Solo travel in the Dominican Republic?
February 24, 2009 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading to the Dominican Republic for a conference in Punta Cana, and spending another five days in the country for vacation. What should I (young woman, solo traveler, semi-adventurous) do with my extra time?

I'll be staying at a lovely resort in Punta Cana for a week in March, and I can extend my stay at a pretty low cost. But from what I've read the area doesn't seem like great fun for solo travel - at least, not for someone who isn't interested in swim-up bars, resort discos, or sankie panky. I'm all in favour of beach-time, and I'm comfortable being by myself, but I think five days might be a stretch. Based on past experience at resorts full of families/couples, I'm not convinced I'll necessarily make friends.

So - how should I divvy up those five days? I feel like my options are either to stay in Punta Cana and book enough excursions to keep busy, head to Santo Domingo for a couple of days (which might not be safe alone)?, or go elsewhere on the island - but then travel time becomes an issue.

A few other relevant points:
- I don't want to rent a car, so I'd be relying on guaguas and buses.
- I have some travel experience in developing countries, but it's minimal, and my Spanish skills are pretty well non-existent.
- I'm not on a strict budget, but I don't want to break the bank.
- I'm usually an arts/culture kinda traveler, but I'm up for the usual tourist, beach-oriented stuff too.
- My flight home is out of the Punta Cana International Airport, so I can't stray too far.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by lindsey.nicole to Travel & Transportation around Dominican Republic (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I stayed in Punta Cana a few years ago, and was really disappointed by the lack of anything to do outside of the resorts. We went on a nice horseback tour, and there are some fun snorkling excursions, but as far as local culture, we couldn't find any.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2009

We love Punta Cana, it's one of the few places we find ourselves going back multiple times (against our own policy). But as you already realized, it is an excellent destination for a "relax at the beach and enjoy the view" type vacation, and definitely not for a cultural outing/adventure type vacation.

Having said that every resort we have been to has offered tours, that are of interest. There is usually one that takes you deep into the forests and waterfalls on 4-wheels for an off-road adventure. There is one that takes you to the local village and dine at a local's house and interact with them. There is usually one to Santo Domingo (but the travel time on that one is a killer). And a few that will take you on a catamaran.

They are all $75-$100 (I think the Santo Domingo one was a little more expensive). We have never gone for any (since we only go to Punta Cana when we are in lazy mode). Of course the problem with all of those will be that there will be several others in the tour, including families with kids, so as a solo traveler, I do not know how much you can enjoy it.

One company you can check out is Bavaro Eco Tours ( They do try to avoid the crowds...

And while I have not researched this at all, one other thing is to look may be an excursion to Puerto Rico, if you have never been there. I believe Puerto Rico is no more than a couple hundred miles from Punta Cana...
posted by tuxster at 9:20 AM on February 24, 2009

I went to Cabarete on the north shore several years ago and had a blast. Cheap, not too touristy and plenty of outdoor stuff to do. We went mountain biking and took surfing lessons. Stayed in a cheap hotel and spent most of our money on food and drink. Took some side trips into Puerto Plata, local daytripping. Check out Iguana Mama for outdoorsy activities and general goings on.
posted by electroboy at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips so far, all. Please keep 'em coming!

Electroboy, I checked out Cabarete briefly and was concerned about the travel time, since I have to get to and from the Punta Cana International Airport. But I'll look into it again.
posted by lindsey.nicole at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2009

I was in Punta Cana last summer, but with a group of 26, so I'm not sure about solo activities. But, do keep in mind that Santo Domingo is about 3 hours away from PC by van. Our driver HIGHLY recommended that we avoid public transportation, as it can be dangerous for foreigners. There are tons of english-speaking and reputable tour companies in PC that you can hire for a private ride to Santo Domingo at not much cost.

I'm not sure what resort you are staying in, but we were at the Paradisus, and there was plenty to do there. The one thing I wish I had done was walk to the nearby shopping/crafts market to look at the art and jewelry for sale. I believe it's about a 15 minute walk from Paradisus, and the resort sends vans around every half hour to pick you back up if you like. My favorite thing was sitting on the beach and reading a book - it's a beautiful and relaxing beach.
posted by tryniti at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2009

If it helps, Cabarete is just a few minutes from the Puerto Plata airport, where we flew in from NYC. Probably difficult to work that out, but it's an option.
posted by electroboy at 12:13 PM on February 24, 2009

There are some sweet caves near Punta Cana. they are cool and have refreshing fresh water pools in them, great for swimming. ask nice and someone will tak eyou, or the resort might have an excursion there.
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:18 PM on February 25, 2009

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