Most tourists from all over the world arrive in the Dominican Republic and immediately end up in Punta Cana. This is the most popular resort in the country. There is an amazing beach, palm trees, the ocean and a large selection of 5-star hotels.

Table of contents:

Brief history and facts about Punta Cana

Punta Cana is not a Dominican city, it’s a province. Moreover, the history of this place has 50 years. 50 years ago there were impenetrable jungles. And it knew nothing about tourism in the Dominican Republic. All tourism in the Dominican Republic began from here:

  • In 1969, several American millionaires bought 50 sq. km in the east of the Dominican Republic.
    • In 1969 it was an impenetrable jungle
  • In 1971, the first hotel for only 40 people was built.
Punta Cana hotels
And today it is a resort with 90+ 5-star hotels and a gorgeous beach.

Interesting to know:

Another American bought land near modern Punta Cana 2 years earlier, in 1967. But the complex with hotels was completed only by the mid-90s. And he did it cool, today this tourist complex with private villas is called Casa de Campo and Altos de Chavon. Read more about this place at the link.
  • The start of world tourism in the Dominican Republic begins in 1971. But after the construction of the first hotel, there were two problems:
    • Needed an international airport
    • And they needed a road that would connect Punta Cana with the capital of Santo Domingo. Since without a road, it was not possible to deliver building materials, there was not enough labor and maintenance personnel.
    • And in order to make a real resort here, it was necessary to create all the necessary infrastructure so that the locals would move here with their families. And it needs hospitals, schools and all other attributes of civilization.
  • While the road and airport were being coordinated, investors built a second hotel. It was opened in 1978 and there were already 350 rooms, the all-inclusive system worked, there were pools, and all the attributes of a paradise vacation. The hotel was aimed at tourists from the United States.
  • In 1980, a road was built in Santo Domingo, and 12 years ago it became a high-speed highway. And if before, it took 12 hours to get to Santo Domingo. Now by car you can reach the capital in 2 hours.
  • Punta Cana Airport was opened in 1984 and today it is one of the largest transport hubs in the Caribbean.

Facts about Punta Cana

I hope now it is clear why there are few man-made attractions. And Punta Cana cannot boast that Columbus sailed here either.

Since 1984, tourism has grown at a tremendous pace. Only the 2020 pandemic slowed them down. But COVID-19 has affected the whole world, not just the Dominican Republic. Total: from a small resort for Americans, Punta Cana has become the most visited resort for tourists from all over the world.

  • Today there are more than 5 international airports in the Dominican Republic
  • Flights from the USA, Canada, Mexico and other Latin American countries arrive at Puerto Plata, Punta Cana or Santo Domingo airports.
  • And flights from Europe mostly arrive at Punta Cana Airport.
  • And it is clear that none of the tourists wants to spend 3-4 hours on a transfer to the hotel. For example, from Puerto Plata, this is another part of the country, it takes only 4-5 hours to drive to Punta Cana.
  • Therefore, it so happened that those who arrive at the Punta Cana airport rest in the resort of Punta Cana
street in Punta Cana
One of the central streets of Punta Cana

Interesting to know:

Today, the population of the province of Punta Cana is 350 thousand people. That’s a lot for such a young region. And more than 4 million tourists come here every year. And I’m talking about Punta Cana and their tourism, and not about the Dominican Republic.

5-star hotels in Punta Cana

In the resort of Punta Cana, it is package tourism in 5-star hotels that is popular. The vast majority of hotels here work on the All Inclusive system. If you are already planning to relax in the Punta Cana resort, then there are two options:

  • Buy your own plane tickets. And book your own hotel. The rating of excellent hotels will be lower. If you have not decided on a resort, then read the article about 5-star hotels with a good rating. There are hotels from different parts of the country.
  • And the second option is to buy a package tour, with a direct flight, transfer and hotel. The advantage of this option: more choice of hotels in Bavaro and Punta Cana. Since some hotels work only with travel agencies for package tourists, and not every hotel can book a room on its own.

Below is a dynamic rating of 5-star hotels in Punta Cana. You can click on any hotel, see photos, prices and read reviews.

What to see at the resort and everything about the beach

On the one hand, it is a very large and popular resort. But on the other hand, the history of Punta Cana is less than 50 years old and there are no attractions at all. On the third side, there is an ocean, palm trees and endless beaches, which is why tourists fly here. And on the fourth, if you have a car, then within a radius of 100 km, there are several cool places to visit.

Total: you won’t be able to walk around Punta Cana and look at the sights. Plan all the time for the beach and water activities. But if you really want a cultural program, then you need either a car or you can buy an excursion. Read more about excursions in the Dominican Republic here.

Below is a list of the coolest attractions in this region, which are very easy to get to. At least not difficult.

Saona Island

The largest island of the country, well, of course, after the Dominican Republic itself. Located in the Caribbean, 30 minutes by boat from Bayahibe Beach. This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Dominican Republic. 90% of them visit the island as part of an excursion. Saona has a number of advantages:

  • 100 sq. km. jungle and white sand beaches
  • there are no hotels, infrastructure and civilization, only one fishing village for 300 people with houses made of branches and sticks.
  • insanely azure water
  • water transparency up to 30 meters and spots for diving and snorkeling.
  • people come here for the whole day to sunbathe, swim and take beautiful photos

Read more about Saona Island, how to get there, how to stay overnight, tips and life hacks in a separate large article.

saona island near punta cana
Only nature, not a single hotel.

Altos de Chavon

Altos de Chavon is a recreated village from the 15th and 16th centuries. This is how the settlements looked 100 years after the discovery of America by Columbus. These are open-air ethno-museums with only a Spanish accent.

Altos de Chavon is a new building. Every single stone was built between 1976 and 1992. This complex is located in a very beautiful place, at the mouth of the Chavon River. The famous movie Anaconda was filmed here 30 years ago. Those who are now under 40 and more remember him well.

Altos de Chavon is located an hour’s bus ride from Punta Cana.

It is important to know:

Since 1-2 hours is enough to visit this place. It is very often that tourists combine the island of Saona and Altos de Chavon in one day, as they are nearby

A full report about Altos de Chavon, prices, opening hours and much more was at the link at the beginning of the article about Casa de Campo.

Altos de Chavon in the east of the Dominican Republic
Central square of Altos de Chavon

Catalina Island

I won’t go into detail here. Almost everything is the same as the island of Saona, and even located relatively close, only:

  • Catalina Island is much smaller, only 2 by 3 km.
  • and here is one of the best diving in the country. There is even a sunken cargo ship.

Read about diving in the Dominican Republic here.

Large selection of great excursions to Catalina Island and diving around the island

Mount Redonda

An ambiguous attraction and for many causes double impressions.

It seems to be beautiful views, and gorgeous pictures, but something is not right.

  • Mount Redonda is not a mountain, but a hill only 300-400 meters high
  • due to the optical illusion and the landscape, it seems that the height is high.
  • views that open, there are thousands of such places in the Dominican Republic. If you just drive along the road on the Samana Peninsula, there will be such views every 400 meters.

The location of the mountain and plus and minus. That’s why:

  • If you are flying on vacation to Bavaro or Punta Cana, and you are not going to travel anywhere in the country. The Redonda is a great opportunity to travel outside the hotel. Close and beautiful views.
  • But if you are going on a trip around the country and other cool sights, you can not go here.
  • I also do not recommend wasting your time to those who live in other resorts far from Redonda and who still have half a day to go to the mountain.
mountain redonda in the province
Such a swing is installed on the top of Mount Redonda

A report about a visit to Mount Redonda, about prices, about a sky swing, excursions there and a photo on a broom at the link.

Punta Cana beach

The photos speak for themselves and the beach is the main attraction of Punta Cana. Here are its main features.

  • Fine white sand that does not heat up in the sun. Almost.
  • Wide coastline
  • Just countless palm trees
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • And actually the length of the beach, it is endless sand with palm trees beyond the horizon. You can walk barefoot along the edge of the ocean all day long.
beach in bavaro
To the horizon the beach, palm trees and sand. Walking is a pleasure.

You will find a list of all the main attractions of the Dominican Republic and a map in the article: what to see in the Dominican Republic TOP-30.

Advice for tourists

If you are going on vacation in Punta Cana, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • There are no or almost no sea urchins here
  • But there are mosquitoes, I recommend taking the mosquito repeller plug with you. Let the all rest you have it in the room.
  • It is absolutely safe in this province, you can walk along the beach at night. There are a lot of police here.
  • There are few banks, shops, and restaurants. Since 95% of hotels operate on an all-inclusive basis.
  • You can pay with dollars for everything.
  • If you want to get around Punta Cana, use a motoconcho instead of a regular taxi. What is it and how does it work in the article taxi in the Dominican Republic.

Advice:

Punta Cana and Bavaro have a very large selection of excursions. There are extreme, and beach, a lot of activities and entertainment. Complete list of Punta Cana tours.
Dominican punta
What does Punta Cana International Airport look like?

In conclusion: Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is perhaps the most popular resort. And definitely the most popular among tourists from Europe. In the Dominican Republic, there are mountains, jungles, waterfalls, but many people come here just for the ocean and the beach. And this in Punta Cana!

Unforgettable holiday at the best resort in the country!


Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – a largest international resource
  • Hotels and apartments: Hotellook – compares hotel prices among dozens of booking platforms and offer you the best price.
  • Vacation packages:
    • Expedia – best deals from Europe.
    • CheapOair – cheap packages from all US cities.
  • Tours, excursions and extreme activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 800+ tours and water activities.
    • Viator – 3500+ tours and excursions in Dominican.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM virtual sim card with internet package.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel