AAA Travel Tips / Visit Punta Cana on Your Next Vacation

Visit Punta Cana on Your Next Vacation

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By AAA Travel Editors
May 09, 2022
There’s nothing like some fun in the sun, and Punta Cana, a popular cruise port and destination on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, offers an abundance of warm-weather activities. You might picture sunbathing at posh, all-inclusive Punta Cana resorts or eating fresh seafood, but first, you have to get the basics figured out. You need to decide what things to do and see in this Spanish-speaking Caribbean destination. That’s where a AAA Travel Agent comes in.
“Punta Cana is the best option for the Dominican Republic,” says Carol Mendoza, a AAA Travel Agent at AAA Northeast.
Mendoza knows what options there are in the country and wants to help people find the best things to do. Whether you decide to take a break with a cruise excursion or stay at a resort, here are some activities she suggests to get the most out of your visit.
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY/Arturo Pardavila III

Baseball

When you think of the Dominican Republic, great players come to mind, such as Baseball Hall of Famers Pedro Martínez, Juan Marichal and David Ortiz. In fact, at least 10 percent of the players in American Major League Baseball are from the Dominican Republic, so don’t be surprised that the love for the game runs deep in the country. Provincial teams play from October to December or January. The Caribbean series, which rotates between the different Caribbean countries, kicks off in February.
“The Dominican Republic takes baseball very seriously,” Mendoza says. “If you are lucky enough to be in the area when they are playing, you can catch a game in the San Pedro area.”
Some tour companies may pick guests up from their Punta Cana accommodations, especially for games in the popular Dominican winter league. Check with your resort or travel agent for more information.
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Dolphin Experiences

One of the best things to do in Punta Cana is swimming with dolphins. While numerous tours offer the chance to spend time with these intelligent marine mammals, Dolphin Island Park is probably the most well-known attraction. Open since 2004, the park offers snorkeling with sharks, "radikal" jet boating and swimming with dolphins and rays. Dolphin experiences range from family-friendly (no swimming experience needed) to more action-oriented options with a dorsal fin tow or a “royal swim,” where a dolphin would give you a foot push, slightly raising you out of the water. Note: Height and ability restrictions apply; remember to make reservations in advance, as slots fill quickly.
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Manatí Park

This nature park, featuring a collection of 150 species, is located northwest of the resort area on the Carretera Manatí. Shows feature dolphins, sea lions, horses and parrots, while additional birds and wildlife, like iguanas, can be found in the tropical garden. On the grounds is a Taíno village with a museum and demonstrations of indigenous culture. Note: The park is closed at press time; phone ahead to confirm reopening.
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Punta Cana Shopping

Expect prices to be expressed in Dominican pesos, although many independent sellers and tourism-based businesses will accept American dollars in tourist areas. Often, the most convenient place to buy goods will be at a Punta Cana resort, as a variety of shopping, dining and other entertainment can be found on-site. In Punta Cana, purchase premium rum — a Dominican Republic specialty — or take time souvenir shopping for T-shirts and kitschy lionfish plush toys.
Purchasing outside tourist corridors can bring you closer to local artisans and be much cheaper; think about booking a guided tour with stops at popular attractions or traveling independently to a market. The Bávaro Beach Flea Market may be one of the more traditional with plenty of stalls to browse. Expect to haggle. Puntacana Resort & Club has a farmers market every other Saturday from 9 to noon at the Puntacana Village. Located near Punta Cana International Airport, BlueMall Puntacana includes shops, activities for kids and an outdoor amphitheater. Note: Prices are fixed in grocery stores and malls.
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Water Sports

With 800 miles of coastline — 30 miles (50 km) of which are in Punta Cana — the Dominican Republic features a number of scenic spots that are perfect for water sports. A coral reef off the Punta Cana coast breaks the waves making the surf less rough in many places — an exception is Playa Macao (Macao Beach), where swimming is ill-advised; that’s where to surf or parasail instead. In addition to Macao Beach, must-see Punta Cana beaches include Arena Gorda Beach, Bávaro Beach, Juanillo Beach and Playa La Vacama.
Mendoza says if she had three perfect days in Punta Cana, she’d head to Bávaro Beach. “I would lay on the beach and relax, take a tour to Samaná and have local seafood.”
Conditions for deep-sea fishing also are ideal in the destination. You can look for barracudas, kingfish, marlin and wahoo. For scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, consider booking a boat to take you to the reefs near Isla Catalina (Catalina Island), an island 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southeast of the mainland near La Romana. You can rent a boat for an hour or a whole day for sailing or yachting. Book these activities, as well as windsurfing, kiteboarding, surfing, water skiing and other sports, through your hotel or resort.
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Start Your Next Punta Cana Vacation with AAA

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