These are the 12 best things to see and do in Punta Cana

Punta Cana, República Dominicana
Foto: Roberto H
Redactora / Travel writer

Surely, thinking of Punta Cana is thinking of vacationing in a paradisiacal beach, however, Punta Cana is much more than just beaches (of course visiting them is one of the unmissable things to do in Punta Cana) but in this post we will tell you more places To visit, 12 things to see in Punta Cana touring every aspect of the Dominican Republic: adventurous walks, cultural tours, hidden beaches and expeditions to the most incredible places on the island, so you can enjoy the region taking advantage of every point that makes it unique.

Top things to see and do in Punta Cana

1. Tour the beaches by buggy, quad or quadricycle

A great option (and more than fun) to do in Punta Cana, without having to travel several kilometers is to travel the beaches, hills and sandbanks in a buggy, quad or quad bike, accompanied by a guide who takes travelers through the different landscapes.

A great place to go by buggy is Macao Beach, one of the best beaches in Punta Cana, where it is possible to explore the jungle and the natural charms of the Dominican Republic, without having to go far from the area hotel.

In addition to the beach, sand dunes and walks through the jungle, generally, the tours go through coffee, cocoa and tobacco plantations, to get to know the Dominican tradition and, the best of all the experience: have the chance to jump into an underground freshwater river (the closest thing to cenotes in Mexico).

  • Traveler advice: being a tour that requires certain difficulties and sudden movements, most only admit travelers over 5 years old and pregnant women are not allowed to access the tour, For security reasons, it is always advisable to check with the agency that is going to make the reservation what the conditions of the excursion are.

2. Visit Isla Saona

We must say that this is the best beach in Punta Cana and, without exaggeration, it is one of the most chosen by travelers despite being, literally, in an island.

In short, Saona Island is one of those places where one is left speechless, where the sand is so white that it dazzles, where nature “takes” the environment and the native flora and fauna are noticed, a place where In addition to palm trees, there are areas of forests, mangroves and natural pools that can be visited and of course, kilometers and kilometers of sand, shore and sea forming an incredible postcard to photograph.

Saona Island is located within the Cotubanamá National Park, so all nature is protected and restricted to the mass tourism, what does it mean? For travelers they mean virgin beaches and without much population, only those who make the excursion to Saona Island.

Saona Island is located between 30 minutes and an hour from the island of the Dominican Republic, south of Punta Cana, which can be accessed through a catamaran from different points of the country, organized in excursions by different agencies and hotels.

Excursions to Saona Island include transportation, usually a drink bar on board, a stop on a sandbar in the middle of the sea and traditional lunch on the island to enjoy the rest of the day.

The 12 best things to see and do in Punta Cana: Visit Isla Saona
Visiting Isla Saona, one of the best things to do in Punta Cana. Photo: Ian Bruce
  • Is it possible to go to Saona Island without an excursion? The reality is that everything is so organized (because it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana) that to go without an excursion it would be necessary to negotiate it with the boats in the ports and, despite the good predisposition of the Dominicans, it is not recommendable. Excursions to Saona Island cost between $ 40 and $ 60, although they can be found at higher prices with more services included.

3. Stroll through historic Santo Domingo

Despite being the most important city, Punta Cana is not the capital of the Dominican Republic, but the city of Santo Domingo, located about 3 hours from the seaside resort.

Its full name is Santo Domingo de Guzmán, in honor of the organizer of the Order of Preachers of Spain, given the name at the time of its foundation in 1496 by Bartolomé Colón (yes, the brother of Christopher Columbus).

Santo Domingo is one of those cities that lead you to travel back in time, one of those cities where it is not necessary to enter a museum to understand its history (although there are) or to discover its secrets, but with the simple fact of walking through its streets, entering its corners and photographing its details, one can know the Dominican culture in all its senses.

The city of Santo Domingo is one of the most populated cities in Latin America and the most populous in the entire Caribbean, so getting around on foot for its attractions is not the best idea. To be able to visit the attractions of Santo Domingo, the best option is to visit the main tourist sectors through an authentic colonial train, called Chu Chu Colonial, crossing the city and especially the most touristy streets.

The Chuchu Colonial has a 45-minute tour through which the audio guide (available in different languages) tells travelers the history of each of the monuments and sectors through which they are passing.

Travel information: the historic center of Santo Domingo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990.

4. Expedition to Hoyo Azul, a highly recommended adventure to do in Punta Cana

The Hoyo Azul is a well of crystalline fresh water, very similar to a cenote, although sacred connotations are not yet known, as is the case in the cenotes of Mexico, with a depth measuring 14 meters, located at the foot of a limestone cliff, a postcard that qualifies as one of the places to see in Punta Cana.

Just watch? Of course not! The Blue Hole is located in the Scape Park, & nbsp; an adventure park located in Cap Cana, the area of ​​the most exclusive hotels in Punta Cana, where there is fun for all ages and preferences.

For those seeking rest and relaxation, it is possible to rest on the park’s beaches, although the expedition to Hoyo Azul is a great opportunity to take out the adventurous traveler and get carried away by adrenaline.

In order to get to Hoyo Azul, Punta Cana, it is necessary to walk through the forest, have encounters with native flora and fauna, but delighting in a different natural environment, to finish the tour by swimming (even jumping) in the cenote.

Once in the Blue Hole, it is possible to visit the nearby caves, such as the Iguabonita Cave, “fly over” the area on a zip line and go through the forest.

  • The entrance to Scape Park costs $ 129 per adult and, in addition to the Blue Hole, includes almost all the attractions within the park and the transfer from the hotels in Punta Cana.

5. Get to know the Dominican culture through the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park

A few meters from Playa Juanillo, in the heart of the Punta Cana beach sector, is the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park, a naturally ideal place to learn more about the island of the Dominican Republic, a 600-hectare nature reserve donated by Grupo Puntacana to the Fundación Grupo Puntacana to preserve the natural and cultural riches of the region.

The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve is named after the 12 lagoons or natural pools fed by underground rivers that are found inside, each with its own characteristics that make them unique. Some have that turquoise blue color that contrasts perfectly with the vegetation that surrounds them, others are inhabited by animals of the region such as crabs and shrimp and in 3 of them it is possible to swim, there is even one with a wooden platform to jump into the water or lianas to launch with much more adrenaline.

The walks around the pools are magical and entertaining since there are several kilometers for hiking and guided tours to learn more about the island’s nature through the flora and fauna. fauna.

The Ecological Reserve is also a great opportunity to learn more about Dominican culture through art exhibitions.

  • The price of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve is $ 50, although, being within the Puntacana resort & amp; Club, guests of Tortuga Bay and The Westin Puntacana Resort & amp; Club, they have free admission.

6. Los Haitises National Park, a great place to see in Punta Cana

For those who prefer to rest a bit from beach life, a great opportunity to do in Punta Cana is to visit another of the national parks that, with samples of past civilizations, tell the story of those who inhabited the island, prior to the arrival of the conquerors.

In the Samaná Peninsula, one of the remote paradises of the Dominican Republic, is the Los Haitises National Park It is a highly recommended excursion to get to know “the other side of Punta Cana”, the space that remained as an open-air museum of what life was like in the Taino region before of the arrival of beach tourism.

The most striking part of the park are the mogotes, small elevations that have been formed in nature by the movement of the soil by water-soluble minerals, added to the action of wind and rain.

Top 12 things to see and do in Punta Cana: Los Haitises National Park
Los Haitises National Park, a great place to see in Punta Cana. Photo: Los Haitises National Park

Fun fact: Haitises, in the Taino language (the original peoples of the area), means “highlands or mountainous”.

The excursion to Los Haitises National Park includes walks through the mangroves and visits to the caves where rock art created by the first inhabitants is present, traces of the island’s past.

7. Diving and snorkeling in Punta Cana, coral reefs and underwater life assured

In the sea that surrounds Punta Cana, there are the largest coral reefs in the entire country, so doing an excursion or diving or snorkeling dive is a of the activities to do in Punta Cana, most recommended.

Snorkel in Punta Cana

Almost all beaches allow travelers to dive to look for colorful fish and corals of different shades, some even have shops or stands where you can rent equipment in case you don’t take one with you.

One of the beaches most chosen by travelers is Playa Bávaro, in addition to being one of the most famous beaches in Punta Cana, it is one of those with the greatest number of services and calmer waters, so < strong> Snorkeling with goldfish is a great adventurous alternative to a day at the beach, ideal to take into account when planning to travel to Punta Cana. (Do you have a planned trip? Do not miss this post we will tell you everything What you have to know before traveling to Punta Cana )

The second most chosen place to snorkel in Punta Cana (not because of its beauty but because it is further from the hotel zone) is Isla Saona, ideal to glimpse an incredible seabed.

Did you know that the sea water in Punta Cana is at a temperature that oscillates between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year?

On many occasions, the hotels or tourism agencies themselves organize snorkeling tours, where it is possible to approach the furthest points from the shore through a boat and guides that accompany travelers.

Diving in Punta Cana

With a visibility of more than 20 meters, diving in Punta Cana corresponds to another of the best things to do in the region ( have you never dived? No problem! You can do the first dives in Punta Cana, always with qualified schools ). The scuba dives are developed, both in the coral reefs and in the depths in search of sharks, rays, goldfish and even shipwrecks.

8. Samaná Peninsula, a good alternative option to see in Punta Cana

Just north of Punta Cana, almost to the north of the island, is the Samaná Peninsula, a kind of arm that leaves from the island, made up of a natural treasure that is worth the worth visiting.

The Samaná Peninsula is almost like seeing paradise itself (we suppose it must be something like that, right? ): almost unexplored places, a turquoise blue and blue sea that is combined with the white of its sand, a contrasting green vegetation surrounds these kilometers of beach with, even today, little population and almost ignorance by the “traditional tourists”.

Top 12 things to see and do in Punta Cana: Samana Peninsula
Samaná Peninsula, a good alternative option to see in Punta Cana.

In addition to visiting its beaches, the Samaná Peninsula has spaces where you can admire the island’s own nature through its hundreds of endemic species, caves, forests and natural pools, also knowing caves where tribes have also left their traces. Taíno.

  • Traveler fact: there are exclusive resorts and hotels also in the peninsula to be able to stay even if it is far from the tourist center.

9. Art in Altos del Chavón

A few kilometers from the Punta Cana Airport, near the Boca Chica region, is the town of Altos del Chavón, a kind of “city of artists” where museums and spaces Cultural cultures abound, showing whoever passes through there, Dominican culture in all its expression.

In Altos del Chavón there is also the National Archaeological Museum, and the city of artists, as well as exhibitions and samples of Dominican art.

  • How to get to Altos del Chavón? The easiest way is to take highway number 3 for almost an hour, from the Punta Cana airport. There are also several excursions that depart towards Altos del Chavón which include Saona Island.

10. Boca de Yuma, the charming town near Punta Cana

To the south of the island of the Dominican Republic and less than 65 kilometers from the Punta Cana Airport, is the town of Boca de Yuma, a small fishing village, ideal for learning about the culture Dominican from its routine and characteristic flavors made by “Dominican hands”.

Visiting Boca de Yuma is visiting a place where time seems to stand still, a quiet place, full of cliffs facing the sea, a place where most of the restaurants with panoramic views worthy of admiration while enjoying the nature that surrounds it.

In addition to the beaches, Boca de Yuma has walks to discover ancient Taino settlements and caves with petroglyphs to learn more about the past history of the island.

11. Catalina Island, an “unknown” place to visit in Punta Cana

The second most recommended island to add to the list of places to see in Punta Cana is Catalina Island, located somewhat further away than Saona Island but with a landscape virgin, almost unexplored, worth knowing.

Top 12 things to see and do in Punta Cana: Catalina Island
Catalina Island, an “unknown” place to visit in Punta Cana. Photo: Jaydee!

Like most regions of the Dominican island, Catalina Island has that earthly “piece of heaven” that characterizes the paradisiacal beaches of the region. The particularity of the island is that since it is further from the traditional hotel zone, only those who make the excursion enter Catalina Island, maintaining a smaller population than the rest of the beaches within the Scarce 9 square kilometers that make it up despite being just 30 minutes away from the province of La Romana, near Punta Cana.

Throughout the catamaran excursion, a snorkel stop is made on a sandbar and, like Saona Island, lunch is included on the island.

12. Enjoy the nightlife, a must do in Punta Cana

With so many options to do during the day, in addition to resting on the beach, it is likely that many believe that the fun ends when the sun goes down, but the nightlife in Punta Cana must be taken advantage of and at least spending one or two nights to get to know it is a great recommendation.

Most hotels (if not all) have bars and small clubs where you can spend a few hours after dinner, but the central area of Punta Cana also stands out for its nightclubs.

  • Imagine Cave: this is one of the most famous nightclubs in Punta Cana for being in an underground cave, generating a very nice to meet.
  • Coco Bongo: have you been to Cancun? Surely you have seen the incredible nightclub that is also in Punta Cana, in the same way, delighting its visitors with the funniest shows, as well as good music, of course.

Traveler information: to enjoy the nightlife of Punta Cana, it is possible to book a Party Bus that, for 5 hours, drinks and entrance to the Nightclubs included, “the party bus” takes travelers around the fun area of the city.

In conclusion, Punta Cana is a destination for all ages and preferences, with places to rest during the day, do water activities, get to know the nature of the island and even get into the Dominican culture in its various aspects. Definitely a place that must visit.

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