The magnificent stretch of coast in Punta Cana is simply the dream beach come true: white soft sands, warm turquoise waters, coconut palm trees, one perfect beach after another for 50 kms.
No wonder it’s a favourite of A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and Julio Iglesias.
Its obvious natural beauty makes it all the more strange that tourism took so long to take off here.
But they are catching up with the rest of the Caribbean fast.
With new hotels and resorts opening up justice is finally being made to this precious piece of land, also known as the coconut coast for pretty obvious reasons.
But fear not — although resorts and hotels are here there is still space in abundance and your can always find your own beach solace.
As the captain of our snorkeling boat explained a coral reef means the waters are safe and calm.
But amazing snorkeling is only one the many activities hotels provide — scuba-diving, sailing, tennis, horse riding, cycling, golf, even Segway tours are all on offer.
Away from the hotels explore the Punta Cana Resort & Club and follow the trail that takes you into the fresh water lagoon (don’t be afraid and take a swim) and visit the Ecological Reserve — an impressive tropical sanctuary of wildlife and plants.
And take a break from sunbathing by renting a car and visiting the neighboring Dominican villages. The locals are super friendly and you may end up having a merengue lesson.
Higuey and the colourful El Cortecito are a short distance from Punta Cana but the roads are not very good so take your time to drive.
There you’ll really see the laid back Caribbean way of life and also get the chance to buy top quality cigars (Dominican Republican is the largest producer of cigars in the world ), excellent coffee, art or rum. Take the local’s advice on what to buy.
Inside and Out
• Spanish is the official language in this side of the Hispaniola island (Haiti is in the other half) where Dominican Republic is, but English is spoken in the hotels and touristic areas.
• With warm tropical weather all year long, the country has a lot of sunshine hours. Don’t forget a high grade sunblock and sunglasses!
• The beautiful Chavon River has been the set for such movies as Apocalypse Now and Jurassic Park. If you want to check it out there are day trips. Also the Altos de Chavon Regional Museum of Archaeology with artifacts from the Taino indians who once lived in the region.
• STAY: at Punta Cana Resort & Club and Tortuga Bay. You can choose between the casitas, small elegant houses very close to the beach, or the hotel. A spa and golf courses and the very exclusive Tortuga Bay. Designed by dominican Oscar de la Renta, these top luxury villas have a VIP service from the very close Punta Cana airport. (puntacana.com)
• EAT: at Captain Cook. Although the resorts have different restaurants it is worth trying Captain Cook in El Cortecito village. Fresh seafood and fish right on the beach. 809-552-1061
• NIGHT OUT: at Merengue. Don’t miss the piña coladas and other rum cocktails.