in classic colonial style, is situated on “Arena Gorda’s Beach” surrounded by palm groves. The jewel of the Riu complex, the Palace Macao offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment. Riu’s dedication to “Service with Heart” is why past visitors have awarded this hotel Punta Cana’s first Golden Apple. Try your luck in the full gaming casino, take in some shopping on Riu’s famed “Caribbean Street” or dance the night away in Riu’s “Pacha Disco”. Please note: Men are required to wear long pants at dinner. Reservations are required at a la carte restaurants.

Riu Naboa is a 4-story hotel surrounded by a palm grove with a magnificent sandy beach some 200 meters away. Bordering on the Caribbean and National East Park, this All-Inclusive resort offers a wide array of activities and services, and Riu’s “Service with Heart” is sure to make for a memorable and comfortable vacation. Guests can enjoy the “Caribbean Street” of the Riu complex with shopping, a massage parlor, hair salon, and many other attractions and accommodations.

Riu Taino This bungalow complex is nestled in the middle of a palm grove, on 15 miles of pure white sand beach. Riu’s “Service with Heart” makes this hotel friendly and accommodating. Enjoy the “Caribbean Street” of the Riu complex with shopping, massage parlor, hair salon, and many other attractions and accommodations. This resort features a fresh water swimming pool with children’s section and has a sunbathing terrace perfect for soaking up the Caribbean sun. The “Pacha” discothèque is open for entertainment and drinks every night of the week. For an additional fee, Riu Taino guests can enjoy 3 floodlit tennis courts, windsurfing, water skiing, fishing and other daily activities.

Secrets Excellence represents seclusion, luxury, and relaxation while also embodying romance and excitement. This 5-Star, adults only Resort and Spa features a 24 hour All Inclusive experience with 446 suites all with Jacuzzi, 7 a la carte restaurants, and 1.5 miles of endless white sugary beach. Secrets Excellence caters mostly to couples, honeymooners, or that sophisticated guest looking to be pampered. Order room service 24/7 while you have a Romantic evening in your own private Jacuzzi.

The Sandy Village Beach Resort is located on one of the most secluded beaches in Punta Cana. Conveniently located just 10 minutes from the airport and adjacent to Laguna de Beron National Park, this casual resort is perfect for couples, singles and families.

Breeezes Spa and Casino Resort is where you can explore the subtropics and the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. There’s plenty of sunshine to go around! Located directly on the Arena Gorda Beach, the new, four star Breezes Punta Cana Spa & Casino Beach Resort is an enchanting residence, set in the middle of a coconut grove. The specially designed pool area is perfect for water fans and sun worshippers. The sea and beach provide all the fun and fitness you’re looking for. Experience the spectacular sunsets, and at night, swing to the rhythms of the Caribbean.

Sun Club On the shore, over the magnificent beaches of Bávaro, and surrounded by palm groves. All rooms are comfortably equipped with telephone, air-conditioning, radio, Satellite TV, terrace.

One to two hours away:

La Otra Banda
If you take the Saona, Catalina, Altos de Chavón, Higuey or Santo Domingo excursions, on your way west ask your guide to point out the small town of La Otra Banda, with its pretty little houses, right out of a Caribbean architecture book and perfect for picture-taking.

Higüey (Ee-Gway)
The city has no tourist attractions other than its Basilica, a large modern cathedral that honors the Virgen de la Altagracia, patron saint of the Dominican Republic.

La Romana/Altos de Chavon
Past expansive fields of shoulder-high sugar cane, visitors will come to La Romana, a city built and maintained by the sugar mills. The incessant production of sugar fills the air with the sweet smell of molasses. But the principal attraction of the region is Altos de Chavón, a re-created 15th century Italian-Spanish village beside the mesmerizing Chavón River. At its founding in 1981, Altos de Chavón was declared “an artists’ village” by its creators who dedicated it to the service of the fine and applied arts. Its old world cobblestone streets and quaint architecture conceal charming shops, fine restaurants, intimate bars, artisans workshops, a church, a vast amphitheater, an archaeological museum, and a university specializing in design. The Parson’s School of Design of New York City has a branch right here. Lovely architecture, restaurants with great views and international cuisine, and a small but superb museum. It’s adjacent to Casa de Campo, one of the most famous and expensive resorts in the Caribbean.

Los Haitises National Park.

Several hotels offer excursions to Los Haitises National Park, a sanctuary for nature lovers and those interested in natural history. The underground rivers flow through caves replete with pre-Columbian drawings and petroglyphs, silent testimony to the Indian population who dwelled there peacefully for centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. Be sure to visit the Cueva de la Linea (Ferrocarril) and the Cueva de las Arenas. The boat trip to get to these caves that are off San Lorenzo Bay will take you through the largest system of mangroves in the Caribbean. Another option to visit and a place to have lunch in the area is the Paraiso Caño Hondo river center, a short drive from the National Park Los Haitises departure point.

Boat trip to Isla Catalina, an environmental reserve located just offshore from La Romana with a coral reef perfect for diving or snorkeling and a nice beach.

Isla Saona, a larger island off the coast of La Altagracia province. It has a quiet fishing village with friendly locals who now cater to thousands of day trippers. You can go by catamaran, big tourist boat or small motor boat. The boats generally leave from Bayahibe. If you are lucky, dolphins will swim along with you. Some excursions use speed boats that take tourists to visit the village of Mano Juan and Palmilla beach with its white sands. This is the most-booked trip of tourists visiting Punta Cana but if you plan on returning to the DR, consider leaving it for a time when you stay in one of the La Romana hotels when you will be about a half hour boat trip away, instead of the almost three hours it will take to get there from Punta Cana.

Plantación Tropical. A memorable side trip north from San Pedro de Macorís to Hato Mayor will reward the entire family with one of the largest horticultural centers in the Caribbean. Tropical Plantation displays scores of exotic species — bromeliads, anthuriums, orchids and others along challenging labyrinthine paths. Complementing their intense colors, fragrance and beauty is an aviary with the island’s native birds and a vast butterfly enclosure. It is an entertaining cross between a botanical garden, an amusement park and a working plant nursery that will captivate all for an entire morning or afternoon.

Rancho Capote

Also in Hato Mayor, adventure lovers may book an underground excursion to the Rancho Capote and its Cueva Fun Fun, that is the longest underground cave in the Caribbean. This is a shallow cave running seven kilometers. Experience the darkness down under, the giant corridors, the cave art, and the magic whisper of the subterranean rivers. This thrilling excursion begins with a ride on horseback, then a walk through the jungle and the cave, and ends with a well-deserved lunch. The owners of the ranch are one of the country’s leading orange growers so expect delicious fresh orange juice with lunch

C – Family Fun Attractions

Punta Cana Ecological Reserve. Experience the wilds of exotic fauna and flora of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean through daily-guided tours, which traverse subtropical forests and freshwater lagoons. Made available through the conservation efforts of the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation.

Petting Farm and Iguana Habitat. The Ecological Reserve offers a chance for

children to interact with live animals at the Petting Farm. Children will love feeding the animals and seeing the indigenous species of iguanas located in an enclosed habitat near the Farm at Rancho Punta Cana. The Farm is within easy walking distance from the hotel, just in front of the Main Gate to Punta Cana Resort and Club. Open daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Manatee Park Bávaro. 130,000 square meter preserve with permanent exhibits of birds, reptiles, and fish. A show with parrots, dolphins and dancing horses is included in the admission fee. Optional possibility of swimming with the dolphins for an extra fee. Reservations should be made as soon as you arrive in the country if you want to swim with the dolphins. Free shuttle bus to and from principal hotels in the area.

Ecological Walk at the Punta Cana Beach Resort, which ends in a refreshing bath in a cool spring. You will be walking through a real jungle. Bring long sleeves and insect repellent

E – Events & Entertainments

Events

Themed events are held at each of the resorts on a regular basis throughout the year.

Sports

There is golf, tennis, polo, scuba diving, snorkeling, horseback riding, skeet and clays shooting, deep-sea fishing, sailing, bicycling, bowling and parasailing. Adventurers may go trekking, hiking, rafting, tubing, canyoning, caving, mountain biking, camping, paragliding and cascading. Baseball is the national sport and passion. The Dominican Republic outnumbered all other Latin American nations with the most ballplayers (over 50) playing in the North American Major League last season.


If you are planning on snorkeling, find one of the locals on the beach who owns a boat. They will take you snorkeling for about $US10-15 for about 1 hour. Or conveniently book an excursion, more expensive, at your hotel.

Scuba
Diving is good for beginners. In spite of the barrier reefs, the waters are shallow and easy to navigate. It is a great place to learn since the waters, even far out, are so shallow. Excursions will take you to discover a shipwreck and lots of nice coral formations, channels and tunnels. Not a large variety of fish, due to the spear fishermen you pass on the way out. Water temp 75 F.
If you are more advanced in scuba diving, and still want to vacation in the Punta Cana area you may participate in dive excursions to Catalina and Saona islands, a two hour drive away. These dives are attractive to both beginners and advanced scuba divers.

Fishing
In this region, big game fishing is unsurpassed and tournaments draw international participants in the summer. You can look forward to catching blue marlin, barracuda, and dorado among others. Best fishing is in the summer. Arrangements can be made at hotel front desks or at the Cabeza de Toro Yacht Club or Punta Cana Marina for a full day or half day of fishing. The Cabeza de Toro Yacht Club is the site of the World Light Tackle Tournament.

Windsurfing and parasailing
At the point where the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans meet, the winds are powerful so this is a good area for windsurfing and parasailing.

Golf
There are three 18-hole golf courses and one 9-hole course in operation the area: El Golf de Bávaro (Barcelo hotels), Cocotal (Melia hotels), Punta Cana Golf (Club Med, Punta Cana Beach Resort, Marina, Corales hotels), and Catalonia Golf course.

Snorkeling
Punta Cana features the longest coral reef in the whole island – about 30 kilometers long.
Snorkeling is so-so from shore, decent out at select areas near the reef.
200 meters from the coast there are corals and colorful fish at the 1-2 meter depth. (One of the best places for snorkeling is near the Rio Taino hotel.) An excursion will take you to the corals just off the Cabeza de Toro yacht club.
Other Sports

Night tennis, horseback riding trips by the ocean, water skiing and scuba diving are available at an additional charge. Reservations required through Guest Services.

The La Cana Golf Course is the spectacular new seaside golf course designed by the talented P.B. Dye, of golf’s illustrious Dye family. Fourteen holes feature breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, and four play along the ocean itself. P.B. Dye has crafted each hole to present its own unique challenge: sometimes frustrating; always memorable

E – Punta Cana Travel Deals

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. We offer best vacation package rates with deeply discounted prices (up to
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– Visit our home page for all travel deals such as:cheap airline tickets, hotel rates, car rental, vacation packages and tourist attractions. Why pay more? save your money now!