Most travelers hear the name Punta Cana and think “beaches” and “world-class resorts,” but there is so much more to do in this amazing island destination. Part of the Dominican Republic, and tucked to the far eastern end of the country, it has an impressive array of things to do during a stay. Spas, for example, are a major activity enjoyed by travelers and there are options like the Six Senses, Dreams Punta Cana, or the Rock Spas to savor. Dining is also a major activity and you can, quite literally, eat in almost every community and find gourmet to traditionally delicious fare. Shopping is another common activity, but outdoor activities really reign supreme. There are fishing and sailing charters, tennis, off-road tours, eco-tourism, 4WD adventures, extreme excursions or activities, horseback riding adventures, camping and safaris, and even nature and wildlife tours.
With this in mind, we’ve done the work to find three of the best things to do when in Punta Cana if you are eager to enjoy memorable experiences. We’ll begin with one of the activities that make the area famous – golfing.
Golf in Punta Cana
Punta Cana is home to two golf courses. They are the Corales Golf Club (18 holes) and La Cana Golf Club’s (27 holes), and each has a long list of enticing amenities and features. Corales has six waterfront holes that include on 500+ yard, par four holes. La Cana has 14 holes along the water and is noted for its use of paspalum grass that survives watering with seawater.
Corales is open to members and guests of the Tortuga Bay and/or Westin, but anyone can book tee times on both by going online in advance and committing to a few tee times.
Golfing is also available at Cocotal Golf and Country Club, the Iberostar Golf Course, Punta Espada Golf Club, and the Hacienda Golf course. Punta Blanca has a golf course and the Lake Barcelo golf course is an option for all. Just try to plan ahead and book tee times in advance of a visit to ensure the best results and ensure time on the greens.
Perhaps golfing is just not your thing and you want something a bit more adventurous? If so, there are quite a few options available.
Zip Line and Cave Swim at Scape Park
Scape Park is located in Cap Cana, just minutes outside of Punta Cana and is, according to its website, able to offer “everything from thrilling and adrenaline-packed adventures to smooth and cultural experiences.”
Two of the experiences that come highly recommended are its zip line activities and its cave swims. The Zip Line Eco Splash adventure lets travelers head out over the canopy of trees in the area. There are twelve possible lines to use and each takes a visitor from a clifftop down to the water.
For those who like things a bit more down to earth, it doesn’t go much farther down to earth than swimming inside of one of the area’s only “cenotes”. A cenote is an entirely natural sinkhole that occurs when the ceiling of a cave collapses. This causes the stone of the ceiling to collapse and crates a freshwater reservoir where groundwater meets seawater, and it can be one of the most magical places imaginable.
The Hoyo Azul cenote in Scape Park is accessible by a series of sturdy walkways and visitors are able to plunge into the crystal clear waters and enjoy what is easily one of the most unforgettable swimming experiences of their lives. The views of the cavern beneath the surface of the water are stunning, and as a full-service site it enables visitors to enjoy towel service and many ways to enter and exit the waters.
Sail to Saona Island and other Boat Tours
Punta Cana is (not surprisingly) home to an array of boat tour adventures and excursions. One of the most popular options is to head to Isla Saona or Saona Island, which is the largest coastal island off the Dominican Republic’s coast. It is around 15 miles long and three wide, and while it is populated, it is home to less than 400 people. It is part of the National Park of the East, and the island is easily one of the most photogenic spots in the world. Swaying palms, glistening white sands (usually empty of people) and those flawless turquoise waters.
Cruises can occur in sailboats, speed boats, and even catamarans. A tour can mean sailing to the island and heading to a beach or a lagoon where snorkeling, diving, swimming, and relaxation are the order of the day. Speed boats take around 40 minutes to reach the island, while a catamaran will require around two hours under sail.
Keep in mind that there are other boat tours and river cruises in the area apart from trips to Saona Island. Catalina Island, Altos de Chavon, Bacardi Island, Juanillo Beach, and many other destinations and sites are also options for day trips and cruises.
There are, naturally, far more than three great things for a visitor to Punta Cana to do, and we also suggest that a trip to Bavaro is in order for its colorful beach huts, and its coral reef. Its beach is noted as one of the most remarkable in the region, and it is a must. There is also Manati Park, which is a popular zoo and dolphin park. Beaches that you should consider “must-see” include Arena Gorda with its amazing white sands and its quiet atmosphere, Macao Beach that has some days ideal for surfing and which is incredibly picturesque and photogenic, and Carretera Cabeza de Toro with its snorkeling and boating facilities.
If you are staying in one of the luxury rentals of the Punta Cana area, it is possible to speak with your concierge to find out about other activities and things to do or have them help you book your tee times, get tickets, and book a cruise or day of sailing.