Exploring Outside the Resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is by far one of the most known destination spots within the Dominican Republic. For youngsters, they begin to first hear of it when spring break options are called out. For those on a budget, Punta Cana offers some of the cheapest offers out there. For family, the all-inclusive resorts are a great way to pay for everyone at once and not be crammed all together.

Punta Cana beach

Photo via Flickr by Dave Bezaire

There are over 100 resorts in the Punta Cana area. Some have as many as almost 2,000 rooms! Spending time at the resort is easy and the options are limitless.

So what does one do when they want to explore outside of the resort?

Excursions and booking activities through a tour company is the easiest way. Look for nearby markets that the resort recommends and any small towns that have shopping and nightlife.

During my visit to Punta Cana, I stayed in the Bavaro area at the Barcelo Resort on site. I took a day cruise out to sea for some snorkeling, checked out nearby markets, and ventured out for one night to Mangu Disco.

Mangu has always been a well known club for locals and for those who like to see where else they can party. It is two floors and huge! You will find a 50/50 mix on locals and tourists who like to mix and hit the dance floor. This disco is actually part of the Grand Occidental Flamenco hotel and taking a cab is suggested at night.

If you’re not much into nightlife, then hopping over to another beach town in Punta Cana (than the one you are staying in) is an option both for the day and night.

Playa Uvero Alto, Macao, Higüey and Bávaro all make up the Punta Cana. Choose your pick here:

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Photo via Flickr by Michel Craig

Playa Uvero Alto
The Playa Uvero Alto is a small beach village, situated north of Punta Cana. Boutique hotels are found here, rather than large resorts. This is more for those who want seclusion and privacy. The strip at Playa Uvero Alto’s beach  is where many spend their time.

Macao
Macao is near the north of Bavaro. You will actually pass some ranches on the way. Beach time is ready, but opt for going horse back riding or ATV-ing over the lands. This is also a great spot for surfing or body boarding.

Higüey
Higüey is actually inland and does not have a beach. Higüey is a holy land, as per the locals. The major attractions here are the Basilica de Higüey Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, the city’s main cathedral.

Bávaro
Bávaro is where many of the large resorts are located. The artisan market is a win for everyone who comes to get some shopping done and indulge in the local culture. There are actually a few amusement parks in the area too.

Where have you stayed in Punta Cana?