Spanning 20 miles along the Dominican Republic’s eastern shore, Punta Cana is best known for its white-sand beaches and all-inclusive resorts. From simple waterfront villas to massive all-inclusive luxury havens, Punta Cana is a great value play for budget-conscious beach-lovers, especially when considering the area’s best-kept secret: the day pass.
Offering the unique opportunity to sample the area’s many luxuries in one trip, day passes offer the best amenities of a luxury resort for a fraction of its overnight rate. For the best value, opt to stay at a smaller hotel near Bavaro Beach, where 4-star properties start as low as $45 per night, then hop between higher-end resorts during peak hours. Day pass access usually lasts from around 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes breakfast, lunch, and an open bar during your stay. These are our top three picks to experience the best of what Punta Cana’s all-inclusives have to offer.
The newest all-inclusive along the Bávaro strip, Royalton Bávaro’s 730 all-suite luxury resort opened in early 2018. The highlight of the day pass here is family fun, namely the FlowRider surf machine, the nine-hole mini golf course, and the lazy river. Plus, there are two pristine pools where parents can post up for the day. The main pool features hopping beats and a rotating list of daily activities (including aquatic fitness, dance parties, and pool games) while a sprawling infinity pool with a swim-up bar is decidedly more low-key. The food highlights include an extensive breakfast buffet at Gourmet Marché, a food-truck concept serving burgers and specialty tacos for lunch, and the resort’s Oceanside buffet, which offers incredible value for its selection of fresh seafood.
Day Pass: From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., $125 per person and $62.50 for kids under 12
Nightly Rate: Up to $971 per night for a King Suite with a double sofa bed; sleeps five, including up to three children
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
The sprawling Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, anchoring the north end of Bávaro, is a beach-side wonder: With 1,790 rooms, 13 pools, nine restaurants, and 23 bars (yes, 23), be prepared to cover a lot of ground to get the most out of a day pass here. There’s even shuttle service available to those who don’t want to walk. Best for couples seeking a party scene, the resort’s on-site casino is the largest in Punta Cana and its hopping pool scene echoes that of Las Vegas. At the adults-only Eden Pool, there’s a full bar—with bartenders serving generous pours—and a live DJ keeping the energy up throughout the day. For a more relaxed afternoon, head over to The Bongo Pool, where 80s soft rock sets the scene. There’s much to admire in the music-centric atmospheres throughout the well-kept grounds.
Day Pass: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $107 per person and $52.50 for kids under 18 (does not include access to the golf course)
Nightly Rate: Up to $881 per night for two double beds, sleeping up to four people (including up to three children)
Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort
On the south end of Bávaro’s six mile stretch, the Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort has a family-focused atmosphere. An impressive list of activities is included with your day pass, particularly when it comes to wowing the younger set. Between the resort’s climbing wall, bouncy castle, Mini Olympic competitions, and Kids Club, the kids will stay occupied and happy. Meanwhile, the pool decks are more relaxed and low-key than your typical Bávaro scene, and beachside palapas and daybeds offer a nice shady retreat on the sand. The standards of service are excellent at the Paradisus Palma Real, so expect regular opportunities to top-off your fruity cocktail while lounging, and a willing hand in providing an extra towel or two after emerging from the pool.
Day Pass: From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., $150 per person and $75 for kids under 12 (does not include golf course)
Nightly Rate: Up to $518 per night for two double beds or a King Junior Suite, both of which sleep four (including up to three children)
A few things to note: Day passes are based on availability and can sell out, so we advise calling ahead (at least one day before). Taxis are the primary way to get around Punta Cana; an average ride between resorts runs between $20 and $30 USD.