recommended BayahibeIf you're into diving or snorkeling, Bayahibe is arguably the best place for either in the DR: the visibility is amazingly clear, the water is balmy, and there are a couple dozen healthy reefs nearby. ... read moreThere are a handful of dive shops in town and prices are pretty uniform--around $35/65 one/two tank dive excursions or $60 snorkeling trips.Liza Prado
In case you want to snorkel or diver, Bayahibe is about 45-60 minutes from Punta Cana....
recommended La Cana Golf CourseIf you're into golfing but don't want to make the trip to the famous Casa de Campo in La Romana, La Cana Golf Course is a must see (or do, in this case). Set along the Caribbean, it is a gorgeous and ... read morechallenging 72-par course. In the summer, green fees run around $140, including a golf cart. And if you don't feel like lugging your clubs down, you can rent a set of Callaways for $45.
recommended Playa El CortecitoThis is a great little beach if you're an independant traveler looking for a bit more action--there are plenty of spots to lay down a towel and just people watch. It's also a great place to book a ... read moreparasailing (or fishing or snorkeling) trip--vendors walk the beach offering tours though there also are store fronts offering the same in tiny El Cortecito town itself. If you're interested in a bit more quiet (or a bit better beach), Playa El Cortecito is also good for cutting through to access the well-kempt beaches in front of nearby all-inclusive resorts. Just remember to stay off of their lounge chairs--most police their beachfronts like hawks.
commented on this trip
If you go in Spring you can get super cheap deals on flights and resorts. however, it is because it is hurricane season. So it is nice and sunny still most of the time, but there is that risk...
recommended Playa del MacaoMacao Beach is the only public beach in the Dominican Republic's Punta Cana region. It's not far from the area's multitude of all-inclusive resorts, but you'll feels worlds away. Towering palm trees ... read moreline a few miles of unfettered white sand and lots of locals kicking back and relaxing. There aren't poolside waiters with free pinacoladas, but there are several fresh fruit and food vendors on the beach. And there's even a surf school and shop for anyone interested in hitting the waves. Take a class or just watch the shop's famed 'surfing dog', an amiable young Labrador, from the shore.Ramona Flume
I second Alex's recommendations, especially Playa Macao!
- Fishing Lodge Cap Cana1 Fishing Lodge Way, Carretera Punta Cana, Dominican Republicrecommended Fishing Lodge Cap CanaI love the DR. And I love small towns in Spain. Fishing Lodge is kind of like staying in both. The entire resort is built like a high-end seaside Spanish village, with dozens of shops, a bakery and ... read moregrocery store, and gorgeous apartment-like hotel suites. My favorite spot was sitting on the suite's terrace, overlooking the busy activity below. The hotel is located right on a marina, which you'll share with some amazing yachts, but I think what I liked most was the chapel, complete with stained glass windows showing local Dominican scenes. Very cool!
- Sanctuary Cap CanaPlaya Juanillo, Punta Cana 0809, Dominican Republicrecommended Sanctuary Cap CanaOkay, here's my favorite thing about Sanctuary: They have these thatched-roof beds along the beach and the grassy cliffs. I tried to get them to let me sleep there overnight, but no go (I bet you ... read morecould sneak down there around midnight, FYI). I came here after staying at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, which was fun and exciting in its own way. Sanctuary is totally different. Hard Rock has 1800 rooms, Sanctuary has 170, and they're usually not filled up. They've got five different restaurants (depending on occupancy, they might only open two per night), two pools and a spa. The activities are pretty mellow at the resort -- a water aerobics class, merengue lessons, Dominican dance troupe performances -- but their concierges will set you up with 10 million off-property excursions (ziplines, deep-sea fishing, snorkel catamaran trips). But, seriously, you'll probably want to spend at least three days on the powder-sand beach or at the giant pool, just lounging. (I had no idea the sand would be so perfect in the DR.) The food at the Blue Marlin (an overwater bungalow) and Capriccio (Italian food, in the main building overlooking the ocean) is fantastic, but I heard not-so-good things from several people about the steakhouse. After December, there will be a shuttle service to their down-the-street sister resort, Fishing Lodge, which is being built by a Spanish architect in the style of a Spanish/Caribbean colonial village. So cute. They'll have another half-dozen restaurants, a marina with yacht-riding guests, and a dozen shops.
- Dolphin ExplorerPunta Cana, Dominican Republicrecommended Dolphin ExplorerI'd never swam with dolphins, and wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was worried it'd seem like a zoo, and they'd be stuck in small unhappy enclosures. But, man, I'd love to be a dolphin here. I ... read morecan't even begin to describe how fun this is. First, the location is beyond gorgeous -- white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, the whole works. You watch a video of what you're about to do (how to stick your legs out straight when the dolphins push you up into the 'Superman' pose, etc) and then walk out into the dolphin area. We were in the water for over an hour with the dolphins, doing tricks with them, petting them and having our photos snapped. The tricks were a lot of fun, but I think I liked just petting their ... um, bellies (?) the most. I wish we'd known about this beforehand, but you can book a two- or four-hour ride on a catamaran out to a snorkeling area. They run them twice a day, I think, and they sounded like great fun.
recommended MacaoIf you want to check out the only public beach in Punta Cana, head to Macao, where you'll find a surfing school, snack bars and Jack, the surfing Golden Retriever.
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana Boulevard Turístico del Este Km. 28 No.74 Macao Higüey Punta Cana, Macao, Dominican Republicrecommended Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta CanaI didn't think I'd ever want to go to an all-inclusive, but now I look at all-inclusive vacations in a whole new light. The Hard Rock Hotel does relaxation better than just about anywhere I've ever ... read morebeen. They've got NINE restaurants, but a few of the more casual ones aren't all that great. (My favorites are Zen, the Benihana-like spot where chefs cook your meal up right in front of you, and Toro, the steakhouse.) For a resort that's right on the beach, not many people were actually *on* the beach, so I sometimes had a gorgeous powder-soft sandy beach mostly to myself, especially before 9am. The entertainment is also, as you can imagine, the best in Punta Cana. I saw a metal band play covers in the Moon Lounge one night, and went dancing in the new Oro nightclub one of the first nights it opened. Two radically different nightlife events, but both outlandishly fun.Alex
Do you know where you're staying yet? I had an amazing time here!
- Dreams Palm Beach Resort HotelCarretera Cabeza de Toro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic