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  • punta-cana-beach.jpg - A beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at dusk.
  • dolphins-in-punta-cana.jpg - Dolphins in a show in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
  • married-couple-on-beach.jpg - A newlywed couple on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at daybreak.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Top things to do & see

our guide

The vibe

Sitting on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a sun-soaked coastal town consisting almost solely of beaches, resorts and tourist amenities. The ultimate beach getaway, Punta Cana was made for vacationers seeking rest and relaxation with a beautiful Caribbean atmosphere and a laid-back attitude. A trip to these silky-white beaches practically comes with a no-rain guarantee, as it’s tropical heaven for sun worshippers. 

If basking in the warm glow of the sun with a frozen drink in hand all day is not your thing, don’t worry — Punta Cana has a variety of other activities and state-of-the-art attractions for everyone. Here, impressive golf courses are almost as well known as the beaches. The Bavaro and La Cana golf courses are two of the best in the Caribbean.

At Punta Cana you can snorkel, have fun with other water sports, ride horses down the beach at sunset or test your luck at the Punta Cana Casino. If adventure is more your thing, all-terrain vehicles/4x4s are available to rent and trek through the hidden caves, mangroves and hidden-away beaches that are scattered throughout the area.

Note: Unlike other resort areas in the Caribbean (think Princess Cays, Royal Caribbean's Labadee, Carnival's Amber Cove, Disney's Castaway Cay), Punta Cana is not a private island operated by a big cruise line. 

Cruise ships that call on Punta Cana

Dolphins in a show in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
piquetsebtotal Dolphins in a show in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Top things to do & see in Punta Cana

With little rainfall and perfect beach regardless of the season, Punta Cana attracts cruise visitors year-round. Revel in the pure Caribbean bliss of sugar-fine sands, sapphire surf, verdant green palms and the warm kiss of the tropical sun. Visit the turquoise waters of the Hoyo Azul, a freshwater lagoon at the base of a 200-foot cliff. Explore an unspoiled nature park, or dine at one of the high-end resorts lining the sands. Discover the art of growing and harvesting sugarcane, or go for a sail and look for dolphins frolicking alongside your boat.

Highlights include:

  • Bavaro Beach. The beach has pristine golden sand lapped by tranquil, warm, clear waters.
  • Manati Park. The theme park appeals to nature lovers with lush gardens, wildlife and marine life found in the Dominican Republic. Adults and kids can swim with the dolphins here if you're so inclined.
  • Bavaro Runners. This popular excursion lets you meet locals in their homes, tour local sugar plantations and take a horseback ride on the area's beautiful beaches.
  • Taino sculptures. About an hour's drive from the Punta Cana pier you'll arrive at Playa Blaca, where you can snorkel to see marine life in the crystal blue waters as well as an "underwater museum" featuring the Taino sculptures, created by the Taíno people of the Caribbean.

For day-trippers, we don't recommend Santo Domingo -- the nation's capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site -- because it's a 5-hour round-trip from Punta Cana. 

Dining in Punta Cana

The flavors of the Caribbean can be found infused throughout the cuisine of the Dominican Republic. You'll find restaurants offering up everything from island-inspired dishes and five-star steakhouses, to fresh seafood and international cuisine. Insider tip: Try Captain Cook for the best lobster in town.

Though there are several stand-alone restaurants in Punta Cana, the majority are attached to hotels and resorts. Most resorts are all-inclusive, which means that not only are meals included in the price, but each place is likely to have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, if you're visiting Punta Cana as part of a sea-and-land package.

Best time to go

Punta Cana has a temperate climate nearly the entire year. April to May is the ideal time to go: Temperatures are moderate and hurricane season hasn't started. The weather is almost always consistent, with an average annual temperature of 86° F (30° C) and constant sunshine. The humid season lasts from May to October, with temperatures capable of spiking to around 95° F (35° C). The late autumn and winter months (November to March) can have evening temperatures dip down to a mild 68° F (20° C). 

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships typically tender passengers ashore at Marina Cap Cana

Documents needed

Typically, your cruise line will take care of providing your passport info to local authorities on your behalf.

Getting around

There are options for taxis, local buses and rental cars, though most travelers do not venture far away from their hotel or from your cruise line's designated beach resort area. If you want to ramble into the Dominican Republic, you'll likely want to start in Santo Domingo or another large city. 

Your take

How about you? Have you been to Punta Cana? Have any tips for visitors? We'd love to hear about your experience.  

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator! 

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