Punta Cana Activities
For what essentially is a beach resort area, Punta Cana has a varied selection of activities for those willing to leave the comforts of their all-inclusive. Cave repelling, zip lining or fishing marlin-rich seas will add some excitement. Exploring historical sites from the founding of the New World is a rare opportunity that shouldn't’t be missed.
Diving & Snorkeling
Although the DR’s longest coral reef runs along Punta Cana, the area is not known as a top diving and snorkeling destination. This is the Atlantic coast, so conditions can be rough, especially in winter. With maximum visibility from 54-60 feet, the area offers more than a dozen dive sites starting as shallow as 21 feet and going to 90 feet including two sunken ships, The Monica at 36 feet and The Astron at 60 feet. However, the best diving excursion is 90 minutes away in Caribbean waters off Catalina Island; check excursions.
Best snorkeling is probably the shallows near Club Med. Casual snorkeling from shore isn't’t possible in many places due to heavy boat traffic and swimmers are confined to designated areas. Try the section at Cabeza de Toro Beach without boat traffic if you’re staying nearby. Ask around for other places and learn from anyone back from a snorkel excursion about what/how much they saw. Generally, Punta Cana is a nice place just to get wet.
Big fish are abundant off Punta Cana, with a long seven-month season for good marlin fishing. White marlin run from March to July, with big blue marlin bending rods from July to September. The entire marlin season typically is a time of rough seas but the water flattens toward the end of October. That’s the time for light tackle and fly-fishing for dorado and wahoo. Charter boats are available at the Yacht Club in Cabeza de Toro, which sponsors a number of marlin tournaments. Also at the Puntacana Marina and the big Cap Cana Marina. All offshore game fish charters typically last 4-8 hours and having other anglers along to split expenses is something to consider. Cap Cana Marina also has guides and equipment for stalking snook and tarpon.
Best Adventure Trips
Cave Repelling: Fun Fun Cave is a silly name for cave entrance leading to a large cave system with a flowing 4.5-mile long river. Located to the north in Los Haitises National Park, your experience starts with a walk through the rain forest to reach the cave entrance, where you repel almost 60 feet down to the cave floor where guides lead you through tunnels and underground corridors to view Taino petroglyphs and wall paintings.
Zip lining: Take a 45-minute trip by safari truck to Anamuya Mountain for an exciting day atop 16 platforms strung with 12 zip lines, including the DR’s longest zip line. Slide through the air for over 1.2 miles while soaring as high as 2,500 feet along a tropical mountain range. Health, weight and age restrictions. Contact Runners Adventures
Best Day Trip Away
Saona Island (Isla Saona) is 110 km away but it’s still one of the most popular day excursions from Punta Cana. Located on the DR’s Caribbean south coast, Saona Island is part of the National Park of the East. Its unspoiled hotel-free beaches lined with palms and beautiful, clean turquoise waters for swimming are its main attractions. One look and you’ll understand why people are drawn here. Boat ride to the island (by catamaran or speedboat) is fun, too. Study online reviews before selecting your tour company.
Best Natural Attraction
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve features walks on 11 winding trails through a tropical forest growing more than 500 species of exotic plants. The trails pass 11 natural lagoons; visitors can swim in one or more of them. Also known as the Puntacana Ecological Reserve Trails, the park is located at Punta Cana’s southern end. Guided tours must be booked in advance; (809) 959-9221. Open 8-4 daily. Come on your own or join a half-day excursion.
With a dozen golf courses designed by such top golf architects as Jack Nicklaus, P. B. Dye, Nick Faldo, Tom Fazio and Nick Price, the Punta Cana region ranks among the Caribbean’s most popular golf destinations. Dedicated golfers can stay at one resort and concentrate on a single championship course while occasional golfers can play a round or two on a championship or “resort” course. Most accept outsiders, subject to course demand. Golf courses are located along the coastal beaches from Juanillo to Macao, with four clustered around Punta cana/Cap Cana. Greens fees vary by season and time of day, with prices decreasing after 2 p.m. More information at Dominican tourism including a detailed golf guide that includes the entire DR
Ponce de Leon Fort Museum is the plantation house built by the famous explorer Juan Ponce de Leon more than 500 years ago at San Rafael de Yuma near the south coast. The museum contains only several of the explorer’s personal belongings, including his shield. The interior furnishings look as they did in his day. Open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Call ahead: (809) 551-0118
Join a lengthy day excursion to old Santo Domingo (Zona Colonial), the oldest city in the Americas (1496). Walk the city’s historic cobbled streets filled with monuments and museums including the First Cathedral (no shorts allowed inside) and the Alcazar de Colón, home of Bartolome Columbus, city
founder and brother of Christopher. Shop El Conde pedestrian mall lined with good shopping for amber and cigars. A new highway reduces drive time.
Colorful Bi2JH2O (“bibijagua”) Artisanal Shopping Plaza features rows of shopping stalls on Bavaro Beach. It’s a good spot for Haitian paintings, woodcarvings and other handicrafts and mamajuana, the local (legal) herbal aphrodisiac. Be prepared to haggle and consider the amber and larimar jewelry suspect except as costume jewelry. Palma Real Shopping Village is Bavaro’s upscale, partially enclosed mall. Shops sell beachwear, clothing, skin-care products, and jewelry. You’ll also find a reliable pharmacy, several restaurants, movie theater, banks, ATMs, and money exchange. Stores open 10-10; restaurants stay open later. Regular shuttle buses run to and from most hotels several times daily. Google will need to translate this page. Puntacana Village, part of the commercial and residential complex near the airport, houses shops, restaurants, supermarket, banks and doctors' offices. Shopping at the Village mall is upscale for clothing and artwork by leading Dominican artists.
For good local seafood, try Jellyfish Restaurant and Lounge on Bavaro Beach. Besides fish, the double-deck, open-air facility offers chicken and beef dishes and a children’s menu. When wind, rain or sun pose a problem, Jellyfish raises sheer white protective linens that don’t obscure the view. Nice soft lighting at night creates a different atmosphere. Very popular, so reserve ahead: (809)840-7684.
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