The sun-bleached shores of Punta Cana, the easternmost part of the Dominican Republic, offer a respite that’s almost feverish. Unless of course, it’s raining during your spring break and winds are blowing at 20 miles per hour. In this case, a relaxing vacation will take a little more effort. Caribbean weather is famous for undoing our expectations, so the sun will eventually make a dramatic entrance, but until then, a holiday might be best enjoyed with the people with whom you’ve chosen to spend it, regardless of the weather. Hotel choice is crucial, hotel staff even more so, and amenities imperative. While nightlife in the area is thrilling, the cape of sugar cane attracts and was built for tourists to bask on the soft sands, so making the day count is crucial.
3 Things You Have to See
When the rain has passed and the sands have dried, you have to catch the last glimpses of the sun before it hides behind the horizon. A stroll along the shore after dinner and before heading to the nightclubs will be worth it. The scene will cater to your tropical vacation senses… they’re worth attending to and a sunset is sure to do the trick. The brightness will melt and flatten horizontally until you can see the stars.
Here, the animal will be first to cater to you… well at least the people bringing them to you will be. They’ll walk around with iguanas and snakes for tourists to hold and take photos with. A man with belted cargo shorts and sweat on his neck, followed by a woman with a professional camera, will maneuver between beach chairs and vacationers who’ve cracked an eye open to his booming voice. They’ll yell “Photo! Photo!” shoving a bored iguana in your face. If you accept you’ll have photos of the scaly creature balancing on your head forever.
This show and disco spot is something that must be seen to be believed. This club more resembles a high-ceilinged warehouse with a lofted stage and another in the middle of the dance floor that doubles as a bar. The walls are lined with bleachers for partiers looking to watch the show and have drinks brought to them. The floor is reserved for those who want to dance. Shows include intricate themed numbers like Chicago, a Michael Jackson tribute, and a gladiator aerial acrobat show on silks hanging from the ceiling.
3 Great Local Places to Eat
This Teppanyaki restaurant offers dinner and a show with its hibachi style dining. Each table comes with an enthused chef who prepares fried rice with chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, and grilled vegetables… only after making you catch pieces of food in your mouth. Before the show starts, diners are invited to the sushi bar. Reservations are required.
This elegant dining spot is exclusive to guests over 12 years old. Its gourmet dishes include, lamb, sea bass with quinoa, and filet mignon. Though the restaurant itself is only beige and white with its large wooden columns, white table cloths, and beige and white chairs, the staff and the food are colorful as ever. The only downside is its limited seating, we wouldn’t recommend dining at Le Gourmet with a party that exceeds eight people, or it will be split between two separate tables… no exceptions.
La Bodeguita del Majestic
La Bodeguita is a small junk food hub that caters to every drunk person’s early morning needs. The restaurant resembles a typical Caribbean house, is orange with white accents. Its hours are 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the chefs sing to their stumbling diners while loading their plates with chicken, French fries, nachos, and burgers.
Cool Day Trip
Once the weather clears, a perfect way to spend the day is out on the water. Charter a boat through your hotel that will take you and your friends out on the ocean to snorkel, drink, and dance. With companies like STS Travel and its spring break packages, the company will have a bus pick you up from the hotel and take you to the boat and supply drinks and gear. The day trip ends at a regatta on a sandbar where all boats offering similar excursions will dock and you can relax in the water and climb aboard other boats. It’s a clash of booming music, yelling, and alcohol. Which is—during spring break, at least, a perfect day.
Hidden Cultural Gems
While this drink isn’t much of a secret, few tourists have heard of it before traveling to Punta Cana. This drink is made of red wine, honey, rum, tree bark, and herbs. It’s a dark red color and warms the whole body. A few sips come in handy in the cold rain. It was originally prepared as an herbal tea by the native Taino Indians. It is often served as a shot, but an activities staffer at the Majestic Colonial hotel, Doris, said she liked to sip it in tall glass with ice. Doris and a crew of six other people were hired by the hotel to get guests excited to participate in shows, dances, competitions, and other events they coordinated on behalf of the resort. They hosted a foam party where Doris took a shot of Mama Juana and jumped into a split at the pool.
What do you love about Mama Juana?
I love how it makes the guests feel. They’ll loosen up and start saying “yes” to the dance parties and pageants we put on by the pool.
Do you usually drink it with the guests?
No! I do sometimes, but don’t tell my boss that. But usually I don’t, I naturally have all this energy. But it’s an aphrodisiac you know?
No I didn’t.
Yes! It can turn any party into a better party!
5 Hotels to Stay At
This 24-hour all inclusive hotel is divided into two sections. One with traditional lodging and the other with personal pool access and a minimum age of 18 years old. The hotel has six restaurants and 11 bars, a club, a 400-meter-long swimming pool, spa, and game room.
Occidental Punta Cana
For the traditional college spring break, this is the hotel for you. It includes a nightclub, three pools, and 10 restaurants. The hotel has a reputation for hosting spring breakers, and so isn’t quite a family hotel.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
This hotel is the nicest of this guide. The Hard Rock is music-themed, spacious, and luxurious. It includes shops, a large casino, a beauty salon, a golf course, and butler service. Its nightclub, Oro, is a part of all spring break party packages with its white couches, and gogo dancers.
Meliá Caribe Tropical All Inclusive Beach and Golf Resort
The Caribe Tropical is one of six Meliá hotels. This one calls itself “the most Caribbean hotel of the Caribbean.” It includes nine outdoor pools, workshops, parties, musicals, and beautifully furnished rooms.
Dreams Palm Beach Resort
This family resort is known for its pampering and spa amenities, which the hotel refers to as a “mom’s escape.” The gourmet restaurants do not require reservations, there are no wristbands for all-inclusive guests allowing you to roam freely from hotel to hotel, and nightly entertainment at the hotel stage.
3 Iconic Cultural Attractions
Altos de Chavon
This village is located in the south east of the Dominican Republic. It was built in 1976, and is now a cultural center. It features a museum, hosts workshops, and a school of design that is affiliated with Parson School of Design in New York City. It stands on a plateau and is loved for its beautiful architecture and for its reputation as an art hub where local artisans can be trained.
For another outdoor experience, a safari tour will bring you face to face with the nature in Punta Cana. These tours include visits to the coconut oil plantation, zip lining, and horseback riding.
The capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic is a bustling city about two hours from Punta Cana. It is the center of the country. It features beautiful architecture, and is the industrial and financial hub for the Dominican Republic.