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Puerto Plata vs. Punta Cana – The Differences Explained

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Puerto Plata vs. Punta Cana

Two main Caribbean resorts spring to mind when people think of the Dominican Republic – Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. But what’s the real difference between Puerto Plata vs Punta Cana? Which one should you choose?

These regions feature luxurious all-inclusive resorts, beautiful beaches, and exciting culture to experience through sightseeing excursions and cultural activities.

To help you make an informed decision about which region to visit on your next trip, we’ve created this comparison of Puerto Plata vs. Punta Cana so you can learn more about each area before making your reservation!

Puerto Plata vs. Punta Cana Overview

The Dominican Republic has two main vacation destinations: Puerto Plata vs. Punta Cana. Each has its unique set of attractions and activities to offer tourists.

But which one should you choose? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to experience the Dominican Republic’s rich history and culture, head to Puerto Plata.

On the other hand, Punta Cana is all about enjoying the sun and sand. This is the place to go if you want to visit the best beaches in the country.


Discovered in 1502 by Christopher Colombus, Puerto Plata is one of the oldest cities in the Dominican Republic. It has always been the tourist’s first destination on the island since the 70s.

If you’re looking for a historical place with many cultures, then Puerto Plata is your destination. It’s the older of the two goals, and you’ll enjoy the Spanish colonial architecture and a distinctly Caribbean vibe.

On the other hand, Punta Cana is a newer destination that’s known for its all-inclusive resorts and beautiful beaches. 

Before 1969, Punta Cana was just an area east of the Dominican Republic with large masses of plants and jungles. Even though the beaches were heavenly, it was difficult for anyone to go there. Most citizens didn’t even know about Punta Cana until 1969.

A group of North American investors acquired Punta Cana and decided to rebuild it to be a new fancy destination for tourists.

The first hotel was built in 1971, and the city continued to attract more investors and tourists until 1984 when the Punta Cana international airport was built.

In 2019, over two million tourists visited Punta Cana, and it’s now one of the most famous cities in the Dominican Republic. 


Puerto Plata and Punta Cana are both known for their beautiful beaches. However, some key differences might make one destination more appealing to you.

Puerto Plata Beaches

The beaches there are breathtaking, and they’re worth a visit if you’re looking for a natural paradise. 

Furthermore, Puerto Plata beaches offer a bit of everything for everyone. You’ll find white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and even a few hidden coves if you’re looking for a bit of privacy.

Plus, the wind and rough waves make Puerto Plata very popular among surfers, so if you want to enjoy some windsurfing and kitesurfing, then Puerto Plata is the way to go.

The main downside to Puerto Plata beaches is that the shores are rocky and difficult to walk on, especially if you have kids.

Punta Cana Beaches

Punta Cana has some fantastic beaches that are perfect for a relaxing holiday. Thanks to the clear waters and beautiful palm trees. Also, the soft sands and calm waters are ideal for swimming and diving for everyone, including kids.

Even though the calm waves of Punta Cana beaches don’t offer much activity like Puerto Plata, the luxurious hotels and resorts in Punta Cana can make the whole experience even better for some.

Nightlife in Puerto Plata vs Punta Cana

Whether you’re going for a honeymoon or a family trip, the nightlife is something every tourist looks for. Both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana have some electric nightlife. You can find bars and clubs with drinks and music, and you can dance all night long.

However, the nightlife in Puerto Plata is just something else. The city is super noisy with many nightclubs and bars with every type of music you can imagine. In addition, there are also excellent restaurants where you can try the best Dominican food. 

So, Puerto Plata has a bit better nightlife, while Punta Cana is more about relaxing and unwinding in a calm environment.


There are many activities to do in Puerto Plata and Punta Cana apart from beach time and relaxing. Let’s learn more about the most exciting activities you can do in both cities.

Activites in Puerto Plata 

If you want to learn more about the history of this magnificent city, you can start by visiting the Fortaleza San Felipe, a Spanish fortress built in 1522 by the Spanish to protect the town from pirates.

Not down for historic places and want some extraordinary adventure? Then, you can go to the Isabell Dell Torres mountains.

You can either hike your way up or take a cable car. Once you reach the top, you’ll be amazed by the breathtaking view of the city’s hills, beaches, jungles, and ocean. These giant mountains are also surrounded by a colossal statue resembling the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro.

Want to pump up your adrenaline even more? You can visit the Damajagua waterfall, where you can enjoy various activities like zip lining, kayaking, cliff jumping, and much more.

Activities in Punta Cana

Some of the world’s best chocolates are made in the Dominican Republic. And if you want to taste some, you can go to ChocoMuseo in the city’s heart.

There you can learn more about the chocolate-making process and have the opportunity to try some of the world’s best chocolate.

A great way to explore Punta Cana is to go to one of the many excursions and tours where you can try zip lining or drive ATVs through the jungle. 

The Manati park is also an excellent choice if you want to see more than 150 species of animals and birds. You can also go for a swim with sea lions and dolphins.


Choosing the right time for your vacation is crucial, and if you visit Puerto Plata or Punta Cana, you have to know the high and low seasons of each so you plan your trip accordingly.

Puerto Plata

In Puerto Plata, the high season is from December to April, when the beaches are the most crowded and the prices are at their highest. In addition, Jule and August, when most Europeans go on vacation.

Conversely, the low season is from September to December and May to June. The benefits of the low season include low traveling costs and less crowded hotels and beaches.

Punta Cana

In Punta Cana, the high season is from December to February. Therefore, many tourists visit Punta Cana to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the warm weather.

On the other hand, the low season is from March to May. So this season, you can expect fewer prices and enjoy the warm weather.

To Sum Up

Are you trying to decide between Puerto Plata vs Punta Cana? 

It comes down to your personal preference. If you want to explore a historical place and have some fun, go with Puerto Plata. But if you want to relax and not worry about anything, Punta Cana is the way to go.

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