(Closed) Punta Cana

posted 6 years ago in Honeymoons
Post # 3
493 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Mrs_Harmer_to_be:  We obviously haven’t gone yet, but just booked our week at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro.  One of my friends got married in the fall and they went there as well.  They only had good things to say about it!

Post # 5
3771 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

We went! Actually just got back last week! I loved it! The resort we stayed at was the Gran Bahia Principe. There were 4 different resorts there and we were at one of the lower tier ones (Punta Cana) but one of the nicer rooms of that resort (closer to the beach). If we were to go back we may contemplate the two nicer ones (Ambar and Esmerelda) If you do go and are looking for a fun excursion. Definitely do the zip lining “Zip Line Adventures” run by the Bavaro Runners. It was AWESOME. If you have any specific questions let me know!





annnnd picture for your pleasure 🙂

PS the whole place is all inclusive

Post # 7
6339 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2014

I’ve been twice; to the Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro in 2008, and the Gran Bahia Principe Esmeralda (upgraded section of the same complex) last June. We loved it both times, and are headed back to the Esmeralda in September.

The rooms at the Esmeralda were lovely, and the all inclusive package included 24 hour room service (very basic, nothing compared to what we’ve had in Mexico, but useful all the same), slippers and robes in the room, and a mini-bar, unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks inc some international brands (nothing top-shelf like Grey Goose, bu things like Absolut and Smirnoff were included, and the sparkling wine was very drinkable), and unlimited a la carte dining at a selection of about 12 different restaurants (including Italian, Steak, BBQ, Japanese, etc). We also had access to almost all of the resort complex (with one or two exceptions), including the adult-only a la cartes at the Ambar, and the pool, bar, gym and snack bar at the Ambar (adult’s only section). Ambar guests get the same privileges, but we chose the Esmeralda as we preferred the rooms. The food was decent, but nothing amazing; don’t go to Punta Cana expecting fine dining would be my advice, but you should still find meals you enjoy.

On our first trip in 2008, we did several trips, including swimming with the dolphins at Ocean World in Puerta Plata (I implore anyone not to do this; I massively regret it and wish we hadn’t), the Marinarium tour (basically a boat trip with a stop to snorkel with sting rays; again, wouldn’t recommend it), a Monster Truck safari (really interesting and lots of fun), and a speed-boat/snorkel trip (loads of fun, definitely recommend). On our trip last year we chose not to do any organised tours, instead visiting Santo Domingo for 2 days and 2 nights during our stay, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

I would recommend looking at the Esmeralda and Ambar, and I would also look at the Catalonia Royal Bavaro, the Majestic Elegance, the Iberostar Grand Bavaro, the Excellence Punta Cana, the Secrets Royal Beach, and the Zoetry Agua.

As far as general points go re Punta Cana, I’d summarise the pros and cons as follows:


Huge choice of resorts, so if you want to go all inclusive, you have plenty of choice, and because there is a lot of competition, the standards tend to be fairly high. There’s something for everyone, from huge mega-resorts like the Bahia complex, to smaller more intimate ones like the Excellence and Zoetry.

The beach at Punta Cana is still pretty in most places, despite some erosion, and the water is clear and warm (again, depending on where you stay)

There’s a good selection of organised tours to choose from should you wish to get out and about and explore.

Also, while a lot of people say that the food isn’t as good as places like Mexico, I have been to PC twice and Mexico 3 times (at much more expensive, higher-end properties) and found little difference in terms of taste and quality. Likewise drinks.


Punta Cana is basically purpose built for tourists; if you like to go exploring, it isn’t the place for you, and there is little to see or do off-resort unless you go on an organised trip.

The beach is often red-flagged and not always safe for swimming.

In terms of amenities, service etc the resorts in the likes of Mexico have the edge IMO; likewise decor.



Post # 9
6339 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2014

@Mrs_Harmer_to_be:  The beachy places I’ve been to are:

Punta Cana (x2)

Mexico (x3)

Cuba (x2)

Spain (about 8 times)

Bulgaria (once)

Turkey (x2)

Majorca (once)


I enjoyed them all for different reasons. You can’t beat Mexico and Punta Cana IMPO for good quality all inclusives; and they are our favourite all inc destinations. When we holiday in Europe, we typically go for less time, and would never go all inclusive, we go self-catered and eat out every night.

As far as Mexico vs PC goes, my summary would be:

Food: about equal IMPO. Mexico probably has the edge in terms of presentation and variety, and it’s easier to find resorts there with unlimited a la carte dining, and no reservations; there are only one or two in PC that allow unlimited a la carte dining with no reservations (which we personally prefer as it gives you much more flexibility; you can decide on your way out where you want to eat, rather than having to pre-book (which we had to do both trips to PC)). But in terms of quality, there was little in it for me personally; again, Mexico perhaps had the edge overall.

Drinks: about equal. Again, it is easier to find somewhere in Mexico that includes true ‘top shelf’ liquor, but, you will pay a lot for a hotel that does.

Service: Mexico wins this one for me personally; we’ve generally had more consistent service there, though we’ve had excellent service in PC too.

Beach: Punta Cana wins this one for me. A lot of the beaches in the Riviera Maya are very eroded, some have a lot of rocks and seaweed, etc; Punta Cana has some lovely stretches of beach.

Snorkelling/diving: if you’re into this, Mexico wins hands-down.

Decor/service/amenities: many of the hotels in PC are a little dated; there is a bigger choice of new, contemporary hotels in Mexico. Typically, more resorts in Mexico also offer more mod-cons, like free in-room internet access (either wired or wireless), though PC is quickly catching up, and we had free wi-fi at the pool and lobby at the Esmeralda. However, there are still some beautiful hotels in PC, and we loved the decor of the Esmeralda; it was really lovely, all marble and neutral shades, gorgeous.

Activities: Mexico wins if you want to be free to go off and explore on your own; if you are happy to do organised trips, then there is still plenty to keep you occupied in Punta Cana.


I really could not pick between the two, as we’ve loved all our holidays in both destinations; for our September trip, we were stuck between Mexico and PC and will likely have the same dilemma when it comes to our honeymoon next year (unless we do a European trip). Last year and this year it ultimately came down to price: we got a great deal for PC ($1800pp for 2 weeks inc non-stop flights from London, UK, and private taxi transfers), at a hotel that offered everything we wanted, and that was the deciding factor.

Post # 11
3194 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I’m interested in this too! Anyone comfortable sharing what they paid per night?

Post # 13
1681 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’ve heard great things (including price!) about Dreams Resort in Punta Cana! Super affordable and luxurious.

Post # 14
493 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Mrs_Harmer_to_be:  Yes it is all inclusive!  And adults only, which was a must for Fiance.  I think for 6 nights and flights we were under $4k.

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