To be fair, approximately all Dominican Republic hotels are steps from gorgeous shoreline. But some hotels have big, beautiful, white-sand beaches with calm waters (the beaches along Dominican Republic’s northern coast generally see much stronger waves and have a steeper drop-off than those to the south, in Punta Cana) — and are excellent properties in their own right. We visited 160 hotels in Dominican Republic to identify the country’s very best beach hotels.
The D.R.'s classiest and most famous resort, the Casa de Campo hotel is part of a massive, 7,000-acre resort community that includes three world-renowned golf courses, an immaculate beach -- which might just be the best in the D.R. -- a marina, the quaint "town" of Altos de Chavon, and numerous other on-site activities. It can take some time to get from place to place, but each of the spacious rooms comes with a golf cart for guests' use.
The only sounds at this relaxing, elegant Tortuga Bay are lapping water and rustling palm fronds. Designed by Oscar de la Renta, the 30-room boutique hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, three world-class golf courses, and a beautiful, quiet beach.
The four-and-a-half pearl Sublime Samana looks and feels like one of the most exclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, and it does a wonderful job of catering to both romance-seeking couples and fun-loving families. The 27 villa-style suites include full kitchens with Viking appliances and multiple flat-screen TVs, though not all have ocean views. Features include two al fresco restaurants, a pristine white-sand beach, a rustic spa, and a nearly 500-foot long outdoor pool. The hotel’s large, pristine beach is quiet with safe, swimmable water ideal even for children. Immediately adjacent, the Beachside Grill offers a full-service bar with liquor, beer, and wine amid amazing water views, setting a relaxed tone for upscale, waterfront lounging.
With a full kilometer of pristine, white-sand beach; multiple pools; and one of the largest, most beautiful open-air restaurants in the area, the four-and-a-half pearl Balcones del Atlantico looks more like a resort than the individually owned condominium complex that it actually is. The secure, gated property feels worlds away from the hustle of nearby Las Terrenas, however, it’s only 10 minutes by car from the town’s dining, shopping, and nightlife scene. The 35 huge villa suites are among the largest and most luxurious in the area and include gourmet kitchens and large terraces. Note that there's a daily resort fee that covers Wi-Fi and sports equipment, and an additional fee to use the fitness center.
With a beach that is longer and wider than most in the area, 1,790 rooms, 13 pools and restaurants, 23 bars, an 18-hole golf course, 65,000 square feet of meeting space, a massive spa and fitness center, and the Dominican Republic’s largest casino, the word “huge” doesn’t even seem big enough to describe the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. But the Hard Rock isn’t all about size — the massive luxury property also happens to be one of the nicest all-inclusives in Punta Cana. It’s equally suitable for families, couples, and those just looking to have a good time. With so much space, it’s easy for each group to find its niche, and the hotel’s mile-long list of amenities ensures everyone will find something to keep themselves occupied.
One of the few boutique hotels in Punta Cana, the quiet, 55-room adult-only Sivory lures couples to its secluded location -- about a (bumpy) 60-minute ride from the airport. Service is impressive, as is the natural setting, and the beach is free of hawkers and tourists. Large, beach-chic rooms have some of the best bathrooms in the D.R., but are showing minor wear. If you are looking for a remote tropical paradise, though, it's worth the trip -- you'll be rewarded with a truly serene spot in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by wilderness and the ocean, with a beach you have to share only with the relative handful of other guests.
Opened in November 2013, the Breathless is one of the newest, most luxurious all-inclusive options in Punta Cana. The 750-suite adults-only property is massive, so guests rarely feel overwhelmed by crowds, whether they are in one of the restaurants, at one of the pools, or relaxing on the gorgeous white-sand beach. Rates include everything from the food and alcohol to the water sports and themed pool parties, but some guests complain that the food and service at the restaurants lag. Nonetheless, the Breathless is an undoubtedly solid luxury option in the area.
This 274-room, adults-only all-inclusive resort with photogenic Greco-Roman design is part of the Iberostar brand's Grand Collection, and is the most luxurious of four Iberostar options in Punta Cana. Prices are understandably higher, though they're not that much higher than at sister property Bavaro Suites. There's a ton of space for relaxing, especially at one of three pools and an extra wide stretch of beach. The four room types are equipped with spacious balconies, enclosed foyers with large closets, and a hidden delivery area for 24-hour room service. Butlers are available at no extra cost, though they might only prove valuable for restaurant reservations, which are notoriously difficult.
With 372 rooms, Royal Turquesa is the more expensive, adults-only section of the massive all-inclusive Palladium complex, and has a more peaceful setting than its three neighbors. Notable aspects here include the swim-up suites and a prime stretch of private beach dotted (free of kids and vendors) with lounge chairs, hammocks, and daybeds. The main pool is smack in the center of the resort and has built-in lounge chairs and a swim-up bar. Rooms options come in seven spacious types, all with canopy beds, stocked minibars (soda, water, beer, and liquor), DVD players, sofa beds, and jetted tubs. There is premium liquor at the bars, and two restaurants (including a romantic French option) are exclusive to this in this section only; guests can also access the wide selection of bars, restaurants, and activities at the three sister properties, though they're a long walk or crowded shuttle ride away.
This family-friendly all-inclusive resort with 658 suites has an attractive setting, affordable prices, and a compact layout (no shuttle) that puts everyone within walking distance to the beautiful beach, a wider stretch of sand compared to some neighbors. There are lounge chairs and palapas on either side of the main wedding area (there's typically at least one wedding per day here, possibly more) and a shaded terrace near the beach offers seated areas for snacks and drinks. Food is not the highlight here (and reservations can be frustrating); the beach is the biggest draw, and there is also a large and lengthy pool area that runs the length of the resort, a number of bars, and a charismatic animation team. Rooms have classic, romantic style and marble bathrooms with jetted tubs (indoor or outdoor), but do show some wear and tear. Adults who choose to upgrade to the Colonial Club have access to a private lazy river pool and separate lounge for drinks and gourmet treats.
This large maze-like property is arguably the best of the four Princess properties in Punta Cana. Set on a great stretch of slightly less crowded beach in the area of Bavaro, there are 808 condo-style units spread out over seemingly never-ending grounds. The sprawling property allows for more privacy but also means a long walk to the beach and pool area for many guests. The walk can be broken up with a little exploration in the ecological park, which contains rabbits, peacocks, chickens, and parrots; otherwise, guests will have to patiently wait for the tram, which comes around every 15 minutes or so. Decent restaurant options and daily specials allow for dining variety, and the lively (but not too lively) bar scene is a highlight, especially in the lobby for pre-dinner drinks and piano music. Though the resort brings in a mix of international couples and families, unromantic lighting in units may put off honeymooners.
This upscale resort sits on a pretty, crowd-free, white-sand beach that is filled with fun water sports. Perhaps due to slightly higher rates, the Dreams lacks a raucous spring break crowd and instead attracts families and couples with its large, pristine pool, lovely spa, kids’ club, and daily entertainment. Another major draw is the above-average food, which can be hard to come by at all-inclusives in the D.R. Wi-Fi is also free, making the Dreams a great pick in Punta Cana.
The 96-room Zoetry Agua is one of the most luxurious and tranquil all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. Catering towards couples, the resort boasts an uncrowded white-sand beach, sleek and spacious suites, a pristine pool, and one of the Dominican Republic’s top spas. Included amenities -- yoga classes, laundry services, top-shelf liquor, and even a horseback riding session -- are plentiful, but a difficult-to-reach location and no kids’ club make it less suited for families. But that’s just what makes it an ideal choice for those seeking a romantic and relaxing getaway.
The all-inclusive Riu Palace is a luxe option in Punta Cana. It's part of the massive complex of Riu resorts, which are all located on a large, white-sand beach with clear blue water and water sports. Rooms are some of the best in the area, with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and liquor dispensers. Their sexy look (picture sleek lines, a pink, purple, and black color scheme, and spacious open bathrooms) seems designed with couples in mind, but the hotel does provide a kids' club as well as numerous on-site activities. With 610 rooms, its a mid-size resort for the area: Getting around the property does not require a shuttle but some amenities (such as the casino) are located farther away at sister properties in the Riu complex.
One of four Paradisus resorts in Punta Cana, the upscale, 554-room Palma Real has a romantic Caribbean setting and feels bigger than its sister properties, with a palatial lobby leading to a jaw-dropping courtyard, pool, and beach area. The food and beverage offering here is a highlight; there are impressive international buffets as well as a la carte restaurants (one from a Michelin-starred chef) that will appeal to adults and honeymooners. Suites are decorated with classic mahogany furniture and marble tile floors, and have coffeemakers, minibars, and free Wi-Fi.
This 652-room property offers some amenities that stand out from other all-inclusives in Punta Cana, including a wide beach that stays relatively uncrowded, a top-notch spa, and some modern (almost chic) lounge areas to enjoy a drink. There are two buffets as well as three a la carte restaurants requiring reservations; dining is not a strong point here, though, and restaurants book up quickly. Rooms are divided into two areas: the garden-view, bungalow-style Standard Rooms, and the newer Superior Rooms with more contemporary furnishings. Expect an upgrade pitch upon arrival, but know that this more expensive option lacks a walk-out balcony. Guests use the free shuttle service to get around to the two main pools, outdoor whirlpool area, theater, bar, and the peaceful Cafe Dominicano. Beware of pesky sales people wandering around selling extras.
The 756-room Dreams La Romana is an upscale all-inclusive in Bayahibe, a small town about 50 minutes from Punta Cana airport. Though there isn’t much to see or do in the area, Dreams is situated on the island’s Caribbean side, which means the ocean water is clearer and calmer than that in Punta Cana, and the sunsets are unbeatable. The incredible beach also has fun amenities such as a water trampoline. The hotel itself is spread across a large property, and has four pools and an awesome array of restaurants and bars. Food and drinks here are noticeably better than at most all-inclusives, and reservations are not required for a la carte dining. There are different sections of the hotel — one for families, one for adults-only, and one for activities — allowing Dreams to appeal to all types of travelers.
CHIC by Royalton Luxury Resorts is a 323-room upscale all-inclusive with contemporary decor and a happening vibe. Opened in December of 2014, this adult-only property is quickly becoming one of Punta Cana’s most sought-after spots, thanks to its ultra-modern rooms, varied on-site dining options, and beautiful pool and beach facilities. Amenities such as an on-site spa, a small fitness center, and free Wi-Fi throughout also make CHIC an attractive option. Guests who upgrade to the Diamond Club will be treated to premium drinks and exclusive beach and pool access — but otherwise it’s not worth the extra nightly cost. Though this is by no means a spring break type of place, loud music and lively poolside activities are part of the scene.
Feeling less like a hotel and more like its own little utopian town, this 1,139-room, 120-acre all-inclusive mega-resort with a kilometer-long shoreline is like three different properties rolled into one: a kid-friendly family place, an adult-only hotel for sophisticated couples, and a nature-rich preserve where guests share their vacations with sea-turtle eggs, flamingos, and a branch-level ropes course. Guests can expect to take trolleys to get around the sprawling property.
This 485-room upscale all-inclusive resort serves as the newer, pricier sister to the Memories Splash next door. It is better suited to couples, with its on-site casino and adult-only options (a pool and dedicated room buildings), while the Memories Splash -- which has easier access to the large water park, as well as some rooms with bunk beds -- draws more families. Rooms here are stylish and modern, and some have swim-out pool access. Features include an attractive ocean-view main pool with swim-up bar and adjacent kiddy pool, huge and gorgeous white-sand beach, six restaurants, and access to the options at Memories.