Home of priceless white sands and wide, open recreational spaces, Punta Cana deservingly tugs on the heartstrings of every true adventurer. Located in the easternmost point of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana serves as host to crystal-clear waters, mild temperatures for the vast majority of the year, and a picture-perfect destination for casual tourists and dedicated travelers alike. Part of the renowned Coconut Coast, this oceanic destination allows visitors to make a wide variety of outdoor activities their own, everything from wind-surfing to kayaking, beachside hiking endeavors to sunbathing.
For a comprehensive Punta Cana experience, make sure that you adhere to our recommended tips and tricks. Once you know what to avoid in Punta Cana, you can begin crafting an immersive travel package to this staple Dominican Republic location, a vacation-worthy investment from the beaches of Cap Cana to the snorkeling opportunities at Carretera Cabeza de Toro.
1. Don't accept a vendor's price at face value
Many of the goods you will find along the side of the road, and in designated marketplaces in Punta Cana, will list items without definitive price tags. This is simply the cultural norm in the Dominican Republic, as many of the vendors enjoy haggling on prices, and providing locals and visitors alike with a holistic retail experience. Therefore, it is in your best interest not to accept a vendor’s offered price at the face value. Oftentimes, vendors will start a price for a given item well above the price they intend to finalize, simply offered as bait to inexperienced travelers, and those who may let their desire to acquire an item precede a good price.
Therefore, you should feel comfortable haggling on price points. In Punta Cana, this practice is typical, even encouraged, as both the vendor and the buyer eventually reach an agreed-upon price any given item. Whether it’s a piece of desirable clothing, a plate of hot food or a souvenir, don’t be afraid to challenge the seller for the best available price! It’s part of the fun of the purchasing process.
2. Don't venture off the beaten path during a guided expedition
Whether you’re touring a well-populated region, such as a beachfront space or a coastal park, or even if you’re traveling well off the beaten path for authentic Punta Cana hospitality, it is in your best interest to stay on the designated trail. Even more important, during a guided tour of any of the region’s countless sights and sounds, it is very important that you remain together with the group, despite any urge you may have to venture off by yourself.
Even though in the moment, a particularly inviting off-limits view of the coastline may proves difficult to forego, you will definitely thank yourself later. Unfortunately, Punta Cana like any location is not without its lawbreakers. There do exist a dedicated network of individuals who intend to prey upon travelers unfamiliar with the area, who allow their desire for adventure to gate the best of them. Fortunately, you have nothing to worry about as long as you stay on the guided tour, and on the defined pathways. Stay with the group, and you’ll have no problem making the most of your time in Punta Cana!
3. Don’t leave without learning some conversational Spanish
This one is virtually a no-brainer: in order to be able to converse during your time in the eastern Dominican Republic, it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with some conversational Spanish before you depart. Even if you only learn the terms for some well-known landmarks, questions and commands, you will experience a much smoother transition between countries. Learning even a select number of conversational Spanish words will leave you better equipped to deal with the new language, upon your arrival in Punta Cana. Not only that, but you might very well catch some locals off-guard, with your ability to converse with them! For a more holistic appreciation for the cultural differences between you and locals in Punta Cana, and for the ability to communicate in the case of any emergency, it’s a great idea to learn at least a few Spanish terms before you depart for the beauty of Punta Cana.
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4. Don’t take your eyes off your valuables during your stay
For the same reason that you need to stay on the recognizable path and with your assigned tour guide when checking out Punta Cana’s sights and sounds, you need to also make sure that you have your valuables, including money and identification, close to your person at all times. Unfortunately, there do exist those individuals looking to take those items from you, and you need to stay vigilant in case those moments do arise. However, once you keep those items close to you, in a location you can always keep an eye on, the rest of your stay in Punta Cana will prove both relaxing and readily enjoyable. Keep those valuables on your person at all times, and watch yourself experience a new type of rejuvenation close to the coast.
5. Don’t drive without adapting to the rules of the road
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Did you know that vehicular traffic in the Dominican Republic adheres to different rules and regulations that in other parts of the world? Make sure that you familiarize yourself with these rule changes, even if you don’t personally plan on driving during your time in Punta Cana. For example, car seat laws and seat belt laws are often not enforced in Punta Cana, so be on the lookout for those individuals who might be natives, and therefore comfortable driving without those restraints. Traffic in Punta Cana also tends to exist as slightly more erratic and spontaneous than in other parts of the world,especially with comparison to vehicular traffic in portions of North America. As a result, you and your entire travel party need to remain ever-vigilant, against traffic anomalies and other spontaneous traffic behaviors, especially if at any point you find yourself behind the wheel.
For as much as the new traffic patterns can prove a liability, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to learn new customs! Take advantage of your immersive driving experience in Punta Cana, and learn to appreciate a new way of life, as well as your own driving rules back home.
6. Don’t pass up the chance to visit the capital
Though you and the family members or friends to accompany you might be tempted to spend a vast majority of your time exploring the coastline in the Dominican republic, we promise that a tour of the capital is worth every second of the investment. Discover so much of the immersive history of the region itself, a foundational education cornerstone for locals and visitors alike toward understanding the origins of Punta Cana. The city of Punta Cana also offers you the opportunity to check out various retail venues, as well as the aforementioned historic landmarks, and a fair number of eateries and recreational spaces. All in all, you’re going to want to make sure that you provide yourself enough time to familiarize yourself with the city, as well as its capital, for the purpose of a holistic experience in eastern Dominican Republic.
7. Don’t spend all your time at the beach
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A subject already touched upon in the previous entry, you and your friends or family members are going to want to make sure that you provide yourself enough time to receive the holistic Punta Cana experience. This means that while you can certainly provide the wide open, panoramic landscapes of the ocean and its white sands their due time, you also need to venture into the center of the city, to see everything that it has to offer. With a wide host of various restaurants, retail venues, and recreational spaces, the entire Punta Cana package is satisfactory in itself. From the quality cuisine at the Jellyfish Restaurant to the golf opportunities exclusively at Cap Cana, you’ll find enjoyable sights and sounds from one edge of Punta Cana to the other.
8. Don’t drink the water
Lastly, you were going to want to steer clear of any open water as far as drinking sources are concerned. Even though after a long day of exploration in the region, it may be tempting to except an offer on the street have a cold glass of water, your stomach very likely will not agree with all of its contents. Rather, allow the open source drinking water to be consumed by locals, and stick to the trust of bottled water sources and protected sources of water, for which you can verify their origin. It is not a problem at all at a restaurant to ask for bottled water, rather than tapwater, for the entire table. Similarly, locals in Punta Cana who provide resources are used to the question itself, and will not be offended, but will rather understand your desires and will look forward to providing the best quality of hospitality available for you.
Didsover all of Punta Cana, the right way
Make sure that you provide yourself more than enough time to familiarize yourself with every corner of Punta Cana, from the whitewashed beaches to the center of town to the world-class, acclaimed cuisine that the region has to offer. Do things the right way in the Dominican republic, and ensure your safety and lasting well-being by adhering to our recommendations. For even more great travel tips, including hotel stays, local and international attractions, and the best cuisine to be found anywhere and everywhere, venture over to Trip101, your one-stop shop for up-to-date travel advice.
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