Many who travel to Punta Cana choose the resort destination for its stunning beaches, award-winning all-inclusive resorts, and Caribbean charm. But visitors shouldn’t overlook the area’s rich array of natural attractions, which include everything from rainforest treks to waterfalls and island day trips. We’ve rounded up must-see nature attractions for your next Punta Cana trip.
Cap Cana: Hoyo Azul
The Hoyo Azul – Blue Hole – is a must-see for nature lovers. Located in the nearby Scape Park protected area in Cap Cana, Hoyo Azul is a cenote, a naturally-formed freshwater sinkhole. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and cave exploration, this cenote is one of the most popular in the Dominican Republic.
Visitors can book a tour of the expansive park – covering 100 hectares – which includes hotel pick-up as well as access to the area’s adrenaline-inducing activities including zip-lining and cave diving. At $130 per person, this 7-hour tour allows visitors to experience everything Scape Park has to offer.
Playa Arena Gorda
Streching more than 22 kilometers, Playa Arena Gorda is one of Punta Cana’s must-see white-sand beaches. Surrounded by all-inclusive resorts, visitors won’t have to go far to reach this tropical gem. Nestled between Macao and Bávaro beach, Arena Gorda is the perfect place for a beachside stroll, although visitors can also book aquatic activities offered by nearby resorts.
Some of the top choices for accommodation close to Arena Gorda beach include the 5-star Bahia Principe Luxury Esmeralda, which offers private beach access in addition to two pools and 5 restaurants.
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve
The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve is a 1500-hectare protected area known for its excellent hiking routes which take guests through lush rainforests and 12 freshwater lagoons. Although part of the Puntacana Resort & Club, tourists can visit the expansive natural park for a small fee.
A highlight of the park is swimming in the crystal-clear lagoons, which offer stunning views of the surrounding nature. One of the lagoons features a wooden platform where adrenaline-seeking guests can plunge into the waters below. Nature lovers will also find iguanas and colorful bird species.
The entrance to the park is $50 per person, and the organization that manages the park also offers guided tours of the reserve’s top sites.
East National Park
One of the most visited national parks in the country, Cotubanamá National Park is home to an impressive array of native species and diverse landscapes. The park is also famous for its caves and white-sand beaches, where visitors can explore or relax in a secluded setting. Tourists can also find two of the country’s renowned islands – Catalina and Saona – in the vicinity of the national park.
Due to the area’s vast size, guided tours are highly recommended, as they allow visitors to get the most out of the area’s rich flora and fauna. This top-rated 9-hour tour takes tourists to some of the area’s hidden gems and immerses visitors in the area’s marine wildlife.
If you choose to explore the national park on your own, some of the must-see attractions include the Catuano Strait, a crystal-clear pool featuring shipwrecks, and plenty of diving and snorkeling opportunities.
Bávao Lagoon is ideal for those looking for a quieter nature escape, away from Punta Cana’s packed beaches. Occupying three square kilometers, the lagoon is home to a range of local flora and fauna and offers excellent ecotourism opportunities.
Kayaking, bird-watching, and fishing are just some of the relaxing activities visitors can do at the lagoon. Located just a few minutes from Bávaro beach, visitors can take a taxi to Cabeza de Toro, from where they can access the lagoon on foot. Excursions and kayaks can be rented near the entrance.
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