Caribbean, Dominican Republic ,

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

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