Tours Travel

7 tips for Punta Cana vacationers

Punta Cana is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic in the heart of the Caribbean. It is known for luxurious accommodations tastefully combined with its beautiful natural surroundings. It has become quite popular for a quick warm winter getaway for people in Canada, Europe, and the United States. They come by the thousands to enjoy Punta Cana when it is winter cold in their own countries.

If you are contemplating a vacation in Punta Cana, I want to give you 7 travel tips that will make your stay more pleasant:

Avoid taking a taxi if you can

There is nothing particularly wrong with taxis in the Punta Cana area, but the rates can be exorbitant. For comparison, a fair that will only cost between $ 4 and $ 5 in Santo Domingo (the capital of the Dominican Republic) can cost you between $ 20 and $ 40 in Punta Cana.

To avoid taxis, try to negotiate with your travel agent for an airport transfer, both one-way and one-way, to be included in the package. Many are, and if you buy it, you should be able to find it. If you go on an excursion to one of the parks or islands, be sure to ask the tour operator if the cost of the excursion includes picking you up from your resort or hotel and taking you back; again many do, you should be able to find this. You can also rent a car for a reasonable fee instead of a taxi. Many of the renowned car rental locations are located there: Avis, Budget, Eurocar, National and Prestige. If you are on a serious budget, you can also take the bus called guagua that covers the entire coast of Punta Cana and beyond. Buses run every 15 to 30 minutes. If you need to travel to Santo Domingo, be sure to look for the Bávaro Express.

How to find the whitest beach

The most coveted beaches in the Dominican Republic seem to be the dusty white sand beaches; the whiter, the better in my people’s book. Tourists love the beauty of these beaches and also how the fine, silky sand feels between their toes. However, not all “Punta Cana” beaches are white.

What tourists often don’t realize is that what is now known as the “Punta Cana” coastline of the Dominican Republic is roughly 38 to 39 miles long. This is the entire east coast of the Dominican Republic. The color of the sand varies significantly along this stretch. In general, the further south you go, the whiter the sand will be. The coast of Punta Cana is shaped like an arrowhead pointing east. Where the arrow reaches a point is called El Macao. North of this point, the white sands begin to turn more golden. This can also be very nice, but if you are a true fan of pure white sand, you will probably want to search for a resort south of El Macao or find a resort on the southeast coast.

How to get through customs more easily

First, let me tell you some good news. Going through customs at Punta Cana Airport is much easier than at Santo Domingo Airport or other Caribbean Airports such as Cancun. That being said, however, there are some simple things you can do to lessen the chance that you will have some sort of hassle going through customs.

As soon as you arrive in Punta Cana, you will need to obtain a “tourist card” that costs only $ 10 and can be obtained at the airport before you go through customs. There may be a line for these though, so if you want to speed things up, try to get this included in your package so that you get a tourist card before you get off the plane. Customs officers can be a bit picky about anything that can be construed as a “sharp object.” Items like knitting needles and umbrellas can be considered “sharp objects” and can be detained and even confiscated. Be sure to store these types of items in your checked luggage to avoid problems. Also, make sure all your prescription medications are CLEARLY labeled. There is a strict tolerance for drugs in the Dominican Republic, so you don’t want to give customs officers any cause for concern. Another big “no-no”: both the input and the output is ANYTHING derived from plant material or animal parts. This may include hats made from coconut fibers, shells, fruits, wood carvings, etc … These items will be confiscated and may make going through customs longer than necessary. There are exceptions, such as amber jewelry that contains insect parts. The real concern is the spread of insects and microorganisms across the border.

Defend your position on public beaches

Officially, all the beaches in the Dominican Republic are public. However, many of the resorts like to post signs and patrol the beaches in front of their resorts as if they have a private beach.

When you are walking on the beach, just know that you can walk on the beach and you should politely maintain your position in case someone approaches you and tells you otherwise. Let them know that you only intend to pass.

Tipping expectations and giving gifts to locals

You are expected to tip waiters and waitresses. 5-10% is considered the norm. Bartenders are often tipped $ 1 per round, sometimes more if the drinks are more complicated to prepare. Hotel maids are often tipped $ 2- $ 5 per day and airport porters $ 1 per bag. You are also expected to tip the tour guides. Guides generally get $ 5 for half-day excursions and $ 5- $ 10 for full-day excursions.

It is also becoming increasingly popular to leave gifts for the locals. Children’s sweets, toys and school supplies are very popular. Usually books, makeup and jewelry are left. It is best to check with the tour guides you go out with and the hotel staff to determine what might be the most appropriate and necessary items to bring as a gift. Remember that this is a country that is a “third world” country with an emerging economy and there are many needs.

Find a resort that meets your needs

Different resorts cater to different needs. Some resorts cater to families with children. Others are “adults only” and suit those couples looking for a romantic getaway without children on foot. Many resorts in the Punta Cana area follow European customs. Some Americans like this, but others don’t. If you don’t, be sure to find a resort that is more suited to American customs.

You may want a complete list of all the activities on offer at the resorts you are considering, as this will often help make your decision on which one to choose that much easier. Some resorts offer better activities for children, some are supervised and some are not. Some offer sailing, surfing, windsurfing, dancing, diving, and other highly desirable classes. Some have activities like horseback riding and buggies that others don’t. Some complexes are better designed for the disabled and others with special needs.

How to go on excursions in Punta Cana

Most vacation packages include some off-site excursion opportunities. Most are very simple, like a boat ride to a reef to snorkel or take a catamaran cruise to an island. However, hotel tours are almost never the way to have the best adventure outside of your resort. Local fishermen and other locals also often volunteer to take tourists on their boats. These can really be unpredictable, most often unfortunately. You should also be aware that these locals are almost never licensed or linked, so if something were to happen you would be stuck.

You will have a much richer and more memorable experience if you take excursions in Punta Cana with an experience from tour operators who specialize in providing excursions. Your excursion will also be much safer. The excursions that get the most recognition are those that offer eco-adventures where you can really explore nature and culture in depth with people who truly care and have a deep knowledge and appreciation for the wildlife and people of the area. Take at least one of these types of excursions and compare them to what the resorts have to offer and the difference will be obvious to you.

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