I can’t deny that I totally fell in love with Punta Cana, Bavaro and surroundings. Dominican Republic (DR) should be on top of your vacation wish list!
I have visited it two times now (November 2017 and February 2018) and have enjoyed it a lot. Every time it was a different experience. You can do a lot (different tours) or nothing (sleep on the beach)!
Punta Cana and other airports in DR are accessible from many cities in Europe, with direct flight for example from Munich, Barcelona, Zurich, Paris, Brussels,… To enter the country you just need a TARJETA DE TURISTA (tourist card). You can order it online or get it on arrival. I ordered it online, costs 10 $ and you save the time of waiting in line. Both times the border control was very efficient, the chaos begins when you get out of the airport. All taxi drivers, tour providers, agencies and transport to hotels basically “attacks” you to get attention.
They generally call the whole eastern coastline (touristic area) Punta Cana but that is not accurate. Punta Cana is just one part with a guarded complex that you can enter only if you have a hotel there or with a special day pass to access bars and restaurants. Around you also have Bavaro, Cap Cana, Uvero Alto and so on. The resorts are everywhere however the difference is how private they are. I found Bavaro area the nicest because the beach is public. I had a “hike” on the beach for 5 km one way and back. There are beaches you can visit in Punta Cana and Cap Cana that are nicer but are not so public and are within the resorts.
Map of all the beaches in the “Punta Cana” area:
I recommend Playa Juanillo (nothing less then paradise), Bavaro (long walks) and Macao (surfers and more rough see).
Punta Cana is very expensive compared to the rest of the country so if you go out you will for sure spend some money. What is also in the range of expensive are taxis so I suggest to avoid them and learn to use the Gauges (public buses) and Motoconcho (people with motorbikes). Despite what your resort might have told you, leaving your hotel and exploring on Bavaro’s public transport is perfectly safe. More about the public transport in this two good articles: Bus guide & General transportation. It will take you some time and nerves to figure it all out but trust me, is easy and comfortable. Another option is to just meet some locals and they take you around (thank you Marjorie and Moises). ♥
There are many accommodation options in DR. I decided to stay in an Airbnb and it was the best decision ever. I stayed with Marjorie – we started as strangers and parted as friends! She really has “the right spot” and it was perfect because she really gave me the proper DR experience. Just a tip when you look around for Airbnb’s, if you need hot water, make sure to double check if they have it because many places don’t.
In general I suggest to take a tour or take a bus and go around and experience the country! Don’t just stay in a hotel because the country is really worth exploring. You can either go and see the nearby cities or see the coco, cacao, sugar cane, tobacco and coffee plantations. I will write more about it in my next blog post.
- Because I often travel alone is hard to just lie on the beach and go swimming without worrying about my possessions. For that reason I bought a very useful waterproof bag to swim with. I just put all my things in it and enjoy.
- Weather forecast is not useful. I had often some rain but just this short tropical storm and it was gone as quickly as it came. They don’t tell you that in the forecast so be prepared.
- Always travel with toilet paper or wipes!
- Good and affordable tattoo place I can recommend: Bavaro ink 😉
- On variety of beaches you will see after 4PM fishermans coming back from a catch and bring some fresh fish you can buy. I saw that often on Bavaro beach.
- You will encounter many people with animals on the beach (monkey, parrot, iguanas)- they try to convince you to take a photo with them. It is fine if you take photos but make sure you tip them!
- Tips are important in DR! Tip as much as you can.
- Food is very delicious in DR and you can read more about it in my separate blog post