Punta Cana – placed in the Dominican Republic, on one of the most beautiful Caribbean Islands- counts to the most common place to visit when coming to the DR. Providing an international airport it’s really easy to arrive and a great place to start your journey exploring the country.
As it also is one of the more touristy and expensive areas within the Dominican Republic, I’ll share my 5 favourite things on what to do in Punta Cana that are really worth it to visit and won’t disappoint you!
Punta Cana is well known for its long white sand beaches lined by an ocean of coconut trees. To one of the most popular beaches counts ‘Bávaro Beach’ which is a more touristic area with many resorts.
It’s a beautiful beach and you can do some activities like paragliding here but at the same time it’s expensive and didn’t make it to my list of favourite beaches. People are trying to sell you overpriced stuff every two minutes and it’s difficult to find those relaxing beach vibes unless you stay at a resort.
So let me give you a great alternative: Playa Macao!
Bávaro Beach – beautiful but mainly expensive resort area.
Playa Macao is beautiful and I loved that beach. There are many options to have drinks and food with ocean views and the vibes are relaxed. Besides that, it’s less crowded and a little less touristy than Bávaro Beach.
Playa Macao is 30 minutes from Bávaro and you can take an Uber to get there which is around US$10.
Beach Views and amazing lunch at Playa Macao
➳ Good to know: Be aware that you might find a lot of seaweed along the beaches when going to Punta Cana! We didn’t expect it but there were lots of them all over the beach making the water brown and not very enjoyable to go for a swim. It depends on the area and the season you go, but Playa Macao has way less seaweed than Bávaro Beach.
➳ Tip: If you want to experience a Caribbean dream beach without seaweed & clear blue water you should stay at Dominicus Beach in Bayahibe. We ended up spending two weeks here because we fell in love and it really is a beach paradise.
The second thing on the list of what to do in Punta Cana is Cap Cana offering really beautiful white sand beaches. Even though it belongs to one of the most expensive neighbourhoods with high-end resorts, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend money- you can simply go and enjoy the beaches that for sure won’t disappoint!
Playa Juanillo is a famous beach dotted with palm trees popular for activities like kitesurfing, kayaking and snorkeling.
Another popular beach is Playa Blanca. This place is gorgeous! We spent the whole day here, relaxing and enjoying the pure white sand beach.
Playa Blanca in Cap Cana – fringed by an ocean of palm trees and white sand.
There’s a very nice beach lounge and the beach part is very clean! You can go swimming and enjoy a few drinks with some music. The atmosphere in the evening is really cute with lights all around!
Beach Lounge at Playa Blanca
➳ Tip: You don’t have to rent an umbrella or chairs. You can easily leave the beach lounge and walk along the coast to find your own spot and relax under palm trees. 🙂
This is a hot tip! And a little bit of a secret one… what to do in Punta Cana number 3!
Most people coming to Punta Cana dream about visiting the famous Hoyo Azul, a cenote with crystal clear deep blue water. It really is amazing but in order to get there you have to visit ‘The Scape Park’ that charges an entrance fee of US$140.
This fee includes other activities inside the park like ziplining and waterfalls but for those who come here on a small budget or mainly go to see the cenote, this is a big amount of money.
Here is a way you can save your money and only spend US$4 to visit a natural cenote surrounded by beautiful green nature without crowds of tourists: Hoyo Claro!
Hoyo Claro – also offering crystal clear blue water it’s the perfect and cheaper alternative to Hoyo Azul.
Located 1 hour drive from Bávaro this place is not the easiest to reach. This is exactly why it’s so unpopular and so worth visiting! Besides that, there are less tourists making it a great place to meet locals.
Even though the water might not be as blue as Hoyo Azul, the water is still unbelievably clear! An amazing spot to dive, take underwater shots, refresh and hang out.
How to get there
To get to Hoyo Claro the best option is renting a car.
We rented a car for 2 days over the weekend and paid 3500 DOP (US$65) from a local rental store. Even though I have to say that our car seemed a little unreliable and dodgy, you might be better off renting a car from a reliable company… 😀
Hoyo Claro is about 1 hour drive from Bávaro. Be careful not to miss the right entry as it’s located right next to the highway and very easy to miss.
Also, DO NOT TRUST GOOGLE MAPS!!
It will show you two different Hoyo Claros and doesn’t lead you to the right entrance. We were looking for the right way for 2 hours going back and forth, ending up paying the toll for the highway 3 times (lol)…
Follow these directions instead:
It’s a Blog written by another expat who lives in the Dominican Republic. He gives you the best directions with the exact points you have to follow and you’ll be on the safe side!
- Entrance Costs Hoyo Claro: 200 DOP (US$4)
➳ Tip: If you rent a car Hoyo Claro is a great day trip combination together with Playa Blanca. You can visit Hoyo Claro in the morning and spend the afternoon at Playa Blanca.
The highlight on what to do in Punta Cana and BY FAR the most paradisiacal place I’ve ever been to is Saona Island!
If you are looking for a dreamy Caribbean Island you HAVE to come here! Not only being picture perfect like the photos on Google but also being a famous movie spot for the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ it’s a place you have to see once in your life.
The most beautiful place in the Caribbean – Saona Island with the bluest waters!
There are two ways to visit Saona Island: a day trip or spending a few nights here.
1. Day Trip
You can book a day trip from Punta Cana, there are a lot of tour operators selling on Bávaro Beach and surroundings.
➳ Tip: Don’t get overcharged like us! We paid 80 USD per person for the day trip and later found out that most people paid 40 USD only for the same tour.
First, the tour will bring you by bus to Bayahibe, where the boat to Saona Island departs. The drive to get there takes around 45 minutes.
On the way to Saona Island through blue ocean
From there a speed boat will bring you to Blue Lagoon. This is the place where you finally reach those real turquoise caribbean waters. The colours are so beautiful and at the Blue Lagoon you have the chance to see a lot of starfish in the water.
After the Blue Lagoon the boat will stop at a snorkel spot (not the best though) for a quick 20 minutes. After that the tour is finally heading directly to Saona Island!
Arrived on Saona Island you’re stranded in tropical paradise!! Surrounded by an ocean of blue.
The tropical sounds of birds and ocean is all around – there’s no way you’re not going to love this spot!
On Saona Island most tours stop for about 3 – 4 hours. You have time to explore the island and take lots of photos (and trust me there are a lot of picture spots all around).
➳ Good to know: Lunch is included in the price and provided once arrived on the island.
2. Sleeping on the island
Another option to explore Saona Island in a less touristy way and having way more time, is spending a few nights on the island. There are no tours organizing this option but I will explain how you can go by yourself:
Take a public boat to Saona Island from Bayahibe
The public boat departs from Bayahibe Beach and brings you to Mano Juan, the ‘town’ of Saona Island. It leaves and returns only once per day every day!
- Bayahibe – Mano Juan: 9:30 am
- Mano Juan – Bayahibe: 2:30pm
➳ Good to know: The boarding place in Bayahibe is next to Doña Clara Restaurant.
Places to sleep on Saona Island
Mano Juan is the only place where you can find accommodations to sleep. There are only a few options and some of them organize breakfast and lunch but you should verify before booking.
It’s not the cheapest trip to sleep on Saona Island but in my opinion really worth it if it fits in your budget! A day trip to this paradise is just too short and besides that you get to experience the island without crowds of people.
Punta Cana is especially known for Resort Stays. Nowadays there are more than 60 all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana!
Besides all inclusive food and drinks, they offer private beaches, several pool areas, spa treatments, beach activities, entertainment and much more! For those who are looking for some relaxation and just want to enjoy the days without having to worry about anything else, staying in one of the resorts will be the perfect opportunity.
The prices from resort to resort really vary depending on what you are looking for but if you have a smaller budget you can definitely find several cheaper resorts offering all inclusive experiences.
➳ If you can’t afford to stay at the resort for very long, you can still go for fewer days! We went for 3 nights and it was SO WORTH IT! We got to relax, enjoy amazing food and just live our best lifes in this small oasis.
All inclusive Resort ‘Lopesan’ from the top where we stayed for 3 nights
I can highly recommend Lopesan Resort at Costa Bávaro – we loved every single minute!!
I can’t recommend this resort enough. It’s new, very spacious and the rooms are very beautiful and clean. Not to mention THE FOOOOD! The food is the best I have eaten in a long time and it’s all inclusive with drinks so it’s literal heaven!
You can choose between 9 different restaurants including Mexican, Italian, Asian and Self Service Buffets with very fresh and huge choices of options.
Also, there’s a different area within the resort where you can spend your evenings at several bars, the casino or gaming center. Otherwise you can use the spa services for spending a relaxing day instead.
Beach Relaxing, all inclusive Piña Coladas and having the best time at Lopesan!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Top 5 on What to Do in Punta Cana. Let me know when you’re heading there and leave any comments or questions below. Also don’t forget to share this post and follow up on social media! 🙂