An array of all-inclusive hotels, some of the nicest stretches of sand in the Caribbean, and practically perfect weather make Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic a popular getaway. While many tourists are content to relax at their mega-resort's swim-up bar and lounge on the beach, there are several tours worth leaving the hotel for. Read on for our picks of the best excursions in Punta Cana.
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Punta Cana’s fine white-sand beaches are breathtaking, but you’ll want to head offshore for this excursion — a sailing and snorkeling catamaran tour. Sail the stunning blue Caribbean waters with a dozen or so other travelers, stopping at the Cabeza De Toro Natural Reserve for snorkeling. Snorkeling equipment is generally included and swimmers will likely spot tropical fish and sea urchins. Happy Fish Catamarans offers sailings that pass natural beaches without hotels for a look at the D.R.’s unspoiled beauty. You’ll also stop to enjoy drinks at a floating bar. The three-and-a-half-hour excursion with free round-trip hotel transport is a great value.
You may think you need to go to Costa Rica for some quality time with monkeys in a jungle setting, but the Dominican Republic actually has a lush interior landscape with adorable squirrel monkeys. Visitors who book the Monkeyland and Plantation Tour take a safari-style truck through coffee and cacao plantations to sample local fruit and learn about organic farming methods. The adventure caps off with a guided tour of a five-acre squirrel monkey habitat in a botanical garden setting. The mountain vistas act as a backdrop to monkeys eating from fruit bowls and climbing around. Round-trip transportation from Punta Cana hotels is included in this five-hour excursion.
While the Dominican Republic’s beaches are beautiful, there’s plenty to do beyond swimming and sunbathing on the sand. The country’s largest city and capital is Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage site located a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Punta Cana. Several day tours of the city are available, providing guides that take customers to beautiful historic structures like the Columbus Alcazar museum, The National Palace government building, and the 1540-built Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. A traditional lunch accompanied by a dance performance is included, and keepsakes can be purchased at souvenir shops. One tour even goes to Los Tres Ojos, a breathtaking limestone cave housing three lakes.
Composed of a series of tunnels and passages, Fun Fun Cave is reportedly the largest cave in the Caribbean. The all-day tour offered starts with breakfast and a 30-minute horseback ride through Los Haitises National Park, followed by a hike through the rainforest area of the park. Once halfway up the mountain, participants will rappel 65 feet (20 meters) down to the cave. Swimming, exploring stalagmites and stalactites, and observing dramatic rock formations are all part of the cave tour. The tour will end with a horseback ride back to the starting point for a traditional Dominican lunch of rice, beans, roasted pork chops, stewed goat or chicken, green salad, and steamed vegetables. The cave is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Punta Cana and transport is included.
A suitable excursion for the whole family, this tour combines zip-lining through the rainforest with a dip in a pretty lagoon. An adventure park located a 30-minute drive from Punta Cana, Scape Park has it all: 12 zip lines stretching 1,500 feet (457 meters) — the last of which ends in a pool — suspension bridges, scenic trails, and the turquoise water-filled Hoyo Azul lagoon. One tour includes admission to the park’s many offerings, a guide, a lunch of typical Dominican fare, and hotel transportation.
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