Vacation in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic worth it?

Reader submitted question: Is it worth it to vacation in the Dominican Republic? I might go to Punta Cana. I just want to know if it is worth it..we found a deal that will cost
about $900/person for 6 nights…Cofresi palm beach resort and spa… just want to relax on the beach and have some drinks and good food!

My answer: I can’t comment on the specific resort because I’ve never seen it. You should be able to find some reviews online though. Regarding price, for your average (pretty nice) all-inclusive maybe 100/person per night. $75/person per night – the deal you have – sounds pretty good as long as the resort is good.

To comment more generally, what do you want out of the vacation? Punta Cana is similar to Cancun in that its basically a manufactured resort area with a ton of all-inclusives along a strip of beautiful beach. There’s not a ton to do off of the resorts and both have the typical options on the water. Both have some nightlife options though I can only speak from hearsay – Cancun will have mostly young Americans in the clubs. Punta Cana does attract more Europeans.

I’ve been to both Punta Cana and Cancun. In both places I stayed in the all-inclusive resort the entire time. When I’m at an all-inclusive, my cheapness often stops me from doing the excursions and things they sell at the resort. I preferred the Punta Cana resort and beach. The water in Cancun was too rough while we were there but I’m sure that’s just an issue with timing.

So, if you find a nice resort I’d think you can also get a pretty decent value in Punta Cana (though Mexico is practically giving away vacations right now) and good if you just want to go somewhere and sit on the beach and sip drinks.

I’ve called in a few friends:

1. I was at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in late January this year for a week. Beautiful place. Great people. Super weather and gorgeous beaches. Out side of the hotel it’s pretty third world. Some of my friends went and did some zip lining etc. and said it was great buy we mostly stayed on the resort.

2. Back in 2009 my wife and I went to Deams La Romana Resort & Spa and loved it. The beach was phenomenal. We didn’t leave the complex, so if you are planning on staying in one place it is highly recommended. If you like to go out and explore I would not recommend so highly. The neighborhoods we drove through on the route from the airport did not make us feel safe.

3. I’ve been to Punta Cana twice and loved it each time. It is however a “chill on the beach” type of vacation. Town wasn’t dangerous, but there’s nothing there. The resort though was great and the beach spectacular.

4. Just was in the DR for Spring Break with some of my friends. Obviously my perspective might not be the best as I was a college kid on spring break but I’ll give you my thoughts. Punta Cana is lots of All Inclusive resorts along one giant stretch of beach. I stayed at the Grand Paradise Bavarro and for what we paid I thought it was actually pretty good. Food kinda sucked unless you got into the a la carte restaurants. Not too much to do outside of the resort, actually ZERO really, besides night clubs. Me and my buddies took a cab to the Hard Rock several nights to go to their casino. Its a pretty awesome casino and has an enormous Sports Book and we wanted to watch the Michigan game. Hard Rock seemed extremely nice and was a huge property.

Weather was amazing and the beaches were also really great. This may seem like a strange comment, but I have never felt sand that soft. And for early March the ocean was a pretty good temperature. We did notice a lot of Europeans and Canadians at our hotel and had some friends at neighboring resorts who said the same. I don’t know what your price range is or what you’re really looking for, but I would say the place I stayed was far from upscale. I think they were also shutting down for remodeling and renovation soon. Hope that helps.

5. Stayed at Iberostar Punta Cana, loved it but the food was disappointing. If you are looking for an area that’s less touristy, check out the Samana peninsula. Las Terrenas looks like a cool town.

6. I’ve been to DR several times. I’ve stayed at Bahia Principe Esmeralda each time. The resort was secluded and geared towards a more adult crowd. I saw maybe 1 family at the resort the entire time. The food was better than many other all inclusives on the island and the beach was great.

If you like the ease and comfort of a normal airport, be prepared to be in for a shitshow when you get to DR. You’ll probably be on the arrival/passport line for a good 45-60 min, so pack a tshirt or something cool to change into when you get there (the airport is a hut without walls or air conditioning). I would suggest making a trip to the Hard Rock, if you don’t stay there, but I wouldn’t wander to far off into the actual city. The pools were great, but the beach and water were usually thick with seaweed which is common in that area (Punta Cana).

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