About Punta Cana
Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic's most popular resort area, and it's a favorite destination amongst Spring Break fun-seekers thanks to the lively party atmosphere for which it has become famous. Groups of American and Canadian students fly in every year to experience the sun and fun for themselves, and with many great all-inclusive deals available, Punta Cana is the perfect choice for a vacation where everything is all in one place. There's no real reason to leave your resort, although if you choose to do so there is certainly a wide selection of things to do, places to explore, and excursions to try out. However, with great restaurants, lively bars and clubs, festive beach parties, and shedloads of activities and games on site, the resorts really do offer the complete Spring Break package. Whether you want to spend your days recovering on the beach from the night before, or pushing your body to its limits in all sorts of exhilarating watersports, Punta Cana is the place to do it!
The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the country of Haiti. Originally, the island was inhabited by the Taino Indians, until it became a starting point from which the Spanish conquered much of the Americas after the area was discovered by Columbus in the 15th century.While the western side (now Haiti) was conceded to the French, the eastern side has a long, complicated history filled with struggles for independence - from Spain, from Haiti, from a US military government,and most recently from a brutal ditctator.
Since then, the Dominican Republic has suffered from major economic problems. However, the troubled country has worked hard to recover, and consequently enjoys a reputation as an extremely popular vacation spot for visitors from all over the world. With its astounding natural beauty, long stretches of white sandy beaches, sparkling waters, famously friendly locals, and excellent resorts, the country continues to draw in more and more tourists every year. Punta Cana, on the far eastern point of the island, in the province of Altagracia, has far and away the most lively and popular resorts: and when it comes to Spring Break, there is no better spot on the island!
Punta Cana boasts the longest coral reef of the island, so this is without a doubt the place to dive into the clear water and try out some snorkeling or scuba diving. It's possible to do this from the shore, but if you want a really fantastic underwater experience, you should definitely take one of the many available boat excursions to a spot further out. And the water activities are by no means limited to what's underneath - there's an overwhelming selection of watersports to try out here. Windsurfing and parasailing are particularly popular in Punta Cana, thanks to the strong breezes over the sea at this meeting point of the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans.
Of course, you don't have to be a sports enthusiast to enjoy Spring Break in Punta Cana. Maybe you just want to laze on those tropical beaches, under the shade of the palm trees, with a cocktail in your hand? Or go on an amazing glass-bottomed boat trip? Or wander through the bustling shopping areas filled with colorful stalls and all sorts of traditional handicrafts and souvenirs? Or take one of the many day trips on offer, and spend the day exploring the island? The choice is yours - Punta Cana offers relaxation and activities in equal quantities so that you can spend your Spring Break however you prefer to do so.
Punta Cana is all about resort life. While there are certainly bars and clubs springing up all over the place as the resident population steadily increases, there's honestly no need to leave your resort if you're there for some serious Spring Break partying. Particularly in the larger resorts, Spring Break is the time of year when the families and couples stay away, and the crowds of like-minded students arrive expecting to be entertained. It goes without saying that they get their wish! Resorts pull out all the stops, providing everything from live musical entertainment to pulsing nightclubs. Dance into the wee small hours at one of Punta Cana's spectacular beach parties - or if you're a thrillseeker, check out one of the magnificent and fast-paced casinos.
Punta Cana enjoys a tropical climate, with high temperatures and very little rainfall over the course of the year. A cooling breeze from the sea makes the heat much more comfortable than areas further inland - perfect for working on that tan and relaxing on the sand!
For the most part, Punta Cana has no rules on dress code. Most places are fairly casual and laid-back. To be on the safe side, though, check each individual club or restaurant's policy before you go, as some of the more upmarket places do have some kind of dress code in place.
As of January 23, 2007, all U.S. citizens traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document. Upon arrival, visitors must purchase a tourist card for US$10.
While the official language in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is Spanish, many people have an understanding of the English language. Most service employees speak both English and Spanish. However, it's worth brushing up on a few basic Spanish phrases before you go - locals appreciate you making an effort to communicate in their own language, even if it's just a few words!
Most taxis have to provide a copy of their standard rates, but the best advice is to establish the destination and the price before you get in. Hotels will be happy to order a taxi for you. Taxi drivers accept dollars, pesos and euros.Alternatively, if you're more adventurous, you can travel on the local buses - these are really cheap, but can be quite crowded, noisy, and a bit overwhelming if you're not used to them!
However, for the most part, students in Punta Cana for Spring Break rarely need to use public transport, as the resorts are pretty much self-contained. There's honestly no need to leave them, and although they're sometimes more like small towns than complexes, you can easily get around by walking.
The official currency in Punta Cana is the Dominican Peso. The best advice on changing your money is to only change small amounts at a time, as it can be quite difficult to change pesos back into your original currency. Most banks will exchange cash and traveler's checks (remember that you need to bring ID, such as your passport, for these). Alternatively, you can just withdraw money in pesos from an ATM - but check what your bank charges for withdrawals abroad first, to avoid any nasty surprises.
The same as in the U.S.A. and Canada: 110 Volts, 60 cycles, A.C.
Most restaurants add a 10% service charge, but it's usual to add another 5-10% for good service.
Eastern Standard Time all year round (the clocks don't change for Daylight Savings Time).
Dining and Drinking
If you're going all-inclusive, obviously you're not going to be leaving the resort for food - and Punta Cana resorts provide great selections of restaurants so that there's enough variety of cuisine to stop you from getting bored! You can eat traditional local food, or a wide selection of international cuisine, including popular American and European meals. It's worth looking into whether resorts are paired with "sister" hotels when you're booking. If so, you get even more choice, as you're free to choose to dine at the linkedestablishment as well as the one you're staying at.
If you do happen to be eating outside of the resorts, you'll find a number of good restaurants and cafes scattered around Punta Cana. Go for the ones that seem to be full of locals, for more authentic native cuisine and less tourist-oriented prices.
Oh, and the drinking age in the Dominican Republic is 18, just so you know. . .
About the Water
You should never drink water from the faucet in Punta Cana - it's not treated, and if you give it the chance, it can make you sick! It's generally OK for brushing your teeth; just don't swallow it. For drinking, most resorts will keep your room supplied with bottled water every day. If they don't, you should buy a few bottles and carry them around with you. Restaurants and bars have to use filtered water, even for making ice for drinks - if in doubt, however, don't be afraid to check!