If you are planning your trip to the Dominican Republic, the first thing that comes to your mind is Punta Cana. And it’s not just because of the superb beaches that stretch along a 45-kilometer coastline but also an infinity of possibilities for enjoying this Caribbean paradise. However, you still want more information before traveling to Punta Cana, right? Then read this article before you go! Punta Cana travel guide, useful tips, and essential information about the area.
Section: Know the currency.
Section: When to go.
Section: Where to stay.
Section: What to pack.
Section: What to do.
Section: What to eat.
Section: What to drink.
KNOW ABOUT CURRENCY
Dominican pesos have been the official currency of the Dominican Republic since 2010. The currency was known as the “gold peso” or the “Dominican gold peso”, but from that date on, its official symbol and name have been adopted as the “RD$”. US Dollars are widely accepted and preferred over the peso. You can also find restaurants, excursion vendors, and taxis that accept USD at the same rate as the bank.
READ: Where to exchange money, use of credit card, ATM, tipping etiquette
Spanish is the official language spoken in the country. Punta Cana, being one of the top tourist destinations, the locals speak multiple languages-English, French, German, and Portuguese.
WHEN TO GO?
Punta Cana has a tropical climate with temperatures around 85 ° Fahrenheit (30 ° c) on average year-round. Punta Cana’s prime season is March through May. There is an uptick in prices throughout the island during the peak season, which is from December to February. Rain is abundant in the area between June and November, so accommodations are cheaper and less crowded during this time. If you don’t want crowds of tourists, keep clear of popular holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Spring Break.
READ: Year-Round Punta Cana Weather
WHERE TO STAY?
There are plenty of options for accommodation in the Dominican Republic, which range from cheap beach hostels to fancier and more expensive choices. Your lodging options include beach hostels, all-inclusive resorts and B&Bs, and rental homes. The least expensive option is to rent a bed in a dormitory room, priced at only USD 10 a night. Alternatively, you can book an Airbnb, which generally costs $20-25 USD a night. Hostels with two beds can cost 30-40 USD a night, while mid-range hotels start at around 80 USD a night. The luxurious all-inclusive resorts are the main draw and are impressively priced starting at $135 a night. The guest chooses this kind of lodging because these accommodations make it easy to create a budget. What’s more, most all-inclusive resorts don’t charge extra fees or surprise guests with fees after they arrive. These resorts are also perfect for those who travel in large groups. Many of them offer plenty of things to do—activities that everyone in the group can enjoy during their stay.
READ: Adult-only vs Family-friendly All-Inclusive
WHAT TO PACK?
Medical Kit (a must!)
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer/ Alcohol
- Aloe Vera (in case of sunburn)
- Pepto Bismol
- Zip-lock bags or waterproof case
- A water bottle with a filter/purifier (highly adviseable)
- Plastic bags
- A key or combination lock
- Universal charger/adaptor
- Tote bag, lightweight backpack, or travel purse
- Power bank
- Single Dollar bills for tipping
- Day Bag/ Beach bag
- Comfortable Outfit
- Reef Safe Sunscreen
- Bug Spray/Mosquito repellent spray
- Bottled Water
- Dry Clothes
- Quick Dry Towel
- Underwater camera
- Water Shoes
WHAT TO DO
Some of the fabulous sights and activities you can enjoy here are beaches with pristine, crystal-clear water; scenic, awe-inspiring natural attractions; exciting guided excursions; and so much more!
- Bavaro Beach – Experience an epic trip with your travel buddies to the gorgeous Bavaro Beach you’ll never forget. Enjoy your day at this picturesque beach with a boat-load of activities to choose from, like playing a game of beach volleyball, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, parasailing, drinking cocktails, and more.
- Macao Beach – Looking for some great kid-friendly activities in Punta Cana? Macao Beach has a kid’s playground, a poolside bar, and unlimited watersports. If you have older kids, they can have fun learning how to surf for the first time alongside a professional instructor, or riding dune buggies with you. A wide variety of items and souvenirs are sold there as well as food concessionaires and bars.
- Swim with the Dolphin Adventure – If you are looking to get up close with dolphins, there are many tour operators which arrange dolphin-encounter programs. You can also go swim with sharks and stingrays or take a wonderful jet-skiing trip.
- Palma Real Shopping Village – If you are trying to find places where you can enjoy the ultimate shopping spree, this courtyard-style mall is your best option. A grocery store where necessities can be bought is located nearby, along with numerous shops, a cinema, and superb dining options. Additionally, there are several ATMs, an exchange outlet, a pharmacy, and a play area for your kids.
- Saona Island – If you are looking for an exciting Punta Cana activity, I highly recommend a tour of beautiful Saona Island. Consider chartering a speedboat and catamaran from a local agency for the day. This nature preserve, protected by the local government, offers endless natural pleasures and a serene escape from your busy day-to-day life. Saona Island has gorgeous white-sand beaches, dazzling turquoise water, and nearby coral reefs to explore. You may opt for the VIP Saona Tour for large group gatherings and special occasions.
- Yay Punta Cana – When in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Yay Punta Cana offers a range of tours. Sign up for a memorable excursion with this local tour operator. Try things like a trip to Samana with a visit to El Limon waterfall, or a dip in one of the refreshing natural lagoons at Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve via Segway-Eco tour– a self-balancing, 2-wheeled electric scooter. Glide into the sea on a slide (Party Boat), or learn Dominican culture and history away from the crowded beach with the Safari Mega Truck excursion. Want a full-blown nightlife experience Dominican style? A-list crawl Party Bus excursion will provide the best VIP experience for a 3-hour exclusive night of enjoyment.
Do you want to hit all the things you love to do in Punta Cana? You may want to consider booking their unique tour called 11-in-1 excursion. It’s worth every penny!
Looking for excursions in Punta Cana? Check out all of Yay Punta Cana’s tours.
WHAT TO EAT?
The best way to get to know a country is by tasting its local cuisine.
Dominican cuisine is well known for its diversity and wide range of styles. It is also famous for its tasty cooking, based on a mix of African, Caribbean, Spanish, and indigenous Taino influences.
Dominican cuisine uses many ingredients that other cultures would consider food staples, including rice and cassava. But the abundant use of tropical fruit, poultry, and fish gives the Dominican diet an unmistakable Caribbean flair.
Here are some of the top dishes and best food in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to add to your must-try list.
- La Bandera – Often called the Dominican flag, can be found on menus such as El Platillo del Dia (the daily special) and lunch tables across the country. Dominican Flag is a mix of three main things – white rice, red beans, and stewed meat – served with a salad.
- Los Tres Golpes – Here’s a dish that’ll give you energy for your day. On your first morning in the Dominican, kick it off right by having tres golpes for breakfast. Tres golpes is our country’s most iconic breakfast dish; traditionally, it consists of three main elements: fried Dominican-style salami, fried cheese, and fried eggs. Mangú (mashed, boiled plantains) are served alongside the eggs, with cheese and salami on top. You’ll love this unique breakfast dish.
- Bifongo or Mifongo – Nowhere else is the connection between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as strong as in their national dishes. Bifongo—fried plantains mashed together with garlic and pork skins deep-fried into chips—is popular in both nations. Mofongo, a Puerto Rican staple, is also made with fried plantains, which are mashed and mixed with garlic, green peppers, and chicharrones (pork skin), topped with crema (a thick sauce), and then shaped into a bowl.
- El Sancocho – Sancocho is a hearty meat and vegetable stew typical of the Dominican Republic, prepared on special occasions, holidays, or when it’s cold and rainy. It’s made of seven types of meat and starchy vegetables such as plantains, yuca, and yautia.
- Pica Pollo – or “chicken scratchings” in English, is a popular Dominican dish. It is made by frying chicken in a savory, spiced coating. It’s crispier and more golden than fried chicken. You can eat it with fried green plantain and french fries, or you can save it for your cheat day!
WHAT TO DRINK?
Drinks play a huge role in Dominican Republic’s extensive cuisine. Frequently, the meals are accompanied by drinks, smoothies, or cocktails that are as healthy and satisfying.
- Mamajuana – is a unique drink and is considered one of the main national drinks in the Dominican Republic. It is made from rum, red wine, honey, and a mix of herbs, spices, and tree bark. Mamajuana is a strong, semi-sweet drink that you can enjoy alone or in a cocktail. On some excursions like Dune Buggies and Safari, you will have the chance to try this amazing drink.
- Coffee – If you visit the Dominican Republic, be sure to have a cup of locally grown coffee while you are there. We encourage you to book a tour of a coffee plantation that is operated by local farmers. You get a chance to see the entire process by which the beans are grown, roasted, and harvested, and can end your day with a cup of freshly roasted coffee.
- Beer – Dominican Republic offers many different types of beer from which even the pickiest of beer drinkers can find their drink of choice. The most popular beer served in the country is the Presidente, a lager-style beverage that is often accompanied by other well-known Dominican beers, like the Bohemia and Quisqueya.
- Rum – You can enjoy a variety of rum-based cocktails at the resorts, just ask and allow them to surprise you. If you can track down some, try the limited-run 1852 Aniversario rum – aficionados are crazy for this smooth, robust drink. Brugal Anejo Rum is the best-selling rum in all of the Caribbean, so you know it’s got to be good. Ron Barcelo Rum Imperial is also worth a try; this amber-colored bottle has notes of vanilla, pineapple, and caramelized walnuts.