If you’re longing for a tropical vacation with a touch of adventure, Punta Cana may be your perfect getaway. Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, it’s famed for its gorgeous white sand beaches, resort hotels, restaurants and plenty of nightlife.
But beyond the hip and happening Bavaro Beach strip, lies an entire world to explore. From ecological parks to zip-lining tours and even a chocolate museum, there seems to be a little something for everyone. There are also some great package tours that combine various activities around the area.
It all depends on your adventure level and how many umbrella drinks you can swill before you get restless. So before you book your ticket, let’s take a little virtual tour of the 16 best things to do while you’re in Punta Cana.
If you’re looking for a beach with fewer tourists, Saona Island makes a great day trip. The island is a protected nature reserve filled with wildlife by the Dominican government. And while it feels out of the way, it’s actually easy to get there.
Many resorts offer a package that includes a ferry, and a meal to take along. Or you can even opt for a tour that gets you there by speedboat.
However you get there, you’re sure to enjoy the pristine beaches and laid back atmosphere.
Scape Park and Hoyo Azul
If you’re looking for a little more action, Scape Park is filled with natural wonders and a little something for adrenaline junkies.
This water park is built around jungle cenotes (freshwater sinkholes), making it a truly unique experience. Hoyo Azul, the most renowned, is a giant expanse of turquoise blue water that’s great for swimming.
But the park also offers zip lining, snorkeling, a bat cave for spelunking and up close visits with monkeys, parrots and ranch horses.
Check out the various options offered at the park.
Altos de Chavon
Altos de Chavon is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village perched above the Chanon River valley. It’s brick and coral architecture, romantic archways, gardens and stunning views make it well worth a visit.
This arts and culture project and design school serve as a social community for residents, tourists and artists from around the world.
It also includes a Roman amphitheater, museum and cultural center. You’ll also want to check out the art galleries and artisanal workshops on the site.
Who knew there was so much culture just a short trip away from all those beach umbrellas?
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve
If you want to traverse Dominican Republic’s untouched wilderness, spend a day at this beautiful nature reserve. Located on 1500 acres of subtropical forest, Indigenous Eyes is a protected area dedicated to conservation and scientific research.
The park is open to visitors from sunup to sundown. You can take a dip in 5 of its 12 freshwater lagoons. There’s also a petting zoo, a sugarcane exhibit and an iguana habitat.
ChocoMuseo Punta Cana
Chocolate fanatics are sure to love a tour of this sweet museum. You’ll learn about the history of chocolate making, visit the “bean to bar” factory, and (best of all) get to try some samples.
For the real chocoholics, there’s even a chocolate-making workshop you can attend. What better way to indulge your sweet tooth?
If you want to check out some local action, visit this public beach. Kick back on the white sand and enjoy the beautifully clear water.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, take a class at Macao Surf Camp.
Beginners can get their feet wet with some expert instruction. Or if you’re a pro, rent a board and head out.
Kids of all ages will enjoy this popular theme park where you can see over 150 species of animals, including sea lions, manta rays, horses and parrots.
You can catch one of their amazing shows and then relax in the calm waters of the natural wells on site. You’ll also find food and beverages at the park. In short, everything you need for a day of fun.
Marinarium Marine Park and Aquarium is located between Bavaro and Punta Cana. The park offers fantastic eco-tours that allow you to explore the coast, coral reefs and beautiful marine life of the area up close.
All of the outings include snorkeling equipment, snacks and beverages plus transfer to and from your hotel. It’s an all-around great adventure for people of all ages.
This private museum is dedicated to the most important products of the Dominican Republic: rum, coffee, cigars and cocoa. You’ll get to learn about their importance to the culture as you touch, taste and smell them.
The museum also offers tours to nearby farms and a chance to learn about the Taíno cultures and other traditions that are unique to the area. It’s an authentic taste of local flavor!
If you’re more a creature of the night, you won’t want to miss out on the Coco Bongo Show and Disco. With live shows that feature celebrity impersonators, musical numbers and aerobatics, this club is the very definition of spectacular.
Expect to dance the night away with world-class DJs and plenty of cocktails. It’s sure to be a party to remember.
Take a Tour
In addition to a few of the tours already mentioned, there are lots of companies in Punta Cana that offer great day trips. Here are a few excursions you may want to put on your list:
If you want to get a little taste of everything in Punta Cana, the local tour company, Horseplay Tours is a great way to go. They offer various package tours that include zip lining, horseback riding and tours of local villages.
You’ll learn about local history and traditions and get to sample coffee and chocolate from the region. Finally, you’ll sit down to an authentic Dominican meal. It’s everything you wanted and more!
Canopy Adventures Zipline Tours
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, these tree-top adventures will keep your heart rate elevated. Especially when you’re doing the Superman position at over 40 miles an hour! Wheeee!
Super Truck Safari
If you want to get into the backcountry, this jeep tour will take you through the Higuey cane fields.
The tour also includes a stop at a local school, the famous Our Lady of the Altagracia Church and two ranches where you’ll see how tobacco, coffee and cocoa are made.
It also includes a shore horseback ride and a Dominican style lunch.
Fun-Fun Cave Exploration Tour
Hardcore adventurers will have a blast on this cave exploration in the Haitsies National Park.
You’ll repel down into the mysterious corridors and continue the excursion walking, crawling and sometimes swimming! All while taking in the amazing sights of petroglyphs and giant stalactites and stalagmites.
It’s definitely an action-packed day!
Bavaro Splash Speed Boats
If you’re in the mood for something a little more glamorous, try this speedboat tour where you’ll race through the Caribbean waters and later have a chance to SNUBA dive. That’s a combination of snorkeling and diving where you explore the ocean floor attached to an oxygen hose.
The best of both worlds!
Buen Viaje (Happy Travels)
As you can see, there’s a whole world beyond the beautiful resorts of Punta Cana.
The hardest part may be deciding between all the great things there are to do. After that, it will be pure fun in the sun. Enjoy your trip!
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