Punta Cana Travel Guide

Punta Cana Summary

Pros

Cons

  • Non-potable tap water, as in all of the D.R.
  • No restaurants, activities, or nightlife within walking distance of resorts
  • Extremely poor roads and hazardous driving conditions
  • Occasional theft from hotel rooms
  • Resort buffet food is rarely fresh and usually bland
  • The nearest town, Higuey, is at least an hour away
  • Mosquitoes and sand flies (aka no-see-ems) are common along the coast
  • Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic
  • For non-Spanish speakers, communication with cab drivers and some resort staff is difficult
  • Not ideal for watersports like surfing, snorkeling, or scuba diving

What's It's Like

Punta Cana is commonly -- and justifiably -- said to have the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Located on the D.R.'s easternmost tip, the area is also characterized by near-perfect weather, as well as dozens of all-inclusive mega-resorts ranging from cheap to chic. (A few small intimate hotels can be found here, but the most impressive beaches were swept up by the larger resorts.) Beyond the secure gates, attractions and Dominican cultural experiences are few and far between, so guests rarely leave the tourist enclaves, where endless lip-synched Michael Jackson performances far outnumber Bachata and Merengue shows, and where guests are lucky to find a few fried plantain chips alongside buffet burgers and fries. PuntaCana Resort & Club's nature preserve and Pete Dye-designed golf course and are among the area's highlights.

Where to Stay

Spanning about 35 miles of beachfront, Punta Cana has the highest concentration of all-inclusive resorts in the D.R. There are huge multi-resort complexes from chains like Riu and Barcelo that total upwards of 1,800 rooms with multiple pools, restaurants, and bars. Family friendly resorts like Dreams Punta Cana and Majestic Elegance Punta Cana offer tons of activities and kid-friendly atmosphere, while Excellence Punta Cana and Catalonia Royal Bavaro offer adults-only all-inclusive options. Among luxury hotels, the Oscar de la Renta-designed Tortuga Bay in the south is arguably Punta Cana's best-known. Agua Resort and Sivory Punta Cana offer similarly luxe experiences on smaller properties further north.

One key distinction among resorts in the area is their relative distance to and from the Punta Cana International Airport. Some, like the Tortuga Bay are as little as 20 minutes from the airport, whereas others, like the Sivory Punta Cana can be as far as 90 minutes by taxi -- over notoriously bad, pothole-and-gravel-covered roads.

Punta Cana Hotel Guides

Best Luxury Hotels in Punta Cana

Price alone doesn't cut it here -- what we're looking for is iconic design, beautiful rooms, sparkling features, overindulgent service, and the best food available. After visiting over 100 hotels throughout the D.R., from the most the famous (and most expensive), to emerging designer boutiques, this is our list of Punta Cana properties that rank among the most exclusive jaw-droppingly beautiful hotels in the country.

Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Punta Cana

Most Dominican resorts say they're great for kids, but some hotels just take that extra step with kid-friendly pools, calm waves at the beach, supervised activities, cribs, and rooms large enough for a family. Here's a list of where to stay in Punta Cana if you want to make it through your trip tantrum-free!

Most Romantic Hotels in Punta Cana

Many Dominican resorts show off photos of candlelit dinners, secluded beaches, and timeless sunsets. What they won't show you are the screaming toddlers, the poolside beer-chugging contests, and the flies buzzing around the buffet. After touring the D.R. incognito and sleeping at over 100 hotels, we can assure you that these hotels in Punta Cana truly deliver -- quiet, comfortable rooms, scenic pools, blissful spas, and a discreet yet obliging staff.

Best Honeymoon Hotels in Punta Cana

The Dominican Republic has great honeymoon destinations for every taste (and budget), whether you're looking for luxurious suites or romantic cottages. Here are our picks for Punta Cana.

Best Hotel Rooms in Punta Cana

We've slept in more than 100 beds all around the D.R., from designer boutiques to party-hardy crash pads. These rooms -- with excellent beds, incredible views, posh bathrooms, and great design -- are our absolute favorites in Punta Cana!

Best Hotel Restaurants in Punta Cana

We've stayed -- and dined -- at Punta Cana's best hotels, so great food is the No. 1 priority for making it onto this list. But in addition to fresh ingredients and well-executed entrees, we also give due credit to exceptional service and unique, elegant settings.

Best Hotel Service in Punta Cana

A surly, unhelpful staff can completely undo stunning grounds, immaculate rooms, and breathtaking views. On the other hand, attentive staffers can brighten even the humblest hotel. After visiting more than 100 hotels throughout the D.R., here is our list of hotels in Punta Cana that offer the best concierges, room service, freebies, and thoughtful features that will make the thought of even lifting a finger seem absurd.

Best Hotels for Destination Weddings in Punta Cana

These beautiful hotels will help you plan the big day -- and make your wedding an event to remember.

Best Hotels for In-Room Internet in Punta Cana

A reliable Internet connection is very hard to find in the D.R. At most resorts, the best you can hope for is a spotty Wi-Fi signal in the lobby or in a dated computer room -- both of which are going to cost you. But if you need to stay connected at a beachfront resort, these are the hotels in Punta Cana that have reliable in-room Internet connections. How do we know it's reliable? We've tested over 100 hotels throughout the D.R.

 

View all Punta Cana Hotels

Facts

Languages Spoken: Spanish
Airports: (PUJ) (10 min.-1hr. cab ride)
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard
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Peak Season: June 15 - Aug 15; Dec. 15 - April 15
Low Season: April 15 - June 15, Aug. 15 - Dec. 15
Hurricane Season: June 1 - Nov. 30
Visa: No; $10 tourist card must be purchased at airport on arrival and $20 U.S. Departure Tax applies
Vaccines: No
Currency: Dominican Peso
Electricity: 110 V, 60 Hz (U.S. compatible)
Tipping: 10% is customary and usually included in the bill at hotels and restaurants

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