The Dominican Republic has skyrocketed in popularity recently, and the purpose-built resort destination of Punta Cana, with its world-class beaches, has been consistently the main draw, especially for Americans and Canadians.
But this popularity can come at a price for those planning a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Many of the most popular resorts in Punta Cana are already filled to capacity, with some booked solid as far ahead as 2024!
This doesn’t mean travelers need to rethink their dream Caribbean vacation completely, nor does it means accepting a resort less than what they hoped for. This is because Punta Cana isn’t the only fantastic destination in the country.
The following are the 5 best alternative destinations to Punta Cana
Beautiful coastal scenery, rich cultural history, and some of the most consistently sunny and comfortably warm weather in the Caribbean. This is exactly what travelers to Puerto Plata can expect. This area was originally the home of tourism in the country, and it offers even more than Punta Cana in many respects.
As well as the same fantastic resort complexes that are to be found all over the country, this area is bursting with history. The colonial buildings of downtown Puerto Plata are a beautiful historical sight not found in Punta Cana, and the superb Teleferico cable car to the top of mount Isabel de Torres provides truly breathtaking views!
Additionally, every out-of-resort activity that can be found in Punta Cana is also offered in Puerto Plata. From swimming in beautiful blue cenotes to Whale watching day trips, it’s all here!
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This is the perfect destination for travelers seeking a truly relaxing vacation. The vibe here is more mellow and bohemian than its cousin Punta Cana. But visitors needn’t fear they’re getting less; with the relaxing vibe comes a huge selection of luxury 5-star all-inclusive resorts.
The town of Samana gives its name to the whole peninsula, which is renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty. The area has breathtaking hikes for travelers of all fitness levels, and the beaches here are much less crowded than in Punta Cana, with the same turquoise blue water and clean, white sand!
The area isn’t short on activities, but most visitors come here for the stress-busting atmosphere and calm, uncrowded resorts.
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La Romana is yet another destination with outstanding beaches lined by super all-inclusive resorts to rival Punta Cana. Located just an hour west of Punta Cana and an hour east of the capital Santo Domingo, this destination is one of the best positioned in the whole country.
But travelers don’t need to travel outside of La Romana to find paradise. The backdrop here is as beautiful as anywhere in the Dominican Republic. For families with small children, the water here is famously calm. Past tourists here have said the sea is often completely still. Add to that the fact the water here can be 2-3°F warmer than in Punta Cana, and it’s quick to see why many veterans of the Dominican Republic prefer this destination.
La Romana has its own airport just a 15-minute drive away from the main resort areas, and with Punta Cana Airport and Santo Domingo Airport so close, the opportunity to mix and match flights and airports gives the possibility of huge savings on airfare!
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This gorgeous area of the Dominican Republic stretches south from La Romana to Saona Island, which is, without a doubt, one of the country’s most beautiful attractions. Like La Romana, it is well connected to its neighbors and multiple airports.
This area of coastline is filled with stunning coral reefs for divers and snorkelers to explore, and it hugs the Del Este National Park, an area of outstanding beauty!
Boat tours are especially popular in this area. Bayahibe beach has its own boat launch dock from which many of the best tours in the Dominican Republic start. Everything from short yacht cruises to full-day excursions to Saona Island is available within a short walk of the resorts.
While not as lively as Punta Cana, Bayahibe is a great spot for couples or families seeking a relaxed vacation.
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It can be easy for travelers to overlook the capital Santo Domingo, but for visitors who love to immerse themselves in a different culture and really experience life abroad, Santo Domingo is a can’t-miss destination!
The Zona Colonial is a ‘World Heritage Site’ and home to some of the oldest and most beautiful architecture in the western hemisphere. In fact, Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Americas!
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Furthermore, having all of this culture and history on the doorstep doesn’t mean giving up the beach resort aspect of a Caribbean vacation. This waterfront city is home to many beautiful beaches, with the same turquoise blue water and soft sand found elsewhere, as well as some of the Dominican Republic’s most prestigious resorts.
Add to this the never-ending party that takes place every night in the city, and Santo Domingo quickly becomes a favorite destination for many travelers!
If your dream resort in Punta Cana isn’t able to accommodate you, don’t be disheartened, there are alternative destinations that won’t disappoint.
And with Spring Break around the corner, these fantastic choices are welcome for families and couples who want to avoid the hectic atmosphere this time of year brings.
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