15 amazing Things-to-do for free in Punta Cana

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.

LAST UPDATED IN OCTOBER 2020

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) and how to save money when booking an all-inclusive vacation.

PLEASE NOTE: This article is an excerpt from my e-book “15 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 are as long as 15 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.

Further information: the 10 best beaches in Punta Cana

The public beach of El Cortecito in the area of Bavaro, 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.

– “I love Punta Cana” sign at El Cortecito beach
– 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 Los Corales and Playa Arena Blanca
– Jetty and colorful van at Playa Juanillo
– The most turquoise water and white sand at Playa Blanca
– Eroded rock formations and crashing waves at Cabo Engaño

 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

Beautiful Playa Juanillo in Cap Cana, the southern part of Punta 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 beach, so chances are you won’t pass Playa Macao on your way from or to your resort. 

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

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.

The popular Macao Beach in the north of Punta Cana

Visit pristine Playa Esmeralda

 Luckily, all beaches in the Dominican Republic are public, so besides Macao Beach, there is another beauty you can visit for free from Punta Cana. This stretch, approximately one hour driving away from Punta Cana, is called Playa Esmeralda and is one of the most pristine beaches in the entire Dominican Republic. It is, despite some recent constructions of the first hotel in this area, still a gorgeous stretch of beach, something you expect in paradise when you get stranded on a beach with absolutely no infrastructure. A while ago we even camped here and could take advantage of 2 miles of pristine and untouched sand. 

 Playa Esmeralda can be perfectly combined with a visit to neighboring Montaña Redonda (which is unfortunately not for free), the mountain with the spectacular views and the unique giant swings on the edge of the hill.

The beautiful and pristine beach of Playa Esmeralda in the area of Miches

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.

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 The best bet for snorkeling right off the beach would be the few resorts in Cabeza de Toro (Dreams Palm Beach*, Catalonia*, Be Live Experience*, Natura Park*, etc.), as there is a small reef close to the beach. However, the large Punta Cana reef surrounding the whole area is several miles 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*, Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach*, Catalonia Royal* and Iberostar Hacienda*. 

 Further information: Everything you need to know about snorkeling in Punta Cana

An excursion by catamaran in Punta Cana

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 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 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 an 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

 If you don’t fancy the long hike, you can also admire this landmark from a helicopter excursion*, even it is not free if you choose this option.

 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. Cascada Blanca is the closest non-artificial waterfall to Punta Cana and impresses with a roaring wall and cold natural swimming pools. While visiting Cascada Blanca is totally free (though you might opt for a guide for an additional fee), other waterfalls might charge a small nominal 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

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 3 USD entrance fee, I assume you can afford the few bucks if you have traveled by plane all over to the Dominican Republic.

 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.

 Further information: Hoyo Claro – how you can save 596 USD when visiting a cenote in Punta Cana

Hoyo Claro, a hidden freshwater lagoon in the area of Punta Cana

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

Hiking the Anamuya Mountains

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View of the Anamuya Mountains close to Punta Cana

Taste the local chocolate at Punta Cana chocolate museum

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A cacao bean in the Dominican Republic

Live the experience of Punta Cana Carnival

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Carnival in the Dominican Republic

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

Visit a Colmado and play Dominos

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Playing Domino is one of the biggest passions of the Dominicans

Share the passion for dancing in one of the local bars

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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 “15 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 “15 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 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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