Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Quality food, oceanfront bungalows, free trapeze lessons, and beachside canopy beds make this 600-room resort — refurbished in 2010 — an excellent value; the sexy, 80 percent Italian clientele doesn't hurt, either. There are some minor cleanliness issues, like debris in the pool, but the beach has some of the softest sand and clearest water in the D.R. (though there are the occasional coral rocks).
Natura Cabanas Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Offering eco-friendly bungalows in a lush, friendly setting, Natura Cabanas is a taste of serene, northern-coast luxury for a remarkably fair price. Guests enjoy delicious, fresh food, a clean, crowd-free private beach, daily yoga and Pilates classes, and a fabulous spa. It's quiet -- and a bit rustic without TV or AC in the rooms -- but that's the point.
Grand Paradise Playa Dorada Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Located in the safe mini-tourist city of Playa Dorada, this family-friendly all-inclusive resort has an excellent buffet, some of the newest, cleanest rooms in the D.R., and one of the best beaches on the north coast. It's an incredible bargain, if you ignore the cheap booze, the lingering service kinks, and a pool that's less awe-inspiring than others.
Occidental Grand Punta Cana Rating: 3.5 Pearls
An 877-room all-inclusive, the Occidental draws mostly young families with its massive, lagoon-shaped pool (one of Punta Cana's best), as well as its popular beachside activities, lively entertainment, many restaurants, and all-night pizzeria. Rooms are well decorated and even include spa robes and slippers. Reasonably priced, this all-inclusive has bang for the buck!
Be Live Grand Marien Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Modern rooms (half of them renovated in late 2008 with marble, Jacuzzi-equipped bathrooms) amp up this otherwise ho-hum all-inclusive. An enormous pool, a nice spa, name-brand liquor, and reservation-free restaurants are the property's other perks, but the crowded, less pristine beach isn't ideal, and the buffet and entertainment are mediocre. Still, for Puerto Plata, it's a great value.