Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: beach vacation guide for Canadians
From the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo, to the iconic beach vacation destination of Punta Cana, our deal experts are here to share some of the best beaches to visit in the region.
We've found great deals in the past few years for all-inclusive vacations under $1000. Whether you are looking for a last-minute beach vacation or a 5-star beach getaway, the Dominican Republic has it all.
Located in the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana offers travellers a little bit of everything, from stretches of white beaches to hidden cenotes and outdoor sports. It’s no wonder that Punta Cana is one of the most popular destinations for Canadian travellers, with flights available even from our smaller regional airports.
Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic's ultimate beach vacation destination, with 11 different beaches to enjoy. Beyond that, travellers can participate in a variety of activities: from snorkeling to horseback riding, golf and much more.
Punta Cana's must-visit beaches
Bavaro Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Punta Cana, known for its long stretch of white sand fringed with palm trees and numerous all-inclusive resorts. Bavaro Beach is popular for a reason, with a multitude of high-quality hotels, restaurants and stores. If you’re partial to having your creature comforts close by, Bavaro Beach is our recommendation for a Dominican Republic all-inclusive vacation.
For travellers looking for a little bit more peace and quiet, just north of Bavaro Beach is Macao Beach. Macao tops enough best-beach lists that we can’t really say it’s quiet or unspoiled, but it's a nice change from the bustle of Bavaro.
Travelzoo tip: Amateur surfers will enjoy a visit to Macao Beach. Look up Macao Surf Camp if you're interested in taking a lesson or two and learning how to ride the waves.
Juanillo Beach is located within the gated Cap Cana community, but the beach is open to the public. Located on Punta Cana’s south end, the wide and flat beach is lined with numerous palm trees, almost right up to the water.
While the above three beaches may be the most frequented, there is no lack of sand in Punta Cana. Visit Playa Blanca, named “white beach” because of its (surprise) white sand, or Uvero Alto Beach, known for strong waves and an ideal spot for surfers. Playa Cabeza de Toro, supposedly named for its bull’s head shape, is close to Bavaro Lagoon, a popular destination for nature lovers.
Travelzoo tip: Travellers looking to add a little bit more activity into their day should plan a day trip to Saona Island, just off the coast of Punta Cana. This protected site is part of Cotubanama National Park, an adventure-packed destination with tons to do.
Juan Dolio is a small seaside town located between Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, and is frequented by both local residents and international visitors. There are numerous restaurants along the beach with stunning views of the water, and plenty of activities for the entire family. Located between two professional golf courses, Juan Dolio is the idyllic escape for couples and families looking to get away from the razzle-dazzle and crowds of Punta Cana.
Travelzoo tip: It is said that Juan Dolio was developed to showcase the best of the Dominican Republic for travellers on short breaks, which means everything is close by. It's an ideal destination for travellers looking to squeeze in a little beach time while exploring the rest of the Dominican Republic.
La Romana is known as a more luxurious, upper-tier destination for visitors to the Dominican Republic. Frequented by Hollywood celebrities, the upscale La Romana area is be a good choice for luxury-seekers. Caso de Campo is one of the biggest resort complexes in the Dominican, and La Romana also boasts a 16th-century Mediterranean-style European village Altos de Chavon that includes an ampitheatre that hosts concerts. Travellers can explore sugar cane fields and tour intricate cave systems within Cotubanama National Park.
Visit Playa Dominicus, known for its nearly white stretch of sand; it was the first beach in the Caribbean to receive Blue Flag certification.
The famous Bayahibe, located close to the city of La Romana, is a popular destination for tis richly diverse marine ecosystem. Wrecks sunk just off the coast offer incredible scuba diving and snorkeling experiences.
Travelzoo tip: Although it's not a typical beach destination, we wanted to mention Bahia de las Aguilas, or Eagle Bay, located within Jaragua National Park. With an intricate coral reef system that is considered one of the best in the world, it is rich in biodiversity and part of a UNESCO approved National Reserve. This protected beach is a great destination for eco-tourists.
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, holds an important historical distinction as the first European colonial city in the Americas. With over 500 years of history and culture, it offers plenty to do for travellers looking to combine a beach vacation with some cultural sightseeing. Located just two hours drive from Punta Cana, Santo Domingo is a worthwhile destination to add to your travel bucket list.
Here, you can visit the colonial zone (named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990), walk along Calle Las Damas, one of the oldest streets in the western hemisphere, and visit the Americas’ first cathedral, hospital and university. Don't miss Calle El Conde, a long pedestrian boulevard with numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries.
Best of all, you won't have to give up beach time. Nearby Playa Boca Chica is the capital’s main beach. Circled by a coral reef that acts as a break wall, the waters are particularly gently and ideal for swimming.
At night, soak up the scene on the Malecon, a promenade full of live music, restaurants and hotels.
And while you're in the Santo Domingo area, check out Los Tres Ojos, a series of underground lime stone caves, or take a dip at La Caleta Underwater Park, a popular dive site full of shipwrecks, underwater tunnels and stunning marine life.