Welcome to the VERANDA Weekend Guides, where we show you how to make the most of 48 hours in our favorite destinations. This time, we’ve tapped travel and food writer Juliet Izon to share the secrets of beautiful, exciting, and luxurious Punta Cana.
Located on the eastern side of the sun-drenched island of Hispaniola, Punta Cana has become synonymous with idyllic beach vacations for good reason. The town is perched along a stretch of turquoise water, with powder-soft sand that’s ideal for sailing, paddle-boarding, or simply lounging and getting a bit of your vitamin D. And, as one of the most popular vacation spots in the Caribbean , it boasts exciting outdoor activities, top-notch food, and some of the most indulgent hotels around. Read on to discover the best spot to stay, play, and eat in this dreamy tropical escape.
With many major US cities offering direct flights to Punta Cana, this Caribbean destination is one of the easiest to travel to, even if you only have a weekend to spare. Better yet, Club Med Punta Canais just 10 minutes from the airport, which allows you to maximize your time in the sun.
Travelers love this hotel not only for its prime location, but also its endless offering. Its wide range of room types, activities, and restaurants makes it ideal for not only single travelers and groups, but couples and families too. For those seeking quieter or more luxurious experience, the hotel is also home to an Exclusive Collection (5-star) luxury space with roomy suites and a dedicated infinity pool and bar.
Regardless of what part of the hotel you’re staying in, start off the weekend with a dip in the pool. Options include submerged chairs at the tranquil adults-only Zen Oasis pool, a freshwater kids’ pool — which features water chutes and plenty of game equipment — and others.
If the afternoon was filled with everyone branching off for post-flight naps, then your first dinner in Punta Cana is a perfect way to bring the group back together. The resort has four restaurants to suit every type of epicurean — even the picky ones. Kick off the weekend at dinner-only spot Altamar, which features a selection of local seafood paired with wines from its extensive cellar. After, swing by Hibiscus Bar & Lounge, the new adults-only open-air bar with chic cream couches arranged under a palapa roof.
While there are many reasons to vacation in Punta Cana, it’s impossible to resist the pull of its beautiful beaches. Club Med Punta Cana has a 2,000-foot strand of golden sands, where you can enjoy sailing school, scuba diving, and kayaking — some of which require an additional reservation and fee. Otherwise, take it easy and enjoy a cocktail and snacks in the shade of coconut palms at Indigo Beach Lounge. That’s what all-inclusives are for, after all.
After recharging with a break for lunch (Semana has an elegant menu of both local and international flavors), choose another signature program, like Circus School by Club Med. The sessions include acrobatic moves from flying trapeze to aerial silks and juggling — all of which are included. To completely unwind check out Club Med Spa by L’Occitane for add-on services like spa baths and massages. Request an outdoor palapa room for a live soundtrack of the lull of ocean waves while you get pampered.
Lean into the party. At Club Med Punta Cana, there are nightly performances of live music and DJ sets, plus local entertainers, dancers, and even magic acts. If dancing is what you’re after, you can twirl under the stars and next to the sea at Indigo Beach Lounge.
Leaving paradise is never easy, but that’s all the more reason to wake up (kind of) early and take advantage of your last day. Start off with some heart-pumping sports, whether that’s a group lesson at the tennis school, a friendly game of pickleball, or testing your coordination skills at the archery range. Then head to Hispaniola restaurant for lunch with a view of the sparkling sea.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to experience all that Club Med Punta Cana has to offer in just one weekend — but that’s the best excuse to plan a trip back to this idyllic corner of the world.