22/02/2024

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The best of Punta Cana’s beaches [2024; incl. map + insider tips & hidden gems]

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The best of Punta Cana’s beaches [2024; incl. map + insider tips & hidden gems]

Most people think that Punta Cana is one area with one (big) beach (literally Punta Cana Beach), which is easily accessible from everywhere. But surprise, it is right the opposite. “Punta Cana Beach” is not existing and the whole Punta Cana region is spread out along a coastline of 40 miles, lining up different beautiful beaches like precious pearls on a necklace. With this choice of more than a dozen strips of sand, I am explaining to you here the differences between the top 10 beaches, giving you some recommendations on where to stay and showing you which is the best beach in Punta Cana. For better orientation, I am listing them from South to North.

Are you interested in the most beautiful beaches of Samaná. Check them out here. You can also find a list of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic incl. a map here.
Some of the beaches in this article are also part of the most exciting attractions in the area. To check out more amazing things to do in Punta Cana, continue reading here.
If you are interested in Playa Bavaro, the main beach in Punta Cana, you can continue reading the separate post about Bavaro Beach.

COMPLETELY UPDATED: December 2023

Map with the best beaches in Punta Cana

1) Playa Juanillo – the picturesque beach in Punta Cana

Playa Juanillo is the perfect beach in Punta Cana for a quick but upscale beach getaway: an elegant beach club, a perfect color of the water and stunning photo opportunities (among them a long jetty, giant palm trees and the beautiful color of the water itself). Playa Juanillo might not be the best beach for swimming as the water is quite shallow, but it is an amazing option for sunbathing, sipping a cocktail, watching the marvelous scenery of swaying palm trees and enjoying the Caribbean beach atmosphere. Just note that during the seaweed season in Punta Cana, sargassum here might be heavier than elsewhere. During these months, it might be piling up at the shore, but the beach and the ocean usually stays clear and beautiful.

Please note that Juanillo beach is located in Cap Cana, which requires previous registration at the entrance gate. You most likely will be asked for a reservation at Juanillo Beach Club (if not staying in one of Cap Canas’ resorts and villas) and have to buy a voucher for 25 USD per person, which can be used at the bar or the restaurant.

 Where to stay at Playa Juanillo:
all-inclusive option: Hyatt Ziva*, one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana and right at Juanillo Beach
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: there are no accommodation options besides all-inclusive resorts at Playa Juanillo

Where to eat at Playa Juanillo: Juanillo Grill & Beach Club is currently the only option at Juanillo Beach. It is open during the day.

How is the seaweed at Juanillo Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), Juanillo Beach is usually heavily affected

The best beach club at Playa Juanillo: Juanillo Grill & Beach Club (the only option)

What to do at Playa Juanillo: this beach is one of the whitest of all beaches in Punta Cana, hence seeing the color is an attraction itself. Furthermore, you can take stunning photos and relax at one of the sunloungers if you buy food or drinks at Juanillo Grill & Beach Club. Check out this article for further things-to-do in Punta Cana.

 How to get to Playa Juanillo: depending on the location of the hotel where you are staying, it might be the best to come here by taxi or rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*). There is no public transport in Cap Cana and Ubers are usually not allowed.

Juanillo Beach in Cap Cana - one of the best beaches in Punta Cana 2023

2) Playa Blanca – the white beach in Punta Cana

 Playa Blanca is Spanish and means “white beach” and that’s exactly what perfectly describes it – it is without a doubt the whitest beach in the whole area of Punta Cana. Take a stroll along this marvelous stretch of beach and enjoy the stunning scenery. Don’t forget your sunglasses. The sun and especially the white beach might blind you.

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Side note: if you have a long layover for whatever reason at the Punta Cana airport, Playa Blanca is the closest beach just 2 miles away from the airport.

Please note that Playa Blanca Beach is located within Puntacana Resort. Usually you can enter here without being a guest, but a registration of your personal details and vehicle number is necessary at their main gate. Recent reports are also showing that a 40 USD minimum consumption might be requested during certain periods – for the moment I don’t have details about it as it has been some time since I visited Playa Blanca for the last time.

 Where to stay at Playa Blanca:
– all-inclusive option: Club Med Punta Cana*, a club resort famous among European travelers
non all-inclusive option: The Westin Punta Cana* is one of the best non-all-inclusive hotels in Punta Cana.

Where to eat at Playa Blanca: the best option to eat at this gorgeous Punta Cana beach is Playa Blanca Restaurant right next to the main parking lot. They offer a decent mix of elegant atmosphere and a casual beach menu.

How is the seaweed at Playa Blanca Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), this particularly white Punta Cana beach is usually heavily affected

The best beach club at Playa Blanca: Playa Blanca Restaurant

What to do at Playa Blanca: the best is to relax and enjoy the beautiful colors of this beach. If you’d like to head out, you can visit “Los Ojos Indigenas”, a nature reserve with around a dozen of crystal-clear lagoons, which are connected by a pleasant hiking trail. Some of the lagoons are also available for swimming. Los Ojos Indigenas is just a 3-mile drive from Playa Blanca Beach away, but please note that there is a hefty 80 USD entrance fee.

 How to get to Playa Blanca: depending on the location of the hotel where you are staying, it might be best to come here by taxi or rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*)

Playa Blanca Beach in the south of Punta Cana, close to Cap Cana

3) Playa Cabeza de Toro – the hidden gem of Punta Cana

 Playa Cabeza de Toro is home to a few resorts, among them Dreams Flora Punta Cana, Sunscape Coco, Catalonia Punta Cana, Jewel Punta Cana, Serenade Punta Cana and Catalonia Royal Bavaro. While the beach itself is a typical Dominican beach (which means beautiful and sandy 😉 ) but not spectacular, it’s absolutely worth to just walk a few hundred feet north where you can find a pristine palm grove and an untouched beach, sending your thoughts right to this Robinson Crusoe movie set you have always dreamed of visiting, even though you might encounter some dry and old seaweed here. Have your camera ready and take advantage of this beautiful setting most Punta Cana tourists won’t see.

TOP 12 Punta Cana Excursions

Isla Saona: Saona Info | Book it*
Private Saona Island Tour: Private Tour Info | Book it*
Dune buggy and ATV excursion: Buggy Info | Book it*
Punta Cana Ziplining: Zipline Info | Book it*
Party boat & booze cruise: Party Boat Info | Book it*
Best Nightlife Show: Coco Bongo Info | Book it*
Scape Park Cap Cana & Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon Info | Book it*
Los Haitises National Park: Los Haitises Info | Book it*
Santo Domingo: Santo Domingo Info | Book it*
Samaná (Salto El Limón & Cayo Levantado): Samaná Info | Book it*
Helicopter & airplane tours: Helicopter Info | Book it*
Whale watching (Jan-Mar only): Whale watching Info | Book it*

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the 40+ best Punta Cana tours!

During the seaweed season in Punta Cana, Cabeza de Toros’ conditions vary, but usually it isn’t too bad especially as they have effective fences in the ocean holding back the sargassum. The photo below was taken in summer 2023, in the middle of a heavy seaweed influx in Punta Cana.

 Where to stay at Playa Cabeza de Toro:
– all-inclusive: Sunscape Coco*, the newest resort option at Cabeza de Toro Beach
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: there are no accommodation options besides resorts in Cabeza de Toro

Where to eat at Playa Cabeza de Toro: the best location is a popular and spacious beach club called Pearl Beach Club. They have a pool, several lounge areas, daily activities and a huge food and drink menu so that you can have a perfect day at Punta Canas’ beaches.

How is the seaweed at Cabeza de Toro Beach: surprisingly, Cabeza de Toro was mostly clean during the most recent seaweed season in Punta Cana, even though this can’t be taken for granted in the future

The best beach club at Cabeza de Toro: Pearl Beach Club

What to do at Playa Cabeza de Toro: if you would like to discover a little hidden gem of Punta Cana, you can walk northwestward (around a mile) from Cabeza de Toro along the beach until you reach a pristine section with many coconut palm trees. It’s a romantic setting and will guarantee you many beautiful photos. Check out this article for further things-to-do in Punta Cana.

 How to get to Playa Cabeza de Toro: You can either take a taxi or a rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*) or if you feel more adventurous, take the local public transport (ending in Cabeza de Toro). You can also walk there from the Bavaro Beach area on some pristine nature trails.

The picture-perfect beach of Cabeza de Toro, even during the seaweed season in Punta Cana

4) Playa Bavaro – the main beach in Punta Cana

 Playa Bavaro or Bavaro Beach can be considered as the main beach of the whole Punta Cana area. It is the most frequented area of all Punta Cana beaches due to having a lot of big all-inclusive resorts first row as well as four public access points (Bibijagua, Jellyfish, Corales and El Cortecito, see below for more details and see the Bavaro Beach article for a map with all public access points) for all the people staying in apartments or smaller hotels in the village of Bavaro. Furthermore, it is one of the widest stretches of the whole region which makes it particularly spectacular, taking into consideration the endless swaying palm trees as well. Bavaro Beach is also one of the best beaches in Punta Cana for swimming, along with Playa Arena Gorda and Playa Arena Blanca.

Travel resources

Punta Cana Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
Santo Domingo Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
All-Inclusive Resorts: Info | Book It*
Guesthouses & AirBnBs: Info | Book It*
Excursions: Info | Book It*
Rental Car: Info | Book It*
Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It
Travel Insurance (incl. covid-19 coverage): Book it*

By the way, all beaches in Punta Cana are public and free. If you would like to get more ideas what you can do for free in Punta Cana, please check out this article with amazing ideas of things-to-do for free in Bavaro.

 Where to stay at Playa Bavaro:
– all-inclusive resort: Melia Beach Resort Punta Cana, a stunning resort for aduilts-only with an innovative wellness concept
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: Sanctuary @ Los Corales* for a modern and elegant beachfront apartment

Where to eat at Bavaro Beach: Jellyfish Beach is a local favorite with plenty of space at the terrace, the upper deck or right at the beach. They have an extensive menu with affordable prices and occasional live music, so make sure to visit this popular beach club at Punta Cana’s longest beach.

How is the seaweed at Bavaro Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), Bavaro Beach is usually moderately affected, public areas more than the resort beaches, as the latter ones get cleaned more frequently.

The best beach club at Bavaro Beach: Jellyfish Restaurant

What to do at Bavaro Beach: Bavaro Beach is particularly famous for its multiple watersport offerings. Banana boat, parasailing*, fishing or waterskiing are only some of the activities the local fishermen and tour operators will offer you. Let’s have some fun at Punta Canas’ beaches! Check out this article if you’d like more information about Bavaro Beach.

 How to get to Playa Bavaro: Depending on the hotel where you are staying, chances are that you can walk along the beach to reach Playa Bavaro – or you might even stay right at it. If you need directions for arriving by public transport or rental car, have a look at this comprehensive Bavaro Beach guide.

Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana at Secrets Royal Beach

5) Playa Corales – the individual beach, part of Bavaro Beach

 Playa Corales is one of the two mentioned public access points in this area (and part of Bavaro Beach). While all beaches in the Dominican Republic are public, it sometimes can be a bit tricky to reach them, especially in Punta Cana, where most of the beachfront row is blocked by well-guarded and fenced all-inclusive resorts.

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 However, Playa Corales is where you always can go, it does not matter if you stay in a big high-end resort or in a small guesthouse away from the beach. It features a couple of public beach bars as well which makes it a lively and active place-to-be, including chill-out music and sun loungers. Furthermore, you can also grab ready-to-eat snacks, cold beers or delicious to-go meals from supermarkets and restaurants approx. 5 minutes walking away in case you’d like to have your own beach feast menu.

 Where to stay at Playa Corales: Los Corales is best for those looking for alternative options to the typical all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. For stylish beachfront apartments, a good bet is Playa Turquesa Ocean Club*. If you have a smaller budget, have a look at well-managed ArtVilla Bavaro*. You can also find an amazing 8-bedroom villa right in Corales* in case you are traveling with some friends.

Where to eat at Playa Corales: Soles Chill Out Bar is your first point of reference when looking for a place to hang out, relax and listen to music while sipping on a cold drink or having some casual beach food. It’s a long-running institution in Punta Cana. More restaurant recommendations in Corales can be found in this Bavaro Beach guide.

How is the seaweed at Corales Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), Corales Beach is usually moderately affected, public areas more than the resort beaches, as the latter ones get cleaned more frequently.

The best beach club at Playa Corales: Soles Chill Out Bar

What to do at Playa Corales: At Corales Beach, you can try a couple of these 16 amazing things-to-do for free. How about getting to know local life in a typical Colmado or looking for some instagrammable spots at the beach? Check out this article for further things-to-do in Punta Cana.

 How to get to Playa Corales: From the main area of Los Corales, just walk along Calle Residencial Los Corales to reach the beach. If you are staying inland, take a local guagua and tell the driver you want to get off at Los Corales. For further directions, continue reading here as Corales is part of Playa Bavaro.
If you are at another stretch of beach in Bavaro/Punta Cana, simply walk northwest or southeast until you reach Playa Corales.

The beautiful beach of Corales at Bavaro Beach, one of the best beaches in Punta Cana

6) Playa del Cortecito – the beach with local bars

 Playa del Cortecito is the brother of Playa Corales. Both are part of Playa Bavaro but as they are the most important public access points of the Punta Cana beaches, they deserve a separate mention. While Playa Los Corales takes advantage of the wide palm-lined stretch of Playa Bavaro, Playa del Cortecito has a different approach as it is quite narrow (even more narrow than in the photo below as the beach eroded a bit recently). However, this enables a couple of super cool beach bars right at the ocean to serve cocktails literally with sea salt on the edge of your Margarita. In addition, especially Onno’s (bar and music) and Captain Cook (seafood restaurant) are famous among locals so it is the perfect hangout spot if you’d like to connect a bit with the Dominicans (usually resort-workers) around here.

 Where to stay at Playa del Cortecito:
– all-inclusive resort: Palladium Punta Cana*, the closest all-inclusive resort to Cortecito Beach
– apartment/Airbnb/small hotel: Green Coast Beach Hotel*, a small independent hotel at Playa Cortecito

Where to eat at Playa del Cortecito: Onno’s is popular among locals and tourists in Punta Cana likewise. Enjoy tropical drinks and international favorites right at the beach or at their spacious terrace, accompanied by DJ or live music. Onno’s is one of the best Punta Cana beach bars. #

How is the seaweed at Cortecito Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), Cortecito Beach is usually moderately affected, public areas more than the resort beaches, as the latter ones get cleaned more frequently.

The best beach club at Cortecito Beach: beach club at Green Coast Beach Hotel

What to do at Playa del Cortecito: Cortecito is a perfect starting point for a long beach walk. You can walk in both directions and explore the diversity of Punta Canas’ beaches. For more things-to-do at Bavaro Beach and Cortecito, continue reading here.

 How to get to Playa del Cortecito: Either walk from your desired accommodation or from another beach to Playa del Cortecito. If you come with a local guagua from Friusa or Verón, just tell the driver to let you off at El Cortecito.

The beach of El Cortecito with numerous bars and shops

7) Playa de Arena Blanca – the all-inclusive beach of Punta Cana

 The mentioned public access points are followed by a long stretch of white to golden-colored sand – Playa de Arena Blanca – lined by one all-inclusive resort after the other. Occidental Punta Cana, the Princess Resorts (Grand Bavaro Princess Tropical Deluxe Princess, Caribe Deluxe Princess), Paradisus Punta Cana, Ocean Blue & Sands and VIK Hotel Arena Blanca are names of those properties.

Editor’s Choice: the best Experiences

Most unique experience in a small group: Authentic rum tasting* (rating 5.00/5)
Best Rated Punta Cana excursion: Jungle Buggies + Zipline Combo* (rating 4.92/5)
Most booked through Punta Cana Travel Blog: Small-Group Snorkeling* (rating 4.91/5)
Best off-the-beaten-track excursion: Montana Redonda & Costa Esmeralda* (rating 4.78/5)
Best excursion for families: Family Buggy Adventure* (rating 4.57/5)

Not the right tour for you?
Check out the 41 best Punta Cana excursions here at Punta Cana Travel Blog!

There are no public access points to Playa de Arena Blanca. You can only walk along the beach coming from adjacent Punta Cana beaches.

Please note that Playa Arena Blanca next to Bavaro Beach shouldn’t be mixed up with Playa Blanca in the south of Punta Cana, next to Punta Cana International Airport.

 Where to stay at Playa Arena Blanca:
– all-inclusive resort: Grand Bavaro Princess, completely renovated in 2019 and one of the best resorts along Arena Blanca Beach
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: there are no accommodation options besides resorts at Playa Arena Blanca

Where to eat at Playa Arena Blanca: there are no public eateries at this part of beach in Punta Cana.

How is the seaweed at Playa Arena Blanca Beach: during the seaweed season in Punta Cana, resorts at Playa Arena Blanca might be affected differently, depending on the day and the amount of sargassum

The best beach club at Playa de Arena Blanca: n/a

What to do at Playa Arena Blanca: clearly, the best is to stay at an all-inclusive resort as there is nothing else around.

 How to get to Playa Arena Blanca: There is no public access from the road. You just can walk there from other beaches nearby.

The beach of Arena Blanca in Bavaro in the area of Paradisus Resort

8) Playa de Arena Gorda – the endless beach

 On the first view, Playa de Arena Gorda just seems like a prolongation of the Arena Blanca Beach. One resort after the other (all the Iberostars, all the RIU hotels, the big Grand Bahía property, both Royalton resorts and many more) and no public access for kilometers. But once you reach the end of the hotel zone – Hard Rock Punta Cana is the last one – a long, nearly endless, white sandy beach with turquoise water is awaiting you. What else you want to expect from a picture-perfect beach in Punta Cana?

 Where to stay at Playa Arena Gorda: There are only all-inclusive resorts at Arena Gorda Beach.
– Best overall resort: Hard Rock Punta Cana* (check the extensive review here) for non-stop entertainment.
– Best budget resort: Occidental Caribe* is great at Arena Gorda if you are traveling to Punta Cana on a budget.

Where to eat at Playa Arena Gorda: There is exactly one public place at Playa Arena Gorda where you can eat: Kukua Beach Club. It’s a beautiful and cozy place and definitely worth a visit, it doesn’t matter if you come from outside or walk along Punta Canas’ beaches.

How is the seaweed at Arena Gorda Beach: during the seaweed season in Punta Cana, resorts at Playa Arena Gorda might be affected differently, depending on the day and the amount of sargassum

The best beach club at Playa Arena Gorda: Kukua Restaurant Beach Club

What to do at Playa Arena Gorda: you should check out this beautiful stretch of pristine beach northwest of Hard Rock and walk either there or along the parallel running coconut grove. Both places are like heaven and show you the unspoiled Punta Cana. Check out this article for further things-to-do in Punta Cana.

 How to get to Playa Arena Gorda: There is hardly any public access. The best is if you walk here on a long beach walk from Playa del Cortecito or if you stay in one of the hotels at Playa de Arena Gorda. You can also use Kukua Beach as your access point to Arena Gorda Beach if you plan to eat or drink there.

The beautiful beach at Hard Rock Punta Cana, one of the best in Punta Cana

9) Playa Macao – the surfers beach and locals favorite

 For a long time, Playa Macao was the locals favorite with perfect, nearly pristine beach and surfing conditions during the week and a massive Dominican crowd during the weekend. It still is, but unfortunately a first all-inclusive resort was opened in 2020 at Playa Macao (and more are going to be built in the future), taking a bit away of its unique vibe, but still leaving the entire beach publicly accessible. It is still a nice place to come though. For more information, check out the extensive Macao Beach guide here at Punta Cana Travel Blog.

– Most Popular Posts on Punta Cana Travel Blog –

 Where to stay at Playa Macao:
– all-inclusive resort: Dreams Playa Macao (check prices of Dreams Macao here*), the newly-built all-inclusive resort in Macao.
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: Johnnier Macao* one of the few and long-lasting individual accommodation at Macao Beach

Where to eat at Playa Macao: Playa Macao is the perfect choice to enjoy a freshly grilled fish right at the beach in Punta Cana. 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.

How is the seaweed at Macao Beach: Playa Macao only receives a fair share of seaweed if the other beaches in Punta Cana are getting huge loads of sargassum, hence it is a good option if looking for a beach in Punta Cana with (nearly) no seaweed.

The best beach club at Playa Macao: Restaurant Doña Macao

What to do at Playa Macao: One of the top activities at Macao Beach is going surfing – either for a surfing lesson (check out the prices here*) or on your own. If you don’t want to get into the water, you can have a 15-minutes walk to a small hidden beach next to Playa Macao, Playa Escondida. Another option is just to have a beer and enjoy people-watching, as Playa Macao is the local’s favorite beach in Punta Cana for the weekends.

 How to get to Playa Macao: You can either take a taxi or a rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*) or if you feel more adventurous, take the local public transport (ending in Macao). From the bus stop, you still have to walk half a mile to the beach or take a motoconcho.

Beautiful Macao Beach in the northern part of Punta Cana

10) Playa Uvero Alto – the remote beach of Punta Cana

 Playa Uvero Alto is already 25 miles away from Punta Cana’s International Airport (check out this article on how to get to and from the airport) but still considered to be part of the Punta Cana region. And the beaches in this area justify it because they are not any kind of less attractive than in the other areas. While the sand is a bit more golden and the water not as turquoise as in other parts of Punta Cana (+ the ocean might be a bit rougher on some days), Uvero Alto scores with less frequented beaches, elegant resorts (all of them are quite luxurious) and a more low-key atmosphere compared to the main beaches of Punta Cana.

 Where to stay at Playa Uvero Alto:
– all-inclusive resort: Finest Punta Cana and Royalton Chic are two of the resorts in Uvero Alto we have visited personally and which are highly recommendable.
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: Playa Palmera* features many recently-built modern apartments of different sizes

Where to eat at Playa Uvero Alto: There are not a lot of options in Uvero Alto to eat right at the beach. Castaways is one of the few public restaurants.

How is the seaweed at Uvero Alto Beach: if there is seaweed in the Dominican Republic (read more about sargassum in Punta Cana here), Uvero Alto is usually more affected than other beaches in Punta Cana, but less than Playa Juanillo and Playa Blanca

The best beach club at Uvero Alto Beach: Castaways

What to do at Playa Uvero Alto: Uvero Alto has a couple of ranches and is famous for horseback riding at the beach*. Have a try and enjoy this unique experience. Check out this article for further things-to-do in Punta Cana.

How to get to Playa Uvero Alto: If you are staying in the area, you can walk the whole beach which is around 6 miles long. Apart from that you can either take a taxi or a rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*). Local transport (guaguas) are possible as well, but the connections make it quite difficult to get here.

The beach of Dreams Onyx Resort in Uvero Alto

Bonus: Playa Esmeralda – the prettiest beach

 Are you looking for THE secret spot to go, a true hidden gem and insider tip in the (extended) area of Punta Cana? Then check out Playa Esmeralda!

 Until recently it was one of the most remote beaches in the Dominican Republic, but it got better accessible with the new resorts which are under construction since 2018/2019. So far, it is still an absolutely gorgeous stretch of beach, like what you expect in paradise when you get stranded on a beach with absolutely no infrastructure (except of one hotel which opened in 2021 at the western end of Playa Esmeralda). A while ago we even camped here and could take advantage of 2 miles of pristine and untouched beach. 2024, two more resorts will open (Secrets Playa Esmeralda + Dreams Playa Esmeralda), but the beach is still long enough to not take notice of them.

 With more than 60 miles from Punta Cana International Airport, Playa Esmeralda can geographically not be considered as Punta Cana, but as it is reachable in around an hour and it is the closest airport, it is still marketed as Punta Cana region.

  Where to stay at Playa Esmeralda:
– all-inclusive resort: Club Med Miches*, currently the only resort at Playa Esmeralda
– apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: for 2024, there are not other accommodation at Playa Esmeralda Beach

Where to eat at Playa Esmeralda: So far, there are no restaurants at Playa Esmeralda as it is still a pristine beach in Punta Cana.

How is the seaweed at Esmeralda Beach: usually, you can enjoy a seaweed-free beach here – exception in heavy sargassum times might apply.

The best beach club at Playa Esmeralda: n/a

What to do at Playa Esmeralda: When you visit, you are most likely on your own (especially at the eastern parts of the beach), so enjoy having this paradise all for yourself. On your way to Playa Esmeralda, you can make a stop at Montaña Redonda, a hill with spectacular photo opportunities, thanks to its giant swings right at the edge of the mountain.

  How to get to Playa Esmeralda: The only viable option is to go there by private transfer (check here for options*) or with a rental car (check prices for rental cars in Punta Cana here*).

The wonderful and remote beach at Playa Esmeralda between Miches and Punta Cana

The best beaches in Punta Cana sorted by category

The best beach in Punta Cana for swimming

While the beaches in the south, especially Cap Cana and Cabeza de Toro, have very shallow water, Bavaro Beach, Playa Arena Blanca Beach and Playa Arena Gorda are the best beaches in Punta Cana for swimming. Usually, there aren’t a lot of waves, you have separated sections without boat traffic and the water is – after a few meters – deep enough for swimming. Uvero Alto also offers good swimming conditions, although the water sometimes might be a little bit rougher.

The beautiful Bavaro Beach, one of the best beaches in Punta Cana

The best beach in Punta Cana for snorkeling

As described in my comprehensive snorkeling guide, Punta Cana is not the best area in the Dominican Republic or the Caribbean for extensive snorkeling. However, if you’d like to see a bit of the underwater world right from the beach in Punta Cana, your best options are Cabeza de Toro and a small hidden beach next to Macao Beach called Playa Escondida. 

The beach in Cabeza de Toro at Radisson Blu Punta Cana

The best beach in Punta Cana for surfing

The best beach in Punta Cana for surfing is without a doubt Macao Beach. It is the only beach where you have a nearly steady supply of wind and waves, hence it is by far the best location. You can book your surfing lessons here*. 

The wonderful beach of Playa Macao in the northern part of Punta Cana

The best beach in Punta Cana without seaweed

Usually, seaweed is a temporary phenomenon that is hard to predict. There are years without a lot of seaweed in the Dominican Republic, while in other years the situation gets pretty serious with amounts that are hard to remove (even though the Punta Cana resorts are always doing their best and are usually succeeding). Most sargassum in Punta Cana occurs between April and September. Therefore,in the peak season between December and May, you can assume to find most beaches in Punta Cana without seaweed. However, if you travel during the more vulnerable months regarding seaweed, Macao Beach is the best beach in Punta Cana without seaweed, as the currents are usually taking it away from this particular beach. Another great option for a beach without sargassum is Bayahibe, just 45 to 60 minutes away from Punta Cana. 

The new Dreams Macao Beach Resort in Macao, Punta Cana - the beach area of the hotel

The nicest beach in Punta Cana

The definition of the nicest beach always depends on your perspective and your preferences, but in general Bavaro Beach is pretty hard to beat. It is beautiful, photogenic, perfect for swimming and has all the infrastructure you need. The Cap Cana beaches, Playa Blanca and Playa Juanillo, can also be counted towards the nicest beaches in Punta Cana.

Bavaro Beach at the section of Secrets and Dreams Royal Beach

The best beach in Punta Cana for white sand

Most beaches in Punta Cana have a bright golden color, showing a tendency towards white. I wouldn’t call Playa Bavaro the whitest beach in the Caribbean, but the colors are pretty amazing, particularly in combination with the turquoise ocean. However, the best beach in Punta Cana for white sand is Playa Blanca and Playa Juanillo in Cap Cana. Particularly, Playa Blanca, which translates exactly to “white beach”, is the whitest beach in Punta Cana.

Best beaches near Punta Cana

Punta Cana has an amazing array of beaches as shown in this list of the best beaches in Punta Cana. However, there are a few particular reasons why you might want to venture out to explore some others of the amazing beaches in the Dominican Republic, particularly if you like adventures, road trips and absolutely pristine beaches (and if you love beaches with no seaweed).

Bayahibe Beach

Bayahibe Beach is the No. 1 alternative when it comes to Punta Canas’ beaches. Particularly if Punta Cana is too busy for you, Bayahibe is a great option. Furthermore, it is a perfect beach for swimming and also the best option in and around Punta Cana for a beach without seaweed. Last but not least, Bayahibe also features crystal-clear water and a turquoise ocean, hence it features perfect photo opportunities.

Bayahibe is just a mere 1-hour drive away from Punta Cana and features various all-inclusive resorts particularly in the mid-range segment, however, the selection is not as big as in Punta Cana. Read more about Bayahibe in the comprehensive Bayahibe Travel Guide.

Where to stay at Bayahibe Beach: 
– all-inclusive resort: Dreams Dominicus and Catalonia Bayahibe are just two of the resorts in Bayahibe, where we have shared our experiences here on Punta Cana Travel Blog (just click on the name of the hotel)
apartment/Airbnb/guesthouse: Bayahibe Guesthouse* is an all time favorite in Bayahibe

Where to eat at Bayahibe Beach: there are plenty of restaurants in Bayahibe, both in the resorts and in public.

How is the seaweed in Bayahibe: Bayahibe does not have seaweed and is the best option for a seaweed-free beach in Punta Cana

The best beach club at Bayahibe Beach: Tracadero is the best beach club in the area, even though it is located on a rocky part of Bayahibe, hence it doesn’t have a beach. However, you do have access to several pools.

What to do at Bayahibe Beach: as it is just 45-60 minutes away, Bayahibe features most of the Punta Cana excursions such as ziplining, dune buggy adventures or countryside tours. However, the most interesting thing when staying in Bayahibe is a tour to Isla Saona, as you are already super close to the island.

How to get to Bayahibe Beach: from Punta Cana airport the easiest way is to book a private airport transfer (check airport transfer recommendation here*) or a shared shuttle to Bayahibe*. You can also rent a car in Punta Cana to get to Bayahibe (check rental car prices and recommendations here*). 

Bayahibe Lighthouse at Playa Dominicus in Bayahibe

La Vacama Beach

If you are looking for a truly wild beach near Punta Cana, you can rent a car and head to La Vacama, a pristine section of beach along the nearly endless coastline northwest of Punta Cana. It is dotted with palm trees, natural plywood and mile-long beach sections, which you will have all on your own as hardly any people are visiting this remote beach. You can walk along the beach or have a drink at Costa Arrecife, the only kind of beach club at La Vacama (sometimes also written Lavacama). Just swimming might occasionally be a bit difficult, as the surf can be pretty strong here.

The best is to head to La Vacama with a rental cal from Punta Cana (check prices here*) and you can combine this Punta Cana day-trip with a detour to Montaña Redonda, one of the most underrated things to do in Punta Cana. 

Where to stay at Playa La Vacama: Costa Arrecife* is the only place to stay at Playa La Vacama. It offers a camping experience and glamping-style accommodation.

Where to eat at Playa La Vacama: Costa Arrecife* and El Paellero Valenciano are the only options to get food at Costa Arrecife.

How is the seaweed in La Vacama: there might be some seasonal seaweed at La Vacama Beach, but it should get washed away pretty quickly

The best beach club at Playa La Vacama: Costa Arrecife offers a beach club vibe and is therefore perfect for a day at a wild and pristine beach near Punta Cana. 

What to do at Playa La Vacama: there are no entertainment options at Playa La Vacama. It is a wild beach, hence nature is your best friend here.

How to get to Playa La Vacama: The best is to take a rental car or a taxi. Depending on where you are staying in Punta Cana, it is a 35- to 60- minute drive from most all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. 

Camping at La Vacama Beach near Punta Cana at Costa Arrecife

Samaná beaches

Honestly, Samanás’ beaches are too far away from Punta Cana to visit them as a day trip, but they are still marking a great alternative, especially when you don’t want to spend your Dominican Republic vacation in an all-inclusive resort. In this case, Samaná has an amazing array of beaches, especially along the north coast, where you can find some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic. Playa Cosón, Playa Bonita, Playa Lanza del Norte, Playa Ermitaño, Playa El Valle and Playa Rincón are just a few of Samanás’ beaches, which are further explained in this article.

When heading to Samaná, it is recommendable to rent a car in Punta Cana (check rental car prices and recommendations here*) and spend at least a few days on the peninsula. You can get further ideas on how to plan such a road trip on this Samaná itinerary. 

Where to stay at Samanás’ beaches: The best villages for your stay are Las Terrenas and Las Galeras. Both offer a great beach town vibe and the perfect mix between touristic infrastructure and the local community – something you don’t have in Punta Cana. Check out the accommodation recommendations for Las Terrenas here* and for Las Galeras here*.

Where to eat at Samanás’ beaches: There are plenty of restaurants in Las Terrenas and Las Galeras. 

How is the seaweed in Samaná: This depends on the beach and the season, hence it is very difficult to precidt.

The best beach club at Samanás’ beaches: El Porto in El Portillo, close to Las Terrenas, features a fantastic setting and a well-elaborated menu. 

What to do at Samanás’ beaches: The diversity of Samaná and its beaches is endless. You can walk along pristine sections, go hiking, river tubing or just enjoy a fresh Coco Loco. You can also see stunning waterfalls in the surrounding, such as Samaná’s Salto El Limón.

How to get to Samanás’ beaches: The best is to rent a car and head for a few days to the Samaná peninsula. It takes around 4 hours from Punta Cana to get to Samaná.

The beach of Playa Las Ballenas in the center of Las Terrenas

Summary: which one is THE best beach in Punta Cana?

 So many beaches in Punta Cana and nearly each of them with different characteristics – but which one is THE best beach in Punta Cana? Well, this depends on what exactly you are looking for.

 If we translate “the best” to “the most beautiful” (for photos) it might be Playa Juanillo or Playa Blanca (the white-sand beach in Punta Cana). The different colors here account for a spectacular and unique setting.

 If the best beach for you is one with the most action, bars and people, Playa Los Corales is the best bet for you.

 If you are looking for the most remote and pristine beach (besides of Playa Esmeralda), Playa de Arena Gorda is your top choice once you leave the hotel zone and venture out to the miles of untouched sand north of it.

 And if I would have to choose the best beach for everyone – so literally an all-in-one beach – I would pick Playa Bavaro (Bavaro Beach) as it is super stunning, you can do beach walks lasting forever, it is good for swimming, you have some chilled beach bars, independent accommodation, but also high-quality all-inclusive resorts. What else do you need from a perfect beach in Punta Cana?

Are you interested in even more pristine beaches? Then check out the most beautiful beaches of the Samaná peninsula, which you can reach in a road-trip from Punta Cana.

Frequently Asked Questions

  What is your favorite beach in Punta Cana? Have you been here? Where have you loved it or where do you want to go? Let me know in the comments … !

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The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris

CHRIS

Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

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