Punta Cana’s beaches aren’t quite white rather they’re better described as a pure golden color, which goes well with the Dominican Republic’s Amber Coast associations. But this region has also become closely tied with the links — those vacationers not working on their tans can often be found perfecting their golf swings at the Punta Espada or La Cana golf courses. Not much of a gold person? Try taking a dip at Dolphin Island or meeting the wildlife at Manati Park. And when you’re not lazing on the beach with a good book, cool off in the clear blue water. Let’s take a look at the places you can visit to make your trip filled with sophistication and fun!
1. Espada Golf Course Punta
The green fees to play at Punta Espada are hefty, but hear us out before you write it off: This par-72 course is a Jack Nicklaus signature course and the site of top tournaments like the PGA Champions Tour. It’s one of the most gorgeous courses in Punta Cana, with winding pathways and a top-notch view. In fact, the sprawling course is most often described by visitors as “golf heaven” — likely because of its mix of the vibrant colors (from sage greens to the aquamarine surf) and various amenities. Your day rate includes the rental of a golf cart, driving range practice, a caddy and two bottles of water. There’s also a restaurant with a patio on-site, as well as a lounge area overlooking the course and the coast for any non-golfers to curl up with a good book and relax. As you drive the course, keep an eye out for the million-dollar mansions and the private beach club.
The prestigious Punta Espada, located along the southeastern coast of Punta Cana, is the one of three courses for the Cap Cana resorts. To get there, book with the course’s transportation partner, Golf Punta Cana, which also offers package deals with other courses.
2. La Cana Golf Course
La Cana Golf Course has Seashore Paspalum grass, four holes directly along the seafront, and plenty of prestige. Golf lovers appreciate that it’s not as crowded or expensive as Punta Espada, plus it’s more scenic than Barceló Bávaro.
Previous guests also say La Cana’s prices are somewhat reasonable, considering its breathtaking scenery. Add in the fact that you can opt for a discounted rate and just nine holes of golf, and La Cana is one of the better valued courses in the district. But it’s also very popular, so you should consider reserving your tee time as much as two weeks in advance, especially during peak travel season.
La Cana Golf Course was designed by P.B. Dye and is located on the grounds of the Punta Cana Resort & Club on the southeastern coast of Punta Cana.
3. Dolphin Island
Most travelers are quick to note that Dolphin Island seems more humane than the Manati Park, and if you’re looking for a day excursion away from the resort (the park is situated at the southern edge of Bavaro Beach) this might be a better fit for you. You can also save some money if you choose to swim with the sea lions instead. And be sure to make your reservation at your hotel, which will also include shuttle service to the boat dock.
4. Barcelo Bavaro Golf Course
Redesigned and remodeled by architect P.B. Dye in 2010, this par-72 course is one of the most popular spots to tee off in Punta Cana. Recent golfers say the only real downside to Barceló Bavaro’s 18 holes is that they aren’t situated near the ocean. Travelers say compared to the other golf courses located in Punta Cana, though, a round at “The Lakes” is quite a deal, adding that the course is in great condition.
The greenway is located on the grounds of the Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe hotel, but open to outside guests as well. Day rates include equipment rental and hotel access, but you should make your reservations up to 24 hours in advance.
5. Manati Park
If you’re trying to decide between the Manati Park and the Dolphin Island, visitors generally agree: visit Manati if you like birds and reptiles, but make the journey to Dolphin Island if you’re into marine life. Recent vacationers are particularly complimentary of the flamingo, iguana and crocodile exhibits. The shows, including a Taíno dance performance and a playful parrot show, are also a high point for many visitors.
Manati Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and hosts show times throughout the day. The rates for entry and shows are somewhat moderate ($35 USD for adults, $20 USD for children ages 2 to 12), but there’s a steep fee to swim with the dolphins ($125 USD for park entry and dolphin swim). Speak with your hotel concierge or tour desk about arranging a visit to Manati Park: the colorful (and free) shuttle bus stops at several hotels.
6. Imagine Punta Cana Disco
Nightlife options aren’t plentiful in Punta Cana, but they do exist. So if you’ve gotta dance, consider visiting the Imagine Punta Cana Disco for the night. The atmosphere alone will draw you into the club even if the pounding beats don’t. Imagine is a series of natural caves backlit in a variety of neon colors. Each cave plays a different type of music — there’s even a chill out lounge to rest in between sets.
Recent visitors note the music is a mix between house techno, upbeat Spanish tunes and some American pop hits. Many of the Punta Cana hotels offer a reasonable all-inclusive package that includes transportation to and from the club, cover charge and an all-you-can-drink voucher once you arrive. The club itself offers a few different entry, drink and transportation packages: travelers say splurging $60 USD for the open bar along with entry and transportation is the better deal over the $40 USD for entry, transportation and two small drinks. While Imagine Punta Cana Disco is a fun experience, it’s also located in the middle of nowhere.
What do you add to the list of things to do in Punta Cana?