Hiking in Punta Cana – the best excursions and trails

 Hiking in Punta Cana is a much-underrated activity when it comes to things-to-do in the Dominican Republic during your vacation. But there are so many different trails and terrains! You can have amazing beach walks in Punta Cana, explore secluded waterfalls in the surrounding and follow hiking trails in the closeby Anamuya Mountains. As I have done dozens of hikes in the area, I am happy to give you a comprehensive overview of hiking in Punta Cana – including my recommendation for the best hiking trails and an evaluation, if you can go alone or shall go on a guided excursion.

What is hiking in Punta Cana about? What can you expect?

 Hiking in Punta Cana might not be the same as what you are used to from home. While you usually have maps, trail signs and proper signposting when hiking in Europe or North America, this mostly doesn’t exist when you are exploring the Dominican Republic on foot. On the other side, you get rewarded with untouched sceneries, an incredibly lush landscape, secluded waterfalls and authentic impressions of the Dominican countryside. Furthermore, you are most likely the only one out on the hiking trails, hence you can enjoy nature all by yourself.

Hiking in Punta Cana – hike on your own vs. guided excursions

 This leads us to the question if you can hike in Punta Cana and the surrounding areas of the Dominican Republic on your own or if it is dangerous? You might wonder how you should find the trails if there are no signs?

 In general, if you have never hiked outside of your home country, in tropical vegetation and without proper signposting, I would highly recommend taking a local guide (if you speak Spanish) or book a guided excursion (see proposals below). If you don’t have a rental car to get around, you might opt for an excursion as this makes it much easier to get to the trailheads (but check the excursion description if a private transfer is included). Furthermore, you’ll take advantage of the knowledge of the guide and the seamless organization when booking a guided excursion.

 If you are adventurous and experienced in hiking tropical destinations, you can head out on your own without any problems. This implies that you know what to take on such trips (sufficient food and water, first-aid kit, GPS, a spare battery for cell phone/GPS, etc.), that you speak the local language and that you have done similar hikes before. Hiking in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic is absolutely not dangerous, so feel free to roam around and explore plenty of hidden gems, such as many secluded waterfalls.

 This evaluation is valid for most of the hikes in the backcountry of Punta Cana. Of course, you can head out on your own on the beach walks or other easy trails like Montana Redonda or Sendero Padre Nuestro (see below for details).

 If in doubt if you can go on your own, let me know in the comments where you are planning to go, including your previous jungle, travel and hiking experience. 

Hiking in Punta Cana – the best Excursions

Hiking near Punta Cana in the Anamuya Mountains

 The Anamuya Mountains are the closest mountain chain you can find near Punta Cana. They are located between Higuey and Bavaro, a mere 15 miles from the main resort area of Punta Cana. The highest mountain, Loma Prieta Higuey, reaches up to 1800 feet and allows fantastic views over the Eastern part of the Dominican Republic. Even there are no proper trails to reach the peak, its surrounding counts with multiple farmers’ roads and dirt tracks to explore this area, which is perfect for hiking beginners due to the moderate elevation differences. You can also see plenty of local plants and fruits during this tour. Your guide will be happy to explain all the details to you.

View of the Anamuya Mountains close to Punta Cana

Hiking to Cascada Blanca near Pedro Sanchez

 If you are looking for an adventurous waterfall excursion, you should definitely consider this hike near Punta Cana to Cascada Blanca in the local community of Pedro Sanchez. It is one of the closest waterfalls you can discover in the Punta Cana area and a rarely visited as well. You will enjoy a beautiful river setting, lush vegetation and a refreshing dip into one of the several natural pools. The surrounding with several higher mountains is quite impressive so that you can enjoy a hike in an untouched area of the Cordillera Oriental around 2 hours away from Punta Cana.

The second waterfall when visiting Cascada Blanca, Cascada La Copa

Hiking through Los Haitises National Park

 Los Haitises National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the Dominican Republic. It is within driving distance of Punta Cana as well, so that you can enjoy this natural wonder while on vacation in your all-inclusive resort. While most tours discover the tour by boat, this trip is a particularly attractive combination of a hike and a boat tour. During your hike, you will traverse the cloud forest of Los Haitises and see the abundant vegetation of Los Haitises. Furthermore, you will visit different caves, where you can see different paintings of the Tainos, the native inhabitants of the Dominican Republic. All these things-to-see make it a very appealing hike reachable from Punta Cana. The way back is usually done by boat, so that you also get to know the impressive Bay of San Lorenzo as well as the widely branched mangrove system of the national park.

The beautiful Los Haitises national park, the most popular national park in the Dominican Republic

 If you want to stay a night in the national park, you can book yourself a one-night stay in this impressive eco-lodge surrounded by waterfalls* and many different natural swimming pools. Check out further information in this article.

 Check out the following tours if you are interested in one of the guided Punta Cana hikes described above.

In these unprecedented times, activities with social distancing are more important than ever. Hiking is a great example, but if you are looking for other tours you can do during this pandemic without worrying, check out the best Covid-19 friendly excursions in Punta Cana.

Hiking in Punta Cana – the best hiking trails

 As mentioned above, excursions offer an added value hard to beat, but you can venture out on your own as well if you like to go hiking in Punta Cana (and save some money on your travel budget). While some of the beach walks are doable by everyone who loves long walks, some of the other trips into the backcountry should only be done by faint-hearted adventurers. To help you plan your hiking trip in the Dominican Republic, I am going to list some of the best hiking trails in Punta Cana here. I have done them all, so if you have any questions or if you feel unsure if you shall head out on your own or go with a guide, let me know in the comments.

Beach hiking in Punta Cana

Hiking along Bavaro Beach

 Some might not consider a walk along the beach to be a hike, but if you keep in mind that Bavaro Beach (including its neighboring beaches Playa Arena Blanca and Playa Arena Gorda) is around 12 miles long, you can easily treat this as a hike in Punta Cana. The stunning part of this tour is that you can stay for the entire 12 miles in the sand, as it is one long stretch of beach with several sections, which is the main attraction of this hike along Punta Canas beaches. Actually, you can go hiking without shoes on this trip. 😉

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 While there is no defined starting and terminating point for this hike along Bavaro Beach, you can start it right from your hotel (all all-inclusive resorts located between Hard Rock Punta Cana and Barcelo Resort) or arrive at the beach via the public access points at El Cortecito, Corales, Jellyfish or Bibijagua. You can walk as long as you want and simply turn back, or leave the beach through one of the public access points and head back to your accommodation by taxi or public transport.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: start right from your hotel if it is located at Bavaro Beach
Hiking time: 10 minutes to full-day, you choose
Hiking distance: 0.1 miles to 13 miles (one-way)
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): very easy
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): very easy
GPS-Trail: n/a
Further information: The best beaches of Punta Cana

The beach Arena Gorda in Punta Cana behind Hard Rock Hotel
Hiking from Bavaro Beach to Cabeza de Toro

 This is another beach walk in Punta Cana, which connects to the hiking option mentioned above. When reaching the southeastern end of Bavaro Beach past Barceló Resort, you can continue walking along pristine beaches. After crossing a (usually) small river, you are reaching a beautiful virgin coconut grove and the untouched part of Cabeza de Toro. It’s a gorgeous beach where you will feel like in your own little paradise. The beach has a length of approximately 1 mile after you reach the first resorts of Cabeza de Toro. From here, you can either walk back to Bavaro Beach or pass the hotel section and head to the road, where you can grab a cab or public transport to head back to your accommodation in Punta Cana. 

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: if your resort is in the Bavaro area, it shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes driving until you reach Playa Bibijagua, the public beach access point for this hike
Hiking time: approx. 2 hours one-way
Hiking distance: approx. 3.5-5.0 miles one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): very easy
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): easy
GPS-Trail: download it here (we started in Bibijagua and continued the hike until Pearl Beach Club)

The pristine beach of Cabeza de Toro
Beach and coastline hike from Macao to Uvero Alto

 This is my third favorite hiking option when it comes to beaches in Punta Cana. Compared to the other two options, this hike in Punta Cana doesn’t lead you along the beach for the entire time. It rather runs along a single track trail parallel to the coastline – but always close enough to the shore so that you can enjoy the ocean breeze and the salt in the air. Half-way between Macao and Uvero Alto you have to cross a river, which usually is not more than knee-deep. 

 A perfect starting point for this hike is Macao (right next to Dreams Macao Beach Resort). You can walk until you reach the first resort in Uvero Alto or you hike until the proper (very small) village of Uvero Alto and take a taxi or public transport back to Macao.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: from most resorts in the Bavaro / Punta Cana area you need approx. 20-30 minutes driving to reach Macao
Hiking time: approx. 2 hours one-way
Hiking distance: approx. 2 miles one-way until the first all-inclusive resort of Uvero Alto, approx. 3.5 miles one-way until the public access of Uvero Alto
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): very easy
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): very easy
GPS-Trail: download it here (download to follow soon)

The wonderful beach of Playa Macao in the northern part of Punta Cana

Waterfall Hiking in Punta Cana

Salto de la Jalda Hike – the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic

 If there is just one hike you want to do during your vacation in Punta Cana and it shall be the most spectacular one, you definitely should head to Salto de Jalda if you call yourself an adventurous person and an avid hiker. The highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic (and maybe also in the entire Caribbean) is waiting for you here and most likely you don’t have to share it with anyone. Even it is not overly complicated to reach it (just very long!), hardly anyone visits this stunning beauty. I’ll have a separate article about Salto de la Jalda here on Punta Cana Travel Blog, so you can find all the details about the hike there. It is a hike for at least 10 miles (return) with moderate elevation changes. If not familiar with the area (or with following GPS tracks) you should go with a guide. Furthermore, if starting for the hike in Punta Cana, you need a taxi or a rental car to get to the trailhead as otherwise you can’t make it within one day.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: the trailhead is located in Magua. It’s a 2-hour drive from Punta Cana. Please note that you need an SUV to get there, otherwise you have to hike approx. 2 miles (one-way) more.
Hiking time: 3 hours one-way
Hiking distance: 5 miles one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): difficult (you need resilience as the hike is very long)
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): medium to difficult
GPS-Trail: download it here (it includes two additional miles you could drive if you have an SUV)
Further information: Salto de la Jalda – the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic
Further options: book a helicopter excursion to Salto de la Jalda*

Hike to Salto de la Jalda, the highest waterfall in the Caribbean
Cascada Blanca Hike – another waterfall near Punta Cana

 Salto de la Jalda is too difficult for you? In this case, Cascada Blanca might be an option, which is located in the same mountain range, the Cordillera Oriental. It’s a short but sweaty hike along the riverbank of the Rio Seibo through very dense vegetation, but you will get rewarded with two amazing waterfalls. One which is perfect to have a dip and to enjoy the falls like a massage on your back (Cascada La Copa), the other one to have stunning photos from a roaring waterfall wall (Cascada Blanca). If you compare the (short) length and the things you get to see during this tour, it is one of the most rewarding hikes in Punta Cana.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: the trailhead is located in Pedro Sanchez. It’s a 1.45-hour drive from Punta Cana to get there. The road is in very good shape.
Hiking time: 1 hour one-way
Hiking distance: 1.5 miles one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): medium 
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): medium to difficult
GPS-Trail: download it here
Further information: Waterfalls in Punta Cana
Further options: book a guided excursion to Cascada La Copa / Cascada Blanca*

The waterfall Cascada Blanca close to Pedro Sanchez in the Cordillera Oriental
Salto El Zumbador Hike

 As all good things come in threes, I have a third waterfall near Punta Cana for you, even I would not recommend this hike as a day-trip from Punta Cana, as it simply needs too much time to get there. However, it can be perfectly combined as a 2-day road-trip from Punta Cana, staying one night at the fantastic waterfall eco-lodge at Los Haitises National Park

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 Arriving at the trailhead is probably the most difficult part of this trip as hiking to the waterfall El Zumbador is pretty easy. However, you have to go with a guide because you have to pass a fenced private property. The trail is not more than a 30-minute hike through the jungle-like vegetation of Los Haitises National Park and rewards you with various cascades and beautiful waterfalls you will all have on your own. You can also swim in the natural waterfall pools and refresh yourself from the hot and humid climate.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: it’s around three hours to get here from Punta Cana. Head towards Yanigua, passing the towns of Miches, Sabana de la Mar and El Valle.
Hiking time: 30 minutes one-way
Hiking distance: 1 mile one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): moderate
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): moderate
GPS-Trail: download it here
Further information: Waterfalls in Punta Cana

Waterfall Salto El Zumbador close to El Valle at Los Haitises National Park

Lagoon Hiking in Punta Cana

Hiking to Hoyo Claro, the alternative blue lagoon of Punta Cana

 Hoyo Claro can be considered as the alternative blue lagoon of Punta Cana. While it might not be as extremely blue and photogenic as the Blue Lagoon at Scape Park Cap Cana, you save 147 USD per person by choosing to visit Hoyo Claro. How? Check out my full article about Hoyo Claro here

 The hike to Hoyo Claro is a moderately difficult trail with some short inclines on a rugged dirt road. The hardest part is probably to find the trailhead – have a look at my description here which makes it easier for you to get there. Once on the trail, you’ll reach Hoyo Claro after around 30 minutes and can refresh yourself in this Mexican-style cenote.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: depending on the exact location of your accommodation, you should need around 30 minutes to reach the trailhead of Hoyo Claro.
Hiking time: 30 minutes one-way
Hiking distance: 1 mile one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): moderate
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): fairly easy
GPS-Trail: download it here
Further information: Hoyo Claro – how you can save 588 USD when visiting a cenote in Punta Cana

The trail to Hoyo Claro, a blue lagoon in Punta Cana
Hiking to Ojos Indigenas at Puntacana Resort

 Ojos Indigenas on the grounds of Puntacana Resort, a protected private area of the foundation Grupo Punta Cana, could be another great hiking option in Punta Cana as you can see several beautiful lagoons in which you can refresh yourself and swim (at least in some of them). However, something is killing the joy, which is the hefty (and inadequate) entrance fee of 50 USD per person to visit this area. 

 The main reason for this exorbitant rate is to keep off the crowds, which is highly successful. Hence, if you are willing to pay you get rewarded by a nice and flat stroll through a protected area of interesting vegetation and several (12!) lagoons, which won’t exhaust you too much.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: depending on the exact location of your accommodation, you should need around 30 minutes to reach the entrance of Los Ojos Indigenas
Hiking time: approx. 30 minutes round-trip
Hiking distance: approx. 1-mile round-trip
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): easy
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): very easy
GPS-Trail: n/a (I didn’t record it when we were there, but the trails are easy to find, so you won’t need a GPS.)
Further options: book a guided excursion to Los Ojos Indigenas*

Los Ojos indigenas, some secret lagoons in the south of Punta Cana
Hiking trail Sendero Padre Nuestro

 If you love lagoons and if you love caves, this hike near Punta Cana is a must-do for you, as it leads you to a cave with an underground lagoon where you even can swim and snorkel. The hiking trail “Sendero Padre Nuestro” is well-maintained and one of the few with decent signposting. It is also fairly easy as there are no significant inclines, except for a few steps when going down to the cave. The hiking trail “Sendero Padre Nuestro” is located in Bayahibe, around 1 hour away from the Bavaro area, and is still a hidden gem when it comes to hiking in Punta Cana.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: less than an-hour driving along well-maintained roads
Hiking time: 20 minutes one-way
Hiking distance: less than a mile one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): easy
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): fairly easy
GPS-Trail: I didn’t record it when we were there, but you can check one here*.

The hiking trail Sendero Padre Nuestro to the caves of chicho in Bayahibe

Other hiking trails in and near Punta Cana

Hiking in the Anamuya Mountains – the closest mountains to Punta Cana

 If you are looking for a few forest trails with some nice views not too far from Punta Cana, the Anamuya Mountains could be your first choice. A nearly inhabited area with green scenery and different farms is waiting for you here. A nice hike is leading from around Rancho Atabeyra along with some single trails to a little village on the road No. 104. From here, you can either walk back the road or take a Motoconcho back to your starting point.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: around 45 minutes from most all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana
Hiking time: around 2 hours one-way
Hiking distance: depending on your selection, around 3-5 miles one-way
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): medium
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): medium
GPS-Trail: download it here (please ignore the long straight line in the track, I forgot to finish recording when we went home. As you can see, you can either make this as a one-way or a round-trip hike.)
Further options: book a guided excursion to the Anamuya Mountains*

The hiking trail in the Cordillera Oriental to Loma Linda
Hike up to Montaña Redonda

 Montaña Redonda is one of the hikes with the biggest reward you can do in Punta Cana – and also one of the steepest! It is a unique mountain with a spectacular 360-degree panorama surrounded by lush mountains and untouched nature. The special features of Montaña Redonda are its giant swings and the cozy hammocks, both being set up right at the edge of the mountain, which allows for fantastic photo opportunities you can’t get anywhere else.

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The author Chris in the Dominican Republic

 While most people take the safari truck up to the mountain, you can also hike up there, which allows for fantastic views and a serious sweat during the trip. The hike is not long but takes you up for more than 500 feet within a mile of walking so be prepared for a tough incline under the Caribbean sun. Once done with this hike, you can reward yourself with a cold Presidente beer at the top of Montaña Redonda.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: around 1 hour from most all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana
Hiking time: around 30-60 minutes one-way
Hiking distance: a little bit more than 1 mile
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): medium
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): very easy
GPS-Trail: n/a (I have been there three times and unfortunately never recorded it. It is also hard to find a good GPS trail online. However, it is very easy to find and you don’t need a GPS for this hike.)
Further information: Montaña Redonda in Miches – the instagrammable mountain with spectacular views
Further options: book a guided excursion to Montaña Redonda

Spectacular Montana Redonda between Miches and Punta Cana
Hike up to Loma Linda

 While Montaña Redonda is still a hidden gem in Punta Cana and far away from being touristy, it gets its few dozens of visitors every day. If you want a comparable hike in Punta Cana but absolutely off-the-beaten-track, you can consider heading to Loma Linda, a similar mountain with great views and (defunct) swings on the edge. As the facilities are not operational right now (as of November 2020), this hike is more to enjoy the (beautiful) nature instead of getting entertained at the top. And nature indeed is very gorgeous on this 2-mile hike, first passing a stunning and picturesque coconut grove and later walking through lush vegetation on a well-visible trail. Close to the top, there is a side trail going down to a river which leads you to a beautiful waterfall after around half an hour.

 When going to Loma Linda, register yourself at Rancho Terranova and pay around 2-3 USD entrance fee as the whole hiking trail is on private property.

Time to reach the trailhead from Punta Cana by car: around 1 hour from most all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana
Hiking time: around 1.5 hours one-way
Hiking distance: around 2 miles 
Hiking difficulty (physical challenging): medium
Trail difficulty (difficulty to find the trail): easy
GPS-Trail: download it here

Beautiful view over the countryside of the Dominican Republic from Loma Linda

Have you gone hiking in Punta Cana? What is your favorite hiking trail?

Or are you planning to go hiking in Punta Cana and have any questions? Share it in the comments!

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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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