By Nina Gass
An uncovered secret, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is no longer the hidden gem it was a few years ago (even though Christopher Columbus discovered it way back in 1492). And although growing in popularity, Punta Cana is still considered to be a best-value vacation destination compared to other Caribbean destinations. Everything that other islands offer in terms of hotels, amenities, activities, food and service can be found at Punta Cana hotels, but for less. Beyond value is the fact that the Dominican Republic is friendly, easily accessible by plane (8 international airports!), and inviting.
You’re sure to feel at home in the Dominican Republic; many Americans and Europeans have settled here, creating a bustling community of transplants that operate shops, restaurants, and tour companies. The local Dominican community is very embracing of tourists and wants to share their culture and tropical paradise with everyone they meet.
Among the Dominican delights is the charming area of Punta Cana located in one of the eastern most provinces in the country. The area blends Dominican charm with Spanish culture, offering rich architecture that surrounds some of the Dominican Republic’s best beaches. These Punta Cana activities are sure to delight the entire travel party:
- For the golf nut, there over 25 top-rated golf courses. One of the premiere courses is Punta Espada Golf Course in Cap Cana.
- Have a water-lover in tow? From surf camp, paddle boarding, and boogie boarding to sport fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling, there are plenty of water activities.
- Find outlandish fun in both zip-lining and paintball games.
- There are tours galore — from buggies and ATVs to hiking, boating, and cruising.
Among the best Punta Cana Hotels, Excellence Punta Cana was recently included in USA TODAY‘s “10 Great Places to Get Everything Under the Sun” and “10 Great Resorts for Warm-Weather Escape.” Long before the kids came along, we fell in love with this resort following a visit we took on the recommendation of some friends back at home in England. What a breathtaking adults-only all-inclusive retreat! We found so many interesting ways to pass the time with offerings not found at other resorts, like bocce, squash, archery, water polo, and cooking classes.
For the ecologically minded, the Gran Bahia Principe is green-friendly — not to mention enormous (well over 1,500 junior suites) it even has its own streets and sidewalks! I had to carry a map with me and was, at one point, considering a GPS to navigate all the amenities and on-site activities. The kids will love this place because there are so many activities designed for them. There is quite a “mommy and daddy” playground as well, with a casino, piano bar, shopping, nightclub and more at the Pueblo Principe, a Dominican-style village set up at the hotel entrance. All in all, its tropical feel and Disneyland-styled entertainment made this a “fun-tastic” trip to the Dominican Republic.
If you’re up for a splurge, you won’t want to miss Tortuga Bay Hotel, which was recently awarded the 5-diamond rating from AAA. This hotel kicks the “wow” factor up quite a few notches, so it’s easy to see why it’s so highly rated. Could it be the five miles of white soft sandy beaches, the committed and respectful staff, or the amazing villa accommodations designed with luxurious materials by local inhabitant and world-renowned designer, Oscar de la Renta? I can also go on and on about the spa, golf course, spaciousness and privacy. Albeit pricey and not an all-inclusive, this is hands-down one of Punta Cana’s top luxury hotels.
If you think you’ve seen the Caribbean but not been to the Dominican Republic, than you’re truly missing out. With an average of temperature of 86 degrees all year long, there is no wrong time to go. Start exploring the possibilities of making a Dominican dream come true.
Nina Gass is a freelance travel and business writer who lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and two boys. An avid traveler and dreamer, Nina makes the most of her international family connections throughout the U.S., Australia, England, and Mexico.