The best beaches of Punta Cana in 2023


When my plane first broke through the clouds over the Dominican Republic, I was like a kid at a candy store window, my nose pressed firmly against the glass and my mouth agape at the beautiful countryside, shorelines, and … the beaches!

Punta Cana on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic is currently one of the hottest Caribbean destinations. Its beaches run for about 20 miles (32 km) along La Costa del Coco, also known as the Coconut Coast, and for the most part are pristine and have clear turquoise water. It’s an area of lavish, all-inclusive resorts and lots of excursions with fun things to do including zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, and much more.

Until you’re prone on your deck chair, you forget how relaxing it is just to lay in the warm sun and listen to the sounds of the surf. Oh yeah… 

On our recent trip to Punta Cana, we stayed at the five-star all-inclusive Lopesan Costa Bavaro Resort Spa & Casino, built just in front of the Bavaro Beach. The hotel itself is fantastic (we’ll have a look at Punta Cana resorts in an upcoming post) and the beach and beach facilities were magnificent. 

In the meantime, check out this map for accommodations that are available on the dates you want to travel:

  • Hover over the “star” icons to see where the beaches are.
  • Hover over the hotel icons to see info. Click on it for more info or to book.

Finding the best beaches of Punta Cana

If you’re wondering which all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana has the best beach, let me just say that choosing between the best beaches of Punta Cana is like choosing the best flavour at your favourite ice cream shop — they’re ALL good.  But choosing your personal favourite depends on your tastes and what you’re looking for.

To help you sort things out, we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of the best beaches of Punta Cana. So pack your sunscreen and your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the world.

For most travellers, choosing a beach and choosing a resort go hand-in-hand — choose one and you’ve chosen the other — and knowing what each beach offers may be a factor in choosing a resort.

For other travellers — those that want to see as much as they can — this guide helps illustrate what each beach offers. You’d be hard pressed to visit every beach during all but the lengthiest stays, so picking the right ones to see will be doubly important.

The best beaches of Punta Cana

Best beaches of Punta Cana

Don’t have time to read about all the beaches on the list? No worries — here’s our pick for the best Punta Cana beach (this time it’s actually a tie!)

Bavaro Beach is described as one of the best beaches in the world: white sand, clear turquoise water, with all the activities and amenities you’d want.

Esmerelda Beach is for those who don’t mind a bit of traveling but are looking for the unspoiled and private experience that only this beach can give.

Enough blether; lets look at these spectacular beaches, starting in the south and moving north.

Playa Juanillo

Playa Juanillo (Juanillo Beach) is known as one of the best beaches of Punta Cana with its stunning white sand, crystal-clear waters, and crescent bay. The wide, flat shoreline is long enough for great morning or evening walks.

Best beaches of Punta Cana

Playa Juanillo is located in the gated Cap Cana district – one of the most luxurious areas in Punta Cana. As well as lounging on the beach, you can take in some golfing, stay at one of the many five-star resorts, or enjoy the many restaurants in and around the beach. 

During seaweed season, sargassum wash up in a narrow band along the shoreline but most resorts groom the beach to remove it and you may still be able to swim beyond it. It’s actually a bit shallow for swimming and you may want to wear water shoes as there is the occasional piece of coral or pebbles underfoot.

Note that If you’re visiting the community, you’ll need to provide identification at the security gate when you enter.

Which resorts are on Playa Juanillo?

There are several all-inclusive resorts:

  • Secrets Cap Cana, a castle-style all-inclusive resort with a adults-only option.
  • Hyatt Zilara (adults only)
  • Hyatt Ziva (family friendly)
    • (Zilara and Ziva are right next door to each other)

Things to do near Playa Juanillo

If you’re staying at one of the resorts, you’ll have easy access to the beach. Guests of the resorts can enjoy tennis, volleyball, basketball, snorkelling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, kayaks, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boards, casinos, and nightly shows outside.

There’s also a few fun things for visitors to the beach:

Sunbathing — Lay on the beach while you listen to the surf and enjoy the sun. (Bring your sunglasses and sunblock!)

Reserva Ecológica Ojos Indígenas — a private & protected ecological reserve (also known as Indigenous Eyes), covers 1500 acres for conservation, scientific research, and recreation. It has 12 freshwater lagoons connected by a pleasant hiking trail, and you can swim in five of them. There’s a $50 USD entrance fee.

Scape Park — a theme park that includes zip-lining, exploring ancient caverns, swimming in underground caves, and riding in splash hammocks. You can also cruise along stunning beaches, snorkel in tropical waters or just relax in their exclusive beach club.

Book these top-rated excursions at Playa Juanillo:

Playa Juanillo: Small group Adults-only Coral Snorkel w/ food and drinks

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 88 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 4 hours

This adults-only tour combines swimming, sailing, and snorkeling with unlimited access to an open bar and a seafood dinner at a floating kitchen. Snorkel in nature-rich spots as well as take photos of all the best sights. Your snorkel gear, air-conditioned transportation, and lunch are all included.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Playa Juanillo: Party Boat Catamaran in Punta Cana

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 51 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 4 hours

Enjoy more than three hours of relaxation and exploration on this catamaran cruise off the best beaches of Punta Cana. Interact with gentle stingrays, snorkel alongside schools of tropical fish and magnificent coral reefs, or relax in the natural swimming pool while taking in the scenery. Not to mention an open bar, music, dancing and playing games – all accompanied by snacks and tropical fruit! With up to 60 passengers, you get use of snorkel equipment included in the price as well as round-trip transportation from Punta Cana hotels.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Places to eat at Playa Juanillo?

If you’re staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts, you’re all set — your food is included in the price of your stay and you can normally have as much as you want. But, if you’re not a resort guest and are just visiting Play Juanillo, here’s some great options:

  • Juanillo Grill & Beach Club for your favourite drink (mine’s a Pina Colada!). Its right on the beach and open during the day.

Also, these restaurants are all within a mile of the beach.

  • Fusion, Sense, and Flavours (*top-rated restaurant: five stars on TripAdvisor).
  • The Blue Marlin (4.5)
  • SanctuaryTown Cap Cana (4.5)
  • The Steakhouse (4.5)
  • Wok Restaurant (4.5)
  • Capriccio (4.5)
  • Taco’s Truck (4.5)
  • Sweet House (4.5)
  • Coffee & News (4.5)
  • The Beer House (4.5)

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca (or in English, White Beach) is the closest beach to the Punta Cana International Airport (2 miles away). Along with Playa Juanillo, Playa Blanca has the whitest sand of all Punta Cana beaches with very calm turquoise water. 

Best beaches of Punta Cana

Playa Blanca can get windy. The steady trade winds and flat, shallow waters make Playa Blanca a popular spot for kite surfing and kite boarding.   

If you’re staying at one of the adjoining resorts, hotels or condominiums, access to the beach is obviously easy. But if you’re just visiting, it can be difficult to find the public entrance.

Which resorts are on this Playa Blanca?

The Westin Punta Cana is the only resort at Playa Blanca and one of the best non-all-inclusive hotels in Punta Cana. There are also luxury villas available in this area.

What is there to do at Playa Blanca?

Playa Blanca is another beach that’s great for just walking — the scenery, the surf, and people watching make for a marvellous walk. But don’t forget your sunglasses — the sun and white beach reflect the strong sunlight and tax your eyes.

Kite boarding and kite surfing — There’s an IKO-certified kite boarding school at the beach (Kite Club Punta Cana) and within the PuntaCana resort & Club. The school offer lessons for all levels of kite boarders in English, Spanish, Italian and French.

Reserva Ecológica Ojos Indígenas — as detailed above. Reserva Ecológica Ojos Indígenas is only three miles from Play Blanca.

Places to eat at Playa Blanca?

The Playa Blanca Restaurant is inside the gated community of the PuntaCana Resort & Club and you’ll need to provide identification at the security gate when you enter the area. The restaurant offers beachfront dining, although it is a little pricey. There’s pescado a la plancha (grilled fish), shrimp, octopus, or beef as well as casual fare such as sandwiches and tacos. It opens at 9am and you’re required to spend $40 USD per person or more.

Playa Cabeza De Toro

Playa Cabeza de Toro is one of the Punta Cana blue flag beaches that has achieved Blue Flag status, which means they’ve implemented sustainable management practices on the beaches and coastal zones to reduce pollution and preserve beach quality.

Best beaches of Punta Cana

It’s much wider than other Punta Cana beaches and its calm waters make it great for snorkelling, swimming, and walking along the white sand and taking in the palm trees and tropical vegetation. It’s also close to the Bavaro Lagoon, a small wildlife refuge featuring mangroves that’s popular for bird-watching, kayaking and wildlife spotting.

Which resorts are on Playa Cabeza De Toro?

If you’re looking to stay along this particular beach, check out these resorts:

  • Dreams Punta Cana
  • Be Live Collection Punta Cana Adults Only
  • Catalonia Royal Bavaro
  • Serenade Punta Cana
  • Radisson BLU

What is there to do at Playa Cabeza De Toro?

Cabeza de Toro Beach has something for everyone: there’s a quiet part of the beach surrounded by lush forest for walks, relaxation, or snorkelling, as well as an active part for those interested in seaside watersports. There are areas for snorkeling and shallow areas for kids to swim.

Swim with dolphins – Just offshore from Cabeza del Toro, you can spend a few hours swimming with dolphins and interacting with these beautiful creatures.  In addition to the dolphins you can get close to sea lions, stingrays, sharks, and tropical birds. The Marinarium is a popular attraction for families, where children can experience the magic of the sea in a safe environment. 

There’s a pristine section of beach that is great for vacation photos — just walk northwest along the beach for about a mile from Cabeza de Toro. It’s a romantic setting and will guarantee you the kind of photos that your friends back home will drool over.

Playa Cabeza De Toro: Small Group all-inclusive Snorkeling Cruise at Punta Cana with Private Beach

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 158 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 3.5 hours

Enjoy more than three hours of relaxation and exploration on this catamaran cruise off the best beaches of Punta Cana. Interact with gentle stingrays, snorkel alongside schools of tropical fish and magnificent coral reefs, or relax in the natural swimming pool while taking in the scenery. Not to mention an open bar, music, dancing and playing games – all accompanied by snacks and tropical fruit! With up to 60 passengers, you get use of snorkel equipment included in the price as well as round-trip transportation from Punta Cana hotels.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Places to eat at Playa Cabeza De Toro

The best location is a popular and spacious beach club called Pearl Beach Club. This upscale facility has a pool, several lounge areas, daily activities, and a huge food and drink menu.

Playa Bavaro

Best beaches of Punta Cana

Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and soak up the sun or want to indulge in some fun activities like windsurfing or kayaking, Play Bavaro (Bavaro Beach) has it all — it’s the most popular and many rate it among the best beaches of Punta Cana.

Bavaro Beach is not just one beach — it’s made up of several smaller beaches, including one by the same name, which makes it all the more confusing: Bibijagua, Jellyfish, Playa Corales, Playa Cortecito, Playa Bavaro, Playa Arena Blanca, and Playa Arena Gorda. Between them, this continuous strip of powdery white sand stretches for about 12 miles past all-inclusive resorts on one side and inviting calm turquoise waters on the other.

There’s no strict definition of where Playa Bavaro starts and stops, but Playa Cabeza de Toro lies to the south and Playa Macao is at the north. You can walk the entire length if you’re so inclined. When we were there, we saw many couples take early morning strolls up and down the sands.

Even though there are a number of all-inclusive and busy resorts lining the beach, it’s not crowded — between the shaded lounging chairs outside our resort (Lopesan Costa Bavaro) and the wide stretch of sand (up to 300 feet wide), there’s always plenty of room to enjoy the sound of the surf and the warmth of the sun.

Which resorts are on Playa Bavaro?

As you can see, there’s quite a few of them. If you want to stay along Bavaro beach and have out-your-door access, consider one of these for your stay:

  • Playa Turquesa Ocean Club beachfront apartments (Playa Corales)
  • ArtVilla Bavaro, if you have a smaller budget (Playa Corales)
  • GAVA Hostel for those backpacking through the Dominican Republic (Playa Corales)
  • Sanctuary @ Los Corales
  • Green Coast Beach Hotel, a small independent hotel (Cortecito Beach)
  • Palladium Punta Cana (Cortecito Beach)
  • Dreams Royal Beach: family friendly (Playa Bavaro)
  • Secrets Royal Beach (Playa Bavaro)
  • Meliá Caribe Beach Resort (Playa Bavaro)
  • Paradisus Palma Real (Playa Bavaro)
  • Barceló Bávaro Palace (Playa Bavaro)
  • Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort, Spa & Casino (Playa Bavaro)
  • Occidental Punta Cana (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Grand Bavaro Princess  (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Tropical Deluxe Princess (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Caribe Deluxe Princess (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Paradisus Punta Cana (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Ocean Blue & Sands (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • VIK Hotel Arena Blanca (Playa de Arena Blanca)
  • Iberostar (Playa de Arena Gorda)
  • Riu (Playa de Arena Gorda)
  • Bahía Príncipe (Playa de Arena Gorda)
  • Hard Rock Punta Cana (Playa de Arena Gorda)

Things to do along the beaches of the Playa Bavaro strip:

Playa Corales

Here you can find plenty to do during the day and night. You can enjoy the local scene and dance the night away as the Dominicans do or relax in the sun while listening to music. There are bars, pubs, chain restaurants, water activities and Soles Chill Out Bar all within walking distance. Ready-to-eat snacks, cold beers or delicious to-go meals from supermarkets and restaurants are also available nearby.

However, keep in mind that food might be more expensive than other places in DR so plan accordingly!

Playa del Cortecito

The Playa del Cortecito beach is narrower than others, but this allows a couple of beach bars to serve you right at the edge of the ocean. Close to the fishing area of the village, it’s a more of a local environment than other beaches. It’s home to handicraft markets, restaurants and bars, as well as cheaper accommodation.

It’s a great place to start a long beach walk and is especially lovely at sunset. The waves here are perfect for surfing and its coral reefs make it a great spot for snorkelling and diving. Onno’s Bavaro Bar and Restaurant music venue as well as Captain Cook restaurant are famous among locals and offer visitors an amazing experience.

Playa Bavaro

Bavaro Beach is perfect for swimming with calm waters and a Blue Flag status. Take a dip into the warm waters, stroll along the long stretch of soft white sand next to its inviting turquoise waters.

Local tour operators offer parasailing, glass-bottom boat tours, kayaking, snorkelling, or boat tours to explore the nearby coral reefs. And, if you’d like to try your negotiation skills, there are markets along the beach where you can find souvenirs to bring home. Resort guests may also be able to enjoy spa treatments and other amenities like kids pool and main pools, live music, and themed nights.

Playa de Arena Blanca

Although you can continue your walk along the white sands of this beach, Playa de Arena Blanca is easier to enjoy if you’re staying at one of the adjacent resorts. There’s no public eateries and no public access points. You can only walk along the beach if you come from adjacent Punta Cana beaches.  Resort guests will have the benefit of the activities the resort offers, but there’s not much else for other general visitors to do.

Playa de Arena Gorda

This beautiful beach is great for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling. Even though waves tend to be a bit rougher and the water a bit more sandy, there’s a coral reef just beyond the beach where the waters are clear and perfect for seeing marine life. Visitors can access the beach hrough the KUKUA Restaurant and Beach Club beside the Bahía Príncipe. Palm trees and lush vegetation provide plenty of shade, and there are hammocks and sun loungers for you to use for a relaxing day in the sun.

Here are a couple of the top-rated tours on the postcard-like Bavaro beaches.

Bavaro Beaches: Punta Cana Small Group Cruising and Snorkeling Catamaran Trip

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 406 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 2 hours

This tour offers an unique experience, starting from Bavaro Beach and sailing to Saona Island, and the town of Mano Juan. You’ll explore Parque Nacional del Este’s secret beach and search for starfish and marine life with snorkel equipment. Plus, you’ll get to learn about turtle conservation along the way. It’s a full 9 hour day that includes a simple breakfast, hearty buffet lunch on the beach.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Bavaro Beaches: Full-day small-group Saona Island Tour

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 2 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 2 hours

This tour offers an unique experience, starting from Bavaro Beach and sailing to Saona Island, and the town of Mano Juan. You’ll explore Parque Nacional del Este’s secret beach and search for starfish and marine life with snorkel equipment. Plus, you’ll get to learn about turtle conservation along the way. It’s a full 9 hour day that includes a simple breakfast, hearty buffet lunch on the beach.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Playa Macao

Playa Macao (Macao Beach) is a beautiful and popular spot and was once recognized by UNESCO as one of the Caribbean’s best beaches and the best beaches of Punta Cana.

Best beaches of Punta Cana

It’s 22 miles from the Punta Cana International Airport and is located next to the village of Macao. It’s popular among locals and visitors alike and boasts a nearly pristine beach with a half-moon-shaped bay and beautifully colored fishing boats. There’s more wave action here than some of the other beaches, making it ideal for surfing, windsurfing, and parasailing, but not so much for swimming.

The beach is usually free of seaweed. There’s a surfing school to make use of all those waves, as well as local restaurants with traditional Dominican food, tables on the sand, and an incredibly relaxed atmosphere.

Which resorts are on Playa Macao?

Macao Beach is not a very commercialized area and there is just one resort at this beach: the all-inclusive Dreams Macao Beach Resort. This is an extremely family friendly resort with a separate kids club (3-12 years) and a teens club (13-17 years). 

What is there to do at Playa Macao?

  • Sunbathing — It’s a great spot for sunbathing, and the long stretch of sand makes it easy to find your own space. During the summer months you can view the sunset here, as the bay is slightly open to the west. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunblock to protect your eyes and skin from the bright sunlight.
  • Local restaurants — there are several local oceanfront eateries with tables right in the sand of Playa Macao that offer some of the best fish dishes with local Dominican sides, such as rice and beans or fried plantains.
  • Surfing – thanks to its strong waves and consistent swell, surfing is one of the most popular activities at Macao Beach.
  • Horseback riding — several guided tours offer horseback riding along the beach and in the forest and local towns. It’s a great way to see what the local culture is like and see the natural beauty of the countryside.
  • Dune buggy adventures — Visit the beach and the nearby Macao Cave during a dune buggy adventure from Punta Cana.

Macao Beach: One-on-one surf lessons

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 2 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 2 hours

Why choose this Punta Cana beach tour?  This is a two-hour surfing lesson for all skill levels on the white sands and clear waters of the stunning Macao beach. Arrive from your hotel at Macao Beach in an air-conditioned transport. Start your lesson with a water safety briefing and a dry-land lesson and practice to build up your confidence. Then, ride the waves and practice your stroke with easy-to-follow and practical instruction.

The one-on-one surf lessons on Macao Beach includes: 

  • Comfortable, Air Conditioned transportation to and from Macao Beach to all locations in the Punta Cana* area
  • Professional one-on-one instruction in the water
  • Coaching in English, Spanish, or Russian
  • Surfing equipment
  • 50+ SPF long-sleeve rash guard
  • Bottled water

What past guests have said:

“We had a fantastic surf course with super professional surf guides. Each of us had our own instructor. Everyone had a sense of achievement very quickly and managed to stand on the board. We also booked a photo package – what great shots with the drone!!! Absolutely worth it! We can only recommend…”

— German visitor (see more reviews)

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Macao Beach: Horseback Riding

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 5 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 2.5 hours

You’ll enjoy nature while learning more about local culture as you ride through a traditional village, across lush forests, and along the sandy Macao beach shores. At the end of your journey, admire breathtaking views before heading back to the ranch for cigar tasting. Pickup from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Macao Beach: 4X4 open-top Jeep Wrangler safari experience with zipline and lunch

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 706 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 7 hours

Drive a 4×4 open-top Jeep Wrangler and explore scenic landscapes, visit a cigar factory, and enjoy a picnic feast on a peaceful beach. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to zoom through the forest canopy on a zipline and ride a horse through lush, green, wooded areas and riverside areas including a river crossing. Enjoy a Dominican lunch, snacks, and organic food tastings that are included in your adventure.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Macao Beach: 4X4 Dominican experience, water cave, chocolate & coffee tasting

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 364 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 4 hours

Explore the Playa Macao during this four-hour guided tour. Drive a 4×4 through the countryside and Macao beach while admiring forests, lush tropical gardens, picturesque typical Dominican houses, palm trees and banana plantations. You’ll learn about tobacco, rum, coffee, and chocolate at a farm, travel to an underground cave for a refreshing dip in a natural pool, and end at Macao Beach for some time in the sun. Professional photos are also available to buy on this journey. Don’t forget to bring your towels, sunscreen and sunglasses.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Macao Beach: Professional photo session

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 2 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 2 hours

For a bit of a unique and special treat, enjoy a professional photo shoot in which you are the model! Choose the best setting for your photographs: a beautiful coastal zone, a hidden bay, or on top of a cliff. Professional photographers with more than 10 years of experience will work with you for an hour-and-a-half to produce 120-150 color-corrected photographs.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Playa Uvero Alto

Playa Uvero Alto (Uvero Alto Beach) is one of the best beaches of Punta Cana and a great destination for travellers looking for a secluded and low-key atmosphere. 

Located north of Macao Beach, you’ll find that this undeveloped beach has golden sand and water that is not as turquoise as in other parts of Punta Cana. Playa Uvero Alto is an ideal spot to relax away from large crowds. While you can’t walk along from Macao beach to Playa Uvero Alto since the mouth of a river separates them, but it’s still worth visiting as it’s one of the most beautiful and untouched beaches in Punta Cana.

Which resorts are on Playa Uvero Alto?

  • Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa – Adults Only
  • Excellence Punta Cana – Adults Only
  • Finest Punta Cana – family friendly
  • Grand Sirenis Punta Cana Resort & Aquagames – family friendly with a great water park

The downside of being underdeveloped is that the infrastructure in the area is slight and locals say that, if you are not planning to rent a car, you should definitely be staying in one of the resorts if you want to visit Playa Uvero Alto.

What is there to do at Playa Uvero Alto?

If you’re up for a long romantic or relaxing walk on the beach, it’s about six miles long. It’s also a popular beach for horseback riding and surfing

Water conditions often aren’t that great for swimming. There can be powerful undertows and strong waves and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, then perhaps you should give swimming here a miss.

Best beaches of Punta Cana

But what’s bad for swimming is good for other things: there’s surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. In fact the most highly-rated surfing school is the Uvero Alto Surf School, Escuela del Marullo. They comply with the guidelines of the International Surfing Association (ISA) and classes are available on an individual or group basis. Playa Uvero Alto receives a variety of types of wave breaks suitable for all levels.

Castaways Restaurant and Bar is one of the few public restaurants on the beach. As well as the usual Dominican fare, they offer romantic beach dinners for you and your partner.

Playa Esmeralda

If you don’t mind going off the beaten path to find a beautiful and pristine Caribbean beach, consider pristine Playa Esmeralda.

Not to be confused with Playa Esmeralda at Mexico’s Playa Del Carmen, Punta Cana’s Esmeralda Beach is 90 minutes drive from the airport. This secluded beach offers sparkling blue-green waters and soft white sand for travellers to relax and escape from everyday life. It’s still THE secret spot to go with almost two miles of pristine and untouched beach. One of its main attractions is the periodic arrival of leatherback turtles.

Which resorts are on Playa Esmeralda?

Club Med Miches is the only luxury resort at Playa Esmeralda, located at the western end of the beach. There’s no other resort for miles, so you get to enjoy the unspoiled beach — often without a single other person there.

What is there to do at Playa Esmeralda?

The fantastic scenery and relaxing seclusion at Playa Esmeralda is the main attraction, and you can walk the beach, enjoy nature, and paddle in the water.

Other than at the resort, there are no restaurants here so it’s best to bring snacks with you!

Playa Esmeralda: Redonda Mountain & Emerald Coast relaxing experience

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 114 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 4 hours

On your way to Playa Esmeralda, you can stop at Montaña Redonda, located between Miches and Punta Cana. At this prominent and beautiful hemispherical mountain, you can take in and photograph the spectacular panoramic views of Playa Esmeralda and Playa El Limon. There’s also hammocks, a giant swing, and “flying brooms” right on the edge of the mountain that provide great photo opportunities.

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

Bonus beach: Isla Saona

Isla Saona (Saona Island) is not technically on the Punta Cana strip of beaches — it’s and island that’s south of the southernmost mainland beach in our list (Playa Juanillo). It’s rated as one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, and most of the tourists visit it from Bayahibe, which is just a short trip along the southern coast.

Saona Island: the ultimate experience under the sun

  • RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars — With 12 reviews
  • TOUR LENGTH: about 4 hours

Sail on a catamaran or take a speedboat to this tropical paradise. Swim in crystal clear waters, snorkel among diverse marine wildlife, explore virgin beaches and walk through lush forests. Enjoy lunch from a beachside barbecue while you take in the views of the Caribbean Sea or play volleyball with your fellow travellers. Plus, come prepared for souvenir photos that are available to purchase and don’t forget sunscreen and repellent!

▶︎ Check availability and prices now!

The fundamentals – key points to remember

To set some quick context, here’s a few pointers that apply to all the best beaches of Punta Cana:

  • In Spanish, playa = beach
  • All beaches in Punta Cana are public and free and you are free to walk the length of the beaches.
  • Bring your sunglasses — white sand and surf will reflect a lot of the bright sunlight into your eyes.
  • Even though the beaches are public, access points are limited. It can be a bit tricky to reach them where most of the beachfront row is lined with all-inclusive resorts. Often a taxi or a rented car is the best way to reach the access points.
  • Remember, technically-speaking the resorts are private property. So be careful if you venture into the grounds of a resort if it’s not the one you’re staying at. Resort guests normally have special wristbands and non-guests are easily identifiable by resort employees.
  • There are publicly-available amenities along the beaches: markets where you can try your negotiating skills, access to the ocean anywhere & anytime, and private adventure excursions such as boating and parasailing.
  • It’s best to book excursions and tours ahead of time to ensure that you don’t miss your preferred adventure if they’re sold out. And, you will avoid having to listen to sales people try to upsell you on more expensive tours. Arrive at your destination knowing everything is organized already — save time, save money, and you can hit the beach or get that first Pina Colada as soon as you arrive.

Frequently-asked questions (FAQ) about the best beaches of Punta Cana

I bet you already had one or more of these questions in mind:

Which is the nicest beach in Punta Cana?

As is so often the case, the answer is “it depends…”.

Are you’re looking for white powdery sand, swaying coconut trees, and crystal-clear turquoise water on a secluded beach? Or does the one with the most action, bars, people, and activities call to you the most?

For action and water activities you can’t go wrong with Bavaro Beach. It’s the widest part of the long stretch of beach. There’s lots of the water excursions there and it’s great for swimming and water fun.

As far as secluded beaches go, Playa Esmerelda takes the cake if you don’t mind the journey. It’s 60 miles from the Punta Cana airport, but the privacy, blue-green waters, and soft white sand will make the journey worthwhile if you’re looking for seclusion and relaxation.

Are the beaches swimmable in Punta Cana?

What’s the best beach of Punta Cana for swimming? Most of the beaches have great swimming. But be careful at these beaches:

  • Uvero Alto beach — there’s a powerful undertow and strong wave action — conditions aren’t always suitable for swimming.
  • Playa Macao is a great place for surfing, but the wave action doesn’t always make for great swimming. When weather conditions permit (look for the green flags), Macaco Beach’s waters are calm, clear and swimmable.
  • Juanillo beach is a bit shallow for swimming, but you can still play around and have fun in the water.

The other issue for swimming is seaweed. See the question below for more details on this.

Is the ocean water warm in Punta Cana?

Average annual water temperature on the coast in Punta Cana is 82°F. The coolest month is typically March (around 78°F). When we were there last in January (the “coldest” time of the year, the locals told me) , the Play Bavaro waters were a little cool, but comfortable. It was still better than shovelling snow back home!

Is the water in Punta Cana clear?

Punta Cana is located on the Atlantic ocean so the water is cooler and slightly rougher than on the Caribbean side. It IS ocean water, but is particularly clear in the shallows.

Is it safe to walk on the beaches in Punta Cana?

Statistically speaking, Punta Cana is safer than other urban areas in the Dominican Republic and much safer than many cities in the US.

Our days on Playa Bavaro were full of people taking long walks on the beach without incident. Certainly, being around other beach-goers helps provides some protection and deterrence. I was up early on several mornings to try and take pictures of the sunrise from the beach — there were fewer people out at that time and yet I still felt safe and saw no suspicious behaviour.

Remember that the tourism industry is a big part of the Punta Cana economy and your resort hosts are glad to have you and will help keep you safe. Nevertheless, there’s a few steps you can take to reduce the already small risk when you’re out:

  • Travel light – leave money, jewelry, or valuables locked up in your room’s safe.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Travel with a group; never walk alone
  • Only use licensed taxis
  • Stay away from secluded areas at night

There are markets at points along the beach and you may be approached by vendors trying to sell you excursions, paintings, massages, hair beads, cigars, jewelry, and more. They can be, shall we call it “spirited”. If you’re into the art of negotiation, it can be fun. But if you’d rather just walk along the beach and not be bothered, just learn these words: “No tengo dinero” (I have no money).

Which beach in Punta Cana has no seaweed?

Seaweed is more of an annoyance than a hazard and often you can simply walk out beyond the seaweed and still enjoy your swim. Most seaweed occurs between June and November. During the peak season between December and May, you can assume that there will be no seaweed at most Punta Cana beaches.

But keep an eye out for sargassum, which is a naturally occurring brown algae generally found in the open ocean in the Sargasso Sea. You’ll recognize it easily as floating seaweed with pods — marine creatures such as eels and sea turtles use it as a resting area and a spawning ground. It’s also a source of food for coastal birds.

Sargassum seaweed in itself doesn’t pose a problem. But when in warm shallow waters, it can host microbes and bacteria that your skin is not accustomed to. Just avoid stepping in it or allowing children to play in the mounds of sargassum seaweed collected for disposal. I remember being surrounded by the stuff as a child at western Scottish beaches and I suffered no ill effects.

If you want to find the best beaches of Punta Cana without seaweed, check the windier beaches such as Playa Blanca and Playa Macao.

Are there sharks at Punta Cana beaches?

No, there are no sharks at Punta Cana beaches. The entire coast of the Dominican Republic is surrounded by a coral reef. This means that sharks are rare guests in coastal waters, as the reef is a natural barrier for them.

Statistically speaking, over the past century, there have been only three cases of shark attacks on humans in the Dominican Republic, and only 6 in the Caribbean region.

Are the beaches good in Punta Cana?

The best beaches of Punta Cana are some of the best in the Caribbean and without a doubt the most spectacular beaches of the entire Dominican Republic. With 20+ miles of continuous white sand, Punta Cana has no shortage of beautiful beaches.

Where did the Kardashians stay in Punta Cana?

Staying at the luxurious Casa De Campo, the Kardashians took full advantage of the resort’s many amenities: from the beach to the golf course to the gorgeous villa, no spot was safe from the the group’s drama.

Are Punta Cana beaches crowded?

Punta Cana offers 20+ miles of beaches and, even in tourism’s high season, there’s plenty of sand to relax without heavy crowds.

Is 4 days enough in Punta Cana?

Funny you should ask — my last stay there was for four days and that was just enough to whet my appetite.

If you’re just there for a long weekend to unwind and relax, four days will certainly send you back to the daily grind relaxed and rejuvenated. But if you really want to get into vacation mode and have enough time to take in some of the great things to do around the beaches, a week’s stay in my opinion would be better.

We were there for my niece’s wedding at the Lopesan resort and, besides the day taken up by the wedding, I had just enough time to learn to find my room (it’s a huge complex) and take in one excursion to go zip-lining (it was awesome!). There’s so much to do around the area, I could have used the extra days to go to a secluded beach, learn to surf, swim with dolphins…

OK, you got me — I’d never come home!

Are the beaches clean in Punta Cana?

Many of the beaches in the Dominican Republic and in Punta Cana have achieved Blue Flag status, which means they’ve implemented sustainable management practices on their beaches and coastal zones to reduce pollution and preserve beach quality. But note that Blue Flag status doesn’t assess or rate beach quality when it comes to sargassum seaweed or other natural materials.

Make your choice from the best beaches of Punta Cana

So there you have it — the best beaches in Punta Cana. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot or want to experience some of the best surfing and diving in the world, Punta Cana beaches are sure to make your trip memorable. With its crystal-clear waters and soft white sand, it’s no wonder this Caribbean destination is a favorite among vacationers.

Thanks for joining us on this new adventure! Got a question or a comment? Go to the contact page and send a message using the form.