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VacationWiser.com Guide to Punta Cana

Guide to Punta Cana

Why go to Punta Cana


Because:










 (Slogan of www.godominicanrepublic.com)

 

Known for its resorts and white sand beaches, Punta Cana is the leisure lover's ultimate getaway. Located on the most eastern cape of the Dominican Republic, the region looks out over the azure seas of the Atlantic Ocean and dense mangrove forests where a multitude of birds and animals unique to the Caribbean live.


Punta Cana is more than beach lounging and relaxing, it is a playground for all levels of thrill seekers. From those who find nothing more exciting than a challenging game of golf to adrenaline junkies who′ll go from windsurfing to deep sea diving without blinking, opportunities abound. Many of the resorts on Punta Cana have all-inclusive packages offering adventure and relaxation all on the same bill. Travelers can just as easily enjoy the spoils of the soft sands and ocean views on their own. And when that becomes repetitive, travelers can head out of town to find cigars, ancient petroglyphs, and culture that dates to the arrival of Columbus.


The eastern half of the Dominican Republic and the National Park of the East are famous for an underground labyrinth of caves, home to one of the largest networks of caves in the world.  Manantial de Padre Nuestro takes spelunking and diving to new depths, conjoining the two to allow exploration of the underground, underwater maze of caves where the remains of Taíno culture await, perfectly preserved. And right in the heart of the resort scene is the remarkable Punta Cana Ecological Reserve that is considered one of the best kept secrets of eco-tourism. A huge array of creatures in this biodiverse setting live around the stretch of lagoons within the park.


 

Where to stay in Punta Cana


Punta Cana, on the most eastern point of the Island, is the most popular resort area in Dominican Republic.  Other destinations in DR are Puerto Plata, on the North Shore, and Santo Domingo and La Romana on the south shore.

 

Recommended Hotels


Iberostar Grand Bavaro

A resort is more than a place to rest—it’s where daydreams become vacation reality. Iberostar Grand Bávaro provides a tailored, adults-only, all-inclusive vacation designed by each guest to match their vacation desires. Designed to mirror Greco-Roman architecture, the resort grounds are dotted with custom-made art—even in the most unexpected areas. Most were created with locally sourced materials by resident craftspeople.


At Iberostar Grand Bávaro, old-world charm meets modern amenities. Guests receive personalized butler service, European linens, and impeccably designed rooms. Also, they will enjoy specialty restaurants, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and an oceanfront spa. Dream vacations await—the resort is a canvas on which to paint them into reality.


As low as $117.00 bi-weekly for 2 people December 8 – 12, 2019

As low as $97.00 bi-weekly for 2 people Feb 24 – 27, 2020

 

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana

THE HIGHEST, MIND BLOWING ALL-INCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE FEATURING

13 luxurious pools with swim-up bars and water slides;  9 restaurants perfect for every taste;  a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course; and an astonishing Spa Resort all lovingly cradled by the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean; spacious suites fully equipped with Hydro Spa Tub, private balconies, free Wi-Fi, and 24 hour room service.

 

As low as $77.00 bi-weekly for 2 people December 8 – 12, 2019

As low as $75.00 bi-weekly for 2 people Feb 24 – 27, 2020

 

Hotel Riu Republica

Located on a heavenly beach, the Hotel Riu Republica is your perfect option for enjoying an unforgettable holiday in Punta Cana. This adults-only hotel on the Arena Gorda beach has free WIFI, a varied gastronomic offer and the best 24-hour All-Inclusive service.


The more than 1,300 rooms of the Hotel Riu Republica are distributed in three buildings. In all of them you'll enjoy the best amenities, like satellite TV, air conditioning, a safe, a minibar and beverage dispensers. You will find eight swimming pools, some with swim-up bars or areas with water slides for you to experience a refreshing and fun-filled stay.

The Hotel Riu Republica has rich and varied gastronomic offers. In its nine restaurants, you can try the best of Italian, Asian, Spanish, Indian and gourmet cuisine, and enjoy the wonderful continental buffet breakfasts. Savor an authentic barbecue at the beach bar or arrange a romantic dinner to enjoy a special moment with your sweetheart. And, the ten hotel bars serve the best snacks and aperitifs.


Fun is guaranteed at the Hotel Riu Republica thanks to the entertainment programmers, the discotheque, and the shows and live music.  Guests can enjoy sports like volleyball, windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking...or go to the hotel gym. If you want to unwind, we recommend you visit the Renova Spa to relax in the sauna and jacuzzi or sign up for different body and beauty treatments to return from your holiday like new.


As low as $47.00 bi-weekly for 2 people December 8 – 12, 2019

As low as $55.00 bi-weekly for 2 people Feb 24 – 27, 2020

 

Impressive Resorts & Spas

Punta Cana, Bávaro, Dominican Republic.


The ideal resort to enjoy a privileged and comfortable space with the backdrop of the idyllic Caribbean climate.


The resort is in El Cortecito beach in Punta Cana and boasts spacious, modern and magnificent rooms designed for your enjoyment and relaxation. Guests are offered fully exclusive personalized options available 24/7. The resort has seven restaurants offering buffet style, Japanese, Italian, French, Mediterranean, a grill and a wine bar.  There are 9 bars and lounges, as well.

 

As low as $36.00 bi-weekly for 2 people December 8 – 12, 2019

As low as $38.00 bi-weekly for 2 people Feb 24 – 27, 2020

 

Excellence Punta Cana

A Five-Star Punta Cana Resort of Limitless Possibilities


The rhythms of merengue, the lapping of ocean waves, and the perfect stretch of palm-lined coastline wait at Excellence Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Here, five-star luxury reigns and romance rules. Zip-line through tree canopies, spot whales, or simply soak up the Caribbean surroundings.


All-Inclusive, All-Suite Luxury 

* Nine irresistible all-inclusive international dining options,

* 1 buffet restaurant, 1 beach snack grill

* Unlimited alcoholic beverages and soft drinks

* 24-hour room service

* Pool and beach waiter service

* Fully equipped fitness center

* Daily activities, snorkel gear and scuba lessons

* Nightly entertainment
* All taxes and gratuities included.

 

As low as $89.00 bi-weekly for 2 people December 8 – 12, 2019

As low as $109.00 bi-weekly for 2 people Feb 24 – 27, 2020

 


What to do in Punta Cana


ANAMUYA ZIP LINES

Punta Cana is home to the very first zip line built in the DR, and it’s built to suit all daredevils, new or experienced. Runners Adventures’ 18-platform course boasts 12 zip line runs, one of the longest in the country. With training and gear prepping from expert guides, you’ll glide up to 800 meters (2,625 feet) above lush jungle canopy at the Anamuya mountains, swerving and riding solo, or alongside your partner. It’s one of the most popular zip lines and easily accessible from the area’s resorts.


CANOPY ADVENTURE

A half-day adventure takes you zipping above the Anamuya jungle, on double zip lines of up to a total of 1,310 meters (4,300 feet) in length, soaring past gigantic trees. Twelve platforms are set in treetops, with a double steel parallel cable and a semi-automatic braking system. For even more of an adrenaline rush, the Extreme Swing Adventure takes you flying like Superman–in a horizontal position, at over 60 meters (200 feet) high and speeds up to 65 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour). Along the way, you’ll cross hanging bridges, and enjoy hiking along a range of the park’s native flora and fauna.


CARIBBEAN BUCCANEERS

Designed for the whole family in a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean style, this show aboard a sailing private vessel takes you back to the days when buccaneers roamed the seas of the Dominican Republic. A pirate crew produces costumed performances to thrill the young ones, but there’s also snorkeling along the way. The day ends with a celebration of the pirate sea life with a Dominican feast, a rum toast or two for the grown-ups, and some dancing on the sail back to shore.


GO TO A BASEBALL GAME

Baseball, or “juego de pelota” as it is called in DR, is extremely popular.  The season runs from mid-October through the end of January.  Stadiums are located in Santa Domingo, Santiago, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris and San Francisco de Macoris.  For more information visit the offical website of the Dominican Baseball League

 

For a complete list of activities in Punta Cana click here.

 

 

 

What to eat in Punta Cana

There is a plethora of Dominican dishes, ranging from soups and stews to street side fried snacks, and sweet coconut desserts. Beyond the classic Caribbean rice and beans plate are staple specialties unique to the DR. Familiarize yourself with a few of the Dominican’s staples, from table to roadside, to best enjoy your culinary adventure around the country.


MAIN DISHES

Mangú–a typically Dominican dish made of mash of green plantains, topped with red onions simmered in a vinegar sauce–fried cheese, and fried salami. You can add on fried eggs for good measure.


Bandera Dominicana or Dominican Flag: a heaping plate of rice and beans– with chicken or meat, a side salad with avocado,


Tostones–crispy, fried and flattened plantains.

There are multiple rice varieties, including moro con guandules or rice with pigeon peas, and locrio –a rice dish that resembles paella with seasoned rice and chicken, or other meat.


Sancocho has even more symbolic weight as it is often made for a special occasion–including on New Year’s eve­–to be shared with family and loved ones. This thick root and meat stew combines chicken, pork, yucca, yam, green plantains, and potatoes. It is served with a bowl of white rice, and avocado slices. Some say it cures hangovers.


Pasteles en hoja. Often served at Christmas, these are the Dominican version of tamales, although made with plantain dough, filled with meat, and wrapped in a plantain leaf.


Mofongo is a dish originating in Puerto Rico, but Dominicans make their own version of this mashed plantain dish with garlic, and either pork, or shrimp.

Seafood is, of course, a big part of this Caribbean country’s diet. You’ll find the freshest fish from sea to table, particularly red snapper, in coastal fishing villages and towns such as Bayahibe, Sánchez, Sabana de la Mar, Samaná, Puerto Plata, and other seaside areas. Heading to the beach and ordering a pescado frito or whole fried fish with tostones, avocado and yaniqueque–a thin, fried crispy round johnnycake–is as Dominican as it gets.


SWEETS AND DESSERTS

Habichuelas con dulce– the most unique of Dominican desserts, a sweet bean dessert mostly consumed at Easter time, but it can be found in various bakeries at other times of the year.

The most popular desserts are coconut-based, milk-based, and corn-based.


Coconete is a crunchy, round shaped coconut cookie. 


Tres leches cake is a must-try,


Majarete, a sweet corn pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.


STREET FOODS

Dominicans love their street foods, particularly at night, and their frituras or fried snacks.


One of the most common picks, particularly at night, is the chimichurri or “chimi”–a juicy Dominican version of a burger, filled with a combination of grilled, seasoned meat, cabbage, onions, and tomatoes, thrown inside toasted white bread, and smothered in mayonnaise and ketchup. It is served in a small plastic bag to catch the falling bits, which you must then empty out by hand. 


Pica pollo or double-fried chicken is among the most popular finds roadside, as is chicharrón de cerdo or fried pork rinds.


Yaroa fills up the late-night owls–a sort of lasagna-looking dish with layers of chicken, beef, sweet plantains, cheese, and French fries baked together, and topped with mayonnaise and ketchup.


Picalonga is a mix of pork meats made from the insides and parts of the animal–sometimes hanging openly from the cart waiting to be cooked–including blood sausage.


Catibias–yucca empanadas filled with a choice meat, or seafood, such as crab, and conch


Quipes, a Lebanese inheritance and version of their kibbeh.

 

DRINKS & CIGARS

Mamajuana is a must-try while in the Dominican Republic. Bottles are sold almost everywhere, from souvenir shops, restaurants, markets, and roadside. This is a potent herbal drink, made from a fermented mix of cured tree barks, herbs, red wine, and rum. You should not ingest more than one shot at a time because of the high alcohol content, not to mention that it’s an aphrodisiac. And if you are taking some back home, be sure to purchase liquid mamajuana, not the bottles containing tree barks.


BEERS: A handful of beers are made in the Dominican Republic, including craft beers found in a few places around the country. The most popular brand is the world famous Presidente beer, made by Cervecería Nacional Dominicana since 1935.  

The custom in the DR is to go to a corner store or colmado, or a restaurant, and order una fría, a cold one, or ask for una vestida de novia–a bottle so cold it is covered in a thin layer of ice. The jumbo size is served with small cups and shared. Other beers are the Bohemia, a pilsner-based beer, and the Quisqueya.


RUM: Dominican rum is produced by several big brands, the most popular two being Brugal and Barceló. Ron Bermúdez dates back to the 19th century, with white and golden premium varieties. The newer Ron Macorix has gained in popularity in recent years thanks to its flavored bottles of spiced, pineapple, and coconut rum.


CIGARS: Cigar aficionados know to find their fix in the Dominican Republic, since DR is ranked as the number one exporter of premium cigars in the world. Tobacco cultivation dates back to the Taino and evolved with Cuban tobacco growers who settled in the DR in the 20th century to escape the Castro regime. Coupled with the country’s fertile lands and favorable temperatures, particularly in the central Cibao Valley, today’s Dominican tobacco is recognized as ranking among the finest in the world.


Popular brands include Arturo Fuente, Davidoff, and Romeo y Julieta. Visits to famous tobacco factories are offered from various resort destinations. The most prestigious factories include Tabacalera La Aurora and Tabacalera La Flor Dominicana in Santiago, and Tabacalera García in La Romana.

 


Good things to know about the Dominican Republic

BANKING AND CURRENCY: The local currency is the Dominican peso (RD$). The rate fluctuates depending on the day and the location of exchange.  A general guideline: RD$100 = US$2

United States dollars and Euros can be readily exchanged in banks, or in authorized exchange offices.

ATMs are widely available from a variety of banks, including Scotiabank and Banco Popular, and are safe to use for withdrawals in the local currency. They also provide the best exchange rates.


CLIMATE: The Dominican Republic is a sunny year-round destination. Whether in the high altitude regions or in the cities, it is rare not to see blue skies during the day.


The months of December through early March–coinciding with the coldest winters in North America and Europe–boast the most pleasant weather. Mornings and evenings have cool breezes with temperatures as low as 65°F, while daytime temperatures hover between a perfect 77°F and 80°F.


Summertime is the warmest and rainiest season in the country, and humidity is most intense from April to October. Temperatures hover at 90°F at the peak, and rainstorms are frequent but short lasting.


HURRICANE SEASON: The official Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30, with September considered as the most active month. The DR is located within the storm belt, but the probability of a major hurricane hitting is slim. Over the last century, only 11 hurricanes have hit the DR.


CLOTHING: Packing for the DR means bringing a layered assortment of clothing, tailored to your chosen destination. Bring your swimwear, cotton long sleeves for sun-protection, and shorts for the beach, but also pack casual daytime clothes for city visits–avoid wearing shorts in Santo Domingo–or to enter important sights.


Dominicans dress up and keep their appearance neat at all times, especially when stepping out in the evenings. Pack a couple of nice outfits for dining out and nightlife.


COMMUNICATIONS: Like its infrastructure, the DR’s telecommunications services are among the most wide-ranging and advanced in the Caribbean, from local cellular phone service to Internet access options. The two largest communications providers in the country are Claro and Orange.


The most affordable way to stay in touch while in the DR, especially on an extended trip, is to have your own phone number. Head to either a Claro or Altice location–they are sometimes located within a shopping malls or supermarkets–and purchase a new SIM card for less than US$5. This usually includes about ten minutes of free local calls. You must bring: An unlocked cellphone; and a valid passport.


Wi-Fi access is ubiquitous in the DR. It is available inside cafés, restaurants, large bus stations, and hotel lobbies. Don’t expect high speed or consistency at all times, but generally speaking it suffices to check email and do basic tasks.


DRIVING: The Dominican Republic has the most modern road infrastructure in the Caribbean, with excellent highways leading to and linking major tourist destinations. That being said, driving in the DR is known to be nerve-wracking; you must drive defensively and keep an eye out constantly for other drivers, motorbikes, pedestrians, cows, and other potential road companions and intruders. Driving out to the countryside is less stressful than in the big cities. Avoid speeding, and don’t drive at night at all costs–lighting is often poor and nonexistent, which brings opportunities for car accidents and crime.


On the east coast, having a car allows for more affordable exploration of the popular tourist areas of La Romana, Bávaro, Punta Cana, and Cap Cana.


Your state driver’s license is valid in DR, but only for the duration of your legal stay–i.e. your 30-day tourist card or visa term.


ELECTRICITY: Electricity in the Dominican Republic operates at 110 volts. This means that visitors coming from the United States and Canada will not need adapters and can plug in directly into electric outlets.


LANGUAGE: The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. And like many of its Latin counterparts, Dominicans have their own accent, colloquialisms, and idioms. They are particularly famous for being incredibly fast speakers, they abbreviate, skip syllables, and don’t pronounce certain letters–such as the plural “s” (for example, they say La Terrena when referring to Las Terrenas).  English is widely spoken in the tourist areas.


TIME ZONE: DR is on Atlantic Standard Time all year, meaning they are on the same time zone as New York, Baltimore and Florida from March to November.  They do not change clocks for Daylight Savings time.   


WATER: Tap water is not safe to drink and do not ingest it from the shower. Purchase bottled water at all times for drinking. Hotels often provide a couple of free bottles a day for each room or have purified bottled water with dispenser available for guest use.


TIPPING: Restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge–apart from the 18% sales tax that you will see listed as ITBIS. It is customary and good practice, however, to leave an additional 10% to ensure the server receives a tip.


Taxis do not receive gratuity, but if you feel you received exceptional service or had a specific situation in which the driver helped, feel free to reward the service.


ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required to enter DR. You will also need a tourist card (US$10), which is already included in your airline ticket. If staying more than 30 days, you will be charged an extended stay fee at the airport–proportional to length of time; RD$2,500 for three additional months. This is paid upon departure at the immigration desk, after check-in and past security.

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