The area is best known for its beaches, which face both the Caribbean and Atlantic, and it has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970s. The Punta Cana area has an estimated population of 100,000 with a growth rate of 6%. To the north, it borders the village and beach of Cabeza de Toro, and then the Bávaro and El Cortecito beaches. The nearest city, the 500-year-old capital of the Province Higuey, is 45 kilometers (28 mi) away, and it takes about an hour to drive there. Europeans, particularly Spanish hotel chains, own all but two of the 50+ megaresorts of the Punta Cana tourism destination.
Punta Cana-Bavaro’s resorts show a eclectic variety of architecture and interior design inspired by Spanish and native Dominican cultures. Areas bordering Punta Cana include Cap Cana to the south and the original tiny fishing-village of Cabo San Rafael. A 100 meters (330 ft) high cliff is located more to the south, near of Boca de Yuma town, a fishing village dated from the 16th century. Nearby, you can find the Ponce de Leon’s Fortress, in San Rafael del Yuma town. This is one of the most isolated areas within the La Altagracia Province.
The province’s 100 kilometers (62 miles) coastline tends to be mildly windy. The ocean waters are mainly shallow, with several natural marine pools in which visitors can safely bathe. North to South the main beaches are: Uvero Alto, Macao, Arena Gorda, Bavaro, El Cortecito – all north of the cape – and Cabeza de Toro, Cabo Engano, Punta Cana, Juanillo – south of the cape.
The nightlife inside the resorts is very lively with Las Vegas-style shows mostly from local artists. Outside of the hotels, half a dozen of high-quality discotheques allow tourists to interact with local residents. There are over 80 + restaurants and bars, with exotic international cuisine from China, India or Thailand that complete the Punta Cana-Bavaro’s gastronomic temptations.
Golf: Punta Cana has 12 professional golf courses that have already been built, from designers such as Jack Nicklaus, P.B. Dye, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo and Nick Price, all within one hour drive from each other. The very first 18-Hole golf course was built in 1991 for the BARCELO complex. It was designed by Spanish Jose -Pepe- Gancedo, a former pro. Then, in 2000 it was followed by the La Cana Golf Course from P.B. Dye. In 2005, Cap Cana complete the first of their 5 golf courses (three Nicklaus-signature), the Punta Espada Golf Course, a Nicklaus’ masterpiece. Punta Espada, along with Teeth of the Dog in Casa de Campo figure among the very first 50 best golf courses in the world.
The Punta Cana-Bavaro area now has a unique blend of top quality golf courses with several more in the planning stages, looking to become the golf mecca of the Caribbean.
Palma Real Shopping Village: A standout among the region’s shopping centers, Palma Real Shopping Village is a swanky, partially enclosed mall designed with an eye toward light and space. Water fountains and tropical plants infuse life into the bright and airy interior areas beneath the blue-tile roof. Music pipes through the stone-floor plaza in the center, where seating is available, and security is tight. Upscale retail shops, which sell beach wear, clothing, skin care products, jewelry, and more, line the walls. Several restaurants give visitors welcome dining alternatives beyond the gates of their resorts including Tony Roma’s, Pizzarelli’s, and Hard Rock Cafe. There are two banks, ATMs, and a money exchange outlet. Store hours are open 10-10, but the restaurants stay open later. Shuttle buses run to and from many of the hotels with pickups every two hours. The Just recently a new multi screen cinema has been added to the mall.
Diving: Punta Cana diving consists of numerous dive sites. These range from beautiful dive sites grown with corals, sponges, canyon style incisions and hundreds of tropical fish to wrecks. Punta Cana diving is great for learning and beginners since the waters are shallow, the deepest dives are no more than about 18 meters. There is excellent visibility of 90-100 feet. A lot of the dive sites in Punta Cana consist of coral blocks which can easily be surrounded. You could meet nurse sharks, sting rays or eagle rays here. Some dive sites are also made of stone and coral formations with pretty caves and swim-throughs. La Cueva for example is a reef with many caverns and caves to dive and Batato are impressive rock formations with many small passages.
The following wrecks are also to be seen: Astron Wreck where fauna and wreck are fantastic. Here divers see both the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean fauna. Its gigantic propeller is now home to rays and barracudas. The particularity of this wreck is that it is close to the beach and can even be seen from the surface. Another wreck “Monica” is considered One of the most beautiful wrecks in the Dominican Republic and surely worth the dive.
Dolphinarium : Swim with Dolphins Punta Cana, This unique experience is a Natural Dolphin Swim program that is designed to be fun, very informative, and interactive. This incredible day program allows you to interact with these amazing creatures in their natural environment.
Whatever you are looking for Punta Cana has everything you would need to keep you and your family busy. From world class golf courses, spectacular beaches and awesome dive spots, Punta Cana has it all.