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Punta Cana Area Map

Neighborhoods

Sitting on the easternmost tip of the island of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana refers to a region that encompasses the beaches of Bávaro, Higüey, Macao and Uvero Alto, among others. Most spend their vacation in the Bávaro region, which is closest to the airport.

Cap Cana sits on the Dominican Republic's eastern shores and is an exclusive real estate and hotel development – home to luxury properties, such as Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Sanctuary Cap Cana and AlSol Tiara Cap Cana, among others. Sprawled across more than 6,000 acres, this area also shelters the ritzy Punta Espada golf course, along with its own marina, equestrian center and eco-park. With a stay here, you'll find little reason to leave Cap Cana's borders. You don't have to be a guest at one of its top-notch homes or hotels to access the community's attractions.

North of the Punta Cana Airport, Bávaro features the staggering all-inclusives and commercialism associated with the region. The town is also home to El Cortecito, a small fishing village, which contains gift shops, restaurants and plenty of watersports. Several amusement parks are located near the area to lure in vacationing families: Dolphin Discovery offers the chance to swim with dolphins and sea lions, while Manati Park showcases local species, such as iguanas and parrots. The wide shoreline of Arena Gorda is popular among tourists.

Sitting inland, west of Punta Cana's beaches, Higüey is only accessible via rental car or taxicab. Those who live nearby consider Higüey holy land, as the site of a vision of the Virgin Mary. The city's cathedral, the Basilica de Higüey Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, is Higüey's main attraction, along with its two main open-air markets, the Mercado Publico de Higüey (Higüey Public Market) and Plaza Higüeyana, where you can peruse souvenirs, cigars, rum, larimar jewelry and more.

Just north of Bávaro along the coast is Macao, the region's newest resort hot spot. Travelers describe Macao as charming and provincial complete with pastures and ranches. Stunning beaches have inspired the gradual development and construction of new resort hotels. Macao is also a popular daytrip from some of the resorts farther south, since the beach is a little less crowded.

Farther north is Playa Uvero Alto, a small, secluded beach village complete with coconut groves and unique boutique hotels. A newer road leading from the Punta Cana Airport has made Playa Uvero Alto's beach strip and various accommodations more accessible to tourists. It's in this part of Punta Cana that you'll find some of the swankiest and best hotels, including Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana and Excellence Punta Cana.

Punta Cana is one of the safest vacation spots in the Caribbean, and tourists should feel comfortable traveling outside of the hotel zone. However, petty theft (especially of cell phones, according to some) does sometimes occur, so you should be careful when carrying valuables with you. Plan to travel in a group if you leave your resort, and women should be aware that men in Punta Cana can be overly flirtatious. Hotel security is good, and there's even a special branch of the police department devoted to tourist safety, known as Politur. Police officers are often stationed in the hotels. But previous travelers have had other concerns (specifically health issues) when visiting the Dominican Republic: Many say you should avoid drinking Punta Cana's tap water. Always opt for bottled water and drinks without ice unless you've got a stomach of steel. Zika is another health concern in the Dominican Republic because of the prevalence of mosquitos. Pregnant women and their partners should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the most up-to-date information on the virus.

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