17 amazing Things to do for free in Punta Cana 2024

A holiday in Punta Cana does not have to be expensive, as there are plenty of activities and things to do for free in Bavaro and the surrounding area. While your experience at one of the beautiful beaches in Punta Cana is obviously free, there are further options such as waterfalls, lagoons or interaction with the locals which are completely free. Check out this article to see which things to do for free in Punta Cana you should not miss while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

COMPLETELY updated: January 2024

Do you want to know how to save money in Punta Cana? Check out how to travel Punta Cana on a budget (for individual travelers), how to save money when booking an all-inclusive vacation and have a look at the best low-budget all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana.

PLEASE NOTE: This article is an excerpt from my e-book “17 amazing things-to-do for free in Punta Cana”. If you would like to have this e-book FOR FREE just register here without any obligations and download the e-book on your device.
The e-book also offers additional information not included in this article, such as directions, time estimates and audience recommendations.

Things-to-do for free in Punta Cana: at the beach

Take a stroll along the fantastic beaches of Punta Cana

 Punta Cana is not just a random Caribbean beach, Punta Cana is an entire area with plenty of beaches. Some of them (Bavaro Beach) are as long as 12 miles and allow for endless walks along the beach. It doesn’t matter if you stay in Bavaro, Arena Gorda, Cabeza de Toro, Macao or Uvero Alto, there is always a beautiful beach close-by, awaiting you with miles of fine sand and swaying palm trees. Except for the beaches of Cap Cana in the southern part of Punta Cana, which are considerably shorter, all beaches are suitable for a short stroll or a longer walk – that’s totally free.

If you are staying in the area between Bibijagua (Barcelo Hotel*) and Arena Gorda (Hard Rock Resort and beyond) you can walk up to 12 miles without your feet leaving the sand. In case you want seaweed-free beaches, consider the months of November to March (outside of the seaweed season in Punta Cana) or check out Bayahibe, just an hour away from Punta Cana.

Further information:
the 10 best beaches in Punta Cana (incl. map)
the 30 most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic (incl. map)

The beautiful beach of Corales at Bavaro Beach, one of the best beaches in Punta Cana

Take stunning personal photos at instagrammable places in Punta Cana

 Once you are walking along the beach in Punta Cana, you will encounter plenty of unique settings for beautiful and memorable photos. Depending on where you are located and where you go, I suggest the following stunning photo opportunities.

  • Pristine coconut palm grove northwest of Cabeza de Toro
  • Pristine beach section between Macao and Hard Rock Hotel at Playa Arena Gorda
  • Deeply swaying palm trees between the beaches of El Cortecito and Playa Arena Gorda
  • Jetty at Playa Juanillo
  • The marina of Cap Cana
  • The most turquoise water and white sand at Playa Blanca, one of the most beautiful beaches in Punta Cana
  • Eroded rock formations and crashing waves at Cabo Engaño
  • Gorgeous Macao Beach and the viewpoint towards “Playa Escondida”

 You can visit all those places for free and all of them are very suitable for impressive Instagram photos as well. 😉

Further information:
the 10 best beaches in Punta Cana (incl. map)
the 30 best beaches in the Dominican Republic (incl. map)

The beach of Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana

Do a (half-)day trip to Macao Beach

 Macao Beach is another thing to do for free in the Punta Cana area. Except for Dreams Macao Beach (check resort prices here*), there are no other accommodations at this beautiful Dominican Republic beach, so chances are you won’t pass Playa Macao on your way from or to your all-inclusive resort

TOP 12 Punta Cana Excursions

Isla Saona: Saona Info | Book it*
Private Saona Island Tour: Private Tour Info | Book it*
Dune buggy and ATV excursion: Buggy Info | Book it*
Punta Cana Ziplining: Zipline Info | Book it*
Party boat & booze cruise: Party Boat Info | Book it*
Best Nightlife Show: Coco Bongo Info | Book it*
Scape Park Cap Cana & Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon Info | Book it*
Los Haitises National Park: Los Haitises Info | Book it*
Santo Domingo: Santo Domingo Info | Book it*
Samaná (Salto El Limón & Cayo Levantado): Samaná Info | Book it*
Helicopter & airplane tours: Helicopter Info | Book it*
Whale watching (Jan-Mar only): Whale watching Info | Book it*

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the 40+ best Punta Cana tours!

 Macao Beach is one of the locals’ favorites and features some decent waves, stunning scenery and a lot of small vendors selling fresh fish, cold beer and random snacks. However, you don’t have to spend money if you would like to visit Macao Beach, you just can enjoy the turquoise water and the authentic charm. If you take a short 15-minute trail from the eastern end of Macao Beach, you can also reach the small secret beach “Playa Escondida”.

Depending on where you are staying, Macao Beach should be a maximum of 30 minutes away from your accommodation and is reachable by Punta Cana rental car (check prices for rental cars from/to Punta Cana here*), taxi or public transport, even though the latter one is a bit more complicated.

Are you interested in more trips you can do in the area of Bavaro? Check out this article about the best day trips from Punta Cana.

Further information:
the best activities and resorts at Macao Beach
the best Dominican Republic beaches incl. Macao Beach
extensive review about Dreams Macao Beach

Beautiful Macao Beach in the northern part of Punta Cana

Visit pristine beaches Playa La Vacama, Playa Limón and Playa Esmeralda

 Luckily, all beaches in the Dominican Republic are public, so besides Macao Beach, there are a few more extremely beautiful beaches you can visit for free from Punta Cana, such as Playa La Vacama, Playa Limón or Playa Esmeralda. They are actually some of the most pristine beaches in the entire Dominican Republic.

They are, despite of the recent opening of the first hotel at Playa Esmeralda (Club Med Miches*), still gorgeous stretches – exactly the kind of beach you expect in paradise when you get stranded on a beach with absolutely no infrastructure. I even camped at all three of those beaches to appreciate this stunning beauty.

Particularly Playa Esmeralda is also extremely photogenic, thanks to its half-moon-shaped bay and its 2 miles of pristine and untouched sand. It can be perfectly combined with a visit to neighboring Montaña Redonda (which is not for free but considerably priced), the mountain with the spectacular views and the unique giant swings on the edge of the hill.

Further information: the best beaches in the Dominical Republic (incl. map)

The wonderful and remote beach at Playa Esmeralda between Miches and Punta Cana

Go snorkeling at the beach in Punta Cana

 Snorkeling is one of the most popular free activities in Punta Cana and around the world. You can see colorful fishes, tropical reefs and enjoy the Caribbean sun.

 While snorkeling in Punta Cana is possible, there are not as many options as in other areas, at least if you don’t want to go on a guided snorkeling excursion.

Travel resources

Punta Cana Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
Santo Domingo Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
All-Inclusive Resorts: Info | Book It*
Apartments & Villas: Info | Book It*
Excursions: Info | Book It*
Rental Car: Info | Book It*
Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It

 The best bet for snorkeling right off the beach would be the few resorts in Cabeza de Toro (Dreams Flora Punta CanaCatalonia* (check extensive hotel review here), Serenade* (check extensive hotel review here) etc.), as there is a small reef close to the beach. However, the large Punta Cana reef surrounding the whole area is several thousand feet off the coast, hence there is no great snorkeling in front of any resort. 

 If snorkeling right from your resort is important for you, you should check out the Bayahibe area (approx. 1 hour away from Punta Cana), as there are some artificial reefs accessible from the shore, especially along the resorts Dreams Dominicus* (read our personal Dreams Dominicus review here), Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach*, Catalonia Royal* (check extensive hotel review here) and Iberostar Hacienda*. 

 Further information:
Everything you need to know about snorkeling in Punta Cana
Bayahibe Travel Guide
The best Bayahibe all-inclusive resorts

Catamaran tours in Punta Cana to the Natural Swimming Pool

Things-to-do for free in Punta Cana: rivers, lagoons and waterfalls

Exploring Salto de la Jalda – the highest waterfall in the Caribbean

 It is hard to believe that such a significant landmark like the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic (and probably also in the Caribbean) can be visited for free and – as an additional plus – without any other tourists as it is totally off-the-beaten-track. Salto de la Jalda requires a 2-hour drive from Punta Cana and a (at least) 3-hour hour hike (one-way) which is probably the reason why hardly anyone visits this hidden gem. However, it is absolutely worth it and if you are looking for a Punta Cana adventure and one of the most spectacular things to do for free in Punta Cana, Salto de la Jalda is your place to go. 


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The author Chris in the Dominican Republic

As of 2024, guides can also be pre-booked and fully-serviced excursions from Punta Cana to Salto de la Jalda are available. But don‘t worry, the waterfall still remains one of the best-hidden gems and you most likely will be the only one there. Check out this link here for specific recommendations and trail information.

 Further information: comprehensive guide about Salto de la Jalda

Hike to Salto de la Jalda, the highest waterfall in the Caribbean

Visiting other waterfalls in Punta Cana and beyond

If Salto de la Jalda sounds too complicated for you, don’t worry, there are plenty of other waterfalls you can reach from Punta Cana. A still very unknown waterfall (Salto de los Mosquitos, the hiking trail starts from Rancho Terranova) is the closest natural waterfall to Punta Cana, the trailhead is just a 45-minute drive away from Punta Cana.

Alternatively, you can check out Cascada Blanca between El Seibo and Miches. It impresses with a roaring wall and cold natural swimming pools. While visiting Cascada Blanca or Salto de los Mosquitos is free (though you might opt for a guide for an additional fee), other waterfalls might charge a small entrance fee of 1-2 USD.

However, the advantage of waterfalls like Salto Socoa, Salto de Yanigua and Salto Alto de la Bayaguana (all reachable from Punta Cana in less than three hours) is that they are easily accessible and don’t require a strenuous hike. 

Further information:
all waterfalls in Punta Cana reachable in under 3 hours
full hiking guide to Punta Cana

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

The hidden cenote of Punta Cana: blue lagoon “Hoyo Claro”

 If you prefer quiet and calm waters instead of roaring rivers, Hoyo Claro might be your destination to go. It is one of these beautiful lagoons (also commonly known as cenote) which feature crystal-clear water and are filled by rivers and springs from the underground. While Hoyo Claro is not completely for free as it charges a 5 USD entrance fee, you might be able to enter for free if you go early in the morning.

 Hoyo Claro is the little sister and off-the-beaten-track option compared to the famous “Hoyo Azul” at Scape Park Cap Cana. It is considerably cheaper (check out my article here to see how you can save hundreds of bucks) and less visited and therefore a hidden gem in Punta Cana. Hoyo Claro is only a few kilometers away from Punta Cana and can be reached via the main La Romana-Punta Cana highway. Once you have parked your car, Hoyo Claro requires a 20-30-minutes hike to reach it.

It is highly recommendable to visit Hoyo Claro during the week, as it gets crowded during the weekend.

 Further information: Hoyo Claro – how you can save 588 USD when visiting a cenote in Punta Cana

Hoyo Claro, the Blue Lagoon which can be accessed nearly for free

Things-to-do for free in Punta Cana: events, museums and nature

Hiking the Anamuya Mountains

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

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Free Punta Cana E-Book about 17 amazing things-to-do for free in Punta Cana 2024
View of the Anamuya Mountains close to Punta Cana

Taste rum, coffee, cigars & more at Taino Gifts or Mundo Autentico

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

A cacao bean in the Dominican Republic

Enjoy the free and public areas of Katmandu Park Punta Cana

Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

Live the experience of Punta Cana Carnival

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

Carnival in the Dominican Republic

Visit Higuey and the most important cathedral in the Dominican Republic 

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

The Basilica La Altagracia in Higuey

Things-to-do for free in Punta Cana: local experiences – immerse in the Dominican culture

Visit a Colmado and play Dominos

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

Playing Domino is one of the biggest passions of the Dominicans

Share the passion for dancing in one of the local bars

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

Kan Drink House, one of the local favorites in Bavaro and Punta Cana for nightlife

Visit a local supermarket to see Dominican products and buy cheap souvenirs

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

Delicious Dominican Mangos in Baní

Drink a local fruit juice

 Please download the free e-book “17 amazing things to do for free in Punta Cana” here to read this section.

A delicious fresh tropical fruit juice

What’s your favorite thing to do for free in Punta Cana? Do you know any further free options? Or do you have questions about the places and ideas mentioned above? Let me know in the comments!


The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: 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.

8 thoughts on “17 amazing Things to do for free in Punta Cana 2024”

  1. Hello Chris,
    Thanks for sharing these helpful information. Regarding the Sky Bar at Whala Bavaro where you mentioned you could use the infinity pool if you just order drinks, do you just go straight to the Sky Bar? They won’t ask for your room reservation or maybe look for proof that you are a resort guest (ie, some hotels give their guests a wrist band)?

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