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Punta Cana vs Cancun: Which Vacation Spot is Right for You?

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Punta Cana vs Cancun. Which is better? We'll go over the differences in depth so you can decide which location suits your travel style.

Are you looking to experience a warmer climate for a week or two? Is your life at home becoming too routine, and you need a break from it all? We’ll compare Punta Cana and Cancun to help you decide where to spend your next vacation.

Latin America is a fantastic vacation destination, but choosing between Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic can be complex.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Cancun, Mexico, and break down the differences between these vacation spots.

To be honest, both of these places are breathtaking, so you can’t go wrong with either. Which of these popular vacation destinations will be your next vacation destination? Read on to find out!

We’ll discuss the differences between Punta Cana vs Cancun to help you decide which vacation spot is best for you!

Location, Location, Location

VIK Hotel Cayena Beach
Cayena Beach in Punta Cana

One of the most critical parts of choosing your dream vacation spot is where exactly it’s located. Cancun is a city in southeast Mexico, specifically on the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, looking out to the Caribbean Sea. 

Gorgeous Punta Cana is a resort town in the east of the Dominican Republic. 120 miles (193.9 km) from Santo Domingo. It is ideally located to overlook both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. 

What is Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic Known For?

Punta Cana is best known for its miles of white sand beaches, dream resorts, and tropical vacation vibe. In addition to the expected tropical beaches, you can also find lush mountain regions to investigate. 

Are you more of a city trooper? Fantastic, you can get on your best pair of sneakers and explore Santo Domingo on a city tour and marvel at the oldest city in the Americas. Many people who visit Punta Cana enjoy leisurely horseback rides by the beach. 

Punta Cana is also known for its family-friendly (and all-over-friendly) vibe due to its many outdoor activities. 

What is Cancun, Mexico Known For?

Coco Bongo Night Club in Cancun
Coco Bongo Night Club in Cancun

Cancun is best known for its vibrant nightlife and as one of the best places in Latin America to let loose. Many people believe that any Cancun vacation must include at least one night of clubbing in order to truly claim to have visited Cancun.

There’s a reason it’s such a popular spring break destination! Even resorts get in on the nightlife action, with everything from foam parties to beer pongs on offer.

The next day, you can sleep off your hangover (thank you, open bar!) and relax at the Mayan ruins.

More than ten million tourists visit Cancun each year, making it a very buzzy and busy place to visit on vacation.

Which of the two has Better beaches? Punta Cana vs Riviera Maya

The Riviera Maya is the picturesque name of Cancun’s Caribbean coastline. Most of Cancun’s beaches are within the hotel zone, making them easily accessible and fully decked with food opportunities. In turn, this does mean that some beach areas will be inaccessible to you unless you’re a guest of a particular hotel. 

Beaches in Punta Cana have characteristic perfect white sand and palm trees unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Enjoy looking over sunsets and sunrises to remember for a lifetime. Beaches in Punta Cana tend to be more naturalistic and less tourist-centered than Cancun’s beaches. 

Is Punta Cana, Cheaper than Cancun?

The Dominican Republic, as a whole, tends to be more expensive than Mexico at the moment. However, most of the metrics this is measured by applies more to people looking to relocate to another country rather than simply looking to have a good time. 

When we look at our specific vacation hot spots, Punta Cana and Cancun, it’s a different story. Punta Cana is cheaper than Cancun due to the lower average cost of accommodation, restaurants, and entertainment. Go on, treat yourself to some extra excursions in Punta Cana! 

Top Tip: whichever vacation you choose, stick to eating local fruits and vegetables and local products. It’s the perfect time to try what the locals love! Stay away from imports to avoid high markups. One of those mean tourist traps gets you to pay triple for the same coffee you have back home. Branch out a little! 

Safety in Punta Cana vs Cancun

Punta Cana and Cancun are both completely safe for tourists and have tourist security divisions within their police forces.

Theft of valuables is the most common type of crime in Punta Cana. Be aware of your belongings, as you would in any tourist city.

While Cancun is mostly safe, there has been some reported violence and drug use in the resort areas.

Tourists generally feel safe in both locations, but Punta Cana may be preferable to Cancun if you want to be less cautious about safety as a result there is no need to be overly cautious.

The reason for this is that Cancun was named one of the world’s most dangerous cities in 2022, by murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants socring a 64.47 per Statista while Punta Cana is not even on the list.

The US Department of State has issued the Dominican Republic with a level 2 (exercise increased caution) travel advisory similar to most European countries and Mexico with an ‘other’ due to the vast differences between different areas.

Punta Cana Dining vs Cancun Dining

Both Punta Cana and Cancun have an abundance of excellent dining options. The main difference is in the cuisine.

Cancun specialises in Mexican cuisine, whereas Punta Cana specialises in authentic Dominican cuisine. Of course, all-inclusive resorts offer a wide range of cuisines, restaurants from Japanese to Brazilian to American.

Of course, all-inclusive resorts offer a wide range of cuisines, restaurants from Japanese to Brazilian to American. Check out these great restaurants in both locations if you want something other than an all-inclusive resort experience:

Local Resturants in Punta Cana

Jellyfish Restaurant

Address: Playa Bavaro Next to Lopesan Hotel, Punta Cana 23301 Dominican Republic
Telephone: +1 809-551-1451
Website: jellyfishrestaurant.com

SBG Punta Cana

Address: squina Carretera Juanillo BlueMall, Blvd. Turístico del Este, Punta Cana 23000, Dominican Republic
Telephone: +1 809-784-4047
Website: https://www.opentable.com/r/sbg-punta-cana-punta-cana

Playa Blanca Restaurant

Address: Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana 10000 Dominican Republic

Telephone: +1 809-959-2714 ext. 2234

Website: https://www.puntacana.com/dining/restaurants

Local Resturants in Cancun

Tora | Japanese Restaurant in Cancun

Address: Blvd. Kukulcan km 15, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Phone: +52 998 313 4128

Website: https://torarestaurant.com.mx/en

La Buena Barra

Address: 6 de lado de la laguna, Blvd. Kukulcan KM 12.6, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico

Phone: +52 998 313 4211

Website: https://labuenabarra.mx/cancun/

How far is Cancun vs Punta Cana from USA and Canada?

The two resort towns are located in different countries, so there are significant travel logistics to take into account. The following are some of the average flight times to Cancun vs Punta Cana from some North America’s top airports.

How far is Punta Cana Vs Cancun from USA?

USA AirportsFlight to Punta CanaFlight to Cancun
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport3h 30min (nonstop) 2h 50min (nonstop)
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport8h (connecting)2h 47min (nonstop)
Denver International Airport14h 30min (connecting)4 hours (nonstop)
Chicago O’Hare International Airport4h 30min (nonstop)4 hours (nonstop)
Miami International Airport2h 30min (nonstop)2 hours (nonstop)
John F. Kennedy International Airport3h 45min (nonstop)4h 15min (nonstop)
Data from Google Flights

How far is Punta Cana Vs Cancun from Canada?

Canadian AirportsFlight to Punta CanaFlight to Cancun
Toronto Pearson International Airport4 hours 20 minutes (nonstop)4h 30min (nonstop)
Vancouver International Airport17h 50min (connecting)19h 30min (nonstop)
Calgary International Airport6 hours 50 minutes (nonstop)5h 30min (nonstop)
Montréal–Trudeau International Airport3h 45min (nonstop)4h 35min (nonstop)
Edmonton International Airport6h 55min (nonstop)5h 40min (nonstop)
Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport4h 40min (nonstop)5hours (nonstop)
Data from Google Flights

Keep in mind that if your hometown airport does not offer direct flights to Punta Cana or Cancun, you will most likely need to stop at an international airport in a major city before continuing on to either destination.

Fun Activites in Punta Cana Vs Cancun

Punta Cana offers snorkelling, as well as a night out at one of the nearby casinos, horseback riding, and golfing. 

Cancun offers great activities such as zip lining, visiting ancient Mayan ruins, and swimming in hidden cenotes. 

It all comanes down to what you want to do while you’re here! We’ll cover some of the top things to do in both locations below:

Things to do in Punta Cana

Saona Island excursion from Punta Cana with Open Bar and Lunch

Scape Park in Punta Cana: Hoyo Azul Cenote, Zip Lines, Caves and more

Party Boat and Snorkeling in Punta Cana

Punta Cana ATV Triple Adventure – Ride Through the Beach, River & Mountains (Single)

Santo Domingo City Tour from Punta Cana

Salto el Limón Waterfalls & Cayo Levantado Tour

Things to do in Cancun

Tulum, Cenote & Snorkeling Tour

Chichen Itza Tour

Tulum Ruins Tour

Coba & Turtle Adventure

Whale Shark Snorkeling Experience

About: Punta Cana Adventures 

Here at Punta Cana Adventures, we pride ourselves on being the best facilitators for your vacation. We pick out the best excursions and do all the hard work for you, so you can sit back and enjoy your stay. 

We started Punta Cana Adventures because we love the Dominican Republic and want to make it possible for visitors just like you to enjoy it from as many sides as possible.

No worrying about pick-up and drop-off times since we can arrange transportation from any Punta Cana hotel, resort, rental, Airbnb, and beyond! 

Want a little taste of private boat life? Why not get on board and set out to explore natural pools? 

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