With over four million annual visitors to the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a place to worship the sun and the sea. From Bayahibe to Macao, travelers will find many options for the best beaches in Punta Cana. With its turquoise water, wind-swept palm trees, and white sand beaches, Punta Cana routinely pops up among the top beaches in North America.
Punta Cana is a beach lover’s paradise; however, it also appeals to adventure travelers, families, and nature lovers. Punta Cana International Airport is located inland and between popular resort spots. Travelers spoke out to find the best places to stay in Punta Cana for their island vacation. With 200 beaches in the Dominican Republic, it might be overwhelming to pick just one. We have several recommendations, from the luxury traveler to the eco-conscious to the families.
Bayahibe Beach, la Romana and Saona Island
The beachside town of Bayahibe offers a Blue Flag Beach and water sports. This resort area is best for eco-conscious travelers seeking a quieter vacation spot. It is an easy walk to town for Dominican Republic dining and souvenir shopping. For an all-inclusive resort option, consider Hilton La Romana. It offers a family-friendly side and an adult all-inclusive.
One of the top excursions in the Dominican Republic is Saona Island. This island is part of Cotobonama National Park, also known as East National Park. It is only open to day trippers and appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. We recommend Cano de la Playa, Playa Bonita, and Playa del Gato for pristine beaches to enjoy. Guests take a boat cruise to Saona Island, and most excursions include lunch on the island.
Cap Cana and Playa Juanillo
One of the newest developments, Cap Cana, is a gated community with several resorts. Located on the Southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Cap Cana is home to Juanillo Beach, one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic.
This area is ideal for water sports like kayaking, SUP boarding, and sailing. Cap Cana Marina offers boat excursions for a guided option. Since this area is gated with fewer resorts, it’s the ideal location for those yearning for a luxury escape.
Sanctuary Cap Cana and Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana are the best luxury resorts for adults only. For families, we recommend the Hyatt Ziva, located on the pristine Juanillo Beach. It offers a five-acre beach with water sports like Hobie Catamarans. We consider these some of the Best All-Inclusives in the Dominican Republic.
Since the entire southeast coast of the Dominican Republic is called Punta Cana, this area is often referred to as Playa Blanca, its main beach. Closest to the airport, Punta Cana is home to the Punta Cana Resort and Club. There are several resorts in the gated community, along with vacation homes to rent.
The Indigenous Eyes (Ojos Indigenas) Ecological Park is ideal for travelers who want to explore a tropical forest. SCUBA divers frequent this area for a shipwreck off its shore. Located just north of Cap Cana, this area also hosts a Kite Surfing competition.
This area is the most developed and is often called the Coconut Coast. With resorts standing shoulder to shoulder, Bavaro is the most lively area in Punta Cana, with many people walking the beach. Dance music rolls out of the resorts, and offshore visitors will see water sports and pleasurecraft. We recommend this area if you want a party to go with your beach getaway.
There are several of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, like Playa Cabeza del Toro to the south, Playa Bavaro, Playa el Cortecito, and Playa Arena Gorda farther north. Off the coast, visitors will find dive spots like shipwrecks and caves. This beach area extends for 30 miles, so one beach blends to the next. It is one of the top resort areas in the entire Caribbean.
The resorts range from family-friendly properties like the Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana. For an adults-only all inclusive, we recommend the Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana or the Iberostar Grand Bavaro. This area offers the largest selection of the Best All-Inclusives in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana.
We recommend this kicked-back corner of the Dominican Republic for surfers. With trade winds and swells, this area is the most reliable for surfing. For those new to the sport, learn-to-surf classes are offered most days and are open to all levels.
Macao is north of the Bavaro area, and it lacks the resorts of its neighbor. We found the vibe to be quieter and a local favorite. There are even fish shacks on the beach. For travelers who want to stay in the area, we recommend Dreams Macao Beach Punta Cana.
North of Macao, Playa Palmera is located on the Atlantic Ocean. With more resorts than in Macao, visitors will find beach amenities like loungers and palapas, often reserved for resort guests. However, this area is less developed than the Bavaro Beach area. Playa Palmera offers palm trees for shade as well.
We recommend Jewel Punta Cana for Playa Palmera or the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana. It features a popular waterpark. Offshore, visitors can see the NB Rock, a rock formation.
Blue Flag Beaches
The Foundation for Environmental Education, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, designates Blue Flag beaches annually. Its criteria include environmental, safety, educational, and accessible considerations. The Dominican Republic boasts 25 Blue Flag beaches according to the 2023 results by BlueFlag.global.
The Dominican Republic Blue Flag beaches are located at La Romana’s Bayahibe Beach. At Bavaro, visitors can enjoy Blue Flag beaches at Playa Arena Gorda, Playa Bávaro, Playa el Cortecito, and Cabeza de Toro. These beaches offer recycling bins, and some offer accessible equipment, like sand chairs.
How to Get to Punta Cana
The Punta Cana International Airport is modern and one of the largest in the Caribbean. It offers about 26 international departures, including direct flights from Britain, France, and South America. U.S. travelers can use American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines to get to Punta Cana.
There are several things to know before booking a trip to the Dominican Republic. A valid passport with more than six months before expiration is required for your trip. A 30-day tourist visa will be stamped into your passport upon entry. The Dominican Republic Entry fee is included in your flight. The Dominican Republic requires U.S. Passengers to fill out an online immigration form before they arrive.