Dominican Republic (Punta Cana)

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Cover photo by Michał Sulczyński. (CC BY- SA 2.0). ISBN 978-1-988944-50-0.

Punta Cana Beach - Niedźwiadek78. (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Punta Cana is the name of a region in the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic. Covering about 420,000 m2 (approximately 1,100 acres), the region is home to a coastline of sandy white beaches and to a "town" of the same name. Located in the province of La Altagracia and population estimated at 100,000,

the region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east. To the north, it borders Bávaro and El Cortecito beaches. It also limits with Cabeza de Toro, Cabo Engaño and further west with Juanillo. Despite the area being fairly deserted, the proximity of Punta Cana to other major resort areas such as Bávaro and Uvero Alto make the town one of the top Caribbean destinations. Peak Season: Peak season in Punta Cana tends to run from December to April. Prices in both airfare and hotel increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the summer and early fall months.

Understand

Climate

Punta Cana has a tropical climate.

Although it is mildly windy, the ocean in the area is mainly shallow, with several natural marine pools in which visitors can bathe. The weather is fairly constant, with an average temperature of 26°C. The hottest season lasts from April to November, and during the day temperatures might reach 32°C. From December to March, temperatures during the evening are around 20°C. Very little rain falls around the area, mostly because of the flat landscape. The summer months tend to be very warm and very humid. It is suggested to wear loose fitting, cotton clothing – so pack light. Talk  Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic and is widely spoken by the locals.

 English and many other languages are spoken at the resorts and nearby restaurants, bars, discos, shopping centers, etc. Brush up on your Spanish skills before visiting Punta Cana. Many of the locals know English, but some very little. It can become very frustrating when you can't communicate with one of the locals or an employee of the resort. Several US carriers have scheduled flights to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) [1] including: Jet Blue, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United, US Airways and Delta. Air Canada also offers flights to Toronto and Montreal. Westjet also Get in By plane

offers scheduled service from Toronto. Aeroflot offers service from Moscow. Charter airlines include Air Transat, Sunwing, Thomas Cook (operated by AC Jazz), Skyservice and Canjet departing from many larger Canadian cities seasonally. Most people going to Punta Cana are staying at a resort. With a resort package most hotels will have airport pick up arranged for you at the Punta Cana Airport. You will find this area to the right as you depart the final customs check area. Just look for your hotel name on a sign that many guides will have, and they will direct you to your bus. Private taxis are also available at fixed prices. In fact, Punta Cana has one of the busiest and best connected airports in the region, sometimes receiving more

flights than the Aeropuerto Internacional de Las Américas, located in Santo Domingo (at about a three-hour drive). The Punta Cana Airport has a beautiful thatched roof and is an open-air design; also meaning that few areas of the airport have air conditioning. Upon arriving at the Punta Cana airport, each passenger is required to purchase a $10 tourist card before entering immigration, often included in your documentation upon departure or issued on the flight (unless you have a Dominican passport or a cedula residence card). After retrieving luggage and clearing customs, arriving passengers will be greeted by their tour company representative to the right and directed to board the correct bus for transfer to their resort. Do not venture out looking for your bus

without first checking in at the counters. The buses are numbered, thus you will not know which one to get on to.

By boat

Boating is very attractive and common water sport activity in Punta Cana, activities like fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, and sailing can be on line reserve with reputable companies operating in the area. Just recently, the Dominican Republic Government has built a new highway known as the "Autopisa Del Coral". At 70 Kilometers or 43 Miles, The Highway starts from La Romana and Ends at Punta Cana. However, the Highway has now the La Romana By-pass, allowing By Car

Drivers to save time if driving from Santo Domingo. The Highway's speed limit is 110 Km/h or 70 MPH and it only takes less than an hour from La Romana and 2 Hours from Santo Domingo. There are tolls for the highway but it's unopened. Get around Tour Operators: Most passengers arriving in Punta Cana International Airport have prearranged local transportation through a tour operator. These companies have representatives at the airport to guide guests to vehicles waiting to take them to the reserved resort. If you are traveling with a tour operator it is highly recommended that you attend any welcome meetings and orientations offered by your tour operator. In these meetings you'll receive

important information regarding your hotel and immediate area information, activity and excursion options, and departure information. Taxis : If you are not traveling with a tour operator, a number of taxi drivers are available just outside the Customs area to provide you transportation to the place of your choice. All taxis operate with standard rates; most drivers carry a copy of these. The best thing to do when hiring a taxi is to clarify your destination and the price in advance. You pay upon arrival at your destination. Most hotels have taxi stations on or near their property; in most cases a bellman or front desk clerk can order a taxi for you. Taxi drivers accept dollars, pesos and euros.

Local Buses : For the more adventurous, the local bus lines operate on most of the roads of the area, for a minimal cost. The downside to public transportation in the Dominican Republic is irregular bus schedules, crowded vehicles, and potentially unsafe vehicles (689 casualties in 2007), drivers or passengers. Although for the most part it is a safe and effective means of transportation, it is generally recommended to use one of the more frequented means of getting around. Rent-a-Car : A number of car rental agencies like Europcar, Budget, Prestige Car Rentals and Avis offer service in the area of Punta Cana and Bavaro. Many hotels have car rental concessionaries on their properties.

Isla Saona - Tamas Iklodi. (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Keep in mind that their driving laws, habits and conditions may be different from the ones you are used to. When renting a vehicle always take the maximum available insurance, keep a map of the area you intend to drive in, and make sure you are comfortable with the drive.

Airport Transfers Services When you

travel to Punta Cana it is important to know what transport options you have to get from and to the airport. There are a variety of companies that actually offer the service. It is important that you select a reliable and dependable company.  Amstar DMC , (toll free: 1 800 895 3000), [2] .  Best Day , (toll free: 1.800.593.6259).  Discovery Mundo , (toll free: 1 (866) 238 1312).  Wheelchair Adapted Bus Transfers If you are a wheelchair user and looking for safe transportation in Punta Cana, now you have options. There is one company that offers vehicles, safe,

clean and comfortable transportation, with side door ramp, specially designed to help travelers with physical disabilities that arrive to Punta Cana. Getting a van for people with physical disabilities can be a difficult task in the Dominican Republic, and many wheelchair users can not enjoy their stay in the DR for this reason. You can now get a minivan with ramp for disabled access through the side door, to ensure a safe and comfortable transportation to your destination, while in Punta Cana. Mobility Scooters Rental in Punta Cana Wish to go on vacation to Punta Cana but has mobility problems because of, overweight, elderly, or any physical disability that does not allow you to walk

some distances? Now you have the solution for the handicap to enjoy the beach and everything your all-inclusive Resort has to offer you during your holidays in Punta Cana. The Scooters Rental in Punta Cana is an option for elderly and overweight people, you can make arrangements in advance from the comfort of your home by booking and securing your scooter before arrival. The Scooter will be delivered and pick up free of charge directly to major hotels in Punta Cana.  Santo Domingo : [3] This is the first European settlement of the Western Hemisphere. It has preserved its colonial heritage for more than five centuries, and is recognized by See

UNESCO as a world heritage site. Come to visit the first Cathedral of the Americas or the Alcazar de Colon, the palace of Diego, son of Christopher Columbus.  Altos de Chavon : A modern-day artist's village resembling a 16th century Mediterranean town. It is set upon a spectacular hillside cliff overlooking the winding Chavon River. It is home to a 5000 seat amphitheater, an archeological museum, craft workshops, artist’s studios and an assortment of galleries and restaurants.  Bavaro Runners : A highly popular safari excursion in the area, experience the real people, scenery and life of the Dominican Republic. During your day, visit typical

Dominican homes, authentic sugarcane plantations, and go horseback riding on a spectacular beach.  Saona Island [4] Take a day trip to this spectacular island set in the natural reserve of The Parque Nacional del Este. Relax on powder white sands, where palm-studded beaches meet the soft surf of the Caribbean waters, and sometimes even dolphins swim alongside your catamaran!  Manati Park : For the animal lovers this park features exotic fish, horses, parrots and the chance to swim with real dolphins! Stroll along the lush gardens, take pictures of the beautiful orchids and tropical plants, or buy some local crafts in the

souvenir shops. The park is controversial, some claim that the park is mistreating its dolphins and want to close the park because of animal cruelty.

Do  Scape Park, ☎ 8094697484. :

Scape Park is a natural theme park with numerous attractions ranging from adventurous and adrenaline- pumping activities to cultural and highly entertaining experiences, guaranteeing an unforgettable visit. Zip Line, Top Buggies, Cave Expedition, Eco Tour, Cenote Las Ondas, Countryside HorseBack Riding.  Marinarium : In this unique water park you can experience some of the

best snorkeling in the area, complete with nurse sharks and sting rays! Enjoy a Coco Loco as you cruise along the coast to your final stop, a waist deep natural pool in the sea.  Aquatic Tours : Spectacular 2- passenger speed boats where you can cruise the coastline in style. Snorkel equipment and instructions included!  Seaquarium : Scuba diving with a twist; Seaquarium is the unique tour that pairs you with a diving helmet and allows you to walk the bottom of the clear waters with an unforgettable view of reef and coral life- no certification required!  Rafting : Situated near the town of Jarabacoa, come and visit the “Dominican Alps” where 18 different

waterfalls cascade between chasms of rock to water the rich, fertile earth below. If you’re a white-water fan, The Rio Yasque is the longest river in the Caribbean and offers challenging courses like the “Mike Tyson” which features a 12-foot vertical drop. Please keep in mind that there are no day trips to this area from Punta Cana, due to the distance.  Helicopter Tours : Change perspective and take your pictures of the Punta Cana coastline from hundreds of feet in the air. Fly over lush palm- studded coastlines, golf courses, vast stretches of white sandy beaches, and an array of shipwrecks.  Ocean Adventures , Playa Corales, ☎ +1 8492019480

( web.reservation@oceanadventu res-puntacana.com ), [5] . Ocean Adventures Punta Cana offers 4 different kinds of water excursions. The first, Bavaro Splash, combines driving a high performance boat, snorkeling and Snuba. The second, Dr. Fish Ocean Spa, is a three hour spa excursion offering gentle pilates/yoga and relaxing massages: a special massage on floating mattresses in the natural pool, detox foot treatments, and also the exclusive Dr. Fish pedicure: these tiny fish called Garra Rufa will gently exfoliate your feet by removing the dead skin creating the feeling of a gentle massage. The final option is the StingRay Bay, a trip by double floor catamaran toward a private and

Excellence Punta Cana - Ted Murphy. (CC BY 2.0).

exclusive floating aquarium with nurse sharks and stingrays for a very safe interaction program. Price may vary depending on the excursion.  HorsePlay Punta Cana , ☎ 905- 834-2380 829-599-5898, [6] . HorsePlay Punta Cana: Horseback riding, zip lining combo tour with local culture. Experience the beauty of the

mountains in the Dominican Republic as you travel by horseback on a river ride, cattle drive or romantic picnic excursion. Pump up the adrenaline as you zip line across the river then relax with a Dominican feast. Horseback riding experience is not necessary and you are accompanied by bilingual guides. Packages include transportation, food, horseback riding and zip lines.  SeavisTours ( SeavisTours ), ☎ (829) 714 4947, [7] . 09AM-5PM. Best rated eco excursions to the islands of Saona and Catalina and to the National Park del Este, with a river cruise on the Rio Chavon. Jungle tours to own properties on the banks of the river.  Big Marlin Charter ( fishing charter

Punta Cana ), ( Playa Bavaro Bibibjagua ), ☎ +1 849- 409-9977, [8] . Private Fishing Charters Punta Cana. Exclusively beautiful modern motor yacht, 42', Ocean Super Sport. Perfectly equipped with top class equipment for deep-sea fishing.Come and fish with us for trophy size Blue Marlin, Atlantic Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Sailfish, Barracuda, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, King Mackerel. Company's private transfer van is available.  iHeartDR Tours ( iheartdr.com ), ☎ +1 800-832-1622 ( info@iheartdr.com ), [9] . iHeartDR offers a selection of handpicked tours, excursions and activities in Punta Cana all in one place and 100% online bookable. A team of

Dominican Republic Loving locals does the homework to remove all the guesswork while choosing and booking tours in Punta Cana; from snorkeling, cave exploring, jeep safaris, zip lining and buggy driving to visiting the beautiful Samana on a private plane from Punta Cana there is an option for every kind of traveler. Prices vary depending on the excursion.  Caribbean Buccaneers Night Show and Dinner Cruise , Los Corales ( Bavaro - Punta Cana ), ☎ +1 809- 390-7418. 5:30pm. The only night excursion in Punta Cana: Pirate Show+Show Dinner Excursion. It starts at 5:30pm or at 9:00pm and

Buy

lasts approximately 3 hours, It begins in the Buccaneers Village and moves on board of "La Hispaniola" a beautiful ship. Then it sails along the coast and reaches Shark Island, the platform located in the middle of the sea, where a dinner buffet will be offered and the pirate show will take place. 2 programs are available: with dinner (at 5:30pm) or without dinner (an more party time). Transportation available and complimentary from most hotels of Bavaro and Punta Cana  Dominican Airport Transfers , Punta Cana, ☎ 3526935655, [10] . We offer all types of airport transfers, tours, hotel bookings, group bookings and Mobility Scooters Rentals for people unable to walk long distances.

Currency

The local currency is the Dominican Peso. Its value fluctuates between 30-40 pesos per US dollar and 48-53 pesos per Euro. Although any currency can be changed into pesos, it should be noted that in some situations it may be difficult to exchange pesos back into your original currency. We recommend exchanging only small amounts of money at a time to avoid any inconveniences. Most banks exchange Dollars, Euros, and Traveler's cheques and can process cash advances on credit and debit cards. Don't forget to bring proper identification, such as a driver's license or passport. Please note that local ATM machines disburse only pesos, contact your bank for related

service fees. If you are planning a day tour to Santo Domingo, you will find that everything is much cheaper than you would at the resort. Souvenirs, clothing, artwork, liquor, etc., will be about 1/4 to 1/3 the price at your resort. Also, in the area all shops, restaurants, bars, excursion companies accept US dollars, Euros, Canadian dollars, British pounds, but it is a bit cheaper to pay in Dominican pesos. Do not exchange money outside a recognized bank or exchange house! If you walk outside your resort to the city/area internet cafes will also be half the price (yet still pricey by ordinary Dominican standards. For example, $8 per hour in the resort, $4 per hour in Shopping

town in Punta Cana or Bavaro. In other parts of the DR, internet cafes are $2 per hour or often less!) Make sure you spend the remainder of your Dominican pesos. It is next to impossible to convert your pesos back to US dollars or Euros. There are a variety of shops that are along the beachfront of each resort. These shops are owned and operated by the locals of the Dominican Republic. Shopping outside of the resort complex in Punta Cana/Bavaro can be kind of an adventure. In most shopping plazas, you can expect to be accosted by hordes of Dominicans all pulling you in a different direction. The people of the Dominican Republic love to barter for the price of items. You can expect that once in one

of their stores you will definitely be taken for a ride. You will initially be quoted ridiculously outrageous prices. It is imperative that you get the item for as cheap as you can. This can become quite an ordeal as the shopkeeper fights with you, insults you for your frugality, etc. Often times, the locals will offer you a price for an item that is much more expensive the actual value of the product. When walking along the beach also realize that the people at the shops will bother you to come buy something from

them. It can often times become annoying because they will keep

pestering you until you come and look at what they have to offer. Realize though that all you need to do is tell them that you are not interested and keep walking.

The best way of letting the locals know that you are not interested is to tell them that you have no money and they will leave you alone. The people of the Dominican Republic are very friendly and become offended when you walk right past them without at least acknowledging their presence. A simple "no thank you" may sometimes work, but in most cases, they will not take no for an answer and will continue to chase and harass you. Do not buy dried animals (turtle shells, sea shells...etc.) because A.) It is illegal, so you will not be allowed to bring them through customs, and may get arrested trying; and B.) It encourages the locals to kill these creatures. Reef life should stay in the sea, so help to preserve these

Chavon Restaurant - Harry Pujols. (CC BY 2.0).

endangered animals by buying other types of souvenirs. Eat The all-inclusive resorts offer all kinds of great food. Make sure that you speak with your representative to book your preferred restaurant for dinner in advance. Many all-inclusive resorts have

various types of restaurants. Make sure you take advantage of all their cuisines by reserving a date and time. Keep in mind that the standards even at the five-star resorts are not the same standards as North America or Europe. Try to eat peeled fruits and vegetables. Stay away from food that may have been sitting for a long time. There are also an ever increasing number of international restaurants located around Bavaro/Punta Cana that the residents and tourists alike visit quite often.  Capitan Cook - Cortecito (809) 552-0645 If seafood is your favorite, try what locals have declared the best lobster in town. With a huge open grill and enormous platters, it is hard for sea food lovers not to

enjoy this beach-side restaurant. It is located right on the main beach strip.  La Yola - Punta Cana Resort & Club (809) 959-2262 Whether it is a special dinner for two or a business meeting, the formal setting and superb cuisine are tailored to satisfy the palate and style of the most demanding international connoisseurs. Set in the Punta Cana Resort Marina, the restaurant stretches out over the water, providing patrons with a truly unique view. Make sure to reserve your place well in advance.  Las Lenas II - Plaza Friusa (809) 552-6776 Spanish style coffee shop and bakery with wireless internet access. Comfortable seating, urban

clientele, and great food along with the rustic decoration give this place a welcoming character. The bakery provides hotels in the area with the choicest deserts and is the best place to have breakfast in Punta Cana.  Bamboo Bar ( Bamboo Bar ), Los Corales Beach ( Building Las Piratas ), ☎ 809 503 5098, [11] . Beachfront bar restaurant lounge, located in Los Corales, Bavaro. Enjoy the beach, relax music, and cocktails. Drink Drinking from the faucet is not recommended. You should be okay using it to brush your teeth, but don't swallow it. Most hotels provide bottled

water in the rooms; restaurants and bars use purified water and ice for your food and beverages.  All-inclusive resorts have an endless supply of liquor. You may also drink at neighboring resorts within your own property, but you may have to pay or let them know your room number and resort name at the very least.  With the sun constantly beating down on you (much stronger since it is right next to the equator) and the endless supply of alcohol, dehydration is a constant danger. Be sure to make sure you hydrate yourself often with water or you may end up in a doctor's office suffering from dehydration and a fever!

 Mamahuana is a local concoction of rum, wine, root, and other ingredients.

Nightlife

Imagine - Mangu - El Pub

Beer

Presidente is the most popular national brand of beer, and it is readily available anywhere. It is available in both regular and lite versions. For a beer with a bit more taste, you should try Bohemia, made by the same company, but with a fuller flavour...also available in a lite version.

Rum

They also specialize in many different types of rum:

 White Rums are generally light- bodied. They are clear and have a subtle flavor. These are primarily used as mixers and blend particularly well with fruit flavors.  Golden Rums also known as Amber Rums are generally medium-bodied. Most have spent several years aging in casks, giving them a smooth palate.  Dark Rums are traditionally full- bodies, rich, caramel-dominated rums. The richest of these rums are consumed straight up.  Añejo and Age-Dated Rums are aged rums from different vintages or batches that are mixed together. The youngest rum in the blend contains a blend of rums that are at least 10

years old.

Most often, you will be offered Brugal or Barcelo products. Highly recommended rums include Burmudez "Don Armando" and "Anniversario 1852" as well as Macorix "Eight Year". Though in most Latin and Central American countries coffee is produced primarily for export, most of the coffee grown in the Dominican Republic is savored within its borders. And Dominicans, like Europeans, enjoy their coffee strong and black. One useful phrase for tourists to learn when ordering coffee is "sin azucar" (no sugar) for the simple reason that the locals measure by tablespoon rather than Coffee

teaspoon.

Sleep

Most Punta Cana resorts are low-rise and beautiful. Their grounds are lush and tropical with foliage, lagoons and palm trees along with peacocks, flamingos, ducks, parrots and other wildlife that stroll the resorts’ grounds. The majority of the resorts are very large and spread out – like small cities. This means lot of walking. Some resorts have golf carts and trams to accommodate guests’ needs. Punta Cana has so many great resorts that will meet every expectation: Golf, Scuba, Fishing, Wind-sailing, Yachting, Fine dining, Relaxation, Spas, Children's programs and more.

 Bavaro Hostel . Provides all you need

on a budget at $20. $20.  Stanza Mare , ☎ +1 829 213 1201, [12] . Stanza Mare is a beachfront condo community located on one of the top 10 Caribbean beaches. Take a swim in the most beautiful stretch of Punta Cana/Bavaro Beach.  Punta Cana Guesthouse , ☎ +1 8098892873, [13] . The Guesthouse in Punta Cana (Bavaro) is operated by Florian and Lila. Because you are staying in their home, you will be greeted with genuine friendliness and hospitality. The estate and the rooms have been built with great attention to detail. The guesthouse is a perfect place to stop over before or after flying in/out of Punta Cana airport, if you want to avoid the big resorts. It is not located close to the beach, but

Dominican Republic – Caribbean Paradise - airpano

close to the guagua (bus) station.  Gran Bahia Principe Featuring an outdoor pool, outdoor tennis courts

and a Jacuzzi, the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana provides

spacious rooms. Some of the popular facilities at this luxurious 5-star hotel include an all-inclusive meal plan, a fitness centre and a spa & wellness

centre.  Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort A part of a spectacular 1921 room all- inclusive resort, just 20 km from Punta Cana International Airport and 190 km from Las Americas International Airport. This hotel has 600 rooms. They are located on Bavaro Beach, with fine white sands stretching for 12 km, in the middle of shady coconut groves, with a coral reef that keeps the waters warm, calm and inviting. Is an All Inclusive Resort, offering outstanding accommodations, around the clock activities, and superb meals and beverages.  Be Live Grand Punta Cana Located to the east of the Caribbean coast of Punta Cana on the beach front

protected by the coral reef and surrounded by a large tropical garden. It is close to the Fishing Yacht Club, 7 minutes from the golf courses and just 20 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport. The hotel has 460 rooms, the majority with sea views, others with direct access to the pool. They are all equipped with King or Queen size beds, terrace or balcony, air conditioning, satellite TV, direct- dial telephone, minibar, coffee maker, safety deposit box... in short all the fittings appropriate for an establishment in this category.  Excellence Resort Punta Cana Guests discover unprecedented all- inclusive freedom at this resort that is built along 1 mile of endless white

sandy beach surrounded by thousands of palm trees. Experience the most generous a la carte diner from a wide selection of menus and variety of 7 ala-carte restaurants and 9 friendly bars serving premium international brand beverage. The resort offers a full service, world class Spa, a seaside wedding gazebo and state of the art meeting facilities. A huge meandering swimming pool features bridges, waterfall and swim up palapa bars.  Hard Rock Resort and Casino The largest resort in Punta Cana featuring 1,791 guest rooms, 45,000 square foot Las Vegas style Casino, a state of the art Spa and fitness center, 18- hole Jack Nicklaus designed Cana Bay Palace Golf Club, 13 large

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