If you hear tourists talking about the Dominican Republic, you can almost make sure that they have been to Punta Cana. This beach city located in the east of the Dominican Republic is probably the most touristic location for Europeans, Russians and Americans. Punta Cana has beautiful beaches which go on for miles on end. All of them with beautiful swaying palm trees, a turqoise ocean and white sand beaches. Not a bad prospect if you ask me! If you want to explore the original Dominican culture, Punta Cana might not be the right spot however. The coastline is crammed with ressorts and on the beaches you'll find plenty of locals who will try to get some money from the 'rich' tourists. Punta Cana is most of all a destination for people who want to spend their days at the beach with high temperatures with the great Caribbean atmosphere always in the background.

A less touristy area in Punta Cana with stores in the sea.

A less touristy area in Punta Cana with stores in the sea.


  Average costs

Stay – There are plenty of accommodations in Punta Cana. The hundreds of ressorts are widely spread around the coast and make sure that the thousands of tourists will have a perfect holiday. Finding cheap accommodation can be a little harder. Harder doesn’t mean impossible though! So if you book a little in advance, you can rest assured that you can get a budget place to stay at.

I stayed at the Caribe Guest House, only a ten minute walk from the beach. In this hostel I paid $15 a night. It also offers private rooms.
If you want to stay in a ressort that is located at the beach, prepare to pay $100 or more a night.

Eat – Food is a lot more expensive than elsewhere in the Dominican Republic. The main reason for this is of course the many tourists. If you manage to find a local place, with local food, you will pay a lot less.

Having food in a restaurant costs you between $10 and $15 on average. For this money you usually get your meal and a (big!) soda.
Do keep in mind that tap water is not drinkable in Punta Cana and that it’s a good idea to regularly buy bottled water. One bottle from 1,5l costs around $1.

Transport –
Public transportation, like in the rest of the Dominican Republic, is pretty much non-existent. If you want to get around, you’ll need to take a motoconcho (motorbike taxi) or the local guagua’s.
These guagua’s are dirt cheap, but not very trustworthy and they (literally) are packed until there is no possibility to add someone else to the car. Speaking a little bit of Spanish for taking these busses can definitely be an advantage.
The motoconcho’s are to be found everywhere. Their constant honking will make that very clear once you are there!
For smaller distances, you’ll pay around 60 Dominican pesos. Always ask for a lower price, because they always charge more initially.

If you want to see Santo Domingo, you can also easily arrange one yourself with the Bavaro Express. A single ticket costs 400 Dominican pesos (about $10) and it takes you about three hours to get there.
The departure point is quite far from all the ressorts and is basically a parking spot which looks a little creepy.

The beautiful Saona island. A popular day trip from Punta Cana.

The beautiful Saona island. A popular day trip from Punta Cana.

 Saving money

Cooking yourself – If you don’t stay in a ressort or hotel where food is included, restaurant costs can quickly add up. The best way to avoid this is to start cooking yourself. Everywhere around Punta Cana you can find (small) supermarkets. Chicken, minced meat and rice is something you can find everywhere.

Arrange your own tours – From Punta Cana you have the possibility to go visit lots of things. Often these sights are a while away, but still the tourist companies charge way too much. Try to arrange your own transport or take a motoconcho! You’ll save a lot of money for sure.
Sometimes you really have to do a tour though. Saona Island for example, is really hard to do on yourself.

Fly back from Santo Domingo – Tourists are the milking cows of the Dominican Republic… At the airport, it’s mandatory for tourists to pay an extra $20 when leaving the country. Some kind of tourist tax. Instead, try to arrange a flight from Santo Domingo (often a lot cheaper as well!). That way you’ll see some more of the real life in the Dominican Republic as well.

Haggle – Pretty much everywhere (except for the supermarkets and restaurants) you can get discounts if you haggle a little. When taking a taxi or motoconcho, it’s not uncommon to cut the original price in half. Even with organised tours you can sometimes get cheaper prices.

Making a boat tour on the catamaran in Punta Cana.

Making a boat tour on the catamaran in Punta Cana.

 Do’s

Hang out on the beach – The beach of Punta Cana goes on for miles and miles on end. Some parts are crammed with ressorts or villas and tourists who are enjoying  the sun. Other places are a lot less popular and might relax you a little more.
Walk a couple of miles on the beach to watch the people, the beautiful beach and all the different kinds of watersports.

Saona Island – One of the most popular day trips from Punta Cana is the one to Saona Island. After driving for an hour from Punta Cana, you’ll be picked up by a speedboat or catamaran. From there, you will visit a natural pool (very shallow sea). In this area there are lots of starfish with which you can pose to have the perfect Caribbean selfie.
Afterwards, you move on to the actual island. A beautiful patch of sand with palm trees and a tasty barbecue lunch.
Drinks (alcoho tool!) are free. So you can definitely expect a couple of drunk people on the ride back to the mainland…

Watersports – Catching giant fish on open sea, parasailing, renting speedboats, sailing, rowing, … Everything is possible in Punta Cana! Don’t just go lay at the beach, but try to do some watersport activities as well in this paradise.

Day excursion to Santo Domingo – The capital of the Dominican Republic is only three hours away from Punta Cana. With Bavaro Express you get there for only $10 a person. If you don’t mind paying a little more, you can also choose an organised tour. They will take you to Santo Domingo and guide you around.

Los Haitises – This nature park is quite far from Punta Cana, but it’s great for nature lovers. To get there from Punta Cana your best bet is to take an organised tour. The price is quite expensive; about $100.
However, do keep in mind that it is pretty far away and that you get a guide, lunch and drinks.

Once you enter the park, you can take a look at the beautiful mangrove forests, mural drawings from the original inhabitants of the island and the beautiful nature of this national park.

Selfie with starfish at the natural pool!

Selfie with starfish at the natural pool!

  Don’ts

Pick a random spot on the beach – Within minutes you’ll be bothered by security guards from a certain hotel chain. When you pick a spot that is too close to the comfortable lounge chairs from the hotel, you pretty much get scared away. There aren’t that much shady places outside the ressorts, so if you finally find one… Just take it!

Stress – Chill out man, you’re in the Caribbean! Going out for dinner, asking someone for a favor or even buying something in the supermarket… Everything is done in the most relaxed (and slow) way possible. Don’t stress and just enjoy your vacation!

Go see all beaches and islands – One or two of these excursions are fine, but eventually you’ll just see and do the same over and over again… Lying in the sun and swim. Some locations are more beautiful than others, but to get to these locations you often have to spend a lot of money.

A popular sight in Punta Cana. Ressorts everywhere!

A popular sight in Punta Cana. Ressorts everywhere!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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