Take a look to everything you need to know before going to Punta Cana, Dom. Rep.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic knew for its crystal clear blue waters, white sand beaches, and picturesque palms. Made popular by its famed Bavaro Beach strip, and is home to countless Punta Cana resorts and all-inclusive options; The official language is Spanish; however, tourism is such a large industry that English-speaking travelers should have no trouble communicating; Before you take off to take a look to some important details you need know:
Punta Cana is located on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic, facing both the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Most resorts are a 20-40 minute drive from the airport. Punta Cana is generally only a vacation destination and there is not much else going on other than hotels and tourism focused excursions. You can find a bit of everything to do here, but the beaches are what bring people back for more.
Punta Cana maintains temperatures between 85-95 degrees year round with very little rain due to the flat landscape; Because this is a tropical place, occasional rain and clouds do appear for short periods of time, just don’t be scared away by your phone’s weather report. If there is even a slight chance of clouds or rain, the weather report will look like it’s cloudy all day, which is never the case unless there’s a rare major storm rolling through. There is a higher chance of rain from June through August because of hurricane season; however, major storms rarely hit the island.
US dollars are accepted everywhere; however, the Dominican peso is the local currency which has an exchange rate of roughly 49:1.
Punta Cana is one of the safest vacation spots in the Caribbean, and tourists should feel comfortable traveling outside of the hotel zone. However, petty theft (especially of cell phones, according to some) does sometimes occur, so you should be careful when carrying valuables with you. Plan to travel in a group if you leave your resort, and women should be aware that men in Punta Cana can be overly flirtatious. Hotel security is good, and there’s even a special branch of the police department devoted to tourist safety, known as Politur. Police officers are often stationed in the hotels.
» AIRPORT VISITORS FEE
Each visitor going through the Punta Cana International Airport is required to pay $10 as a visitor fee prior to hitting immigration. Cash only, so be sure to stop at an ATM before you fly (US dollars are accepted).
» PRE-BOOK AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION
The airport experience can be stressful if you’re not prepared. Once you’ve grabbed your bags, you are immediately bombarded by men trying to offer you transportation services and working to sign you up for timeshare tours. If you already have transportation set up – go straight out, don’t listen to anyone who asks where you’re going and find the company you book with. Everyone will try and “help” you, but they are ultimately trying to get you to go with them instead. Taxis are safe, but you have to swim through shark-infested water to find one on the outside (definitely doable). Instead, we suggest booking ahead of time either through your hotel or through us (CLICK HERE) we offer a safe and an excellent transportation service at a good price.
» TOURIST DESTINATION
Keep in mind that Punta Cana is largely a tourist destination, developed specifically for tourism. This means that while there are beautiful jungles and other interesting sites, most are far from the hotel areas; It’s just hotel after hotel, with very few secluded beaches or areas. There are beach vendors selling everything from bracelets to braids but are relatively respectful and a simple ‘no thank you’ will move them along.
» THINGS TO DO IN PUNTA CANA
There’s no shortage of things to do in Punta Cana when it comes to activities on the resort and Punta Cana excursions. Many visitors to the area do not see the need to leave their resort, as many hotels and resort complexes offer plenty of water and land activities and entertainment options.
Punta Cana is known for their broad array of nature and outdoor activities, from ATVing to day trips, swimming with dolphins, horseback riding, zipline, safaris, speed boats, snorkeling, visiting some islands and sightseeing tours. Punta Cana activities and excursions include plenty of options; from family friendly to honeymooners, golfers, and those looking for a more relaxing or adventurous vacation. (CHECK HERE ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS).
» PUNTA CANA NIGHTLIFE
For the most part, Punta Cana nightlife centers around the resorts and hotels that line the beach, many with large discos, casinos, and nightly shows and entertainment ranging from theatre to bands and dance. Some clubs and casinos on the all-inclusive resort properties are, however, open to “outsiders” or guests not staying on the property. Cover charges at discos vary, ranging from none to USD $10 or $20. Within the most popular nightclubs are: Coco Bongo (show & disco), Imagine Nightclub (it is in a cave) and Oro Nightclub (at the Hard Rock hotel) (BUY HERE TICKETS TO NIGHTCLUBS).
» PUNTA CANA TYPICAL FOOD & WHERE TO EAT
Punta Cana is the all-inclusive tourist strip along Bavaro Beach and Uvero Alto: do not expect to find a city center here to venture into local cuisine and culture. There are a couple of restaurants in the market area (CLICK HERE) that serve fresh meat or seafood; like Lorenzillo’s (the live lobster house), some of them specialized in fusion food, and others, the traditional “Dominican food” that includes meat, rice, and beans fried plantain, Dominican sancocho, mangú, etc. The resorts will have, however, many fresh fruits available in addition to a wide variety of cuisines in resorts and specialized buffets.
» NO NUDIST BEACHES
It’s important to respect the customs of any location you visit, including when it comes to acceptable beach attire. The Dominican Republic is an island with strong Catholic roots and beach nudity is not ok. Please keep it locked up when in Punta Cana.
» DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM THE TAP
In the Dominican Republic, the tap water is not filtered, even though you can do anything with it, but not drink it; The majority of hotels and resorts only serve filtered water and ice, which is perfectly safe to drink. Be sure to ask first, but it’s rarely a problem for tourists.
As in many third world countries, wages are low so tips go a long way. Consider tipping 10-20% unless service is really bad, even when at all-inclusive resorts. This is a great way to show your appreciation and will ensure that you are well taken care of during your visit.
Consider forgoing the typical palm tree magnets and bring home one of these Dominican specialties – cigars, coffee, rum or mamajuana (an alcoholic beverage mixture of rum, wine, and honey soaked in tree bark). You can pack up to 5 liters of alcohol in your check-in luggage, so stock up! In addition, you can’t leave without taking with you a handcrafted larimar stone or amber jewelry.
» PACKING ESSENTIALS
These are items you should definitely bring along when visiting Punta Cana. Do be sure to pack liquids in your check-in bag if you don’t you will have to leave it at the airport since that not allowed:
- Bug Spray
- Dress Shoes
- Anti-Itch Meds
- Tums or Pepto
- Dress Pants for men
- Aloe/Sunburn Cream
- Collared Shirt for men
- Water Shoes (optional)
- Snorkel Gear (optional)
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Nice Clothes for Dinners
- Swimmer’s Ear Drops (optional)
- Toothpaste & toothbrushes (optional)
- Pants or Dresses for women (non-shorts)
- Advil (to aid in hangovers and sunburns)
- Dramamine if you plan on going out on a boat or snorkeling
- Walkie Talkies (optional, if you are traveling with a group this help to stay in contact while at the hotel since cell phones aren’t an option).