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Climate

The weather in Punta Cana is pleasantly warm year-round. While there are only a few degrees difference in temperature from season to season, the humidity can play a key role. However, travellers here can count on extended periods of sunshine and blue skies just about anytime of the year.

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Climate cont'd

During the slightly cooler season from November to April, temperatures in Punta Cana along the coast are constant around 29 C during the day and dropping to a comfortable 20 C at night. During this season, humidity is relatively low and so is precipitation.

In the hot season, which runs roughly from May to October, the average temperature rises to 31 C during the day and drops to about 22 C at night. However, due to the high level of humidity during this season, it often feels hotter. Quick rain showers and minor tropical storms bring some breaks from the heat.

Despite the small difference between the temperatures in summer and winter, the climate tends to vary from year to year due to the influence of the weather phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña.

Weather chart

What makes it different?

Punta Cana is known for its stunning, endless beaches, upscale hotels and amazing golf courses. Sure, every sun destination has beaches, but not quite like the ones here in Punta Cana.

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What makes it different? cont'd

There are nine separate beach areas where the resorts are located, each with a charm all its own. While resorts line the coastal strip, beach access is available from outside roads and restaurants. The beaches are public, so there are no restrictions on walking from one hotel beach to another.

The Bávaro area is the most developed section of the east coast’s resort strip. It’s dotted with gift shops, hotels and restaurants right on the beach. Dine at Jellyfish, Huracán Café or El Pulpo Cojo and you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.

Bávaro includes Los Corales, the main departure point for many of the water excursions and beach activities. You can easily book a speedboat ride here, go parasailing, windsurfing or experience the unique thrill of a “flying boat” ride. This can best be described as a two-person raft mounted with a large hang gliding sail on top, and propelled by a motorized fan at the rear. As the boat gains speed, the sail lifts the boat into the air for minutes at a time – you have to see it to believe it!

Playa Uvero Alto is the furthest beach area and has fewer crowds. With its golden sands and high waves, you’ll feel like Robinson Crusoe on your own private beach here. Playa Macao is also in the more-remote northern side and is a favourite among locals for its picture-perfect setting. If you’ve always had a desire to surf, the Macao Surf Camp offers lessons for all ages on weekends, weather permitting.

The Punta Cana shore is regarded as one of the world’s top five billfish fishing areas, with more than seven months of open season every year. Famous marlin fishing tournaments have been held in Punta Cana and Cap Cana for decades. For a chance to reel in a big one, check the Cap Cana Marina for tournament schedules.

Abundant marine life in Punta Cana also offers snorkellers and divers a kaleidoscope of colourful sea creatures to observe. Water temperatures of 27 C and visibility of 18 to 20 metres near shore keep the experience relaxed and comfortable. There are 12 different dive sites in total and a shallow, but rewarding, reef site known as the Aquarium that is great for beginners.

Punta Cana is a golfer’s delight as well – home to some of the top golf courses in the Caribbean. With swaying palm trees, lush tropical foliage, ocean- and bluff-side holes, you may find it hard to keep your eye on the ball.

Some of the great courses here include the Faldo Legacy by Nick Faldo, signature Nick Price course Punta Blanca and Cana Bay by Jack Nicklaus.

Geography

Travel throughout the Dominican Republic and you’ll see many mountain ranges and the region’s lush rainforests and valleys. The mountain range to the east is named the Cordillera Oriental and it’s one of the less rugged mountains in the Dominican Republic. By the time you get to Punta Cana, the ground is pretty much flat, which is great for ranching and perfect for sunning on the city’s many beaches.

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Geography cont'd

The beaches are Punta Cana’s most renowned feature, with over 60 km of beach stretching along the eastern coast. Here, the Atlantic meets the Caribbean in a spectacular display of blue hues – including azure, robin’s egg blue and navy.

Punta Cana to the south and Bávaro to the north used to be two distinctly different towns and regions. Today, the entire area is commonly referred to as Punta Cana and flows together in a sprawling patchwork of resorts, beaches, shopping centres and restaurants. The all-inclusive resorts are like mini-cities with their multiple restaurants, pools, bars, youth centres, discos, casinos and a host of on-site sports activities.

Farther north are the windswept beaches of Uvero Alto and Macao, the wetlands and Taíno caves with their pre-Columbian drawings. Around these areas, you still see cattle and horses grazing on scrubland. At the far south is Cap Cana, the latest area to be developed. The 30,000-acre master-planned residential and resort community has a spectacular world-class marina, long stretches of white sand beaches, golf courses and nature reserves teeming with birds and diverse plants.

Culture

Before the 1980s, Punta Cana was mostly beach and scrub. Cattle and horse ranchers from Higüey, the capital of La Altagracia province, owned much of the land, including the beach areas. The tourism industry began in 1969, when a group of investors from the United States and the Dominican Republic acquired some land with a vision to develop the area as a travel destination.

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Culture cont'd

Today, Punta Cana is a cosmopolitan blend of many nations, with a distinct Dominican flavour. Europeans, Canadians and Americans have invested millions in hotel and residential development and have brought pieces of their own cultures with them. Haitians who migrated to the area to build the resorts have also left their mark. Many of the colourful, expressive paintings sold in the artisanal markets are Haitian, or at least Haitian-influenced.

Look to your hotel lobby for works of Dominican art by top local artists and architects such as the impressive metal sculptures of Jose Ignacio Morales. Known as El Artistico, Morales has more than 30 years of experience in sculpture fabrication and decoration in the Dominican Republic.

You can view the artwork of leading Dominican artist Thimo Pimental, including his Huellas mural in honour of the original Igneri settlers of Cap Cana, at the Punta Cana Village Mall.

Cuisine here is a blend of Spanish, Taíno and African traditions. Rice, beans and plantains are staples in Dominican cooking. You’ll often find familiar ingredients prepared in new ways, including boiled green bananas commonly served as a side vegetable.

Try mangu – a savory puree of mashed plantains made with butter and milk or mofongo - mashed fried green plantains made with meat and a bit of crushed garlic. Local herbs are often used when cooking but spicy dishes are not very common. Papaya, passion fruit, pineapple and the sweetest bananas you will ever taste are always in season and an absolute must to try when dining in the Dominican.

Transportation

Private taxis can be hired at the airport and at most major hotels. Roundtrip transfers to and from the airport can also be purchased in advance by contacting WestJet Vacations at least three days prior to your departure. Sightseeing buses also run frequently. Check with your Hola Tours representative or your hotel concierge for further details.

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Transportation cont'd

If you’re looking to visit a resort other than your own during your stay, you’ll need to purchase a day pass in advance. Taxis are the best method of transportation to get you between resorts. Need help finding a cab? Just ask your concierge or bellman. Just be sure to confirm the rate with your driver prior to departing since taxi fares are calculated on a flat rate in Punta Cana.

Tours are another great way to get around and experience some of Punta Cana’s top attractions. Transportation from your hotel (or a nearby meeting point) is usually included. Ask a WestJet Vacations representative or consult our website for more details.

Currency

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso. Most hotels, restaurants and businesses accept major credit cards. If you would prefer to have cash on hand, both Canadian and U.S. money can be exchanged for the peso during your stay at both banks and exchange booths (called casas de cambio). Most hotels and resorts also offer currency exchange services.

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Currency cont'd

If you need to withdraw funds, you’ll find bank machines at many resorts and popular shopping areas. Please note that local ATMs only dispense funds in pesos and fees vary.

To avoid carrying a large amount of cash, a mix of payment options is recommended.

Travel requirements

Arrival

During your flight to Punta Cana, you will be provided with a Tourist Card and a Customs Card. Please keep these documents in a safe place, as it will cost US$10 to obtain another.

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Travel requirements cont'd

From touch-down in Punta Cana it’s not hard to see that you’ve arrived in a tropical paradise. The Punta Cana International Airport features open-air arrival terminals with palm frond covered roofs, in true Dominican style. Not to mention, as you walk down the stairs of the aircraft, you’ll quickly feel the warm Caribbean air on your face.

Once off the aircraft, your photo will be taken with traditionally-dressed Dominican women as a souvenir that you can purchase upon departure. You’ll then proceed through immigration where you will present your Tourist Card and passport to an official. After immigration, you’ll pick up your bags from baggage claim and proceed through customs.

If you have pre-booked your airport transfers with WestJet Vacations, look for a Hola Tours representative outside. This representative will guide you to a vehicle that will take you to your resort.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at the check-in counters located in the departures area of the Punta Cana International Airport. Airport facilities include a variety of shops and stores, snack bars, restaurants, bars, duty-free shopping and ATMs for your convenience.

Vaccinations

Be sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Visit your local health clinic prior to departure if you have any questions.

Voltage

Electricity in the Dominican Republic is 110 volts, and can fit most (two-pronged) North American plugs. However, some hotels may operate using Swiss outlets - which are round pins instead of flat pins. If you are bringing an electrical appliance, it is recommended that you verify prior to departure if a converter and/or adaptor is required.

Travel requirements

During your flight to Punta Cana, you will be provided with a Tourist Card and a Customs Card.

Learn more

Currency

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso.

Learn more

Transportation

Private taxis can be hired at the airport and at most major hotels.

Learn more