By Judy Sutton Taylor for the Orbitz Travel Blog
Punta Cana is on the easternmost coast of the Dominican Republic, and marked by 35 miles of picture-perfect, palm-studded beaches. Combine that with a year-round average temperature in the mid-80s and little rainfall, and it’s a no-brainer why this is a tourist hotspot. Through March 22, 2015, Orbitz turns up the sunshine, with a big sale on Punta Cana and other beach destinations, so there’s no better time to book. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of what you can look forward to.
Time to hit the beach! There’s no better place for that than Playa Bávaro, where miles of white sand lead to warm, crystal-clear blue water. Bávaro is dotted with all-inclusive resorts, which means options abound for drinking, dining and water sports including snorkeling, paddle boarding and parasailing.
But you can also make your way to more eclectic spots along this stretch, if you prefer. Playa El Cortecito, is a small fisherman’s beach that’s popular with backpackers. This is where you’ll find Capitán Cook, a low-key seafood restaurant that’s a favorite for the fresh options you pick yourself from an ice chest. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Bávaro Kite School, a beachfront outfitter that provides lessons and rental equipment for this sport that combines elements of surfing, water skiing and snowboarding.
Maximize your time on Punta Cana’s pristine waters with a popular Catamaran Thresa tour. Half-day boat tours cruise the stunning Bavaro coast, stopping to snorkeling at the Cabeza de Toro reef, which is teeming with colorful fish and coral and an undeveloped beach adjacent to the Bavaro Lagoon, a natural reserve. The trip also includes a grilled seafood lunch and cocktails.
End the day with dinner at Jellyfish, a two-floor, open-air restaurant right on the sand at Bavaro Beach. Gauzy linen sheets protect diners from the sun and sand without obstructing ocean views, and the menu always include the fresh catch local fishermen made that day. A favorite of couples, the restaurant is one of the top wedding sites in Punta Cana.
Head to the stunning Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve in the morning, before the crowds and the midday sun descend. You’ll find a series of trails that lead to a dozen freshwater lagoons practically begging for swimmers, with water so clear you can see straight to the bottom. The park is a habitat to all kinds of wildlife, reptiles, and birds, including the rare, endangered Ridgeway Hawk, found only on the island of Hispaniola (which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti). Other highlights of the park include a petting zoo and sugarcane exhibit.
Later, get in some pampering on the Dr. Fish Ocean Spa excursion, a three-hour ride on a double-decker sailing spa boat. The trip includes a Pilates class, massage, relaxation time on a floating “mattress” in the boat’s pool, and the signature Dr. Fish pedicure, where tiny Gara Rufa (or “doctor”) fish naturally exfoliate your feet by nibbling at them, removing dead skin cells and providing a light, ticklish sensation.
End your trip on a decadent note with dinner at La Yola, perched on the water to evoke the feeling of eating on a small fishing boat (a yola) and offering breathtaking ocean views. The Caribbean- and Mediterranean-influenced menu is heavy on seafood selections, but offers plenty of options for carnivores and vegetarians, too.
Originally published at www.orbitz.com.