Punta Cana is a super popular beach town on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. Known for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and tropical climate, it is the Dominican Republic’s biggest destination for resort-staying tourists. However, there’s SO much more here than the many Punta Cana resorts. You can go on many day trips to explore the area + surrounding natural gems and experience local culture. I will share with you some of the best day trips from Punta Cana so you can make the most of your trip to the Dominican Republic!
Table of Contents
The Coolest Punta Cana Day Trips
1. Scape Park + Hoyo Azul ★
If you’re looking for a unique natural attraction to visit, Hoyo Azul is a must-see. Hoyo Azul, meaning “Blue Hole” in Spanish, is a cenote in the Scape Park nature reserve. The cenote is a natural swimming hole with crystal-clear blue water surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. To get to Hoyo Azul, you can take a guided tour from Punta Cana. The tour will take you through the jungle, where you can spot wildlife such as iguanas and parrots, and eventually lead you to the cenote. You can swim in the cool, refreshing water or relax and take in the stunning natural surroundings.
2. Santo Domingo ★
For a cultural day trip, consider visiting Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is a historic city with a rich cultural heritage, and it’s also the oldest city in the New World, founded in 1496 by Christopher Columbus’s brother, Bartholomew. The city is home to many historic landmarks, including the Alcazar de Colón, a 16th-century palace that was once the home of Diego Columbus, the son of Christopher Columbus. Other must-see attractions in Santo Domingo include the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas, and the National Pantheon, a mausoleum that houses the remains of many of the country’s most famous figures. If you don’t want to travel independently, then consider this full-day or this half-day guided tour.
3. Los Haitises National Park
For nature lovers, Los Haitises National Park is an ideal day trip from Punta Cana. The park is located on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. The park is characterized by its stunning limestone formations, which rise up from the sea and are covered in lush vegetation. You can take a guided boat tour of the park, where you can explore the park’s many caves and see some of the park’s many species of birds and other wildlife. The park is also home to several indigenous Taino caves, where you can see ancient cave paintings and learn about the Taino culture.
4. Ojos Indigenas ★
The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve, which is situated within the privately-owned Punta Cana Resort & Club, is a protected area that covers approximately 1,500 acres and houses several important ecological systems, including mangroves, lagoons, and wetlands.
While I initially had concerns that it would be crowded and geared towards tourists, I was pleasantly surprised by the peaceful ambiance of the reserve as I explored the natural cenote-like pools. This attraction attracts a diverse group of travelers, including independent travelers, families, and tour groups, so if one pool does not suit your taste, you can easily move to the next one. I loved strolling along the tranquil trails that connected each cenote pool!
It is important to note that only a select few pools are open for swimming, but the beauty of these pools alone is worth the relaxing Punta Cana half-day trip. You can go on your own or book a guided tour here!
5. Macao Beach
If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, Macao Beach is a great option. Macao Beach is located just a few miles from Punta Cana and is known for its long stretch of white sandy beach and crystal-clear water. The beach is popular with surfers, and there are several surf schools in the area where you can take lessons. If you’re not interested in surfing, you can still enjoy the beach by swimming in the warm water, lounging in the sun, or taking a walk along the shore.
6. La Romana + Altos de Chavon
Altos de Chavon is a unique cultural attraction located in the nearby town of La Romana. Altos de Chavon is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village and is home to several art galleries, shops, and restaurants. The village is perched on a hilltop overlooking the Chavon River and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. One of the highlights of Altos de Chavon is the amphitheater, which has hosted many famous musicians and performers over the years. The village also has several museums, including a museum of pre-Columbian artifacts and a museum of Taino art.
7. Airplane Ride to Samana ★
Flying across the Dominican Republic offers a unique and enjoyable way to tour the country while traveling. ReefJet Air offers plane day tours to Samana that include horseback riding to El Limon Waterfall and Cayo Levantado and can accommodate small groups of up to 8 individuals. Along with providing this guided experience, they also cover national park fees, beverages, and lunch.
For those interested in solely booking the Samana flight, the price drops from $300 to $160 round trip. Samana boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the Dominican Republic, with the opportunity to witness natural wonders and pristine beaches. Full-day tours to El Limon Waterfall and Bacardi Island are also available, featuring some of the best caves and waterfalls in the Dominican Republic, which can be explored through a catamaran boat and horseback.
8. Whale Watching in Samana
Once you have flown into Samana for the day, another option is to witness the Humpback whales in their natural habitat while in Punta Cana. You can arrange your own whale tour or choose this guided sanctuary whale tour in Samana (no flight required).
The journey begins with a scenic bus ride through the picturesque countryside to the charming Bavarian town of Miches. Following a private breakfast, you will then board a speedboat that will take you out into the ocean. The best time to visit the Dominican Republic to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures is between mid-December and late March. We suggest bringing along binoculars, a camera, and some snacks to enjoy the experience fully.
Fun fact: Humpback whales can grow up to 62 feet and they communicate by singing. If you’re an animal lover, don’t miss the chance to see these stunningly enormous creatures and to hear their magical songs!
9. Helicopter Flight Tour
The Punta Cana Scenic Helicopter Flight is an unforgettable experience that takes you high above the stunning landscapes of Punta Cana. During this helicopter tour, you will be able to take in breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, lush forests, and pristine beaches from a once-in-life-time perspective. The tour is led by an experienced pilot who will provide fascinating insights into the area’s history and culture as you soar above it. You’ll also get to see some of Punta Cana’s most famous landmarks from a bird’s-eye view, including the iconic Bavaro Beach and the luxurious resorts that line its shores.
10. Saona Island
One of the most popular day trips from Punta Cana is a guided tour to Saona Island, a small island located off the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is part of the East National Park and is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. To get to Saona Island, you can take a boat tour from Punta Cana. Most boat tours include a stop at the famous natural swimming pool, where you can swim in waist-deep water surrounded by starfish. You can also enjoy a barbecue lunch on the beach and explore the island’s many attractions, such as the Canto de la Playa, a stunning limestone cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
11. Los Corales Neighborhood
The Los Corales neighborhood and beach is the perfect Punta Cana day trip for travelers seeking a break from the resort scene. It is a secure and walkable residential area that features small businesses, local nightlife, and an array of restaurants. Los Corales is not just one of the best beaches in Punta Cana, but it offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to explore the area, shop, or indulge in some delightful cuisine at the beachside bars/restaurants. Some popular options include TOC, Soles Beach Restaurant, and Flavio Acuna, or perhaps just stopping for a drink at Flamingo Bar.
12. Montana Redonda
Montana Redona, also known as Round Mountain, is one of the most sought-after natural wonders in Punta Cana, offering visitors an irresistible charm of the surrounding nature. This Round Mountain Beach Lemon tour will take you through the scenic Lagoon El Limon, ascending 1,000 feet to capture awe-inspiring views before descending to the pristine Playa Esmeralda, a stunning and unspoiled beach. This other Round Mountain and Esmeralda Beach tour offers hot meals while you lounge on swings and hammocks in a paradise-like setting.
13. Salto El Zumbador
Salto El Zumbador boasts two stunning waterfalls – El Zumbador Chiquito and El Zumbador Grande. The falls can be accessed at the gate of Los Haitises National Park, but visitors must be prepared for a 1.2-mile hike. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of the falls and your swim gear to take a refreshing dip in the midst of lush tropical vegetation. While you’re in the area, make sure to visit the nearby Yanigua and Fun-Fun waterfalls as well!
14. Hike Salto la Jalda Waterfall
The Dominican Republic has hundreds of epic waterfalls to visit. And standing as the Caribbean’s tallest waterfall, Salto la Jalda, plunges an astounding 1,246 feet down, promising an awe-inspiring sight. The journey entails a 7.8-mile out-and-back trail, approximately a 3.5-hour hike. This is moderate difficulty due to river crossings and occasionally muddy or boggy terrain. Remember to arm yourself with bug spray in case there are mosquitoes.
To make the most of your visit, consider embarking on a private hiking tour. These guided experiences provide a comprehensive day-long adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the allure of Salto La Jalda.
15. Punta Cana Deep-Sea Fishing
Fishing enthusiasts will love deep-sea fishing in the colorful tropical waters surrounding Punta Cana. This company offers deep-sea fishing tours on sailboats to catch Atlantic Ocean fish like Blue and White Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, and more. Big Marlin Charters is another favorite that books deep-sea fishing, inshore fishing, reef spearfishing, and party boat-reef snorkeling.
Deep Sea Fishing Tour Company options:
16. Isla Catalina
Isla Catalina is another small island located off the coast of the Dominican Republic. The island is known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, and it’s a great place to snorkel or scuba dive. Catalina Island is also home to a protected marine park and a diverse array of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and coral. You can take a boat tour to the island from Punta Cana on this small group tour, where you can enjoy a day of swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
17. Hike Anamuya Mountain
Hikers can visit Cotubanamá National Park, just 30 miles from Punta Cana, for a hiking tour up Anamuya Mountain! This tour offers half-day guided treks up this lush summit, where you can also learn about the local fauna and flora. If you’re a birdwatching-enthusiast, bring some binoculars! If you don’t like crowds/touristy spots, this is a great day trip from Punta Cana for you.
- Bonus tip: Book this as a private tour and pair it with a visit to the popular Isla Saona (it’s in the same region).
- Bonus tip 2: Don’t miss our guide to the best hiking trails in the Dominican Republic!
In conclusion, Punta Cana has much more to offer than just its beautiful beaches. There are many day trips you can take to explore the surrounding areas, experience the local culture, and enjoy a range of activities.
My Other Dominican Republic Blog Posts
If you loved this post don’t forget to check out our other Dominican Republic blog post guides:
- Incredible Places to Visit in the Dominican Republic
- 48 Fun Things to Do in the Dominican Republic
- 14 Beautiful Islands of the Dominican Republic to Explore
- 34 Best Dominican Republic Beaches
- 25 Amazing Hikes in the Dominican Republic
- 23 Stunning Waterfalls in the Dominican Republic + How to Visit
- Is it Safe to Travel in the Dominican Republic?