9 Insider tips on how to find the best all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana

 The selection of all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana can be overwhelming. There are over 45 properties and more than 80 all-inclusive resorts in this part of the Dominican Republic. So how to choose the right one when planning a vacation in Punta Cana? One could think that each all-inclusive resort is similar, but there are major differences to take care of. While it is difficult to find those differences just from the property description, it pays off to have people who know the resorts in the Dominican Republic personally. That’s why I have crafted a guideline of personal recommendations on how to find the best all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.

After you have found the perfect all-inclusive resort for you, make sure to continue reading with “12 expert tips on how to save money when booking an all-inclusive vacation“!

1) Know your budget!

 When people are asking about hotel recommendations in Punta Cana during my personal travel coaching, I am always asking for their budget first as this gives the first hint on where to look. If someone got attracted by a cheap all-inclusive promotion offer, you don’t have to recommend high-end all-inclusive resorts and if someone is looking for the best possible option and the most luxurious hotel, I won’t recommend them a budget accommodation.

 Likewise, if people are thinking that the Dominican Republic is a super cheap holiday destination and they can splurge for just a few bucks they might be right compared to other countries, but you still have to pay your share if you’d like to expect exceptional quality.

 Speaking in numbers, you can get an all-inclusive holiday in Punta Cana for as cheap as 60 USD per person per night – including all meals, drinks, entertainment and all the offers from the resort. Taxes and fees are included as well. That’s an amazing bargain compared to if you just would book an ordinary hotel and go dining at a decent restaurant plus have a drink at the bar. 

Beach section with bali beds at Presidential Suites, one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana

 And while you have to lower your sights when booking the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (check here on what it is easiest to save during your all-inclusive vacation), you can have a worry-free holiday as the quality in nearly all hotels is pretty good, especially the price-value ratio. That’s my experience from over 25 hotel visits in Punta Cana.

 Nevertheless, it can be worth spending a few extra bucks on your resort, especially if you are planning a stay for a week or more – to prevent getting bored from your hotel. You will notice the higher price in terms of food, drinks and room quality.

All-Inclusive holidays in Punta Cana are already starting at 60 USD per person per night. However, it might be worth to spend a few extra bucks to enjoy significantly better services and quality.

 In the low season, the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana start from 60 US-Dollars per person per night, in the high season from around 80 US-Dollars. For better resorts with higher quality, you should plan with around 80 US-Dollars per person per night in low season and at least 100 US-Dollars in high season. High-end hotels in Punta Cana with an all-inclusive meal plan start at 150 USD per person per night in low season and 200 USD per person per night in high season. Prices during Christmas and New Year’s Eve might easily be doubled for some all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. 

 The low season usually runs from May to the pre-Christmas period, the high season from January to the end of April. If you’d like to read more information on the seasons in Punta Cana, check out this article.

Best budget all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Occidental Caribe (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Vista Sol Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Impressive Resort (check prices* | check reviews*)

Best medium-budget all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Now Larimar (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Luxury Bahía Principe Ambar (check prices* | check reviews*)
– TRS Turquesa (check prices* | check reviews*)

Best high-end all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Secrets Cap Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Excellence El Carmen (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Paradisus Palma Real (check prices* | check reviews*)

2) Pick the right resort depending on your travel companions

 While most all-inclusive resorts cater to many different crowds and can’t be narrowed down to a certain target group, some resorts have found their specific niche. Obviously, as a spring-breaker you would not pick a family resort, a gourmet foodie would not want to visit the cheapest hotels with average restaurants and families won’t book an adults-only resort. Therefore, it’s important to know the specific characteristics of the hotels to make sure you book the right all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. 

When traveling as a couple

 When visiting the Dominican Republic on a romantic getaway, you probably have the biggest choice of all all-inclusive resorts, as most properties have their certain amenities for couples, such as honeymoon suites, romantic dinners and adulty-only zones. Furthermore, couples are the most predominant form of travelers in Punta Cana, so you can be sure to find like-minded people in every resort.

The new Dreams Macao Beach Resort in Macao, Punta Cana - a Pool View Swim-Out Junior Suite

 However, if you’d like to dig a bit deeper and get a more couple-oriented atmosphere in your hotel, you might opt to pick an adults-only all-inclusive resort. There are plenty of them in Punta Cana, which only allow access for travelers of 18 years and older. This guarantees you the right setting as a couple and the one or other additional romantic experience.

Best adults-only all-inclusive resorts for couples with a decent price level in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Barcelo Bavaro Beach (check prices* | check reviews*)
– RIU Palace Macao (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Catalonia Royal Bavaro (check prices* | check reviews*)

Best high-end adults-only all-inclusive resorts for couples in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Sanctuary Cap Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Hyatt Zilara (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Iberostar Grand (check prices* | check reviews*)

Do you need further help in picking the right resort? Contact me and we can speak about your preferences and which hotel might be most suitable for you.

When traveling as a family

 Families are the second-biggest traveler group in Punta Cana. That’s not surprising, considering the conditions in the Dominican Republic which might appear like a land of milk and honey, especially for kids. Large pools, free use of waterparks, finest sand to play and to build sandcastles, entertainment and activities with other children, food and drinks around the clock and so much more – there are only a few reasons why families should not spend their Caribbean holiday in an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. 

The new Dreams Macao Beach Resort in Macao, Punta Cana - the kids water park

 While nearly all resorts offer the features mentioned in the last section, there are some which are particularly suitable for families, especially thanks to its large waterparks (Sirenis and Royalton Splash/Punta Cana do have the largest waterparks in the entire Punta Cana area), spacious family suites and special kids entertainment, hence it pays off to take care of these specific amenities when booking your family vacation in Punta Cana.

Best family all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Sirenis Aquagames (lower budget) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Royalton Punta Cana (medium budget) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Nickelodeon Resort (higher budget) (check prices* | check reviews*)

TRAVEL COACHING

Safe money and time!

Do you need help planning a customized vacation in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic? Is it difficult for you to decide what and where to book? Would you like to take advantage of someone with years of experience in the tourism industry (knowing all the travel hacks 😉 ) and living right in the place where you would like to spend your holiday?
That’s what my personal travel coaching is for. I will design your tailor-made itinerary, tell you how to save money on your trip and send you the best insider tips and recommendations. All the information I send you are crafted with love and passion – and are coming with a money-back guarantee. Let me know how I can help you (check my packages here) and send me a request here!

The author Chris in the Dominican Republic

When traveling and looking to party 

 If you are coming to Punta Cana to party, some all-inclusive resorts get you covered. Alcohol included, pool and beach always within walking distance, unlimited food (most resorts have food available 24 hours) and activities and parties every day and night – you won’t get bored during your vacation in Punta Cana. It doesn’t matter if you travel as a group of party animals, if you are hopping over to the Dominican Republic for spring break or if you are a couple who want to connect with like-minded travelers – Punta Cana offers perfect conditions for you. And if you would like to venture out of your all-inclusive resort, the party continues at Booze Cruises, Coco Bongo or Imagine Disco.

Best party all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– RIU Republica (younger crowd) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Breathless Punta Cana (upscale) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Royalton CHIC Punta Cana (elegant) (check prices* | check reviews*)

When traveling to Punta Cana as a single

In my opinion, there are no specific all-inclusive resorts for singles in Punta Cana. However, single travelers can find something in nearly every hotel in the Dominican Republic.
If you are traveling alone and are a party-avid traveler, you can check out the recommendations mentioned in the section above, as those would be perfect for you. If you want to connect with like-minded people but without having too much booze, you can check some of the resorts catering for a general crowd, such as Now Larimar, Riu Macao or Iberostar Punta Cana. Thanks to the activities and open-minded people as well as other single travelers, you will have plenty of options to socialize in every all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.

Best all-inclusive resorts for single travelers in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– RIU Republica (younger party-oriented crowd) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Grand Bahía Principe Aquamarine (fun and relax resort) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Now Larimar (good choice for all kinds of travelers) (check prices* | check reviews*)

3) What kind of beach you are looking for?

 The good news ahead: all all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic are located right at the beach or have beach access through their sister resorts. Furthermore, when coming from the US or cold Europe, all beaches in Punta Cana are pretty, beautiful and will satisfy your daily need for Vitamin Sea. 

The beach Arena Gorda in Punta Cana behind Hard Rock Hotel

 However, there are still differences when it comes to the beach. For me, one of the best stretches is located in the main Bavaro area, as it is the widest part, palm-fringed and you can walk along the beach without interruption for more than 10 miles. Furthermore, there is some public access, so even if you are staying outside of an all-inclusive resort, you can easily reach Bavaro Beach. Hotels such as Now Larimar, Secrets Royal Beach, Paradisus Palma Real and Melia Caribe Beach are located along Playa Bavaro.

 For other people, Playa Juanillo or Playa Blanca in the southern area of Punta Cana – Cap Cana – might be the best beaches, as they are the whitest beaches with very calm and turquoise water. Sanctuary Cap Cana, Secrets Cap Cana and both Hyatt Hotels, Zilara and Ziva, are located here. 

 Another type of beach is Macao, which is popular among locals and very suitable for surfing. There is just one resort at this beach, Dreams Macao Beach, so if you prefer to stay away from the other all-inclusive crowds, this is your beach to go.

 As you can see, the best all-inclusive resort in terms of the beach depends on you when finding the right all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. While you can’t go wrong with any beach resort, it is important to know the differences. Check out my post about the 10 best beaches in Punta Cana to get to know more about the characteristics.

All-inclusive resorts on the best beaches in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana (white beach) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Melía Caribe Beach (busy and picturesque beach + perfect for long beach walks) (check prices* | check reviews*)
Dreams Macao Beach (only all-inclusive resort at that beach) (check prices* | check reviews*)

For your Dominican Republic vacation

Travel resources

Punta Cana Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
Santo Domingo Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
All-Inclusive Resorts: Info | Book It*
Guesthouses & AirBnBs: Info | Book It*
Excursions: Info | Book It*
Rental Car: Info | Book It*
Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It
Travel Insurance (incl. covid-19 coverage): Book it*

4) Large resorts with tropical gardens or smaller properties with direct beach access?

 Another important point when talking about the beach is to pick the right all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana in terms of the size. While some resorts have beach access in less than 2 minutes from every room, there are other super large properties where you walk around 15 minutes from your room to the beach. 

 The advantage of these small and compact resorts is obvious. You can walk everywhere without problems, have the pool, beach and restaurants always close and might be lucky to get an ocean breeze in your room, even you have not booked an ocean view room. However, most of these resorts can’t compete with the Caribbean charm of other resorts, as most rooms are located in bigger buildings and there is not as much space for tropical flowers. Luckily, there are no high-rise resorts in Punta Cana up to now.

Tropical Princess Bavaro, one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana

 When booking a large all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana with a huge property, it might be surprising for people when they get to know that their room is 15 minutes walking away from the beach. While this indeed might be frustrating, there are other advantages of these types of resorts: they are usually set in a beautiful tropical garden with lots of colorful flowers, most rooms are located in very small units rather than big buildings, which gives it a more intimidating atmosphere, and you need some time to explore your resort thoroughly, which is perfect to prevent “cabin fever”, especially when you are not planning to leave your all-inclusive resort a lot. 

 And don’t worry, most of these large resorts offer shuttles and mini-train rides within the hotel, so you don’t have to walk if you don’t want to.

The smallest (size of the property) all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Sanctuary Cap Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Be Live Collection Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Occidental Caribe (check prices* | check reviews*)

The largest (size of the property) all-inclusive resorts with tropical gardens in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Melia Punta Cana Beach Resort (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Grand Bahía Principe Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Paradisus Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)

5) Food: buffet or à-la-carte? Reservations or not? Gourmet or a casual eater?

 For most people, the food in their hotel might be as important as the beach and the right budget. While all all-inclusive hotels in the Dominican Republic offer decent and plenty of good food, there are differences in terms of the quality you can expect. While you have some really delicious dishes and buffets in all the hotels, you would have to choose a little bit more expensive resort to get culinary highlights with every meal.

 Furthermore, the best choice of an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana in terms of food depends if you prefer to eat at the buffets or in the à-la-carte restaurants, especially for dinner. 

 For breakfast and lunch, there are hardly any differences between the resorts – just the quality varies, which usually increases more or less proportionally to the price of the hotel. However, even at the cheapest all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, you can get a decent breakfast with bread, omelet, fruit, cheese and much more. Breakfast is served as a buffet nearly everywhere, just VIP levels in some of the hotels might feature an à-la-carte breakfast and lunch. 

 For dinner, the differences between the all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana are bigger. Your best choice depends on your preferences – do you prefer to eat on a buffet or would you like to have a full à-la-carte menu?

Buffet at Occidental Caribe, one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana

 All all-inclusive hotels offer a buffet restaurant, usually with different themed nights, such as Mexican, Dominican, Italian, etc. 

Please note that in times of Covid-19, some buffets might be restricted or closed.

 Furthermore, all hotels have à-la-carte restaurants, depending on the size of the resort usually around 4 to 8. While I prefer that kind of restaurants as they offer menu-style dining compared to the typical all-inclusive buffets, you have to take care of how your hotel handles the access to those à-la-carte restaurants:

 1) Free choice and no reservations required. You can visit the á-la-carte restaurants as often as you like and at the time you want (e.g. Now Larimar, Melia Caribe Tropical, Dreams Punta Cana)

 2) Reservations required. You can make reservations for à-la-carte restaurants every day, but there is a certain capacity. If they are fully booked, you can only eat at the buffet restaurant. (e.g. Occidental Caribe, Vista Sol Punta Cana, RIU Republica, Paradisus Punta Cana)

 3) Reservations required with restrictions. You have to make reservations for your à-la-carte dinners and can only visit them a few times a week, for example at a maximum of 3 per week. The remaining evenings you have to eat at the buffet restaurant (e.g. Grand Bahia Bavaro/Punta Cana)

 Tip: There is no transparent star rating in the Dominican Republic which is why almost every all-inclusive resort falls into the category of 5 stars. Even big tour operators often copy this classification. Therefore, it is more recommendable to pay attention to personal recommendations and unbiased reviews than to the star rating of an all-inclusive hotel in Punta Cana.

 Choose wisely which option you prefer. I am always a big fan of the “no-reservation policy” as this allows me to stay flexible and spontaneous, even if there might be some waiting involved when you visit in the peak dining hours between 7 and 8 pm.

Best all-inclusive resorts for foodies in Punta Cana (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Now Onyx Resort (no reservations required and high value for money + free dining at Breathless next door) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Paradisus Palma Real (fine dining + restaurant “Passion” on spot (for a surcharge), one of the best restaurants in Punta Cana) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Excellence Punta Cana (high-end resort with top-notch dining options) (check prices* | check reviews*)

6) Is alcohol important for you?

 All all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana have alcohol included – so no worries about this. But the quality might vary, especially the availability of premium brands and top-shelf spirits. While you usually get cheap alcohol in the most economic hotels, better brands are served in more upscale all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. It is hard to draw a line here as the offers are varying, but when picking a resort for your vacation in the Dominican Republic, make sure they have at least a few branded spirits. A local Brugal or Barcelo rum is a must and some basic Johnny Walker whiskey, Beefeater gin and Stolichnaya or Smirnoff vodka should be included as well – but they aren’t when you book the cheapest resorts such as Presidential Suites Punta Cana or Tropical Princess. Therefore, it’s better to spend a few bucks more to get decent drinks and save on other ends – such as those expenses mentioned here which you can easily cut down. If you are looking forward to some hand-crafted, creative and delicious cocktails with high-quality ingredients, you should book one of the upscale and high-end resorts.

 But beware, even some expensive resorts might mix your cocktails with no-name alcohol (which isn’t harmful, it just doesn’t have the best quality).

 Tip: When ordering a drink, always specify the brand of alcohol you want to have in it. Like this, you are preventing the hotel from using their cheapest house brand.

 By the way, it doesn’t matter which resort you choose, you always have all non-alcoholic drinks included (beer, house wine and local spirits) throughout the entire day, usually 24 hours. As long as you don’t want to buy bottled wine, premium champagne or other exclusive drinks, you don’t have to pay a single dollar for your entire stay to get your thirst satisfied.

Bar at Paradisus Punta Cana, one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana

 In case you are a night owl, make sure that drinks are included in the disco as well. Some resorts close their bars at 11 pm and charge extra for drinks at the hotel’s night club.

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7) Entertainment & Sports: where to have the most fun

 I am usually not an entertainment or night show person so I might not be the best advisor in this category, but I can tell you that all resorts feature daily entertainment, various activities and a fun and interactive night show every evening – such as magic shows, Michael Jackson revivals, love nights or musicals.

 In these terms, Hard Rock Punta Cana is standing out for me due to their boulevard with various bars and (usually) daily live music, which is always crowded (before Covid-19 and once travel picks up again after Coronavirus) and where a lot of fun is going on. Also breathless is a good option as they have daily activities and parties you can’t find in every other hotel. 

Night view of Hard Rock Punta Cana Resort and Casino

 If you are looking for sports options, check the watersport activities in your desired all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. In a good hotel, kayaking, Hobie-cats, surfing, paddleboarding, etc. are included. Golf courses are also widely available, the same as tennis or basketball courts. In the last years, a couple of hotels added a bowling alley to their amenities, however, most of them charge extra to use it.

Best all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana for entertainment and sports (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Hard Rock Punta Cana (great nightly entertainment) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– breathless Resort (creative day and night activities) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Catalonia Royal Bavaro (green fees included) (check prices* | check reviews*)

8) Location: do you want to immerse yourself into local life?

 Another point when deciding on all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana might be the location in terms of the local life. Most resorts are located far away from everything and the only way to leave them is by rental car (check here if it’s worth to rent out in Punta Cana), excursion (find the best activities here) or by public transport (get to know the details of the Punta Cana public transport here). However, there are few resorts which are right in the busy center of Bavaro, where you can walk to local colmados, food trucks, Dominican bars and other supplies of daily life. Most of them are located along the Los Corales and Cortecito stretch, where you have plenty of authentic local life just outside of your resort. Check out some further free things-to-do in Punta Cana here.

All-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana with the closest proximity to local life (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Impressive Premium Resort (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Vista Sol Resort (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Occidental Punta Cana (check prices* | check reviews*)

9) Not finding the right options? Alternatives to Punta Cana

Bayahibe: better snorkeling options

 If the resorts above don’t suit your preferences, you can also check some alternative options in the surrounding tourist destinations of the Dominican Republic. One of them is Bayahibe, which is particularly recommendable if you are looking for turquoise ocean water and some better snorkeling opportunities. While Punta Cana has a fantastic reef, which protects the beaches from the Atlantic waves, the reef is too far away for snorkeling. That’s why snorkeling in Punta Cana is not always possible, as you can read here in this article. Therefore, if snorkeling during your vacation in the Dominican Republic is very important for you, you can check out this article about the best snorkeling spots in Punta Cana and beyond, including Bayahibe.

Beach at Dreams Dominicus, an all-inclusive resort in Bayahibe

 A nice side effect: as Bayahibe has a different direction of ocean currents, you’ll hardly find any seaweed here, which sometimes might be a problem in Punta Cana

 The best all-inclusive resorts in Bayahibe (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Hilton La Romana (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Dreams Dominicus (check prices* | check reviews*)

Puerto Plata: looking for adventures, mountains and local life

 If Punta Cana sounds too posh and fancy for you (which it sometimes is) and if you are looking for authentic adventures in the countryside, Puerto Plata might also be a good pick for you. While most all-inclusive resorts here can’t compete with those in Punta Cana, the surrounding definitely can.

View of Playa Dorada at Grand Paradise Playa Dorada, an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata

Especially the mountains right north of Puerto Plata are a highlight of the Dominican Republic. They are offering endless outdoor activity options such as canyoning, waterfall chasing, rappelling, caving, hiking or mountain biking. Furthermore, they form a dramatic backdrop and stunning scenery. Additionally, when staying in one of the all-inclusive resorts of Puerto Plata, you are much closer to the Dominican life than in Punta Cana, so you get a more authentic impression of what the Dominican Republic is about. Interested? In this article, you can find further thoughts about why Puerto Plata might be worth a consideration

 The best all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata (Punta Cana Travel Blogs’ favorites):
– emotions by Hodelpa Playa Dorada (modern) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– BlueBay Villas Doradas (budget) (check prices* | check reviews*)
– Sunscape Puerto Plata (for families) (check prices* | check reviews*)

 Do you need further help deciding for the right destination and the best all-inclusive resort? If so, check out my travel coaching, and I am happy to help you by analyzing your needs and proposing the best options based on your preferences. You can also continue reading with my article about how to save money when booking an all-inclusive vacation.

 Or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments what is important for YOU when deciding on an all-inclusive resort. Have you been to Punta Cana already? What’s your favorite resort in the area? I am super excited to hear from you.

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The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris

CHRIS

Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

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