Difference between revisions of "Punta Cana"
Revision as of 10:10, 18 April 2014
Punta Cana is the name of a region in the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic. Covering about 420,000 m2 (approximately 1,100 acres), the region is home to a coastline of sandy white beaches and to a "town" of the same name.
Located in the province of La Altagracia and population estimated at 100,000, the region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east. To the north, it borders Bávaro and El Cortecito beaches. It also limits with Cabeza de Toro, Cabo Engaño and further west with Juanillo.
Peak Season: Peak season in Punta Cana tends to run from December to April. Prices in both airfare and hotel increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the summer and early fall months.
Punta Cana has a tropical climate. Although it is mildly windy, the ocean in the area is mainly shallow, with several natural marine pools in which visitors can bathe. The weather is fairly constant, with an average temperature of 26°C. The hottest season lasts from April to November, and during the day temperatures might reach 32°C. From December to March, temperatures during the evening are around 20°C. Very little rain falls around the area, mostly because of the flat landscape. The summer months tend to be very warm and very humid. It is suggested to wear loose fitting, cotton clothing – so pack light.
Brush up on your Spanish skills before visiting Punta Cana. Many of the locals know English, but some very little. It can become very frustrating when you can't communicate with one of the locals or an employee of the resort.
Several US carriers have scheduled flights to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ)  including: Jet Blue, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United, US Airways and Delta. Air Canada also offers flights to Toronto and Montreal. Westjet also offers scheduled service from Toronto. Aeroflot offers service from Moscow. Charter airlines include Air Transat, Sunwing, Thomas Cook (operated by AC Jazz), Skyservice and Canjet departing from many larger Canadian cities seasonally
Most people going to Punta Cana are staying at a resort. With a resort package most hotels will have airport pick up arranged for you at the Punta Cana Airport. You will find this area to the right as you depart the final customs check area. Just look for your hotel name on a sign that many guides will have, and they will direct you to your bus. Private taxis are also available at fixed prices.
In fact, Punta Cana has one of the busiest and best connected airports in the region, sometimes receiving more flights than the Aeropuerto Internacional de Las Américas, located in Santo Domingo (at about a three-hour drive).
The Punta Cana Airport has a beautiful thatched roof and is an open-air design, also meaning that few areas of the airport have air conditioning. Upon arriving at the Punta Cana airport, each passenger is required to purchase a $10 tourist card before entering immigration, often included in your documentaion upon departure or issued on the flight (unless you have a Dominican passport or a cedula residence card). After retrieving luggage and clearing customs, arriving passengers will be greeted by their tour company representative to the right and directed to board the correct bus for transfer to their resort. Do not venture out looking for your bus without first checking in at the counters. The buses are numbered, thus you will not know which one to get on to.
Boating is very attractive and common water sport activity in Punta Cana, activities like fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, and sailing can be on line reserve with reputable companies operating in the area.
Just recently, the Dominican Republic Government has built a new highway known as the "Autopisa Del Coral". At 70 Kilometers or 43 Miles, The Highway starts from La Romana and Ends at Punta Cana. However, the Highway has now have the La Romana By-pass, allowing Drivers to save time if driving from Santo Domingo. The Highway's speed limit is 110 Km/h or 70 MPH and it only takes less than an hour from La Romana and 2 Hours from Santo Domingo. There are tolls for the highway but it's unopened.
Tour Operators:  Most passengers arriving in Punta Cana International Airport have prearranged local transportation through a tour operator. These companies have representatives at the airport to guide guests to vehicles waiting to take them to the reserved resort. If you are traveling with a tour operator it is highly recommended that you attend any welcome meetings and orientations offered by your tour operator. In these meetings you'll receive important information regarding your hotel and immediate area information, activity and excursion options, and departure information.
Taxis:  If you are not traveling with a tour operator, a number of taxi drivers are available just outside the Customs area to provide you transportation to the place of your choice. All taxis operate with standard rates; most drivers carry a copy of these. The best thing to do when hiring a taxi is to clarify your destination and the price in advance. You pay upon arrival at your destination. Most hotels have taxi stations on or near their property; in most cases a bellman or front desk clerk can order a taxi for you. Taxi drivers accept dollars, pesos and euros.
Local Buses: For the more adventurous, the local bus lines operate on most of the roads of the area, for a minimal cost. The downside to public transportation in the Dominican Republic is irregular bus schedules, crowded vehicles, and potentially unsafe vehicles (689 casualties in 2007), drivers or passengers. Although for the most part it is a safe and effective means of transportation, it is generally recommended to use one of the more frequented means of getting around.
Rent-a-Car: A number of car rental agencies like Europcar, Budget, Prestige Car Rentals  and Avis offer service in the area of Punta Cana and Bavaro. Many hotels have car rental concessionaries on their properties. Keep in mind that their driving laws, habits and conditions may be different from the ones you are used to. When renting a vehicle always take the maximum available insurance, keep a map of the area you intend to drive in, and make sure you are comfortable with the drive.
Airport Transfers Services  When you travel to Punta Cana it is important to know what transport options you have to get from and to the airport. There are a variety of companies that actually offer the service. It is important that you select a reliable and dependable company.
Wheelchair Adapted Bus Transfers  If you are a wheelchair user and looking for safe transportation in Punta Cana, now you have options. There are one company that offers vehicles, safe, clean and comfortable, with side door ramp, specially designed to help travelers with physical disabilities who arrive to Punta Cana. Getting a van for people with physical disabilities can be a difficult task in the Dominican Republic, and many wheelchair users can not enjoy their stay in the DR for this reason. You can now get a minivan with ramp for disabled access through the side door, to ensure a safe and comfortable transportation to your destination, while in Punta Cana.
Mobility Scooters Rental in Punta Cana  Wish to go on vacation to Punta Cana but has mobility problems because of, overweight, elderly, or any physical disability that does not allow you to walk some distances? Now you have the solution for the handicap to enjoy the beach and everything your all inclusive Resort has to offer you during your holidays in Punta Cana. The Scooters Rental in Punta Cana is an option for elderly and overweight people, you can make arrangements in advance from the comfort of your home by booking and securing your scooter before arrival. The Scooter will be delivered and pick up free of charge directly to major HOTELS in Punta Cana.
The local currency is the Dominican Peso. Its value fluctuates between 30-40 pesos per US dollar and 48-53 pesos per Euro. Although any currency can be changed into pesos, it should be noted that in some situations it may be difficult to exchange pesos back into your original currency. We recommend exchanging only small amounts of money at a time to avoid any inconveniences. Most banks exchange Dollars, Euros, and Traveler's cheques and can process cash advances on credit and debit cards. Don't forget to bring proper identification, such as a driver's license or passport. Please note that local ATM machines disburse only pesos, contact your bank for related service fees. If you are planning a day tour to Santo Domingo, you will find that everything is much cheaper than you would at the resort. Souvenirs, clothing, artwork, liquor, etc., will be about 1/4 to 1/3 the price at your resort. Also, in the area all shops, restaurants, bars, excursion companies accept US dollars, Euros, Canadian dollars, British pounds, but it is a bit cheaper to pay in Dominican pesos.
Do not exchange money outside a recognized bank or exchange house!
If you walk outside your resort to the city/area internet cafes will also be half the price (yet still pricey by ordinary Dominican standards. For example, $8 per hour in the resort, $4 per hour in town in Punta Cana or Bavaro. In other parts of the DR, internet cafes are $2 per hour or often less!)
Make sure you spend the remainder of your Dominican pesos. It is next to impossible to convert your pesos back to US dollars or Euros.
There are a variety of shops that are along the beachfront of each resort. These shops are owned and operated by the locals of the Dominican Republic. Shopping outside of the resort complex in Punta Cana/Bavaro can be kind of an adventure. In most shopping plazas, you can expect to be accosted by hoards of Dominicans all pulling you in a differet direction The people of the Dominican Republic love to barter for the price of items. You can expect that once in one of their stores you will definitely be taken for a ride. You will initially be quoted ridiculously outrageous prices. It is imperative that you get the item for as cheap as you can. This can become quite an ordeal as the shopkeeper fights with you, insults you for your frugality, etc. Often times, the locals will offer you a price for an item that is much more expensive the actual value of the product.
When walking along the beach also realize that the people at the shops will bother you to come buy something from them. It can often times become annoying because they will keep pestering you until you come and look at what they have to offer. Realize though that all you need to do is tell them that you are not interested and keep walking. The best way of letting the locals know that you are not interested is to tell them that you have no money and they will leave you alone. The people of the Dominican Republic are very friendly and become offended when you walk right past them without at least acknowledging their presence. A simple "no thank you" may sometimes work, but in most cases, they will not take no for an answer and will continue to chase and harass you.
Do not buy dried animals (turtle shells, sea shells...etc) because A.) It is illegal, so you will not be allowed to bring them through customs, and may get arrested trying; and B.) It encourages the locals to kill these creatures. Reef life should stay in the sea, so help to preserve these endangered animals by buying other types of souvenirs.
The all-inclusive resorts offer all kinds of great food. Make sure that you speak with your representative to book your preferred restaurant for dinner in advance. Many all-inclusive resorts have various types of restaurants. Make sure you take advantage of all their cuisines by reserving a date and time.
Keep in mind that the standards even at the five-star resorts are not the same standards as North America or Europe. Try to eat peeled fruits and vegetables. Stay away from food that may have been sitting for a long time.
There are also an ever increasing number of international restaurants located around Bavaro/Punta Cana that the residents and tourists alike visit quite often.
Presidente is the most popular national brand of beer, and it is readily available anywhere. It is available in both regular and lite versions. For a beer with a bit more taste, you should try Bohemia, made by the same company, but with a fuller flavour...also available in a lite version.
They also specialize in many different types of rum:
Most often, you will be offered Brugal or Barcelo products.
Highly recommended rums include Burmudez "Don Armando" and "Anniversario 1852" as well as Macorix "Eight Year".
Though in most Latin and Central American countries coffee is produced primarily for export, most of the coffee grown in the Dominican Republic is savored within its borders. And Dominicans, like Europeans, enjoy their coffee strong and black. One useful phrase for tourists to learn when ordering coffee is "sin azucar" (no sugar) for the simple reason that the locals measure by tablespoon rather than teaspoon.
Most Punta Cana resorts are low-rise and beautiful. Their grounds are lush and tropical with foliage, lagoons and palm trees along with peacocks, flamingos, ducks, parrots and other wildlife that stroll the resorts’ grounds. The majority of the resorts are very large and spread out – like small cities. This means lot of walking. Some resorts have golf carts and trams to accommodate guests’ needs. Punta Cana has so many great resorts that will meet every expectation: Golf, Scuba, Fishing, Wind-sailing, Yachting, Fine dining, Relaxation, Spas, Children's programs and more.
Travelers have been victimized at the airports in Santo Domingo and Punta Cana as they checked in their luggage and prepared to leave the country. Smugglers obtained an authentic airline baggage tag in a traveler’s name and placed it on baggage that contained drugs, presumably to be retrieved by an accomplice at the other end of the flight.
Departure Information and Tips
The CDC in the United States has stated that the entire province of La Altagracia, including the resorts, is at some risk for malaria. Malaria risk is significantly higher for travelers who go on some of the excursions to the countryside offered by many resorts. Currently the recommended preventative is chloroquine. Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, especially at dawn and dusk.
Several cases of cholera have been reported in travelers returning from Punta Cana resorts. Cholera vaccine, available in many countries, but not in the U.S., is recommended for aid and refugee workers only. Extreme care in hygiene and food habits for travel to risk areas, including resort areas, is advised. Carry oral rehydration salts in case of severe watery diarrhea. Azithromycin is recommended for diarrhea self-treatment; the epidemic strain of Vibrio cholerae has reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin and other quinolones.
(809) 552-1415 Located in Plaza Brisas de Bavaro, suite 207. It features a bilingual staff for out-patient medical attentions. Open 24/7 for emergencies
(809) 552-1506 Near Plaza Bavaro and the local bus terminal It features a multilingual staff and in-house pharmacy. Open until 9PM for visitors and 24/7 for emergencies
(809) 686-1414 Situated near the airport, Hospiten's multilingual staff and fully equipped facility is available 24/7 for emergencies
(829) 354 2664 Dental clinic located in Shopping Mall Plaza Rivieras, 2nd floor, offers dental services. Call Dra. Cindy Korac at 809 552 1613 for more information and to make an appointment or visit the website Dentist Punta Cana 
(809) 959-0025 Hours: 9AM-10PM This pharmacy is located near the airport and is the main pharmacy of the area of Punta Cana.
(809) 552-1533 Hours: 8AM-12PM This pharmacy near Plaza Bavaro offers delivery to many of the local hotels in the area.