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  • Janis Nunez

Punta Cana (no resort)

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

If you are not staying in a resort can you still have an amazing time in Punta Cana? Absolutely. We went for 5 days and our main goal was to relax and enjoy the beaches. I'll give you some tips on where to go to make your resort free vacation a little more enjoyable.

We stayed in an apartment, but you can easily get an Airbnb. The key is to make sure it has air conditioning and a washer/dryer. These I find helpful when we go to another country and plan to keep traveling afterward. In this case we would spend 5 days in Punta Cana and 5 days visiting family for the holidays in South Florida.


ADAPTER: You do not need an adapter for the DR.

PHONE: Contact your cell phone provider to see what is included. T-Mobile gives unlimited data and texting, but charges $0.25 per minute per call for us. Contact your provider.

CONTACT YOUR BANK AND CREDIT CARD COMPANIES: It's important to let the bank know when you will be out of town so that you won't have any problems withdrawing your money when you get to your destination. You also may need to notify your credit card company of the travel dates.

WHERE TO STAY: This time we had a family member with an apartment available so we didn't have to worry about renting a place. Airbnb has a lot of listings available if you plan to go to Punta Cana and do your own thing. This is a resort destination but having your own place and the ability to go where you want each day is a lot of fun.

CAR RENTAL: We like to rent through Costco. It's almost always the best deal and if something happens and you can't make it for some reason there is no cancellation fee.


HEALTH FORMS: It's a good idea to get this done before you leave, or on the plane on your way over. You will need your current flight info, passport info, and location info of where you are staying. You can fill out the information for the entire family on one form and use the QR code upon landing at the security area. We had a bit of an issue with the online form, but it worked in the end, and we had no problems using it. You will also complete the form on the way home, so be sure to do that before you get to the airport if you can. Here is the direct link: eTicket (

COVID TESTING: Figure out where you are going to get the mandated covid test to return to the US. You have to have a specific test, so make sure you ask if that will qualify before taking the test. There are clinics throughout Punta Cana that take walk-ins and the test results are emailed to you within 30 minutes. On this trip the US mandated the test be taken 24 hours before takeoff, so we took it the day before we left DR. We used this company for our tests: They do swab both nostrils, so be prepared.


Day 1 (arrival): The day we arrived we basically ate and went to bed. There was not a lot going on so I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you that there is a great little plaza in Punta Cana very close to the airport with a lot of restaurants and shops (also the clinic we got our Covid tests). It's called Punta Cana Village. Our favorite spot to eat was La Casita de Yeya. It is a chain restaurant, but it does sell authentic Dominican cuisine, which is what we wanted. Keep in mind you are in the touristy area of the country, so the pricing is a bit more than what you would normally pay for authentic Dominican food.

The plaza is well decorated for the holidays, and you can get a photo by the mural around the corner too. About a block away you will find the local grocery store. We stocked up on necessities for our stay there and then headed to the apartment to rest after a full day of traveling.

Day 2: We let the boys sleep in LATE and then made our way to a public beach that my husband and son went to last visit on an ATV tour. They claimed it was amazing. We parked and went to find a spot to relax on the beach. There is a resort close to where we parked, so the space is limited on where you can sit, but we found a spot and made the most of it. Walking down the beach toward the crowds we did notice it was quite dirty and there were several stray dogs running around. Luckily where we chose to sit was a nice view and seemed clean, probably due to the resort we were sitting next to.

In the evening we headed to the Marina and ate at Aura Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant. The atmosphere was beautiful. They had live music and a beautiful view of the water. The food was delicious. I'd definitely recommend this place for dinner.

Day 3: Juanillo Beach inside the Cap Cana resort gates was my favorite beach that we went to on this trip. They have a public access area that has a great place to get both sun and shade while you are there. They do have a restaurant on the beach that you can get a table or have the waiter deliver to your beach chair.

A quick dip in the pool after the beach, and we decided to head to the mall. Just look the cute gnome decorations someone had up on our way over! The Blue Mall had a couple art exhibits that we really enjoyed. Then we stopped at a cafe for some drinks and empanadas.

Day 4: Playa Blanca is also a great beach. You can get into the beach through the gate by just giving them your license to hold while you are there. It was my son's favorite beach. I think it was the swings. This beach has beach chairs and umbrellas available, as well as a restaurant with great food and drinks a plenty.

The restaurant on the beach has great food. Don't miss it.

Day 5: My husband really wanted to try another beach, but I loved Juanillo Beach so much I convinced him to return. We spent all day their too. It was perfect. We had lunch on the beach, and dinner at the plaza we started the trip on at a Mexican restaurant. It really was a perfectly relaxing trip.

Heading out of Punta Cana and to our next stop (Florida) we stopped at the Priority Pass lounge at the airport. It has a pool overlooking the airplanes. So fun!

That's our beach trip to Punta Cana. If you are looking for information on Santo Domingo or staying at a resort in Punta Cana, I do have a blog post on the website with lots of great information for you. Here's the Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo & Punta Cana link. Happy travels!

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