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Punta Cana vs Puerto Plata: Where Should I Go on My Vacation?

Puerto Plata beach

Both Punta Cana and Puerto Plata are popular beach destinations in the Dominican Republic, but these two vacation spots are actually very different.

Punta Cana is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic and offers calm and serene beaches, while Puerto Plata is located on the Atlantic north coast of the country and is best known for activities such as windsurfing and diving.

Where you should go on vacation will largely depend on what you are looking for in a beach vacation. Both beach destinations are tropical and offer a multitude of activities to explore, but the beaches in Punta Cana are generally much calmer than those in Puerto Plata.

To learn more about the differences in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, continue reading.

The Beaches

Punta Cana’s beaches are known for their sparkling blue water, soft sand, and picturesque landscapes. The water is serene and calm, which is perfect for a quiet and relaxing day at the beach. You can also walk barefoot in the sand without having to worry about stepping on sharp rocks or shells.

The beaches in Puerto Plata are typically rockier, so shoes may be required. The water is also more temperamental and the waves are rougher. Windsurfing is a popular activity in Puerto Plata, as the rough sea is ideal for this sailing sport.

The Activities

Golf course

Both tropical destinations offer a variety of fun activities. Punta Cana offers recreation such as golfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, cave exploration, and swimming with sharks. Relaxing on the beach and enjoying the crystal blue waters are obviously popular activities in Punta Cana as well.

The activities in Puerto Plata are also abundant. Water sports such as diving and windsurfing are especially favored. Kitesurfing, swimming with dolphins and sharks, parasailing, deep sea fishing, hiking, waterskiing, and jet skiing are also popular activities.

The temperamental waters in Puerto Plata make this destination an excellent place to explore water activities and there is no shortage of recreation on the beaches of this vacation spot.

The Nightlife

While there is an active nightlife in both Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, the nightlife scene in Puerto Plata tends to be a little more lively and offers more of a selection.

Puerto Plata is a more party-oriented destination and there are a variety of bars and clubs to choose from, while Punta Cana also has hotels and nightclubs but is best known for being a relaxing beach destination.

The Prices

Woman paying with a credit card

One of the biggest differences with Punta Cana and Puerto Plata is the price. Punta Cana is a newer tourist destination and is generally more expensive. The prices of hotels, restaurants, spa treatments, and recreational activities can often be comparable to upscale American resort prices.

Of course, the time of year you visit and the quality of hotel you stay in will also determine prices.

Puerto Plata is an older beach destination and generally offers lower rates for vacation packages and hotels. You can also save money on accommodations by choosing hotel rooms that are near the garden instead of the beach.

If you are looking for a tropical beach vacation with a lot of fun activities, both Punta Cana and Puerto Plata will be good choices. The main differences lie in the activities you wish you partake in and the type of beaches you prefer.

Punta Cana is ideal for the traveler who wants a relaxing and scenic vacation at the beach. Puerto Plata is more suitable for those who wish to partake in water sports such as windsurfing, diving, and parasailing. Both places offer beautiful beaches, and you are sure to enjoy your stay at either destination.

8 thoughts on “Punta Cana vs Puerto Plata: Where Should I Go on My Vacation?

  1. blair says:

    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, I came across this site as I was looking to book a vaca with my son for my upcoming birthday. Although I am an avid scuba diver and traveled to many countries I was always amazed at how many Canadian deaths there are in Mexico each year. Now I always thought DR was safer, so I did some research just for piece of mind
    With the previous comments, I searched how many Canadians died to date in 2019 in DR just as an fyi and I came across a Global News (Toronto) article which I felt was a good read and lists 28 Canadians have dies so far this year in DR.
    Global news article

    This convinced me DR is not for my son and I. Why take a “chance” when there are so many destinations available out there.

    I think if the number increases and they cannot be determined, will always leave doubt in vacationers.
    Ontario, Canada

    • Ari Guerra says:

      I read the article you linked Blair and honestly found the quote from Dr. Isaac Bogoch to be the principal conclusion of the story “When you actually look at the number of deaths relating to the number of Canadians travelling, it is a very, very small percentage,”. I just don’t want people to fear the DR since it’s comparable (percentage-wise) with every other popular destination for both Americans and Canadians.

    • Faye says:

      Alf, I will recommend to get more acquainted with what actually happened in the DR..Out of over 4 million American tourists that visited the island from 2017 to present, they had 9 isolated incidents( most of them natural causes). Check out the deaths report from Costa Rica, Mexico and even Las Vegas, NV! You’ll then rethink about your nonsense statement.

    • Ari Guerra says:

      My mistake, it was not Puerto Plata but rather Samana (at the Bahía Príncipe).

      Here are some facts for your consideration:
      – Total number of US tourists that came to DR from January 2017 to December 2018: 4,311,482
      – Deaths of US tourists in the DR during that same period: 30 (homicide, drowning, car accidents, suicide, other accidents).

  2. Terri says:

    In view of the recent deaths in Punta Cana I am considering canceling my vacation. what concessions are being made for the people who are now scared to visit ?

    • Ari Guerra says:

      Hi Terri, do you have travel insurance? if so maybe they can reimburse some of your travel expenses depending on your policy. Some credit cards have travel insurance if you paid with them. The deaths, which only two, I believe, were reported to have been in Punta Cana (the others were in Puerto Plata) have received a lot of attention and they may seem like it’s a widespread problem in Punta Cana or the DR. For perspective, last year (2018) the DR received 6.5 million tourists. While any death is tragic one must take into account the whole picture. How many deaths occur in New York each year? I had a lovely time visiting New York City last December. Disclaimer: I’m Dominican so my opinion is obviously biased but wherever you go for your holidays I hope you have a great time 🙂

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