Many people head to the Dominican Republic for honeymoon getaways due to its endless all-inclusive resorts and unspoiled white sand beaches. Though these are valid reasons to want to visit, the Dominican Republic has so much more to offer its visitors than sand and swim-up bars.
Santo Domingo, in particular, is the nation’s capital and one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities, bursting with Spanish influence, authentic food, and idyllic year-round weather. The Dominican Republic is also rich in biodiversity, home to dozens of endangered species and lush forests.
Punta Cana is situated at the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, known primarily for its 20-mile strip of beaches and clear waters. If you’re wondering what else you can do on this stunning tropical island other than sunbathing, check out the following 8 things to do in Punta Cana.
Situated on Punta Cana’s eastern coast, Bávaro is the DR’s most luxurious resort area. Call it a seaside Disneyland, if you will, since it is home to the island’s largest cluster of all-inclusive resorts. The stretch of land from Bávaro to El Macao houses the country’s best white-sand beaches and aquamarine waters.
Other than soaking up the sun and beach hopping around Playa Bávaro, other activities include Aromas Museum, an off-the-beaten-path attraction that highlights the country’s local farm products and the production processes of various goods, such as tobacco, cacao, coffee, rum, and Larimar. Aromas Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
If wondering where to stay in Bávaro, be sure to check out the area’s top luxury resorts, including:
- Barceló Bávaro Palace
- The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana
- Iberostar Grand
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
- Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort
2. Cap Cana
Another prime spot to find Punta Cana’s best beaches, luxury resorts, honeymoon getaways, golf courses, and outdoor adventure, Cap Cana is an exclusive real estate and hotel tourist destination, spanning thousands of acres.
While Sanctuary Cap Cana is deemed an adults-only all-inclusive resort, it is oh so much more than just a luxury accommodation. Sanctuary Cap Cana is more like its own quaint little town rather than a resort, comprised of nine food and beverage outlets, unparalleled seaside villas, a medieval castle with a rooftop pool, spa treatment rooms, and the Punta Espada Golf Club.
If staying in Cap Cana, be sure to check out Scape Park, a natural theme park filled with outdoor adventure, including zip-lining, cave expeditions, monkey islands, and its very own private beach offering kayaking, paddleboarding, and beach volleyball.
3. Altos de Chavón, La Romana
Step outside of Punta Cana’s popular seaside resort areas and venture to Altos de Chavón, La Romana, a truly unique experience that will make you feel like you’re in a 16th-century Mediterranean-style European village.
Located atop the Chavón River in La Romana, Altos de Chavón was built in 1976 and is nestled just above a leafy and rocky plateau, featuring artists’ workshops, galleries, local shops, restaurants, bars, an amphitheater, and spectacular views of the river and the Caribbean Sea.
Altos de Chavón is undoubtedly the city’s most popular tourist attraction and is situated just about 70 miles from the historic city of Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital and one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities.
4. Marinarium Excursions
Have you always wanted to swim with sharks and stingrays? Is this one of the main reasons you booked a trip to Punta Cana in the first place? If so, look no further than Marinarium Excursions for a one-of-a-kind exotic animal endeavor.
Marinarium Marine Park & Aquarium is an international eco-tourism excursion, dedicated to inspiring wonder and appreciation for the reef and marine life.
At Marinarium Excursions, travelers can partake in the Marinarium Snorkeling Cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with stingrays and nurse sharks. This half-day outing takes guests snorkeling, followed by a beautiful sightseeing tour along the coast of Cabeza de Toro and Bávaro.
5. Dolphin Explorer
If swimming with stingrays and sharks gives you the heebie-jeebies, swimming with friendly and majestic dolphins may be more up your alley. Dolphin Explorer invites visitors to interact with dolphins and other amazing marine animals in a unique tropical environment, all while being dedicated to the education and conservation of terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
On the 50-minute Explorer excursion, you get to hold hands with a dolphin and learn how to cue as the dolphin leaps over you. This excursion includes kissing and dancing with dolphins and a dolphin belly ride, where you will hold a dolphin as he or she rides across the water with you.
Dolphin Explorer’s 60-minute Excellence excursion includes a personalized introduction to the dolphins, and trainers will coach and prepare guests for the famous “foot push,” where two dolphins will push you full speed across the ocean surface.
6. Catalina Island
A popular day trip from Punta Cana, Catalina Island (or Isla Catalina) is a tropical retreat just 1.5 miles off the mainland, a diverse preservation of eco-systems including mangroves, reefs, and sand dunes.
Trip Advisor offers an outstanding Catalina Island excursion, available for guests staying in Bayahibe, Dominicus, La Romana hotels, and Punta Cana resorts. On this half-day tour, travelers are taken snorkeling at the A Living Museum of the Sea, the site where the wreck of Captain William Kidd was discovered in 2007.
The tour then heads along the coast of Casa de Campo and finishes at the breathtaking gorge of the Chavón River for an exhilarating jungle cruise.
7. Hoyo Azul
An experience that absolutely cannot be missed when visiting Punta Cana, Hoyo Azul is located within the previously mentioned Scape Park, but we decided to give this attraction its very own section because it’s that magnificent.
Hoyo Azul — which literally translates as “blue hole” — is a lagoon and hidden cenote that sits at the foot of a nearly 215-meter cliff, with waters reaching a depth of 120 feet at their deepest point.
This hidden gem has unimaginable crystal clear waters, perfect for a relaxing dip. The natural blue waters at Hoyo Azul are created from light being refracted through the water. To reach Hoyo Azul, travelers are obligated to walk through an interesting trail, illuminating some of the Caribbean’s most peculiar flora and fauna.
8. Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve
Another hidden gem and unspoiled natural beauty in Punta Cana, Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve is a private protected area owned and operated by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation. The reserve extends 1,500 acres, consisting of a lowland subtropical forest, dedicated to conservation, scientific research, and recreation.
Guests can indulge in the park’s five swimmable freshwater lagoons, visit the petting zoo, or check out the reserve’s unique iguana habitat. The park also features numerous exhibits describing the cultural and natural history of the island.
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
If you’re heading to Punta Cana to soak up some sun, we hope you’ll also consider some of these fun destinations and activities. Happy trails!