The 10 Best Punta Cana Excursions to Do in 2020

After going on dozens of great (and some not so great) excursions, tours and activities in Punta Cana I can confidently say I’m a bit of an expert.

This is a list of the top 10 excursions I recommend to go on this year in and around Punta Cana. There’s something for every budget so stick around to find out which are my top picks.

1- Samana Excursion from Punta Cana

Couple admiring the Limon waterfall

This tour is my number one choice because it is an incredible adventure that lasts all day. It’s on the higher end when it comes to price but it’s really four tours in one:

  • Safari truck ride
  • Horseback riding
  • Salto del Limon waterfall
  • Bacardi island outing

If you can’t decide what you want to do or are in Punta Cana for a limited time, this day trip to Samana is a good way to have it all.

This tour will take you on a charter bus from Punta Cana on a scenic ride to the coastal town of Miches where you’ll board a speed boat across the Samana Bay to reach the Samana peninsula where you’ll spend the rest of the day.

map of the route from punta cana to miches

There, you will board Safari Trucks to travel into the mountains and stop to sample some locally grown fruits such as papaya, pineapple, and mango (or as we say: lechosa, piña y mango).

Go horseback riding amongst scenic forests; see the incredible Salto del Limon Waterfall and relax in the lagoon; and sail to Cayo Levantado, or Bacardi Island, for tropical drinks.

This all-day tour also includes lunch. Saddle up and explore the beautiful Samana peninsula.

This really is one of the best excursions you can take in DR. Me and my girlfriend had an absolute blast. Unlike some other tours nothing is rushed here, you have plenty of time to enjoy every aspect of this tour (we spent almost 2 hours at Bacardi island).

Even the lunch provided was excellent homemade and delicious. The locals are really nice and welcoming. The waterfall in the jungle is really beautiful and you will have plenty of time to swim in it. Ask your guide to show you the cave under the waterfall, it’s pretty cool.

Tripadvisor review
Durationapprox. 8 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $149
LanguageEnglish, German, Russian, French, Spanish

You can read all about the Samana Explorer tour and why it’s the best all-day excursion available in Punta Cana by clicking on this link.

2- Punta Cana Macao Buggies

Couple driving a buggy through the mud

Buckle in and take a double action-packed tour through back roads and to white sand beaches! Whisk through the beautiful views of the lush Punta Cana countryside by yourself or with a driving partner.

Buggy tours are very popular in Punta Cana and there are many companies offering buggy excursions (or boogie as they’re known in DR) but not many operators do a good job of properly maintaining their buggies.

I’ve tried a couple of buggy outings and this one is my favorite. The cars run perfectly and if yours breaks down for any reason during the excursion they always have spare buggies driving in the back of the group to swap it immediately so you can keep driving while the mechanic brings it up to life again.

Buggy driving is only part of the tour as you also visit a small local house where they show you some local produce that you can taste and buy.

I could tell this part of the excursion is designed to sell you some local products (like cocoa powder, rum, cigars, etc.) but I really enjoyed the demonstrations.

After that, we drove to a cave where you can take a dip. I didn’t because I found the water to be too cold but others seemed to enjoy it!

On the surroundings of the cave, there are many local vendors trying to sell whatever they’re selling that day so be prepared to fend them off when you stop at the cave.

Durationapprox. 4 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $85

Bring your bathing suit and wear some old clothes – this tour might get muddy! This half-day tour is a best seller – click here to see why for yourself.

3- Buggy & Catamaran Double Adventure

Catamaran seen from a distance

This excursion is the perfect way to indulge your adventurous side and pamper yourself on the same day. This excursion is very high quality and a bit on the higher end price-wise.

This triple action-packed tour offers a serene tour on a catamaran with opportunities to swim in natural pools and wade in its cool waters. They sell this excursion as a “double tour” but it’s more of three tours in one:

  • Buggy ride
  • Catamaran ride
  • Ecological reserve visit

The catamaran will bring you to the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve to swim among its unique mangrove forests. This part of the day could be an excursion in itself, it’s absolutely gorgeous and truly a hidden gem that even many locals don’t know about.

The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve (as it’s officially called) is run by the Puntacana Foundation and according to their website, it has 1,500 acres of land dedicated to conservation, scientific research, and recreation.

The excursion also stops for a delicious Dominican lunch at a Caribbean beach restaurant. The food was good and it provided a much-needed break before boarding the catamaran again to relax along the Punta Cana shores.

Finally, buggies await you at a private marina where you can explore the Reserve with four wheels. Click here to see why this excursion was chosen as being one of the best catamaran cruises in Punta Cana.

*Depending on the time of day you go on this excursion the order of the activities will vary from what I described above.

Durationapprox. 7 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $184
LanguageEnglish, Spanish

4- Marinarium Snorkeling Cruise

Marinarium boat and people snorkeling seen from the air

This water excursion is more straightforward, you get on a boat, you snorkel and you get off the boat again but everything in between is great.

Get away from the resort for part of the day and dive in! Travel through tropical waters, sample cocktails, take a dip and go on a stingray snorkel adventure in Punta Cana.

This Snorkeling Cruise is considered one of the best snorkeling excursions in Punta Cana, with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and nature.

Cruise along to the Marinarium in a glass-bottom boat and see brightly colored fish swimming below (the glass bottom is only a section of the boat, not the whole floor).

At the Marinarium, you can snorkel, with all the equipment provided, and have the chance to swim with stingrays and nurse sharks. You’ll snorkel in the open sea into the Marinarium which is a closed environment where the stingrays and nurse sharks are located.

Personally I liked the snorkeling from the boat to the Marinarium better since you get the feeling of swimming in the open ocean and get to see actual tropical/wild marine life. They divide the group into two smaller groups for this part of the activity.

There are long and shorter snorkeling routes for those who are confident in their swimming abilities and for those who don’t know how to swim very well respectively. You have to wear a flotation device on both routes.

The last stop for this tour is at a natural swimming pool to sip on Caribbean drinks and relax in the sun. This pool is a patch of shallow ocean somewhat far from the shore. The water here is bright blue and warm.

This tour is especially popular with children, giving them an opportunity to explore tropical fish and come face to face with new aquatic life.

Durationapprox. 4 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $106
LanguageEnglish, German, French

Click here to read more about this amazing excursion.

5- Zipline Canopy Adventure

First person point of view of one of the zip lines

I consider this to be the best zip line excursion in Punta Cana. The actual course is not actually in Punta Cana, you have to ride a Safari truck to get to the middle of the forest where the lines are fixed to tall trees.

If you are an adrenaline junkie, or if your goal for this year is to get over your fear of heights, look no further.

This zipline tour traverses through beautiful Dominican oriental forests in northern Punta Cana.

The course has 15 platforms and 8 cables, the longest of which is over 2,500 feet long, and is sure to excite! Experienced guides ensure safety and fun. Children must be over five years old.

This was my first time zip lining and I was very impressed with the speeds you reach on some of the lines, especially on the last one, which is also the longest one of them all.

The staff is very friendly and professional which made me feel very safe throughout. After a short training session on the basics of zip lining, like hand/body positioning, how to brake, etc.) you get on your first line and it’s pretty much a blur from this point on.

Things go very quickly, even though you have to walk or even climb a small hill to reach the next line. You sometimes have to wait in line while others in front of you zip through the line but it moves very quickly (this process is slower on other zipline excursions I’ve been on).

It was raining during my time zip lining and this made it way more fun. One other thing that makes zip lining so memorable is the sound the cable makes while you’re zipping through it, it greatly adds to the sensation of speed, again, especially on that last looooooong line.

My cousin went with me on this excursion, she also was a first-time zip liner and she was intimidated with the height and longitude of some of the lines. However, the staff was so friendly and professional that she was able to finish the entire course and she confessed to me in the end that she loved it!

Durationapprox. 4 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $89
LanguageEnglish, German, Russian, French, Spanish +1

Read more about this best-selling zipline excursion by clicking here.

6- Saona Island Full-day Cruise

The Catamaran sailing seen from the distance

One of my favorite boat tours in Punta Cana is the Saona Island Cruise, where guests are transported to the stunning Saona Island just off the country’s south-east coast.

This is a full-day tour and it can honestly be very tiresome since it’s action-packed from start to finish. To illustrate my point here’s a simplified timeline:

1- I got picked up from my hotel
2- I was transferred to a larger bus with the rest of the group
3- We drove to another town called Bayahibe with a short stop for a bathroom break
4- I arrived at Bayahibe and boarded a Catamaran to the island
5- I spent some time at Saona island and had lunch there
6- In the afternoon I boarded a speed boat which stops at a shallow spot in the ocean and spent just under an hour there
7- The speed boat ride continued back to Bayahibe to board the bus again
8- We drove back to Punta Cana, transferred to a smaller transport and finally back to the hotel.

Now, don’t get me wrong! This excursion is on my top 10 list for a reason. Saona island is gorgeous and the over one-hour long Catamaran ride is very relaxing with amazing views of the Dominican shore and the open ocean. I even saw wild dolphins on my last trip!

Saona Island is a protected nature reserve with blue waters and white sand beaches and is one of the most popular destinations in the Dominican Republic.

Swim, enjoy lunch and an open bar, play beach games such as volleyball, and relax.

Depending on the season you come to Punta Cana this excursion can get very crowded since many different tour companies offer this trip and it’s also very popular with the locals.

However, the local authorities have done a good job of organizing the different group schedules and areas on the island.

Lunch is very nice and by the time they serve it, you’ll be quite hungry! If you take into consideration the total time the excursion lasts from hotel pick up to hotel drop off, the time you spend on the island itself can seem too little.

My advice is not to think of the excursion as a “Saona Island” tour but rather a Catamaran, speed boat, natural pool tour that stops at the very beautiful Saona Island for lunch and leisure time.

At the end of your trip, return to the mainland on a speed boat and savor each moment of your vacation.

*It’s worth noting that you might leave Bayahibe on the speed boat, stop at the natural pool before getting to Saona and get back to Bayahibe on the catamaran.

Durationapprox. 10 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $72
LanguageEnglish, German, Russian, French, Spanish +1

Click here now to read more details about how to go on the Saona island excursion from Punta Cana.

7- 4×4 Punta Cana Jeep Safari

Jeep splashing water in a puddle

This jeep safari is one of the most popular tours and offers an unbeatable way to see the island. This particular company makes a point of keeping the groups small for a more personalized experience.

This all-day tour brings you to places you would never see otherwise including the exclusive Macao Beach, a ride through rice and sugarcane fields to a typical Dominican house, the unspoiled Macao Beach, and finally a chance to go zip-lining and horseback riding at the Horseplay Ranch.

Also, throughout this fun-filled day, riders will have a chance to sample local produce and coffee, and even roll your own cigars to take home as a souvenir!

What I love about this tour is that from the moment you get picked up at the hotel you’re driving your jeep! Most tours pick you up on a normal transport to take you to the meetup point and then board the jeep, but here you’re picked up on the jeep itself.

Another great aspect of this excursion are the jeeps themselves. Real Jeep Wranglers very well maintained. You can take turns driving throughout the day to make everyone in your group happy.

This is another excursion that is basically 6 activities rolled into one great day:

  • The jeep driving in itself is a great adventure
  • Zipline (not great but a nice addition)
  • River horseback riding
  • Cigar rolling and tasting
  • Visit an authentic rural Dominican house
  • Lunch and leisure time at Macao Beach

The visit to the typical rural Dominican house is a humbling experience. I’m Dominican myself and I was able to connect with my rural ancestry roots while also experiencing a bit of daily life in a poor household.

On its lush gardens, we learned the process of harvesting and making cacao (to make cocoa powder), vanilla, coffee and also the process of making Mamajuana. Mamajuana is a traditional Dominican alcoholic drink famous for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.

This was one of the highlights of my first trip to the DR. It started with us getting into a jeep with another couple, they were from Wisconsin and we are from Minnesota, that started a day filled with laughter.

I learned so many things and have fallen in love with the Dominican coffee and pure cocoa, learning about mamajuana and how it works as a tonic was fun too. My husband rode a horse for the first time and crossed a river multiple times.

Tripadvisor review

According to their website, they have been voted the #1 jeep safari tour in Punta Cana five years in a row.

Durationapprox. 10 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $129
LanguageEnglish, Spanish

Follow this link to find out why this is the best rated Punta Cana jeep tour on Tripadvisor.

8- Santo Domingo City Tour from Punta Cana

Santa Maria de la Encarnación cathedral in the colonial city of Santo Domingo

If you’re a history buff, or just love beautiful architecture, take a trip to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

This is another long all-day tour that departs from Punta Cana early in the morning and makes its way to Santo Domingo about 3 hours away.

First, the group stops at the Three Eyes National Park (Los Tres Ojos) to see stunning natural underground caves and lagoons. I’ve heard they filmed a scene for one of the original Jurassic Park movies there but I’ve always suspected that’s an urban legend!

Afterward, we toured the historic Colonial Zone home of the oldest streets of the Americas as well as Columbus Palace and the Plaza de España.

The colonial zone is the first city of the Americas and therefore contains many firsts: the first street, fortress, hospital, cathedral, etc.

Think about it, this is the place were Columbus first settled in 1492 when they discovered a whole new continent. Its shores were the backdrop for epic French and English pirate invasions and sea battles!

Since I live in Santo Domingo the colonial zone kind of loses its historic meaning but now, writing this post, I again realize the meaning of this beautiful place.

Monasterio San Francisco, Santo Domingo.

Following a traditional Dominican lunch, the tour continues to modern-day Santo Domingo with a stop at the Presidential Palace, the home of the Dominican executive branch of government.

Durationapprox. 12 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $125
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, Russian + 3 more

Click this link to see how this excursion will give you a look into over 500 years of history on the island.

9- Caving Adventure in “Cueva Fun Fun”

Group waist deep in an underground river

Lace-up your walking shoes and quench your thirst for adventure with this caving expedition at Cueva Fun Fun in Los Haitises National Park, known for its pristine mangrove forests, isolated beaches, and diverse native trees and plants.

This cavern system is more than 17 miles long in its totality (you won’t traverse all of it of course). and its formation began more than 20 million years ago.

Through the cave runs the Almirante river which has shaped the cave’s corridors and paths. You will walk in this river, and in some instances, briefly be underwater to cross parts of the Fun Fun cave.

This excursion includes breakfast and lunch and they will provide the following items:

  • Jumpsuit
  • Helmet
  • Flashlight
  • Harnesses
  • Rubber boots

I recommend you bring the following:

Insect repellentExtra-long socks
Accessory to tie long hairTowel

You will horseback to the edge of the park, and then walk to the cave’s entrance. Professional guides will assist you in rappelling to the cave floor sixty feet below. Children must be at least 11 years old.

This caving excursion from Punta Cana is very demanding, I strongly recommend you be physically fit and with no injuries.

Durationapprox. 12 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $125
LanguageEnglish, Spanish, Russian + 3 more

Click here to read more about this unique Cave expedition.

10- Zip Line & Hoyo Azul at Scape Park

Hoyo azul early in the morning being hit by sun rays

Last but certainly not least on my top-ten list is this unforgettable park in Cap Cana which includes (among many others) two eco-friendly activities: zip-lining from a cliff, and basking in the waters in a natural underground lagoon.

Scape Park is quite a unique place in Punta Cana and in recent years it’s been built into a sort of a natural Disneyland. It used to be the case that you purchased tickets for a specific attraction inside the park (e.g. Hoyo Azul) and went to that attraction and then back to your hotel.

Now you buy a day pass to the park and you choose where to go and how much time you want to spend there. You can visit only one attraction for the entire day or do them all. There are no guides and no schedules, you do whatever you want to do at your own time.

Included in the full admission price:

  • Hoyo Azul Eco Tour
  • Zipline Eco Splash
  • Saltos Azules
  • Cultural Route
  • Cave Swim
  • Iguabonita Cave
  • Iguanaland
  • El Rancho
  • Playground (Eco Kids Village: from 2 to 12 years old)
  • Beach Getaway (drinks not included)
  • Dominican Buffet

In addition to the full admission option, there are two more expensive options that include extra perks outside of the park:

Full admission + Sunshine Cruise

Supplementary to the above activities, you also have the option to cruise along stunning beaches, snorkel or just relax in their exclusive beach club.

Full admission + Juanillo VIP

This package does include all the activities in the park but rather you’ll take a catamaran cruise along the shores of Cap Cana, the most exclusive area in all of the Dominican Republic. Fresh fruit and open bar are available onboard.

You will have lunch at Scape Park’s private Beach Club in Juanillo beach and end the day visiting the Hoyo Azul cenote at Scape Park.

Worth mentioning is the zipline course which consists of 8 zip lines through the Cap Cana forests, the longest of which is 1,500 feet. Also Hoyo Azul, a freezing cold above ground cenote with a blue so bright it’s stunningly beautiful.

Durationapprox. 5 to 8 hours
Pick up & drop offincluded
Pricefrom $168
LanguageEnglish, French, Russian + 2 more

Check out this link to see what else is included in your Scape Park full-day admission.

*Information on this page could change. Please visit each tour’s specific page for the most accurate and up to date information.