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Punta Cana - Planning your Trip

Dominican Republic is the Caribbean’s #1 most visited destination and the highlight place to visit in the country certainly is Punta Cana. With over 30 miles of white-sand beaches, Punta Cana pleasures come in many forms. Days start on postcard-worthy Bavaro beach and may end swimming inside of a cave. Bavaro was declared by Unesco as one of the three best beaches in the world. Most flights arrive at the Punta Cana’s International airport, and from there tourists head for the impeccable resorts in the area. Approximately 6 million people come from abroad to visit Bavaro Beach. Are you planning to go soon, here are our tips to visit this paradise.

All inclusive resort in Punta Cana
Sunset in Punta Cana

What you need to know before you go

Accommodation - Dominican Republic is known for its all-inclusive resorts and if your vibe is eat, have fun, sleep and repeat, Punta Cana is the place to go. The country boasts the highest number of hotel rooms in the Caribbean region, totaling more than 80 thousand. However, even though the all inclusive packages are the favorite ones, there are also plenty of boutique hotels and eco lodges located in beach towns and mountainside areas.

Bavaro is considered the best zone to stay in Punta Cana because of its variety of accommodations, bars, restaurants, and overall tropical vibe. However, the selection of all-inclusive resorts in the area can be overwhelming. There are more than 80 all-inclusive resorts in this part of the Dominican Republic. In addition to choose the best hotel, there are apartments closer to the best attractions for families or private areas such as adults only for couples. Some hotels also offer a premium packages with a better selection of drinks and exclusive ocean views.

We stayed at Barceló Bavaro Palace at Junior Suite Sea Front Premium Level and we loved everything. This is not a sponsored article and you can find additional recommendation in the useful links below.

Transportation - Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is the main airport for travel to the Dominican Republic. If you are staying in an all-inclusive resort the best alternative to go to your hotel is to buy the transfer with your package or taking a taxi at the airport. As soon as take your luggage, there is a kiosk inside the airport where you can book a taxi and someone drives you direct to your hotel. We paid 30 USD (fix price) from the airport to the Bavaro Beach for a couple. Some hotels offer transfer for an additional fee, but most of them will recommend a taxi for you to return to the airport too. Price is similar (~30 USD). Taxi are easily located in major cities and towns­ and tourist zones, but is always safe request to your hotel or the companies inside the airport to call the taxi for you. Regarding the tours, it's easy to book day trips other than rent a car, most resorts have agencies inside their properties. You can also book online in the popular websites because the companies will pick you up at the hotels.

San Domingo, which is the capital, is 3 hours from Punta Cana and you can book day trips to this city very easily at your resort.

UBER launched in the Dominican Republic in 2015, but is operating in the three major cities only: Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.

Meals - Most All-Inclusive resorts offer from 5-10 different restaurants including buffets opened almost all day long for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also a-la carte options that require reservation in advance and a specific dress code. Basically, you will receive the service you paid for. Invest in a premium room is always the best alternative to
avoid disappointing experiences particularly in megaresorts where common packages can come with mediocre food and watered-down drinks. For the traditional dishes, order Sancocho, Mofongo, pasteles en hoja and parrilladas. For desert, Tres leches cake is a must-try!

Make sure to try the quality rum from the Caribbean too! The favorite is Ron Barceló rum, which is the only rum in the Dominican Republic manufactured directly from sugar cane juice.

Weather - Dominican Republic is a sunny year-round destination and it is rare not to see blue skies during the day. However, the best season to visit Punta Cana is during the winter. December through early March is the most pleasant weather and always better to visit. Although the temperature is pleasant year around (~24 -30°C), in the summertime, which is April to October is the rainiest season and rainstorms are more frequent.

The official Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30, with September considered as the most active month.

Suggestion to enjoy your trip in Punta Cana

While all-inclusive resorts present an opportunity for travelers to have an unforgettable experience without leaving the property, resorts have options for different tiers of rooms or suites for guests to choose from and have a range of amenities included in the packages. Guests typically receive a wristband to show the resort staff what they are eligible to receive and the fancy your wristband is, the more perks you have. If you are going to Punta Cana, the tip is to book an Oceanfront room with premium level. This is the best way to stay in front of the beach and have access to best restaurants and even get tables with the best views.

In addition, premium packages offer things like spa treatments, golfing, water sports, and other excursions could cost extra depending on the resort. If you are planning to drink and relax, better wristband also gives you advantage to get better drinks and book the best cabanas around the pool. Every resort is different but the idea is to invest in a premium package to get the most from your vacation.

SUN – Whether on the beach, on a boat trip, or walking around a city, be sure to wear sunblock at all times. The sun is very strong in the Caribbean, and hits even on cloudy days.

WATER – Tap water is not safe to drink from the tap. You need to drink bottled water at all times.

SAFETY – We felt very safe, but the recommendation is to use common sense while traveling across the country (as with any destination), including use your smartphone discreetly in non-tourist areas, avoid walking alone in isolated areas at night, do not leave any valuables in the car, store your passport and valuables in the hotel safe. Also, make sure to buy your tours at the hotels or agencies you trust, we saw a lot of disappointing reviews from people trying to save some changes.

TIps for first visit

1. Swim at the Hoyo Azul- The tour to the Scape Park is without question a must-do experience in Punta Cana. The tropical forests, the ocean, the cliffs, ancient caverns, zip lines and splash hammocks combine together in this exquisite natural asset. Swimming at the Hoyo Azul cenote was one of the highlights of our trip.

2. Stay at the Bavaro Beach – Considered 1 of the 25 best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor, Bavaro is Punta Cana’s main beach, stretching from Cabeza de Toro until Macao. If you are looking for local vendors, spontaneous activities and stunning sunset and sunrises this is your beach to go!

3. Bring your sunscreen and mosquito repellent  – Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are sold everywhere but both are 3-5x the regular prices in the resorts. Wearing long sleeve cotton tops or pants is recommended when hiking, but if you prefer summer clothes wear mosquito repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

4. Go parasailing over Bavaro Beach- While on Vacation in Punta Cana get a rush of adrenaline and go Parasailing. Fly high above the turquoise waters over Bavaro Beach, is a MUST DO activity in Punta Cana. It takes around 2 hours and costs about ~50 USD/per person.

Couple in Punta Cana

Essential Information

Passaport and Visa – Every traveler must have a valid passport. Most visitors arriving to the Dominican Republic (including US and Brazil) do not need a visa to enter the country. The cost of the 30-day tourist card previously paid separately, is now included in the airline ticket. All passengers entering and departing the country on commercial flights will be required to fill out and submit their digital forms through the Electronic Ticket Portal either before or upon their arrival to the country. Some countries require yellow fever vaccination.

If staying beyond 30 days, expect an additional fee upon departure–determined on a sliding scale according to the total length of your stay.

Currency – The local currency is the Dominican peso (RD$), and the daily rate fluctuates depending on the day and the location of exchange. If you are staying in a resort, you can pay everything by credit card. United States dollars are widely accepted in all tourist places too. Dollars and Euros can be also exchanged in banks, or in authorized exchange offices around the country.

Language – The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas. Tour guides and hotel staff across multiple regions are also well versed in multiple languages, including Italian, French, German, and Russian, among others.

Electricity – Electricity in the Dominican Republic operates at 110 volts. Major resorts have generators to cope with any power outages, but travelers coming from regions operating at 220 volts, it is best to bring their own adapters and converters.

Tipping – Restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge, apart from the 18% sales tax that you will see listed in the receipts. It is customary and good practice, however, to leave an additional 10% to ensure the server receives a tip.

Population – There are approximately 100.000 people living in Punta Cana, and ~11 million in the Dominican Republic.

Economy – The economy of the Dominican Republic is the seventh largest in Latin America, and is the largest in the Caribbean and Central American region. The economy is based primarily on agriculture, with sugar, coffee and tobacco as the main export crops. The service sector is the largest employer (about 60% of the labor force) led by Tourism.

Curiosity – Dominicans are particularly famous for being incredibly fast speakers. They abbreviate, skip syllables, and don’t pronounce certain letters. Even though you speak Spanish and English fluently, you need to pay carefully attention to understand what they are saying.

Memorable gateway at Barceló Bávaro Palace in Punta Cana

If you’re looking for a luxurious and memorable vacation in the Dominican Republic, look no further than Barcelo Bavaro in Punta Cana. This stunning oceanfront resort offers everything you need for the ultimate Caribbean getaway.

Scape Park, top attractions to visit in the most beautiful park in Punta Cana

Scape Park offers everything from thrilling and adrenaline packed adventures to smooth and cultural experiences. Here are the top attractions to visit in the most beautiful park in Punta Cana.

Swimming at the blue hole, the famous cenote in Punta Cana

Hoyo Azul, this treasure of nature is a deep natural hole that has formed into a majestic pool full of blue water. Explore how you can visit this incredible cenote in Punta Cana.

Useful Links – Official Visitor Guide

Domenican Republic Destinations

Punta Cana Travel Blog – for experiences and hotel rommendations

14 suggestions of All-Inclusive Resorts in Punta Cana

Dominican Republic Hotel Directory

Traditional food from Domenica Republic

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