During your vacation in Punta Cana, you probably want to experience more than just your all-inclusive resort. That’s where this hand-selected list of the 26 most amazing things-to-do in Punta Cana comes in handy. From my years of living in Punta Cana, experiencing all the activities and excursions on my own and compiling unique travel itineraries for guests, I know all of these attractions and places. Therefore I am happy to present you this ultimate list of the best things to do in Punta Cana and Bavaro (Dominican Republic), which will serve you as a perfect guide for your Punta Cana holiday. Make sure to bookmark it and save it to your favorites so that you have it always handy while on vacation in Punta Cana.
- Things to do in Punta Cana: visit Punta Canas’ beaches
- Enjoy Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana’s most popular beach
- Visit Macao Beach, the local beach in Punta Cana
- Visit exclusive Cap Cana and its famous white beaches
- Things to do in Punta Cana: have fun in the water
- Sail with a catamaran (booze cruise, party boat, snorkeling)
- A trip to Saona Island
- Isla Catalina – the little sister of Isla Saona
- Go scuba diving
- Charter a yacht
- Blue Lagoon at Scape Park Cap Cana
- Things to do in Punta Cana: organized excursions
- Buggy Tour
- Countryside & Culture tours
- Whale watching in the Dominican Republic
- 5-in-1 adventure at Fun Fun Cave
- See Punta Cana from above
- Things to do in Punta Cana: day- and multi-day trips
- Visit Santo Domingo
- Discover the Los Haitises National Park
- Explore the beautiful Samaná peninsula
- Eat the freshest fish in Boca de Yuma
- Play golf at one of Punta Canas world-class golf courses
- Things to do in Punta Cana: (DIY) adventures
- Hiking in Punta Cana
- Take stunning photos at Montaña Redonda
- Explore secluded waterfalls in Punta Cana
- Things to do in Punta Cana: local experiences
Are you traveling as a family? Check out the 17 most amazing family activities in Punta Cana for an unforgettable Caribbean holiday with your kids.
Things to do in Punta Cana: visit Punta Canas’ beaches
Enjoy Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana’s most popular beach
Bavaro Beach is without a doubt the No. 1 beach in Punta Cana and one of the must things to do while in Bavaro. Beautiful, popular, an endless stretch of finest sand, blueish-turquoise ocean, swaying palm trees and cool beach clubs – Bavaro Beach has everything you can ask for from a perfect Caribbean beach. Furthermore, many all-inclusive resorts are lined along this beach, so chances are high that you are staying at or close to Bavaro Beach during your Punta Cana vacation.
Playa Bavaro, which is its name in Spanish, consists of various parts, such as Playa Bibijagua, Corales, Cortecito and Arena Gorda. It offers 12 miles of uninterrupted sandy beach, so if you fancy a beach walk in Punta Cana, you can walk the whole day without your feet leaving the sand. But also if you are not into a stroll at the beach, you can enjoy the amazing scenery Bavaro Beach offers while sipping on a delicious tropical cocktail, either in your all-inclusive resort or in one of the various beach clubs. Bavaro Beach is an attraction in Punta Cana by itself and is one of the places you shouldn’t miss.
How to get there: Bavaro Beach is best accessible via Corales and El Cortecito, which can be reached by public transport, taxi, Uber or rental car (check prices here*). Chances are that your accommodation is also located right at Playa Bavaro.
Cost: beach access is for free
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Bavaro Beach (incl. its neighboring beaches) is the No. 1 beach in Punta Cana, so it is a not-to-miss attraction in Punta Cana
– The Top 10 best beaches in Punta Cana
– Bavaro Beach – Punta Cana’s main beach
Visit Macao Beach, the local beach in Punta Cana
If you prefer the local things to do in Punta Cana, you shouldn’t miss Macao Beach. For the Dominicans, this is the most popular beach in Punta Cana. If you have a look at the photos, you know why. Furthermore, it offers you one of the best options in Punta Cana to eat freshly grilled fish right at the beach for less than 10 USD. You can also take surfing lessons, walk along the beach, capture fantastic photos or have drinks prepared from the locals. If you have a dip into the ocean be extra careful as Macao Beach is known to have strong currents.
How to get there: Playa Macao is located north of the main hotel zone of Punta Cana and can be best reached by rental car (check prices here*) or taxi.
Cost: beach access is for free
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Macao Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Punta Cana and a perfect opportunity to get a quick glimpse of local villages and to eat freshly caught fish
Further information: The Top 10 best beaches in Punta Cana
Visit exclusive Cap Cana and its famous white beaches
If you are a fan of particular white beaches and want to get to know the exclusive community of Punta Cana, where even celebrities and VIPs are spending their holiday, then you should head to Cap Cana. This part of Punta Cana south of the airport is dominated by high-end resorts, pretentious villas and elegant beach clubs. Furthermore, it comes with some of the whitest beaches in the entire Dominican Republic, among them Playa Blanca (“White Beach”) and Playa Juanillo (“Juanillo Beach”). If you are interested to see this part of Punta Cana, make sure to put it on your to-do-list for Punta Cana.
How to get there: Cap Cana can only be accessed by rental car or taxi if staying there or visiting a restaurant. When accessing Cap Cana without accommodation booking, you can head towards Api Beach Club or Little John restaurant.
Cost: beach access is for free
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: you shouldn’t miss the whitest beaches of Punta Cana.
Further information: The Top 10 best beaches in Punta Cana
Things to do in Punta Cana: have fun in the water
Sail with a catamaran (booze cruise, party boat, snorkeling)
When you come to the Caribbean and especially the Dominican Republic, probably one of the first ideas which come to your mind when thinking about a typical thing-to-do in Punta Cana is sailing with a catamaran along the colorful Caribbean Sea. Punta Cana makes this dream reality, as there are plenty of catamaran excursions to choose from. Most of them include a snorkeling stop and some time at the natural swimming pool off-shore from Punta Canas’ beaches. Some are more relaxed and family-friendly, other Punta Cana catamaran excursions are perfectly suitable as a booze cruise with a lot of fun and alcohol. And if you are looking for something special, you can also head on a rum tasting catamaran tour or a sustainable snorkeling trip.
How to get there: most catamaran excursions in Punta Cana include pick-up at your accommodation
Cost: starting from 50 USD per person
Why is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: relax onboard a catamaran and enjoy stunning views of Punta Cana’s coastline
A trip to Saona Island
If you love the idea of a catamaran trip in Punta Cana but would like to head to a specific destination, why not book an excursion to Isla Saona? In particular, as a holiday in Punta Cana isn’t complete without seeing the paradise island of Isla Saona, this tour is one of your top things to do while on vacation in Punta Cana.
Picture-perfect beaches, swaying palm trees, catamarans anchoring in ultra-turquoise water and a Caribbean charm that is hard to resist are some of the key points of an excursion to Saona Island. Furthermore, the tour by boat lives up its dream of cruising with a catamaran through the open ocean while sipping on a drink and admire the surrounding scenery.
Even Isla Saona as a famous tourist attraction receives many tours and tourists, it is a must-see during your vacation and one of the top places to visit in Punta Cana and beyond.
How to get there: most excursions include hotel pick-up in Punta Cana. If not, you can book yourself a private transfer from Punta Cana to the boat dock in Bayahibe, where the Isla Saona excursions are starting.
Cost: starting from 60 USD per person (incl. hotel-pick up in Punta Cana)
Why is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Saona Island is the epitome of paradise and welcomes you with unforgettable scenery
– Excursion to Isla Saona – everything you need to know for your hassle-free Isla Saona tour
– How to find the best Private Tours to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina?
Isla Catalina – the little sister of Isla Saona
Isla Catalina is another thing to do in Punta Cana when it comes to catamaran excursions. This natural attraction close to La Romana, around an hour away from Punta Cana, is particularly interesting. It is much less frequented than Isla Saona and offers a better catamaran experience (because both ways are by catamaran and not just one way as for Isla Saona) and better snorkeling conditions. Even though the scenery might not be as spectacular as Isla Saona, you still can have a perfect day when heading towards Catalina Island. Fun on the catamaran, relaxing on the beach, some nice photo opportunities and food and drinks as much as you want are some of the key characteristics of this tour. For further information on this excursion, check out my comprehensive guide about Isla Catalina here.
How to get there: most excursions include hotel pick-up in Punta Cana. If not, you can book yourself a private transfer from Punta Cana to the boat dock in Bayahibe, where the Isla Saona excursions are starting.
Cost: starting from 70 USD per person (incl. hotel-pick up in Punta Cana)
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: when it comes to a catamaran excursion, Catalina Island is like a hidden gem as it is often overlooked besides all the Isla Saona excursions and Punta Cana booze cruises
– Isla Catalina – less-frequented island excursion to paradise
– How to find the best Private Tours to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina?
Go scuba diving
If you need more exercise and activity than just cruising on a catamaran, how about scuba diving in Punta Cana?
While the Dominican Republic can’t compete with the famous diving spots in the world such as the Maledives, the Red Sea or Indonesia, it still offers some decent diving, either right at the coast of Punta Cana, within the bay of Samaná or at the aforementioned Isla Saona and Isla Catalina.
How to get there: most dive operators pick you up from your accommodation or are located just a short walk away on the beach.
Cost: a single-dive starts at 40 USD
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: as a passionate diver, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get the Dominican Republic into your logbook
Charter a yacht
If you have ever dreamt of having your own yacht, you can fulfill this dream by ticking off this item from your to-do-list in Punta Cana. The most common areas are either the blue waters off the coast from Bavaro Beach or the marina and the surrounding turquoise waters in Cap Cana. If you book a private yacht, you can even cross from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, as the geographical border is located right in Punta Cana at Cabo Engaño, one of the many things-to-see in Punta Cana. Some yacht charters also include snacks and drinks and if you are fancy, you can even go deep-sea fishing. If you’d rather like to do it like the rich and famous, book a luxury yacht, cruise along the coastline and sip on a glass of bubbly champagne – everything is possible in Punta Cana.
How to get there: depending on your booking, your yacht or catamaran charter either starts along Bavaro Beach or at the marina of Cap Cana. Check the description if a transfer from your accommodation is included.
Cost: starting from 500 USD per group
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: cruising in style on a private catamaran or an exclusive yacht along the shores of Punta Cana and enjoying the Caribbean Sea can be hardly beaten.
Further information: how to find the best Private Tours to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina?
Blue Lagoon at Scape Park Cap Cana
Blue Lagoon in Punta Cana is one of the most searched tourist attractions here at Punta Cana Travel Blog. It is one of the top things to do while on vacation in Punta Cana and shouldn’t be missed during your holiday. If you want to know why, just check out the photos and you will see these incredible blue colors, which seem too good to be true. But this crazy azure color indeed is reality, so make sure you don’t miss swimming in this crystal-clear water hole, which is fed by a subterranean river.
Blue Lagoon, also known as Hoyo Azul, is located at Scape Park Cap Cana, a tropical amusement park in the southern area of Punta Cana. It is not possible to visit Blue Lagoon as an individual attraction. You need to purchase a full-day ticket for Scape Park Cap Cana* to gain access to Hoyo Azul. This makes it a bit pricey to visit this amazing place, but it’s well worth it as it is one of the must-sees in Punta Cana. Furthermore, Scape Park Cap Cana comes with many other attractions such as the amazing water splash Zipline and some beautiful artificial waterfalls, so you can have a full day of fun in this theme park with its focus on water adventures and tropical feeling.
How to get there: if you purchase your ticket for Scape Park Cap Cana in advance, your transfer from your all-inclusive resort or Airbnb in Punta Cana is included
Cost: 149 USD per person
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: the azure color of this Mexican-style cenote is unique in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic and therefore a thing not to miss
– Scape Park Cap Cana – a tropical theme park with a zipline and blue lagoon in Punta Cana
– Hoyo Azul, the famous Blue Lagoon in Punta Cana
Things to do in Punta Cana: organized excursions
Especially when you are on vacation in one of the several all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, guided excursions are one of the best things-to-do during your stay as you can see a lot of different attractions or have multiple activities in a short time. One of the most popular things to do in Punta Cana among those tours is Ziplining as it combines action, adrenaline and the beautiful bird`s eye view of tropical nature.
There are several zipline courses in Punta Cana, which are explained in this article. Most of them have some unique features, so make sure to book the best ziplining tour for your needs. While the zipline of above mentioned Scape Park Cap Cana ends right in the water and offers distant ocean views, the 12 cables of Bavaro Runners lead you through the lush vegetation of the Anamuya Mountains*. If you prefer an all-in-one package with ziplining, you can check out Bavaro Adventure Park* and if you want to add in a hanging bridge with your ziplining adventure, check out Tuko Adventure Park*. As you can see, even if you just go ziplining, there are many different things to do in Punta Cana.
How to get there: all ziplining excursions include a transfer from your accommodation and back
Cost: starting from 65 USD per person (promotions sometimes as low as 55 USD)
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: ziplining and seeing Punta Cana from above is one of the most fun things to do, considering the adrenaline you will experience
Further information: the best ziplining adventures in Punta Cana
If ziplining is not your cup of tea but you want to have as much fun and action as when flying in the air, you should consider a buggy tour in Punta Cana. Those excursions with dune buggies, ATVs, Polaris or Terracross vehicles are some of the most popular things to do in Punta Cana and are guaranteeing a lot of fun.
Buggy tours are available for all kinds of travelers. You can book a dune buggy excursion for as cheap as 40 USD per person if you just would like to have some fun and get dirty. If you want to wander off-the-beaten-track, the Flintstones Buggy Adventure* is highly recommended (see my comprehensive Punta Cana dune buggy guide for more information) and for the adrenaline junkies around you, you should check out these amazing extreme buggy adventures* (you can also find a detailed review about this tour here), which takes you far away from Punta Cana with many beautiful places to visit and some of the hidden gems in Punta Cana.
How to get there: all buggy excursions include a transfer from your accommodation and back
Cost: starting from 55 USD per person (promotions sometimes as low as 40 USD)
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: buggy excursions are a lot of fun and if you choose one of the options mentioned above, you visit off-the-beaten-track places and attractions in Punta Cana you would otherwise never have seen.
Further information: The best dune buggy adventure tours in Punta Cana (Tested and hand-picked)
Countryside & Culture tours
Learning about the Dominican culture is one of the most important things to do in Punta Cana to better understand the customs and traditions of the country. While a lot of excursions are offering some chocolate tasting or a quick glimpse of local fruits, particular tours are focusing on the culture and the people of the Dominican Republic. Usually, you get to visit a local house in the countryside, attend the chocolate making and coffee grinding process, learn more about rum and cigars and – depending on the tour – visit a school, the local market or other crucial spots of the Dominican daily life. While this does not sound as much fun as speeding around with a dune buggy or hopping on a catamaran to Isla Saona, it gives you a much deeper insight into the important topics of the local Dominicans. When heading on such a countryside and culture tour, you will definitely return home with many insights other travelers in Punta Cana don’t have.
How to get there: all countryside and cultural excursions include a transfer from your accommodation and back
Cost: starting from 55 USD per person
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: you learn a lot about Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic you otherwise would have missed
Whale watching in the Dominican Republic
You can’t only learn about the culture and the people when going on an excursion, you can also learn about the unique nature of the Dominican Republic, such as the impressive humpback whales. These huge mammals are visiting the Bay of Samaná north of Punta Cana each year between January and March, which turns this area into the most popular whale-watching spot in the entire Caribbean. Sounds like a cool thing to do in Punta Cana, right?
Whale watching excursions from Punta Cana are usually starting every day during whale watching season, which lasts from mid of January to mid/end of March more or less. You can see the huge humpback whales pretty close while on the boat. With a bit of luck, those huge mammals, weighing up to 30 tons, are even swimming right next to you. If this sounds like something exciting for you, continue reading this extensive whale watching guide for Punta Cana here.
How to get there: all whale-watching excursions include a transfer from your accommodation and back
Cost: starting from 180 USD per person
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: it is just an unbelievable feeling to see the huge humpback whales from a very short distance (as close as 30 feet)
Further information: Whale watching in the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana/Samaná)
5-in-1 adventure at Fun Fun Cave
A unique excursion often overlooked is the tour to Fun Fun Cave, a cave system belonging to the Los Haitises National Park. It is one of the most adventurous things to do in Punta Cana, as it includes hiking, rappelling, horseback riding, caving and swimming – a 5-in-1 adventure for all those outdoor and activity enthusiasts out there.
The most impressive and exciting part of Fun Fun Cave is rappelling down 60 feet into the cave and exploring the huge cave system, which has a length of 28 kilometers and is one of the biggest in the national park of Los Haitises. It is filled with rivers and a wide network of natural tunnels. You even get to walk and swim in the rivers which is not less exciting as well. But no worries, you are always in the hand of some professional and experienced guides.
Fun Fun Cave is closed right now due to the limitations of Covid-19, but it hopefully should reopen during 2021.
How to get there: the excursion from Punta Cana includes transfers from and to your accommodation
Cost: usually around 120-150 USD per person
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: a unique adventure with 5 activities you can’t find anywhere else
See Punta Cana from above
Ok, Ziplining is a great way to feel like flying but if you really would like to go up into the air, a helicopter tour is your best thing to do while on vacation in Punta Cana. Especially the coastline of Bavaro is a popular area to see from above as you can spot the impressive play of colors, consisting of the turquoise ocean, the white beaches and the green countryside, dotted by blue lagoons and rivers and some rolling hills.
If you’d like to have an extended helicopter excursion where you visit some of the attractions in Punta Cana instead of just flying over, you can choose the tour heading to Salto de la Jalda and Playa Esmeralda* – the highest waterfall in the Dominican Republic and one of the remotest beaches in the country.
How to get there: in case the transfer from your accommodation is not included (it usually is), you can find the heliport on the main highway connecting Punta Cana and Bavaro
Cost: starting from 89 USD per person
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: see Punta Cana from the bird’s eye view with stunning photo opportunities is hard to beat
Things to do in Punta Cana: day- and multi-day trips
Visit Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo is a must-visit when traveling to the Dominican Republic. It is reachable from most all-inclusive resorts in around 2.5 hours, which makes it a perfect day-trip from Punta Cana. The historic district of the capital, called Colonial Zone, offers an amazing array of things-to-see. It is absolutely worth spending a couple of hours (or days) here to stroll around and breathe in the colonial vibe of Santo Domingo.
When visiting Santo Domingo, you have plenty of options. The two most common ones are either booking an organized excursion with a pick-up right from your accommodation in Punta Cana* or take the public express bus which runs between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo and explore the colonial town on your own.
If you would like to immerse yourself deeper into the colonial era, you can also plan to visit Santo Domingo with overnight accommodation (check out some unique places to stay in Santo Domingo here). This gives you more time to explore the several things to do in the capital, to enjoy the unique nightlife and to try out the local cuisine of the Colonial Zone with many informal eateries, which is such a big difference from Punta Cana. It is not without a reason that the Dominicans love their Colonial Zone as well. If you need further ideas on why to visit the Zona Colonial, check out this article.
How to get there: you can either book a guided excursion from Punta Cana, a private transfer or head to Santo Domingo on your own with the public express bus
Cost: an excursion usually sells for around 99 USD, a private transfer for around 150 USD per way per group and the public bus for 8 USD per person per way + taxis from and to the station (depending on where your accommodation is located)
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Santo Domingo is just a day-trip from Punta Cana and the historical center of the Dominican Republic
– 10 reasons why you should visit the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo
– The 27 best Airbnbs in Santo Domingo (hand-picked and recommended)
– Public buses and private transportation between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana
– 23 exciting things-to-do in Santo Domingo (and 5 NOT to do)
Discover the Los Haitises National Park
Los Haitises National Park is in one of the top spots of things to do in Punta Cana regarding nature. It is one of the most popular national parks in the Dominican Republic and a must-visit when it comes to natural attractions in and around Punta Cana.
Los Haitises National Park offers beautiful and multifaceted nature and wildlife. Usually, you can explore the park by boat and see frigate birds, mangroves and caves with ancient rock paintings. This boat tour is included in all the excursions starting in Punta Cana*, which usually involves a 2.5-hour bus ride as well.
If you prefer to discover the park more individually, you can also head to Los Haitises from Punta Cana with a rental car (check rental car price here*) and throw in some other stops on the way, such as Montaña Redonda or Playa Esmeralda. Furthermore, you also have the option to stay a night in the national park, as it not only features two amazing eco-lodges surrounded by waterfalls, but it also breaks up the journey, so that you have more time to enjoy the stunning nature instead of driving in the car all day.
How to get there: if you book a guided excursion, a transfer from your accommodation is included in your package. If you rent a car, it is a straight and easy drive from Punta Cana to Sabana de la Mar. From here, it is a 25-minute dirt road and pothole-filled ride until you reach the gateway of the park.
Cost: an excursion sells for 135 USD and up. If you rent a car it should be around 50 USD per vehicle per day, and boat tours through the park can be negotiated depending on the group size. For overnight stays at the eco-lodge of the park, you can check prices here*.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Los Haitises offers abundant wildlife with endemic species only present in this national park
Further information: Los Haitises National Park – a wonderful excursion or road-trip from Punta Cana
Explore the beautiful Samaná peninsula
Samaná is often referred to as one of the most beautiful regions in the Dominican Republic, which I can confirm 100%. I also see Samaná mentioned pretty often in some to-do-lists for day-trips in Punta Cana, which I usually don’t agree, because people underestimate the distance from Punta Cana to Samaná. Therefore I would not recommend the land-/boat excursions from Punta Cana to the Samaná peninsula, as you spend too much time driving around instead of enjoying your vacation in the Dominican Republic.
However, there are two ways how you still can enjoy the Samaná peninsula with its unparalleled amount of pristine beaches and millions of coconut palm trees, even if staying in Punta Cana. The first option is a helicopter or plane excursion*, which brings you in less than 45 minutes to the peninsula, ready to enjoy the many things to do in this area, such as hiking to the beautiful Salto El Limón, visiting famous Playa Rincón and seeing some of the typical fishing villages.
The second option is a road-trip from Punta Cana, which can last 3 days or more, depending on your (time) budget. This is the most individual way of exploring Samaná from Punta Cana and you won’t regret it, as you can see in this self-drive tour itinerary for Samaná.
How to get there: via land, Samaná is a straight 4-hour drive from Punta Cana. Alternatively, you can take the plane.
Cost: the plane excursion is available from 260 USD onwards. A Samaná road-trip from Punta Cana can be customized to your travel budget.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Samaná is widely known as the most beautiful region in the Dominican Republic
– The 22 most beautiful beaches in Samaná
– Samaná 3-day itinerary from/to Punta Cana – the most beautiful region in the Dominican Republic
Eat the freshest fish in Boca de Yuma
If the option of a road-trip does sound interesting for you, but you don’t want to spend a night away from Punta Cana, Boca de Yuma might be the perfect destination for you. It is around an hour away from Punta Cana and the perfect destination if you want to explore Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track, but don’t head too far.
Boca de Yuma is a fishing village along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic with many things to do and see. You can rent a little fishing boat and explore a pristine beach, you can enjoy the views from the steep cliffs, walk to an underground lagoon with crystal-clear waters or watch the locals jumping into “Hoyo El Zumbador”, a natural pool filled with saltwater.
After exploring, you should head to one of the local oceanfront restaurants with a breathtaking view. Each of them serves delicious fresh fish, accompanied with typical Dominican sides such as tostones (fried plantains) or Moro (rice with beans seasoned Dominican style), usually for less than 10 USD. As Boca de Yuma is still a hidden gem among the things to do in Punta Cana, you will most likely only find some Dominican day-trippers here.
How to get there: the best is to rent a car (or a private driver) and head towards Boca de Yuma via the main highway to La Romana. Take the Higuey/Yuma turnoff and pass San Rafael de Yuma until you reach Boca de Yuma.
Cost: A rental car should cost you around 50 USD per day incl. insurances
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Boca de Yuma is one of the closest off-the-beaten-track destinations in Punta Cana and offers some of the best (local) fish restaurants you can find in the area
Play golf at one of Punta Canas world-class golf courses
Playing golf surely is not a day-trip per sé, but it is hard to fit it into any other category of the things you can do in Punta Cana. Irrespective of the category, playing golf is an activity not to miss in Punta Cana, as the east of the Dominican Republic (incl. La Romana, approx. 1 hour away from Punta Cana) features more than a dozen golf courses, among them several which are rated into the Top 10 of the entire Caribbean. The most famous golf courses include La Cana, Punta Espada as well as the golf courses in Casa de Campo, such as Dye Fore and Teeth of the Dog. All of them feature many ocean-view holes, which makes it a particularly pleasant activity to play golf in Punta Cana.
How to get there: if your main activity during your vacation in Punta Cana is playing golf, it is recommendable to book a hotel right at the golf course or with free transfers included for golfers. Recommendable golf hotels and resorts in Punta Cana are The Westin Punta Cana*, Paradisus Palma Real*, Hard Rock Punta Cana*, Eden Roc Cap Cana* and Casa de Campo Resort & Villas* in La Romana.
Cost: some hotels (check the options above) are even including green fees, but regular tea times are starting at 100 USD per person.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Punta Cana is the No. 1 golf destination in the Caribbean and therefore the top choice for your golf holiday.
Things to do in Punta Cana: (DIY) adventures
Hiking in Punta Cana
While not the most popular thing to do in Punta Cana, hiking is an incredibly rewarding experience as you can enjoy the tropical vegetation, keep your body in shape and explore beautiful destinations off-the-beaten-track. While there are not many marked hiking trails in Punta Cana (as we are used to it in Europe or North America), there are several options to either go and explore different areas on your own if you are an experienced terrain hiker (just check out some of the GPS trails here) or to book a guided hiking excursion, which can be incredibly rewarding as you will learn a lot from your experienced guides. Furthermore, all hiking excursions are usually held in (very) small groups, which is perfectly Covid-19 safe (check out other Covid-19 safe excursions in Punta Cana here) and guarantees you a more private experience.
How to get there: hiking excursions usually include transfers from your accommodation. If you’d like to venture out on your own, please check my advice and recommendations in my Punta Cana hiking guide
Cost: hiking on your own in Punta Cana is free. For a guided hiking excursion, you can plan with around 60 USD per person.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: nature in the Dominican Republic is unique and very diverse. Furthermore, you can enjoy Punta Cana away from all the crowds and will have a little workout too.
Further information: Hiking in Punta Cana – the best excursions and trails
Take stunning photos at Montaña Redonda
One of the particular hiking options in Punta Cana is Montaña Redonda, even this is one of the few (hiking) destinations where you also might meet other people, as a few tour operators are including Montaña Redonda into their itineraries*.
Montaña Redonda is a very unique thing-to-see in Punta Cana, as it is a mountain with a spectacular 360-degree panorama surrounded by lush vegetation 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.
You can either take a safari truck up for a few dollars (included if you book a guided excursion) or – talking about hiking and adventures – walk your way up on a short but very steep climb. Besides the unique features mentioned above, you get also rewarded with a cold Presidente beer once you reach the top.
How to get there: you can book a guided excursion to Montaña Redonda*, but you are more flexible with renting a car. It is less than a 1-hour drive from Punta Cana on a well-maintained highway.
Cost: the entrance fee is around 2-3 USD per person. If you take the safari truck up, it is another 8-10 USD per person.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: Montaña Redonda is unique in the Dominican Republic, especially the swings are great fun and allow for spectacular photos and holiday memories.
Further information: Montaña Redonda in Miches – the instagrammable mountain with spectacular views
Explore secluded waterfalls in Punta Cana
Exploring waterfalls is probably the most recommendable thing to do in Punta Cana when it comes to adventures and my most favorite option to enjoy nature. Even Punta Cana is not famous for its waterfalls as the region consists mainly of flat terrain, there is a surprising amount of options you can explore in the surrounding area, especially as mountains starting to soar less than an hour away from Punta Cana.
In total there are more than 10 different waterfalls you can reach from Punta Cana in under three hours – and there are some for every kind of traveler. Salto Alto de Bayaguana, Salto de Anamuya or the waterfalls at Paraíso Caño Hondo are easily accessible by car and don’t require any hike. On the other side, you can reach Salto Socoa, Cascada Blanca or Hoyo El Zumbador by moderately challenging hikes, even you have to go with a guide for the two latter ones. And last but not least you can get prepared for the ultimate 8-hour hike to Salto de la Jalda, the Dominican Republics’ highest waterfall.
How to get there: Punta Canas waterfalls are scattered all over the place. You can check out my comprehensive waterfall guide for further information.
Cost: waterfalls in Punta Cana are usually for free. Sometimes a small entrance fee (2-3 USD) is charged.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: waterfalls are one of the best ways to connect with nature and are usually off-the-beaten-track, allowing you to enjoy the Dominican Republic without any other tourists
Further information: all waterfalls in Punta Cana reachable in under 3 hours
Things to do in Punta Cana: local experiences
Enjoy the local Punta Cana nightlife and/or visit Coco Bongo
Even this option is not possible right now during the times of Covid-19, it will become available as one of the most favorite things to do in Punta Cana among night owls once the pandemic is under control.
The local nightlife is particularly suitable for those who would like to venture out of their all-inclusive resort to explore the Dominican sounds, rhythms and drinks. While you should exercise caution at night (leave your valuables at home, only use licensed taxis, don’t get too drunk), there are a couple of spots where you can enjoy the local scene and dance the night away as the Dominicans are doing, especially in the Corales area (for the early night) and along Avenida España (all evening long until late at night).
If this sounds a bit too adventurous for you, you can also book a tour to Coco Bongo or Imagine. Even both are mainly catering to tourists, particularly with their packages including drinks, both are frequented and popular among locals as well, especially during the weekend. Coco Bongo even is one of the biggest night shows you can find in the entire Caribbean.
How to get there: For local nightlife, take a taxi to Avenida España. For Coco Bongo or Imagine, transfers from your accommodation are included if you book in advance.
Cost: usually, there is no or just a minimal cover when visiting local bars or clubs. For Coco Bongo, expect to pay around 80 USD for an all-inclusive experience.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: a vacation in Punta Cana is not perfect without exploring the nightlife outside of your resort.
Visit a local supermarket
It might sound trivial, but visiting a local supermarket is one of the best options to get authentic impressions of the local life. You not only see how the people are living, what they are buying and how the prices are in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic, you also get the chance to buy popular souvenirs such as rum, chocolate, coffee or cigars for local prices, which are often cheaper by 50% or more compared to typical souvenir shops.
The biggest supermarkets in Punta Cana are Jumbo, Pola, Super Lama and Iberia. While the latter one is a bit shabby, the other three are perfect to buy groceries and souvenirs and are easily accessible from most all-inclusive resorts in Bavaro. If staying in the south of Punta Cana, you can also visit the supermarket “Nacional” at Blue Mall Punta Cana.
How to get there: all supermarkets are served by public transport. Alternatively, you can call a taxi or an Uber to get to the supermarkets mentioned above.
Cost: depending on what you buy. Check out the prices in Punta Cana here.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: it is one of the most authentic ways to see the local life and a very cheap option to buy souvenirs
Further information: Is Punta Cana expensive? Learn everything about prices in Punta Cana!
Book an Airbnb in Punta Cana
There are hardly any better ways to immerse into local life than booking an Airbnb. While you are mostly not going to stay with Dominicans when booking an Airbnb, most listings include a host who can give you comprehensive information about your stay in Punta Cana – more personal, with additional insider tips and completely customized. That’s usually more what any hotel concierge can do for you. Booking an Airbnb in Punta Cana is the right thing to do if you would like to avoid the typical all-inclusive experience.
While Punta Cana’s all-inclusive resorts definitely have their right to exist and offer a tremendous amount of advantages, they are not for every type of traveler. Especially when you are looking for something unique, extraordinary and personal, an Airbnb might be the better choice, particularly considering that there are so many amazing stays out there.
To get the best overview of what is available, there is a selection of the 24 best Airbnbs in Punta Cana here on Punta Cana Travel Blog. Some of the most spectacular options are a romantic beach hut in Uvero Alto, a luxury penthouse with a private chef, a beachfront studio in Cap Cana or a family apartment in the heart of Bavaro.
How to get there: the best Airbnbs are scattered all over Punta Cana, so make sure to check the map for the detailed location. All Airbnbs are reachable in not more than 30 minutes from the international airport.
Cost: Airbnbs in Punta Cana are available for as low as 10 USD per night.
Why it is one of the best things to do in Punta Cana: it gives a different and unique touch to your vacation in Punta Cana
Further information: The 24 best Airbnbs in Punta Cana (hand-picked and recommended)
What is your favorite thing to do in Punta Cana in 2021? Have you planned your vacation already? Let me know in the comments what you are keen to explore and what is your top attraction in Punta Cana on your personal to-do list!
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CHRISAuthor, 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.