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Punta Cana, DR Family Travel Guide presented by

Winter-Spring 2013

An introduction to

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Presented by

Thomas Cook Kids First Family Vacations A selection of all-inclusive family resort vacation packages designed to provide the ultimate holiday experience for parents and children.

Cover images courtesy of

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Situated on the East coast of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970’s. Home to some of the worlds most beautiful beaches, it’s the perfect refuge for those looking to escape the daily grind. It’s also the perfect place to indulge in a strict diet of fine dining and endless sunbathing. Most people arrive in Punta Cana knowing very little about the resort. Here are a few important facts for getting the most out of your time here.

Climate Temperatures don’t change much in the Dominican Republic and that’s part of what makes it such a popular tourist destination. Regardless of when you visit Punta Cana, you can expect to enjoy average temperatures of between 82 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season typically lasts from May until October but even during these months, you can expect more sunny days than rainy ones. The hurricane season, on the other hand, is best avoided. It generally lasts from August until September.

When to Go While the year round sun ensures that Punta Cana can be enjoyed 365 days of the year, those on a budget are advised to avoid the peak season of December through April. Time your visit outside of these months and you can expect to pay up to forty percent less for both your airfare and accommodations.

Money The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso. In areas popular among tourists however, Dollars and Euros are widely accepted. Exchange booths are widely available but tourists are advised to purchase Peso’s with care. Converting Pesos back into Euros and Dollars is notoriously difficult.

Shopping Shopping in the Dominican Republic is a little different to shopping in North America. Here are a few tips for getting the best value. • As a general rule of thumb, the further you get from your resort, the less you can expect to pay. What costs $10 in a resort is likely to cost $5 in Punta Cana old town. Leave Punta Cana altogether, and you can expect the same item to cost just $2.50. • Depending on how you view bartering, shopping in the Dominican Republic is either going to be tiresome or exciting. If you want to buy something outside of a major retailer, expect to have to barter. • The first rule of bartering is that if you’re a tourist, the first price that you are offered is going to be ridiculous. Don’t be afraid to make a counter offer that’s a fraction of said price. • The best way to handle store owners trying to drag you into their store is to tell them that you have no money. While it’s important to be polite, it’s equally important to be firm. • Dried sea creatures are popular souvenirs but they should be avoided for two reasons. First off, they are illegal. And secondly, purchasing such souvenirs encourages vendors to continue killing animals, most of which are already endangered.

Where to Eat From upscale lounges to family friendly inns, there’s no shortage of dining opportunities in Punta Cana. Here are a few of the best. • Outside In: Delicious meals served in a small, intimate setting. Low prices and generous portions help to make it one of the most popular restaurants on the island among tourists and locals alike. • Captain Cook: Considered by locals to have the best lobster in town, this beach front restaurant is the perfect choice for those looking to sample the local sea food. • La Yola: Stretching out over the ocean, La Yola offers world class cuisine and views to die for. A word of warning however, it isn’t cheap. Advanced reservations are also very much recommended. • Las Lenas II: Spanish style café and bakery. If you’re looking for a casual spot to enjoy a delicious breakfast, this is where you go.

Main Sights Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot more to the Dominican Republic than beautiful, white sand beaches. If you find yourself tiring of margaritas by the pool, here are a few of the islands best sights. • Santo Domingo: The first European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. The town has been preserved for over five centuries and is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Alcazar de Colon, the palace of the son of Christopher Columbus. • Bavaro Runners: A safari/excursion, famous for offering an unparalleled view of the traditional Dominican life. Sights include traditional Dominican homes and authentic sugarcane plantations. • Manati Park: Arguably the islands most impressive theme park. Home to a host of animals including exotic fish, indigenous birds, horses and even a dolphin or two. All surrounded by lush gardens full of tropical plants. • Altos de Chavon: An artist’s village made to resemble a sixteenth century Mediterranean town. Situated on a hillside cliff, the village overlooks the Chavon River. Highlights include a 5000 seat amphitheatre, multiple craft workshops and a collection of small galleries and restaurants. • Saona Island: Despite being located a short ferry ride from the Dominican Republic, this small island remains largely unspoilt by tourism. Officially a part of the natural reserve, The Parq Nacional Del Este, the island features deserted white sand beaches and beautiful lush rainforest.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Family Vacation Guide  
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Family Vacation Guide  

A family vacation guide for Punta Cana, Domincan Republic, with suggestions on seasonal travel times, activities, dining, and shopping.