Perched at the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana offers breathtaking views of both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Renowned for its stunning beaches, natural wonders, and a string of opulent resorts forming the “Costa del Coco,” Punta Cana is a destination that caters to all preferences, styles, and budgets.

For those inclined to explore every nook and cranny, Punta Cana is an ideal hub for water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, or leisurely boat rides, be it for revelry, shark diving, or cruising along the aquamarine coast. This guide unfolds the places to visit in Punta Cana beyond sunbathing.

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1. Los Haitises National Park (Samaná Bay)

Embark on a captivating day trip to Los Haitises National Park, nestled in Samaná Bay. Offering a glimpse into Punta Cana’s pre-tourism era, the park features unique “mogotes” – small elevations formed by the karst nature of the region’s soil. Accessible by land or sea, excursions often include boat rides through dense mangroves and explorations of ancient Taíno-inhabited caves, adorned with paintings. Encounter diverse fauna, from pelicans and gannets to owls, parrots, manatees, bats, boas, and sea turtles.

2. Excursion to Saona Island

Standout among sea excursions is the journey to Saona Island, one of the Dominican Republic’s largest. Boasting pristine beaches, jungles, and mangroves, this island can be explored by catamaran or speedboat. While the tourist area offers beautiful beaches and restaurants, adventurers can venture into the jungle for a more secluded experience. Underwater enthusiasts will discover a vibrant world of color among the coral reefs surrounding Saona Island.

3. Cultural Visit to Santo Domingo

A three-hour drive or a four-hour bus ride from Punta Cana transports history enthusiasts to Santo Domingo, the first European colonial city in the Americas. The Colonial Zone harbors historic landmarks, including the first house of Christopher Columbus, the initial cathedral, and the inaugural Spanish-built hospital. Explore the Ozama fortress, Dominican convent, and the church of Santa Clara. Immerse yourself in modern life at cafes and squares like Plaza de España and Plaza de Colón.

4. Art in Altos de Chavón :

Altos de Chavón, born from the remnants of a blown-up mountain in 1976, recreates a 16th-century Mediterranean village. Designed by Roberto Coppa and José Antonio Caro, this cultural center offers art workshops, shops, galleries, and a panoramic view of the river and Caribbean Sea. Altos de Chavón has become a beloved attraction, showcasing the fusion of historical charm and contemporary life.

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5. Dive into the Depths

Dive enthusiasts can explore the Dominican Republic’s pristine waters, featuring coral reefs, underwater caves, and shipwrecks. Notable dive sites near Punta Cana include “The Cave,” offering a circuit through a beautiful cave with harmless sharks and manta rays, and “Monica,” a sunken ship with railway equipment dating back 90 years, creating a fascinating underwater world.

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