I have visited four different countries in my life, for that I thank my parents. However, now that I am older & have a much greater appreciation of various cultures & experiences I’ve decided to visit new places at least once a year. My first stop this year was the Dominican Republic! Specifically, I visited the town of Punta Cana. This area is at the eastern end of the Dominican Republic. It’s a very tourist oriented area well known for its beaches, fabulous resorts and tourist activities such as zip-lining & water sports.
This was a birthday trip for one of my besties, Tiffany, I’m sure you’ve all seen her on my Instagram. This was a girl’s trip, the four of us ventured over to Punta Cana from Jamaica & the US to celebrate & explore. We were there for 6 amazing days from February 14th-19th.
Having expanded my blog from only covering beauty related topics I am going to cover all things travel as well. Finding other bloggers who have been to Punta Cana or even the Dominican Republic in general was near impossible. To make life easier for others, I will be blogging about this & all my future trips & providing all the information I wish I could have found.
Getting To Punta Cana
To get to Punta Cana, we took a flight from Kingston (KIN – Norman Manley International Airport) to Miami (MIA – Miami International Airport) & headed to Punta Cana (PUJ – Punta Cana International Airport from there on American Airlines. The round trip price of this ticket was $684.63 USD. This could have been a bit lower if I waited a while longer to book. I use the “Hopper” app to watch flight tickets to ensure I get the best prices when I travel. It is to be noted however that the time we travelled is peak time for Punta Cana, December-February so during this period prices on travel & accommodation will be higher than average.
While Punta Cana has many luxury resorts available we found that the best option for us was to stay in an Airbnb. This was the best option for us because a luxury resort in any country is just that, a luxury resort. We all prefer to enjoy the countries we visit outside of a resort. Including the restaurants, supermarkets & just the general feel of life in different countries.
We selected a 2 Bedroom Villa inside the Cap Cana area. Our villa cost $250 USD per night, a grand total of $1,463.61 USD, all fees were included. Each of the four of us paid $365.90 USD for the entire 5 night stay.
Where To Stay In Punta Cana
The Cap Cana area of Punta Cana is where we chose to stay, it was around 15 minutes away from the airport and was a great choice in my opinion. The area felt very safe, having security checkpoints at two gates before actually getting to our villa. Within the exclusive Cap Cana area there are over 20 different communities. Green Village wasn’t not too far from the initial gated entrance to the Cap Cana area. Many of the other gated areas had luxury resorts within them. The resorts in the area have restaurants open to the public as they are not part of the “All Inclusive Resort” package. Visitors from other areas of Cap Cana are welcome to dine at these locations.
Our villa was beautifully decorated, very clean & had a great patio area with a pool overlooking a gorgeous view of the Green Village area. Our host was also very attentive and ensured we had all the information we needed prior to our trip. He sent us a very detailed house manual which had standard house rules, wifi information & specifics to help us get settled but he also included a list of restaurants & bars in the area along with a list of near by beaches, activities/attractions, spas & other services we may have needed during our stay which was very helpful.
Check out Carlos’ place here on Air BnB if you’re interested in traveling to Punta Cana. I definitely recommend his place. It was a great home in a great location & he was a great host!
Coming from Jamaica, we had USD as our currency of choice & I will say, many of the Dominican locals thought that they were robbing us by having us pay in USD, however, things were so much cheaper than we’re accustomed to that we didn’t mind at all that they thought they were pulling a fast one on us by taking the USD.
I recommend budgeting around $50-$70 USD per day for eating out twice a day and around $100 USD for groceries. The groceries should cover your entire stay (based on my 5 days).
A point to be noted as well, they accept USD & CAD in most places in the Dominican Republic. Pounds aren’t as commonly accepted but there is no need to convert your money to Pesos once you have USD/CAD.
Food in the Dominican Republic was surprisingly inexpensive in the supermarket. On our first day we got groceries to cover our breakfast and of course some alcohol & we were all shocked at how low the bill was at checkout. For the four of us, breakfast foods (fruits, eggs, bread, cheese, deli meat, cooking oil etc.), snacks, chasers (juices & sodas) & alcohol (Prosecco & Wine included!) ran us around $112 USD total. This ends up being around $28 each which I found to be really reasonable considering we were staying in a tourist destination & coming from Jamaica, I expected prices to be higher in these types of areas.
As for eating out, our highest bill during our stay was around $165 USD while our lowest was about $65 USD. These meals all include appetizers, main courses & drinks for four. It was therefore approximately $16-$40 USD per person for meals depending on the types of restaurants you choose to visit.
Souvenirs cost between $7-$15 depending on what you want to purchase. These should also be included in your budget if you plan to buy gifts for friends & family.
Our first stop after arrival was the Blue Mall which was very close to the airport. There was a Claro, mobile network, store there so we each got sim cards. It cost us $10 USD each for sim cards with unlimited data for 5 days plus some calling minutes. We really didn’t need the calling minutes because the four of us were always together but we took it anyway.
We all used our phones hassle free so I would definitely recommend getting a sim card from Claro.
We decided to rent a car after getting advice from someone who visited the area before & from our Airbnb host. Honestly I am so happy that we rented a car! A taxi costs $10-$40 USD a trip so a rental was most cost effective.
We used Alamo as our rental company & made the booking through Expedia prior to arrival. Expedia recommended that we book car insurance through them for our rental. The cost of this insurance ended up being $11 USD per day. Take my foolish advice, do not purchase this insurance. When we got to the Alamo counter at the airport we were advised that the Expedia insurance does not apply to our booking & we would have to purchase the insurance for the vehicle through them which ended up with us paying for insurance a second time.
The vehicle we were initially going to get was a sedan, think Nissa Tiida, but we decided to upgrade to an SUV. There were no standard size SUV’s available at the time unfortunately. However, our sales agent Federico gave us an upgrade to a much larger luxury SUV for the same cost ($480 USD). We decided on a Chevrolet Traverse which was is an eight seater vehicle however since it was four of us we folded down the third row seating & we all fit comfortably along with all eight of our bags in the trunk.
Car rental was definitely a great decision!
My grand total for 6 days in Punta Cana ends up being around $1,500 including airfare, accommodation, transportation & spending money.
That covers our preparation for our visit to Punta Cana & the practical things that made our trip comfortable. In my next blog post I will cover all the things we did including all the restaurants we tried.
If you’ve been to the Dominican Republic leave a comment with your travel tips from your visit.
Until next time,
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** Some photos of the villa are provided from Carlos’ AirBnB page.