The Dominican Republic attracts thousands of visitors every year, thanks to its gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, and vibrant culture. Punta Cana, a city located on the Caribbean, offers one of the most popular destinations. You’ll love the friendly locals, safe streets, attractive landmarks, and vibrant nightlife. It’s time to take a trip to Punta Cana, and you can follow this itinerary to make the most of your stay.

Early Morning: Grab Something to Eat

When you wake up in the Dominican Republic, you want to start your day off with something filling. The, Brot Bagel Shop, one of the most popular breakfast joints in Punta Cana, serves a diverse menu of familiar breakfast staples. Try the bagels with butter, honey, or other signature toppings, or grab an omelet filled with cheese, vegetables, meat, nuts, and other delicious favorites. The Brot Bagel Shop also serves egg sandwiches with various types of cheeses and breakfast meats.

Alternatively, stop at Kat’s Corner, which is known for its friendly wait staff and lively conversations among locals. You can get just about any breakfast food here, from pancakes and waffles to breakfast meats and hot coffee. Try one of the various juices if you don’t need a caffeine jolt, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of the spicy dishes, such as the breakfast burritos. This restaurant never disappoints, though it can get busy. If you don’t want to have to wait for a table, consider arriving early.

Another option is to enjoy your breakfast right on the beach at the Pearl Beach Club. Linen-draped tables, fine silverware and dishes, and panoramic windows make this the best spot in town for a cup of coffee, a bowl of fruit, and good conversation. Every dish is based on Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine, so you’ll feel like a local from the moment you step inside.

Bavaro Beach
Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana.

Midmorning: Get Some Sun at Bavaro Beach

There are several beaches in Punta Cana and the surrounding area, but Bavaro Beach has become the most popular. It’s gorgeous, with white sand crystal-clear blue water. You can go snorkeling or scuba diving if you’re feeling adventurous, or you can simply lounge on the beach or dip your toes in the surf. While there aren’t many shells to collect in this area, you’ll occasionally find a gem that you can bring home from your visit to the DR.

The best thing about Bavaro Beach is that it’s long, so you can spend hours simply walking the edge of the surf, letting your stress melt away. Step into the water if you start to get hot, then settle down on the sand with a good book if you want to rest. There are several restaurants and coffee shops along the beach, as well, if you need a break from surf and sand.

When you want to get more out of the water, consider taking a couple-hour boat cruise. The excursions are relatively inexpensive, and you might see some interesting marine life, such as dolphins and whales. You can also rent dune buggies, snorkeling equipment, and other items along the beach. If you get bored, consider challenging your mettle with a parasailing adventure.

Additionally, this is a great time to get some shopping done. Souvenir stores line the beach, so stop in to pick up shells, wind chimes, and other mementos of your time in Punta Cana. You can rent lockers at several places along the beach, so stow your valuables there until you’re ready to move on with the rest of your itinerary. Just remember to wear plenty of sunscreen and to bring an umbrella to shade yourself from UV rays. Since the sand is incredibly white, it can easily lead to burned skin.

Noon: Eat Al Fresco at Jellyfish

Swimming, snorkeling, and walking all lead to one thing: hunger. Now that you’ve experienced Bavaro Beach, take a load off at Jellyfish and fill your stomach with delicious seafood. If you can stand the heat, consider eating outside on the patio so you can watch people as they pass by on the street and breathe in fresh Dominican Republic air.

Jellyfish is right on the beach, which means beautiful views and salty sea air. Consider starting your lunch with a tropical cocktail. The Jellyfish serves excellent mojitos, in particular. The Jellyfish sources its fish from the neighboring dock, so you can always count on fresh food when you sit down and pick up a menu. Plus, there’s an excellent selection of desserts and appetizers to make sure that you leave with a full stomach.

Afternoon: Explore the Lagoon at Hoyo Azul

If you’re visiting Punta Cana, you’re likely here for the water and for the various waterfront adventures that the Dominican Republic provides. Hoyo Azul is another example, though it’s completely different from Bavaro Beach. It’s located at Scape Park, so you’ll need to prepare yourself for a bit of a hike before you reach the actual destination. You won’t mind, though, because of the lush green scenery and the friendly locals and tourists who will take the journey with you.

Eventually, you’ll come to a beautiful natural lagoon, or cenote, that you can access from a ladder that helps you descend the slippery rocks that surround it. Plenty of fish and other marine life make their homes here, and there’s an eco tour that will help you understand the lagoon’s purpose and its role in the DR ecosystem.

It’s also a great place to take pictures and to relax with friends or family members. After you visit the cenote, consider mounting up for a horseback tour of the area. Horseback riding allows you to see more of Punta Cana and the Hoyo Azul area without wearing out your legs. The local stables offers horses for riders of all experience levels; just be sure to wear jeans or other long pants and shoes with a heel to make your experience as safe as possible.

During your ride, your guide will teach you about the local flora and fauna as well as give you a few tidbits of gossip and insight about the area’s history. You can schedule rides with groups of as few as three people, or you can join another group ride and get to know someone new.

Cueva
The Cueva in Punta Cana.

Late Afternoon: Take a Boat Tour

Punta Cana offers many themed boat tours that let you relax for a while and enjoy the scenery. Some focus on fishing, so if you’re interested in hooking the catch of the day, don’t be afraid to sign up for one of them. The others focus on music, whale-watching, and other themes, depending on your preferences.

If you haven’t gotten enough adventure yet, consider taking a scuba diving tour. Your boat operator will steer you away from shore and let you explore the marine life deep below the surface of the water. You don’t have to worry about murky water or other detriments thanks to the cleanliness of the area.

Alternatively, consider a party cruise if you’re traveling with a big group. Drink from the open bar, sample appetizers, and laugh with your friends in one of the most beautiful environments in the world.

Dinner Time: Enjoy the Laid-Back Atmosphere at Citrus Restaurant

You can almost always get a table at Citrus Restaurant thanks to its massive seating capacity. Plus, it’s ideal for larger groups because the extensive menu covers just about everything one might want to order. Select a sushi dish, a thick steak, or a deliciously sinful pasta dish. There are also salads, sandwiches, burgers, and seafood.

After Dark: Dance the Night Away at Coco Bongo Punta Cana

If you’re visiting the DR, you don’t want to miss the nightlife. You can find bars, clubs, and other venues throughout Punta Cana, but the Coco Bongo has quickly become one of the most popular destinations among both locals and tourists. This nightclub features live music and D.J.s, depending on the night, as well as an extensive bar with lots of craft beer and cocktail options.

You might want to visit on a night that features unusual entertainment, that ranges from acrobatics to tribal dancing. You won’t believe the amount of talent that lands on the Coco Bongo stage, and you can always spend the entire time dancing with that special someone. It’s a nightclub that lets you decide how you want the night to go.

Villas in Punta Cana.
Villas in Punta Cana.

Where to Stay

You’re likely to find yourself exhausted after just one day in Punta Cana, so you’ll want a comfortable bed to greet you at the end of the day. Fortunately, the DR doesn’t disappoint in the hospitality department.

If you want to stay in the height of luxury, consider The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club. It’s the ideal place for a long vacation because you get access to the resort and club amenities. Rooms at this establishment come with many luxury features, including premium linens, flat-screen televisions, beautiful views, balconies, and soaking tubs. It’s also right on the beach, so you’re never far away from the water.

Another luxury option is the Four Points By Sheraton Puntacana Village. It’s a beautiful hotel that offers a lovely decor and lots of tropical features. The outdoor pool is perfect for taking a dip after a long day, and you can order room service if you’re not in the mood to leave your hotel room for a meal.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for an escape from family life, check out the Barceló Bávaro Beach. It’s an adults-only resort, which might appeal to singles and couples, and it features plenty of amenities to keep you comfortable during your stay.

You can also save money in Punta Cana if you decide to stay at a hostel. There are several in the area, including Gava, Macao Beach Hostel, the Hostel Sol Palm, and the Beach Punta Cana. Each comes with a comfortable bed, free wireless internet, and free breakfast. You won’t get as much privacy, but rates can start as low as $10 a night, so you can spend more of your money on activities than lodging. They’re also in safe, convenient neighborhoods, so you can get pretty much anywhere in Punta Cana within 15 minutes.

Airports

Punta Cana International Airport might surprise you if you’re used to traditional airports. It features open-air terminals and hosts both scheduled and charter flights. More than half of all air traffic that arrives in or departs the Dominican Republic goes through this airport.

You can rent a car after you land if you’d like to drive during your stay in the DR. Alternatively, consider taking public transportation to your hotel. Buses leave at regular intervals. You can also get a taxi or a private car if you’d rather avoid public transportation and driving altogether.

Altos de Chavon 2
Altos de Chavon in Punta Cana.

Landmarks

If you’re interested in historical landmarks, start at Casa Ponce de León. It’s an old stone building where Juan Ponce de León once lived. You can get there by highway from Punta Cana within about 10 minutes, and you’ll thank yourself for making the trip when you see the perfectly preserved building and its interior. You’ll see plenty of preserved relics from Ponce de León’s time, including a suit of armor or two.

You won’t want to miss Cueva, either, which is the Caribbean’s longest underground cave. You’ll see lots of primitive drawings as well as natural formations within the cavern. It’s not the ideal destination for people with claustrophobia, but wide pathways make it easy to navigate. Tours typically start on the hour.

Also located close to Punta Cana is the Altos de Chavón, a massive amphitheater. If you drive through Punta Cana proper, you’ll also find several beautiful and historical churches that you might want to visit. The architecture alone is worth at least a quick drive-by.

If you’re ready for your Punta Cana vacation, don’t waste another minute. Start packing your bags, gathering your documents, exchanging some cash, and planning the rest of your stay in this exotic city. If you love your time in Punta Cana, you can always return for another visit down the road.