Punta Cana Cruise Port Guide, Things to Do, Shore Excursions

Punta Cana beach - Dominican Republic

Welcome to Punta Cana cruise port!

Nestled in the Altagracia province on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a region famous for its endless white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, and luxury resorts. It is the most popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic and a popular port of call in the Caribbean cruise itineraries. In this article, read about:

  • Punta Cana cruise port (Punta Cana cruise terminal, getting around)
  • Top 10 things to do in Punta Cana port and best Punta Cana shore excursions

Visit also our cruise guides to Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Nassau, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Labadee, St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, Bermuda

Punta Cana Cruise Port

Cruise ships anchor in Punta Cana, near Cap Cana Marina, and ships use tender boats to transfer the cruise passengers ashore. The tender boat ride usually takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on where your ship is anchored. The passengers are transferred to Cap Cana, a private retreat inside Punta Cana known for its gorgeous beaches and its marina where the boats tender. In Cap Cana Marina and Harbour you’ll find hotel resorts, restaurants, and boutiques, as well as a tourist information center, and a taxi station. Your shore excursions will depart from the marina too.

Useful info:

  • See Punta Cana cruise port on Google maps 
  • Cap Cana Marina is flat and wheelchair-accessible.
  • The best way to get around Punta Cana is by taxi or on an organized shore excursion. Unfortunately, public transport is not reliable so it is not recommended to use it with the limited time in port.
  • The official currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (DOP; the symbol is RD$ or only $) and the exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 53.79 DOP. Many establishments accept USD, especially in tourist areas, however, some small stores will only take pesos. You can get some local currency through the ATM. Cruise lines do not offer an exchange service for this currency. Use currency converter 
  • Spanish is the main language in Punta Cana, however, English is widely spoken.
  • The high season in Punta Cana is between December and April when the weather is warm and dry. The rainy season lasts from May to November, with the possibility of tropical storms and hurricanes from August to October. For helpful packing tips for your cruise to Punta Cana, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 50 Cruise Essentials
  • Punta Cana International Airport is located around 12 km/7.5 miles (a 15-minute drive) northeast of Cap Cana Marina
  • Check out the best hotels in Punta Cana

Top 10 Things to Do in Punta Cana Cruise Port

Punta Cana offers a wide variety of activities and landmarks for adventure seekers and history buffs, but also those in search of picture-perfect beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and beautiful nature. Before I share with you the best things to do in the port of Punta Cana, I invite you to sign up below to get my insider SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE for FREE!

1. Santo Domingo

Discover the rich history and culture of the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo. The oldest city in the Americas was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Walk through the historic colonial zone and admire 16th-century buildings, many turned into museums and stores. Stroll along “Street of the Ladies“, the city’s oldest paved street, and visit the Alcázar de Colón, the only known residence of Christopher Columbus’ family.

Alcázar de Colón in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic
Alcázar de Colón. Source: Pixabay.com

One of the most popular historic landmarks is the imposing Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor (Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación), the oldest Cathedral in the western hemisphere dating from the 16th century featuring the golden coral limestone front and numerous valuable historic artworks. For only 108 DOP ($2) you can enter the Gothic Cathedral and tour it with the audio guide.

Santo Domingo is located around a 2 h 40-minute drive from Cap Cana Marina. The best way to explore Dominican Republic’s capital is through an organized shore excursion from your cruise line so you do not have to worry about getting caught in traffic. Most taxis will offer to take you on a tour and you should expect to pay around 100 USD per person for round-trip transportation.

Check out Santo Domingo tours and activities from Punta Cana

2. Altos de Chavón

This charming Mediterranean village sits 300 feet above the Chavón River, in the heart of the Dominican Republic countryside. The village is an excellent replica of a European village featuring narrow, cobbled streets, medieval architecture, shops, restaurants, bars, and arts and crafts.

Make sure not to miss the splendid Grecian-style amphitheater, inaugurated in 1982 by Frank Sinatra, and Saint Stanislaus Church completed in 1979, consecrated by Pope John Paul II. While visiting Altos de Chavón you can also enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Chavón River and admire the beautiful tropical jungle and lush surroundings. The drive from Marina Cap Cana to Altos de Chavón takes approximately 1 hour each way and a taxi costs around 120 USD per person (round-trip).

Check out Altos de Chavón tours and activities

Altos de Chavón Amphitheatre, Dominican Republic
Altos de Chavón Amphitheatre. Source: Pixabay.com

3. Sail to Saona Island

Take a trip over to the beautiful island of Saona and enjoy picture-perfect beaches, turquoise clear waters, and countless palm trees. Isla Saona is part of the nature reserve nestled in the southeast part of the country and boasts lush nature, pristine beaches, and beautiful coral reefs popular for snorkeling and diving. Swim at Mano Juan, the only inhabited portion of the island, and enjoy the natural swimming pool filled with shallow, crystal-clear waters.

The quickest and easiest way to get to Saona Island from Cap Cana Marina is on an organized shore excursion, and the boat ride takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes one way. You can also take a taxi from Cap Cana for a 1-hour ride to Bayahibe (around 120 USD) and take a 45-minute speedboat to Saona (around 50 USD).

See the list of Saona Island tours and activities

Saona Island - Dominican Republic
Saona Island. Source: Pixabay.com

4. Bavaro Adventure Park

If you are looking to spend a family day at Cap Cana Marina, this amazing adventure park is a great place to go! Bavaro Adventure Park offers you 110 acres of natural beauty and over 15 fun activities including zip lines, paintball, a bungee trampoline, flight simulators, and many others. There’s also an on-site Jurassic Park, with more than 20 animatronic dinosaurs.

Due to the popularity of the park, it is recommended to reserve and purchase your tickets online in advance (it’s cheaper). You can still purchase tickets on-site but it’s a little more expensive and you will be accommodated on a space-available basis.

Check out Bavaro Adventure Park tours and activities

5. Sanctuary Cap Cana All-Inclusive Adult Resort

Punta Cana is famous for its upscale hotel resorts, prestigious golf clubs, luxury beach clubs, and stunning beaches. Spend the day at Sanctuary Cap Cana resort, one of the most exclusive all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, and enjoy a relaxing day at the beach or by the pool, its on-site entertainment, fitness facilities, non-motorized aquatic sports, a restaurant, and free wi-fi.

Close to Sanctuary Cap Cana resort you’ll find the Scape Park, a natural theme park, the famous Juanillo Beach, and the renowned Punta Espada Golf Club, one of the finest golf clubs in the Caribbean. The resort offers a day pass for around 75 USD per person. Sanctuary Cap Cana is located only a 10-minute drive from the pier and the taxi fare is around $15 one way for 4 people. Get more info at https://sanctuarycapcana.com/

Sanctuary Cap Cana resort, Punta Cana cruise port, Dominican Republic
Sanctuary Cap Cana resort. Photo courtesy of Angel Hau.

6. Scape Park

Located only a 10-minute drive from Cap Cana Marina, this nature theme park offers numerous adventure and cultural activities for the whole family. Zipline above the treetops of the lush jungle and explore Iguabonita Cave, an impressive cavern with incredible rock formations. Enjoy an underground cave and swim in Hoyo Azul (Blue Hole), or ride in splash hammocks!

Besides these adrenaline-packed activities, Scape Park offers transportation to Scape Beach Club at Juanillo beach where you can enjoy activities such as rowing, kayaking, and volleyball. The taxi fare is around 12 – 15 USD per vehicle one-way. The Park offers a $129 admission fee that includes access to all land activities. Tourists can also book snorkeling onboard the sunshine cruise for an additional 30 USD. Find more information on the Scape Park website 

Explore Scape Park tours and activities 

7. Bavaro Beach

Twelve miles of breathtaking sugar-white beach and calm aquamarine waters lined with palm trees await you in undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Punta Cana! On the Bavaro beach (Playa Bavaro), you’ll find numerous beach clubs, bars, restaurants, a wide variety of amenities, and water activities available for rental. Located around a 30-minute drive from Cap Cana Marina, Bavaro beach can be reached by taxi, and the cost is approximately 45 USD one way for 4 people.

El Cortecito and Corales beach are also popular beaches located near Bavaro beach.

Explore the Bavaro Beach tours and activities

Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana
Bavaro Beach. Source: Pixabay.com

8. Playa Juanillo

If you are looking for a quick beach getaway, Juanillo Beach is the best beach in Punta Cana for you. It is a great place to sunbathe, swim, snorkel or just relax on the beach sipping a cocktail while you soak up the hot Caribbean sun! If you get hungry, grab a bite at Little John Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Punta Cana. Amenities and water activities such as volleyball, snorkeling, kayaking, and kitesurfing are available.

Juanillo Beach is located right by Sanctuary Cap Cana, approximately a 10-minute drive from the pier. A taxi fare is around 5 USD per person each way. Playa Juanillo is open to the public, however, when you arrive at the entrance gate of Cap Cana, you will probably be asked by security to show a picture ID.

Check out Juanillo Beach tours and activities 

Juanillo beach in Punta Cana
Playa Juanillo. Photo courtesy of Angel Hau.

9. Macao Beach

This beautiful beach has been praised by UNESCO as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and a surfers’ paradise. If you are looking for a less touristy and crowd-free beach, this is the place to go. You can choose to explore and enjoy the beach on your own or you can get an all-day pass at the Dreams Macao Resort. Along the beach, you will find small local restaurants and surf lesson huts.

The beach is located on the northern end of Punta Cana, approximately a 45-minute drive from Cap Cana Marina. Taxi fare is approximately 50 USD one way for 4 people.

See the list of Macao Beach tours and activities

10. Arena Gorda Beach

Located north of Bavaro beach, Arena Gorda is one of the widest beaches in all of the Dominican Republic with many resorts and activities for everyone. There are lifeguards on duty every day from 9 am to 6 pm, and this beach is considered the safest one for kids and the most family-friendly. The beach is also equipped with easy access for visitors with mobility challenges and wheelchair users.

Arena Gorda is an all-inclusive resort beach with limited access, and the best way to access it is through the KUKUA Restaurant Beach Club located next to the Bahía Príncipe Luxury Esmeralda hotel resort. This beach club offers all amenities you need. A taxi to the beach cost around 45 USD and the ride takes approximately 30-35 minutes.

Check out Arena Gorda tours and activities

To Wrap Up

Rich historical and cultural heritage, adventure activities, upscale resorts and gorgeous beaches make Punta Cana one of the bucket list destinations for travelers taking a Caribbean cruise. But before you visit this wonderful port of call, make sure you plan your day so you can get the most out of this Dominican Republic gem.

Visit also our cruise guides to Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Nassau, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Labadee, St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, Bermuda


You May Also Like:

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