What do you think about when you think about the best beaches in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic? Maybe you imagine a gorgeous beach with white sand and tall palm trees. You see yourself lounging in the shade and going for a swim in crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. For lunch, you are going to eat fresh seafood — octopus, shrimp, you name it! — and finish it off with coconut water or a cold beer. Did anyone say Paradise?!
The interesting thing about Punta Cana is that it’s not just one beach. Punta Cana and Bavaro are actually a 40 mile coastline stretch that, in addition to being home to fantastic all-inclusive resorts, offers dozens of beautiful beaches. These Punta Cana beaches are unique and every single one of them offers something different, from snorkeling and scuba diving in Punta Cana to surfing and even kitesurfing!
So, what are the best beaches in Punta Cana? We’re going to share our Punta Cana beaches reviews in this blog post so you can pick the perfect beach for your vacation!
1. Bavaro Beach
Bavaro Beach — known in Spanish as Playa Bavaro – is the main beach in Punta Cana and many tourists from all over the world are drawn to it because of its white sands and turquoise waters. It is home to numerous all-inclusive resorts, such as Barcelo Bavaro Palace and Hard Rock Hotel.
“Bavaro Beach” is the blanket term for multiple beaches in Punta Cana that have all-inclusive resorts, such as Arena Blanca and Arena Gorda. There is no physical barrier between these all-inclusive resorts beaches, so “Bavaro Beach” is often used to describe all of them. However, there are some small differences between Arena Blanca and Arena Gorda that we are going to mention in this article.
What to Do at Bavaro Beach
- Go sunbathing & swimming. You may think this is obvious, but Playa Bavaro is truly one of the best beaches in Punta Cana to relax and get a little tan while sipping on a delicious tropical cocktail or catching up on your latest book. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in Punta Cana, so if you have been looking forward to doing some relaxing under the swaying palm trees, Bavaro Beach is perfect for you!
- Try out fun water activities. Is laying around on the beach not your thing? Bavaro Beach has a lot to offer to the action-lovers out there! You can try going on a banana boat, parasailing, kayaking, waterskiing, and more! If you are staying at an all-inclusive hotel, some of these water activities may already be included in your rate. There are also independent vendors offering these activities right on the beach.
→ Are you planning your trip to Punta Cana? We share what the best time to visit the Dominican Republic is in this blog post!
2. Arena Blanca
If you want to experience the best all-inclusive resorts of Punta Cana, then Arena Blanca is the best beach in Punta Cana for you. This is where many of the most exclusive beach resorts are located because this beach has crystal clear waters, beautiful white sand, and swaying palm trees. Unfortunately, there is no public access to this beach, so you would have to stay in one of the all-inclusive resorts to relax on this beautiful beach.
What to Do at Arena Blanca
- Enjoy the all-inclusive resorts. Punta Cana has some of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Arena Blanca is the place to be at if you want to experience the best resorts Punta Cana has to offer. Paradisus Punta Cana, Ocean Blue & Sands, and the Princess Resorts are some of the hotels you can find at Arena Blanca. Arena Blanca is a part of Bavaro Beach.
- Try out different water sports. Even though Playa Arena Blanca is not the best spot for more adventurous water sports like kitesurfing or surfing, there is still a lot you can do. Try renting a catamaran or learning how to windsurf, for example!
- Look for starfish. Spotting starfish is common when you take a trip to Isla Saona, but they still sometimes get washed off to the beach at Playa Arena Blanca. Try looking for them and putting them back into the ocean to have fun with your loved ones and help protect the environment!
→ Looking for a fun activity in Punta Cana? Try diving! Bavaro diving offers some of the most unforgettable experiences!
3. Arena Gorda
Arena Gorda is the beach right next to Arena Blanca and it is similar to it in many ways. It is also home to many all-inclusive resorts, but it’s longer than Arena Blanca and actually ends up in a pristine & untouched wild beach just past the Hard Rock Hotel. It’s perfect for a long walk that will let you cover a big chunk of Bavaro and enjoy the scenic tropical landscape. Arena Gorda is also a part of Bavaro Beach.
What to Do at Arena Gorda
- Go on a long walk & get to the hidden beach. Arena Gorda does not have a public access point, but you can get to it by walking through one of the beach bars at El Cortecito Beach and walking down Playa Arena Blanca. Then you can keep going for miles & miles, passing different hotels, until you reach the Hard Rock Hotel and discover an untouched beach right behind it!
- Go on Punta Cana day trips. If you’re staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts at Arena Gorda, you will certainly get to enjoy the beautiful beach a lot. However, the secure environment of the resorts is very different from what the real Dominican Republic is like, so we recommend going on day trips in Punta Cana and we collected the 8 best ones right here!
4. Cabeza de Toro
Do you like to avoid big crowds and explore more unique and unconventional locations when you travel? Then visiting Cabeza de Toro beach in Punta Cana may be just the thing for you! This hidden gem is more secluded than Bavaro Beach and offers you all of the Robinson Crusoe vibes with its beautiful and unexplored setting.
These are some accommodations available on the beach, but you will not find big all-inclusive resorts like on Playa Bavaro.
What to Do at Cabeza de Toro
- Relax in nature. Cabeza de Toro is the definition of the Dominican word “tranquilo,” which means chill or peaceful. It’s not as packed with people as Playa Bavaro and offers plenty of space for you to wind down in a lush natural setting. Cabeza de Toro is greener than other best Punta Cana beaches, so if you like being surrounded by flowers and plants of all types, then this Punta Cana beach is for you!
- Take kitesurfing lessons. Not many people know this — we’re letting you in on a local secret here! — but Cabeza de Toro is one of the best beaches in Punta Cana for kitesurfing lessons. Its shallow waters, size, and good wind conditions make for a consistently good kitesurfing spot. You can either take lessons or go kitesurfing on your own if you’re confident in your skills! For lessons, we recommend the King of Board Kite School.
- Look at local art. Surprisingly, Cabeza de Toro has a passionate artistic community that often has their paintings and crafts on display on the beach. Most of the artists are Dominicans, so you would be supporting local arts. If you’re lucky, you may find a real gem to take back home with you!
- Go horseback riding. Is there a better way to explore one of the best beaches in Punta Cana than by riding a horse? We thought so! Cabeza de Toro is a very scenic Punta Cana beach, so going horseback riding there is a real treat. Plus, you can grab delicious and fresh lunch at one of the beach clubs after your ride!
5. Los Corales
Many people ask us this question: “What is the best public beach in Punta Cana?” The truth is, all beaches in Punta Cana are public. However, popular beaches like Bavaro Beach are often hard to access because they are blocked off by big resorts (which are, of course, not public). So, even though the beach itself is open to the public, getting to it may prove to be a bit of a quest.
Fear not! Los Corales is one of the best Punta Cana beaches and serves as a public entry point to the beachfront. It’s a gorgeous beach with white sand and lots of activities for those looking for alternative options to the typical all-inclusive resort vacation in the Dominican Republic. It’s connected to the Bavaro Beach, so you can simply enter through Los Corales and walk to Playa Bavaro.
What to Do at Los Corales
- Find unique & down-to-earth rentals. Are you not a big fan of the conventional Punta Cana resorts but want to have the ultimate Dominican Republic experience? Los Corales is home to many residential complexes where you can rent an apartment or a condo short-term or long-term and experience Punta Cana and Bavaro outside of the all-inclusive beach resorts.
- Explore local bars & restaurants. Los Corales is one of the best beaches in Punta Cana because it has a buzzing social scene and nightlife, with many fun bars and small restaurants spread out along the beachfront. These little spots offer strong drinks and fresh food and are not to be missed!
- Play volleyball with the locals. Do you like sports? What about making new friends from all around the world? Los Corales has a friendly expat community that intermingles with locals and there are often volleyball games around Los Corales in the afternoons. Join in, get some exercise, and meet new people on one of the best beaches in Punta Cana!
→ Punta Cana has beautiful all-inclusive resorts, but there’s so much more to it. If you want to create unforgettable memories during your stay in Punta Cana and see the Dominican Republic from a whole new perspective, we organize boat and land tours to explore Punta Cana and its surroundings.
6. Playa Blanca
“Playa Blanca” translates into English as “white beach” and it completely lives up to its name! This beautiful beach is located only a short drive away from the Punta Cana International Airport and offers a more upscale and private atmosphere than other best Punta Cana beaches.
What to Do at Playa Blanca
- Take a walk & soak up the scenery. Playa Blanca arguably has the whitest sand in all of Punta Cana beaches, so walk down the beach in the morning or the afternoon, when it is not too hot, and enjoy how beautiful it is!
- Enjoy upscale restaurants. Playa Blanca has an elegant feel to it and is home to fancier restaurants than what you would normally find in Punta Cana, so take the afternoon off to lounge in an upscale beach club and enjoy the delicious food. Afterwards, you can take your tropical cocktail to your sunbed and sip on it while you watch the sunset and the waves crashing at the shore.
- Try Dominican Rum. No better place to try Dominican rum — the best in the caribe (Spanish for the Caribbean)! — than while you’re lounging on the beach. With its elegant atmosphere and fancy bars, Playa Blanca makes for a fine spot to explore what the Dominican Republic has to offer.
→ Dominican rum is just a small part of the Dominican Republic’s culture. delicious Are you a coffee and chocolate lover? Then we got the best excursion in Punta Cana for you!
7. Macao Beach
Located just right outside of Punta Cana, Playa Macao is a local favorite. It’s well known for its fantastic surfing conditions, which attracts surfers from all over the world. An all-inclusive resort was built on Macao Beach in 2020, which blocked off a part of the beach, but it is still one of the best beaches in Punta Cana to visit and enjoy.
What to Do at Playa Macao
- Take surfing lessons. Have you always wanted to try out surfing but just have never had the opportunity to do it? Playa Macao is home to many different surf schools, which have instructors who speak great English, so take this as a sign to finally get to the lineup or catch your first wave!
- Try Dominican fried fish. Macao Beach has a few beachfront restaurants that specialize in typical Dominican cuisine, such as simple fried fish with tostones (fried green plantains) or rice. Playa Macao has some of the best fish in Punta Cana and the small restaurants are a pleasure to visit. Get a big plate of food and a cold beer and enjoy!
- Spend the afternoon people watching. Playa Macao is a laid-back surfers beach which offers great opportunities for people watching. Grab a cold Presidente and settle in to watch pro surfers show off at the lineup or tune your attention to big Dominican families enjoying life to the fullest.
8. Juanillo Beach
Do you want a quick getaway from your getaway? Playa Juanillo is only a short ride from the Punta Cana International Airport but offers a scenic getaway a little bit off-the-beaten-path. It has a couple of beach restaurants to choose from for lunch and dinner options and shallow waters, which makes it one of the best beaches in Punta Cana for a family visit. It does not have as many people as Bavaro Beach and offers a nice and relaxing atmosphere typical to the Caribbean.
Right next to Juanillo Beach you can find Cap Cana, a small neighborhood known for its upscale resorts, luxury villas, and golf courses. Some of the Cap Cana beaches are private, but you can still see some of the Cap Cana through Juanillo Beach. If we’re talking about Cap Cana vs Bavaro Beach, they are both absolutely gorgeous with white sand and turquoise waters, but Cap Cana beaches are more exclusive and upscale.
What to Do at Juanillo Beach
- Relax in an intimate atmosphere. Sometimes you need a vacation from a vacation, and Playa Juanillo offers exactly that. Punta Cana can get busy — especially in the winter months — and this little secluded spot is a place to get away from the crowds, hang out with your loved ones, and make new friends. At the same time, the atmosphere at Juanillo Beach is still classy and not as laid back as at Cabeza de Toro or Macao.
- Grab a bite at one of the beach restaurants. Juanillo Beach is not a large beach in Punta Cana, but it offers a nice selection of beach restaurants that specialize in typical Dominican cuisine. Order a plate of fried chicken and rice, fried fish with plantain, or lobster a la plancha (grilled). You can try walking into Cap Cana for more upscale dining options.
- Take stunning photos. It can be challenging to get nice shots at more crowded Punta Cana beaches, such as Playa Bavaro, but it’s easy to capture unique moments at Juanillo Beach. Grab your phone or camera and shoot away!
→ Ready to create memorable moments during your Dominican Republic vacation? Try scuba diving in Punta Cana!
9. EL Cortecito Beach
Are you excited to explore Punta Cana’s nightlife? You don’t have to leave the beach to do it if you hang out around Playa El Cortecito! This short stretch of sand is right off Bavaro Beach, but it offers some of the best beach bars in Punta Cana and is THE spot to be at during the night. Ready to get partying?
What to Do at El Cortecito Beach
- Explore the local beach bar scene. The beach bars at Playa El Cortecito — such as Onno’s — are popular with both tourists and locals, so this best beach in Punta Cana is perfect for meeting new friends and hanging around with a nice tropical cocktail in your hand. Some bars do special nights — such as ladies’ night or a Mexican night — which are always a great deal of fun.
- Take a walk down the beach. If you are not staying at Playa Bavaro, El Cortecito Beach is a convenient point of entry to the beach. You can simply walk through one of the beach bars (bonus points if you get a juice or a drink there!) and walk down to Bavaro Beach. These two beaches are close to each other, but the walk down Bavaro Beach can be as long as you make it to be!
- Make new friends. Playa El Cortecito is a great place if you want to make connections with people from all over the world and local Dominicans. Brush up on your Spanish and start chatting! Dominicans are very friendly and welcoming, so it won’t take you long to feel at home.
10. Uvero Alto Beach
Uvero Alto Beach is a bit further away from the Punta Cana International Airport – it is a 25-mile drive – but it’s still considered to be a part of the best beaches of Punta Cana. It is considerably less crowded than other Punta Cana beaches, although it does not have the typical white sand and turquoise waters — the sand is more yellow and the water is more blue — but it’s still absolutely worth the visit!
What to Do at Uvero Alto Beach
- Get away from the crowds. Especially after spending some time in Punta Cana, you may want to be in the mood to explore something different. Playa Uvero Alto is exactly that! Off-the-beaten-track and unique, a day trip to Uvero Alto Beach will satisfy your inner adventurer and show you the Dominican Republic from a different perspective.
- Go horseback riding. There are a few ranches around Uvero Alto and horseback riding on the beach is a popular activity that many tourists (and locals!) enjoy. Riding a horse down a beautiful, secluded beach is a one-of-a-kind experience and we definitely recommend trying it out! If you have children, they are guaranteed to like it!
→ Looking for more unconventional ideas for your Punta Cana vacation? Check out our exclusive Dominican Republic excursions to create unforgettable memories on your trip!
Surprise Bonus: Playa El Limón
We’ve saved one of the best beaches in Punta Cana until the very end! Playa El Limón (which translates into English as Lemon Beach!) is the real hidden gem of the Punta Cana area. This secluded beach is a short 20-minute drive from the main tourist area to the Uvero Alto direction and offers the wild Dominican beach experience to the brave adventurers who find it!
What to Do at Playa El Limón
- Enjoy the wilderness. To get to Playa El Limón, you have to drive through a very picturesque dirt road – it truly feels like you’re in a real jungle! When you get to the beach, you may be surprised to see that it doesn’t look very similar to your typical Punta Cana beach. Playa El Limón has bigger waves than most Punta Cana beaches, the sand is yellow, and it just has a more untamed feel to it.
- Have a picnic. Playa El Limón doesn’t have any beach restaurants or bars, but you can still treat your taste buds on your trip to this unexplored location! Pack some typical Dominican treats into your lunch bag – such as empanadas, fresh tropical fruits, and some cold drinks — and grab a blanket to enjoy a picnic in a scenic location with no one but you on the beach!
The Beach Beaches in Punta Cana: Final Thoughts
Contrary to popular expectations, Punta Cana is not just one beach. Instead, it’s a collection of unique beaches that fit different types of people and different adventures! Party it up at El Cortecito Beach, learn how to surf & hang out with athletic-minded people at Playa Macao, enjoy the all-inclusive resorts at Arena Blanca, Arena Gorda, and Playa Bavaro…the choice is yours!
When planning your trip to Punta Cana, it’s important to remember how diverse this little town can be. We recommend visiting all of these best beaches in Punta Cana because each of them offers something different and special.
To get a better sense of where these best beaches in Punta Cana are located, you can use this Punta Cana Beaches Map:
Looking to create unforgettable memories on your Punta Cana vacation? Our advice is to explore, explore, and explore! Punta Cana has so many hidden gems and we offer exclusive land, boat, and scuba diving tours to the best sports to create memorable experiences. Contact us today!