Wind and waves are two big considerations for travelers planning a trip to Punta Cana, a renowned beach destination in the Dominican Republic.
Situated on the eastern “heel” of the island, Punta Cana is known for its gentle surf and white-sand beaches that stretch for 22 miles along the Atlantic coast.
Sometimes, the beaches get windy. How much wind depends partly on the time of year. Broadly speaking, the windiest month is December, and the least windy is May. September and October also are categorized as “less windy” but it’s worth remembering that the island lies along “hurricane alley.”
If an Atlantic storm stirs up, September and October could quickly become “most windy.” Officially, the hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
That doesn’t mean visitors have to stay away during those months. Many hotels offer low rates during hurricane season. It can pay to take advantage of those prices because you can reduce your chance of running into a storm by choosing your dates wisely.
In the Dominican Republic, the odds of a hurricane are greatest during August and September. That’s when the surrounding ocean warms up enough to churn up a major storm.
So book in July, October or November, and you’ll get great rates with less risk of high winds.
What’s more, wind speeds vary by time of day. Evenings and nights are when the wind picks up; mornings are more serene. Keep in mind that a good stiff breeze is what drives two of the island’s most popular sports: windsurfing and sailing, including excursions by catamaran out to the island of Saona.
March and April are quite breezy, and kite-flying comes to the fore. During spring vacation, vendors sell kites by the roadside.
Finally, if a breeze is bothersome, you can pick up your towel and move to the pool. Most visitors find it’s sufficiently sheltered to continue enjoying the sun and water.
What about those waves? The beaches of Punta Cana are known as calm and child-friendly. Wave activity ranges from gentle swells suitable for beginning surfers to lagoon-like tranquility where the sand slopes so easily you can walk a long way before getting in over your head.
The specific beach you have access to depends on which hotel you’re visiting. Bávaro is the top tourist beach with several public entrance points. It’s popular with families, and it is especially good for long walks in the cool of the evening when the rolling surf seems to go on forever.
Less accessible but known as a calm-water beach is Playa Juanillo. Access to that uncrowded shore is controlled by a resort and non-guests usually must trade their passports for a beach pass.
Considered excellent for children because of its flat, shallow water, Arena Gorda is the widest beach on the island, hence its name (Fat Sand). However, it’s available only to guests at surrounding resorts.
Macao Beach is an untouched stretch of seashore recognized by UNESCO as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Waves are high enough for easy surfing, and countless palms sway over the pristine sand.
It’s worth the 30-minute drive up the coast to enjoy a resort-free area that’s also beloved by island residents.
What if you’re looking for the big waves? You can take the six-hour trip to Cabarete, a center for water sports. El Encuentro is one of the best surfing beaches in the Dominican Republic, and advanced surfers can challenge their skills at five unique hotspots. One of them is called Destroyer.