No country as diverse as Dominican Republic can be contained within the attractions of two towns. Yet, it is true that every first-time visitor to this Caribbean paradise would be well-advised to visit Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. The former is the stately capital city, replete with architectural jewels reminiscent of the colonial era. The latter is a dazzling resort town with gorgeous beaches, resorts, and parties. So where should you base yourself: Punta Cana or Santo Domingo? Let’s see:
Pros of staying in Punta Cana
You will be spoilt by the luxurious hospitality of beachfront spa retreats like Tortuga Bay Resort and Spa and Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. Staying in Punta Cana means that you’re mere steps away from the beautiful coastline. The Bavaro area marks the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and charms visitors with its palm-lined beaches, coral reefs, and golf courses. And that brings us to an important point: Punta Cana is an obvious choice for golf enthusiasts, not to mention swimmers, surfers, and sailing lovers.
Cons of staying in Punta Cana
The main attractions are the water, beaches, and luxury resorts. If you’re an active vacationer who doesn’t relish the idea of lounging by the beach, it may not be for you. Punta Cana’s allure also diminishes if you don’t plan on trying any water activities. There’s not much by way of history or architecture either.
Pros of staying in Santo Domingo
There’s so much to see and do in Santo Domingo. You could spend an entire day visiting its museums, basilicas, fortresses, and squares. Alcázar de Colón is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Basilica of Santa María la Menor is the oldest of cathedrals in the Americas. Fortaleza Ozama offers scenic views of the river. Touring the major rum and cigar manufacturers and partaking in some tastings is very enjoyable indeed. If you like walking and cycling around beautiful cities, you will love Santo Domingo.
Cons of staying in Santo Domingo
Since it’s the capital city, Santo Domingo is busier than Punta Cana, and may not give you the ‘resort vibe’. If you or your partner aren’t so interested in history, the colonial landmarks may not leave you very impressed. And of course, you’ll miss the sun and sand of locales like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.
So, what’s the best option?
The good news is that Santo Domingo and Punta Cana are not all that far apart. A little over 192 km puts the driving time at around two hours and 15 minutes. So, the best thing would be to split your holiday between both destinations. There are well-connected international airports at both cities, so it doesn’t matter where you start. Fly into Santo Domingo, stay there for two or three nights, then move on to Punta Cana, and fly home from there. Or do it the other way around. The bottom line is, you’re going to have a great time!