All Articles Our go-to guide to Punta Cana hotels

Our go-to guide to Punta Cana hotels

From honeymooners to families, we break it down.

Meena Thiruvengadam
By Meena Thiruvengadam29 Sept 2023 7 minutes read
Resort complex with pools overlooking beachfront
Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

I didn’t think I was an all-inclusive kind of traveler, but Punta Cana—on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic—changed my mind. In this all-inclusive paradise, you pay one price and let all your worries float away. Eat what you want when you want. Drink all the Caribbean cocktails. Spend sunny days wading in the ocean or lounging in the pool, and let someone else handle all the details. Dinner reservations? Done. A banana boat excursion? Thank you very much. Punta Cana’s all-inclusive resorts make everything so easy that you may never want to go home.

So whether you’re looking to have your hand held by a butler, chill on the beach, or get slimed, I've got the low down on my favorite places to stay in Punta Cana.

For a grown-up (luxury) getaway

TRS Cap Cana Waterfront & Marina Hotel

Bird's eye view of resort grounds with pools and beachfront overlooking water beyond
TRS Cap Cana Waterfront & Marina Hotel in Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

This luxe adults-only hotel is a blissful escape from the stress of day-to-day life. And it’s ultra-convenient: just 10 minutes from the airport, so you can be on the beach and sipping your mojito in no time. Whatever you want, you’ll find it here: a spa with hot and cold pools, horseback riding, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a marina for fishing and diving adventures, the list goes on. My only complaint: It’s in a master-planned community that feels like it could be anywhere.

The vibe: Quiet, unfussy, and relaxed. Loud parties won’t keep you up at night.

Room scene: This is my kind of hand-holding: Each room is assigned a butler—don’t be shy about telling them exactly what you need. There are 115 rooms (all suites), but my advice: Book a swim-up suite to feel like you’re in a private resort within a resort. These spacious suites have a separate seating area, a massive dining table that’s perfect for eating or remote work (yes, you will want to move in), and a private patio with access to your own wading pool.

Restaurant report: Take a detour to Italy at the resort’s trattoria or get your BA vibes on at the Argentinian steakhouse. You can get into party mode—Ibiza-style—at the resort’s beach club, Helios, where the menu spins the globe from ceviche to lobster risotto.

Don’t miss: Paddleboard yoga in the pool—there’s nothing quite like finding your balance in paradise.

In the area: The property is set on a very small beach. You’ll need to take a 15-minute shuttle to reach the hotel’s larger private beach, but the soft sand and swaying palm trees make it worth the ride.

Travelers say: "Enjoyed our stay at this amazing resort. Would definitely recommend to anyone. The amazing sunset in the morning made it more enjoyable. Staff are great, very helpful and welcoming. We felt at home at this resort and will continue to visit." –@matosjanet10

For a romantic escape

Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa

Hotel bedroom with open-air terrace with private pool overlooking the beach
Preferred Club Master Bungalow Suite at Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa in Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Just like TRS Cap Cana Waterfront & Marina Hotel, there are few reasons to leave this resort inside the gated Cap Cana complex. It’s also an adults-only hideaway, only here the focus is on romance. With its thatched roofs and a whitewashed exterior, you feel like you could be in Greece. Suites come with 24-hour room service, so go ahead and order that midnight snack.

The vibe: Blissful serenity—a place to get away from it all and let nothing worry you. But if you get bored, there’s a daily schedule of events and live entertainment each night.

Room scene: All the rooms are suites with a king size bed (or a pair of queens, if you prefer to sleep apart) and two rainfall shower heads in the bathroom. There’s nothing quite like lying in a comfy bed and looking out onto the water: Book an ocean view junior suite for a postcard-perfect wake-up call.

Restaurant report: Eat your way around the world without ever having to leave the resort. Choose from seafood at Blue Marlin, sushi and Asian bites at Wok, the Steakhouse (with chops cooked in a charcoal-and-wood oven), or Capriccio (northern Italian). Finish your evening with a glass of Prosecco—included in the rate, of course—at Love, the aptly named piano bar.

Don’t miss: Whatever you need or want, this property’s staff can make it happen (you can even meet the executive team at a weekly cocktail reception).

In the area: There’s golf and horseback riding nearby, as well as a marina where fishing and diving boats depart for the Cap Cana channel and beyond.

Travelers say: "This resort is not only beautiful and welcoming, it also has amazing views, awesome vibes, the staff is so friendly and always trying to make you feel at home. They truly pamper you during your stay. Drinks are delicious and I can’t say enough good things about the food." –@yisbelc

For action seekers

Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa

Outdoor terrace with swim-up bar with direct view of the ocean
Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites in Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

If you’re the kind of traveler who wants plenty to do at your doorstep, this is the property for you. The Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa is part of a larger resort complex with more than a dozen restaurants and 25 bars. There are six freshwater pools, a massive spa, pickleball courts, banana boats, and on and on. Go ahead, bring the kiddos: There are separate clubs for babies, children between 4 and 12, and teenagers.

The vibe: Quiet in the morning, but lively at night.

Room scene: Some Tripadvisor reviewers complain that the rooms are too basic and in need of an upgrade (which is reportedly underway). Treat yourself to a swim-up or ocean-view suite. Or go all out with the two-story signature suite, which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a dream terrace with a private hot tub overlooking the ocean.

Restaurant report: Have Mexican food one night, tapas another, Indian the next, homemade pasta after that, and—always a winner—teppanyaki as theater.

Don’t miss: The cigars you can order from room service.

In the area: During the day, Bavaro Beach offers 30 miles of white sand and calm turquoise water—ideal for swimming. But by night, it’s a party you’ll never want to leave. And you won’t have to go far to be part of it. The resort’s Chic Cabaret & Restaurant is straight out of the Moulin Rouge in Paris. You can watch talented dancers perform (and maybe even join them yourself).

Travelers say: "Overall it was a good experience. When we arrived after 3pm, our room wasn't ready. They told us to go and have lunch first. Our room was worth the wait as it was less than 1 min away from the beach. Food options was great, lots of local options and regular. Service was friendly overall. The secret adult pool was an oasis." –@stacyyeed14

For pop culture vultures

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana

TV room modeled after the living room of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Squarepants
The Pineapple Villa at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

Where else can you get slimed, eat in a spaceship, and experience luxury on the beach—all in one place? This resort brings Nickelodeon to life with characters, play spaces, food, and more. And while it may look like a hotel that’s all about the kids, there’s plenty for adults to do here, too—cocktail lounges, swim-up bars, and a spa with indoor and outdoor treatment areas.

The vibe: A 90s kid’s dream come true—a casual resort that’s all fun and games with a good chance of slime.

Room scene: There are lots of hotels with swim-up suites in Punta Cana (here, too), but this resort is the only place you’ll find the Pineapple Suite, a SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired villa whose front door is a pineapple. But even the basic rooms (all suites) are whimsical, fun, and filled with Nickelodeon-inspired decor.

Restaurant report: Take your pick of buffets, snack bars, and restaurants—Verdello for Sicilian flavors, Wok Wok for Far East fusion, BRGRS.PH for burgers—all included in the rate or with a slight upcharge. Be sure to book an interstellar dinner at the resort’s spaceship-themed restaurant. Prefer to dine with SpongeBob or Dora? You can do that, too.

Don’t miss: This property is peak fun, and it has a waterpark with waterslides, lazy river rides, and mass slimings.

In the area: This property is set on Uvero Alto Beach, a quiet, long stretch of sand that’s perfect for walking. If you’re looking for a mellow beach where you can truly chill out, this is it.

Travelers say: "Incredible family resort. Everyone had a blast! Food was great, very clean, Tons for kids to do and they even have a kids club if the parents want to relax kid free. We had a different dinner event each night which was fantastic. And we had the best concierge! Mr Jeans!" –@Ellen D

For families

Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana

Two children play in children's pool with water playground and water features
Waterpark at Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in Punta Cana
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

If you don’t want the family angle to be in your face (like Nickelodeon), Ziva is a more low-key option spread across 40 oceanfront acres on Juanillo Beach. It’s paired with another property—Hyatt Zilara, which is 18+ only—and guests can cross sides at any time (so long as the kids aren’t left alone).

The vibe: A taste of Europe in the Caribbean. And a bonus: This is a Hyatt, so you can put those World of Hyatt points to use.

Room scene: There are 375 suites with multiple configurations. We say: Opt for the swim-up junior suite with a king-sized bed or two doubles. With 600 square feet of room to spread out and direct pool access, there’s plenty of space for everyone.

Restaurant report: As with most all-inclusives, you’re got options (and they’re really good). An Italian restaurant reminiscent of an old tailor shop. A Mongolian Grill. A distillery-inspired rum bar. Or pop into the coffee shop for a gourmet popsicle.

Don’t miss: The waterslides and the grotto cascade at the resort’s water park will bring out anyone’s inner child. Grab the kids for a family float down a lazy river.

In the area: The property is set in a quiet community near horseback riding stables and a marina. It’s just a 15-minute drive from the airport, but it feels worlds away.

Travelers say: "Accommodations are a step above what we usually see on our family trips. Dining arrangements were taken care of for our full group of 23 by Evelin, their Food Ambassador. She met us each day to arrange our dining location, met us there to ensure everything was set up, and then discussed what we would like for the next night. She also arranged a fantastic birthday cake for us one night. Very happy with the trip and would definitely go back." –@Tony R

Meena Thiruvengadam
Meena Thiruvengadam is a writer who covers topics including travel, culture, and personal finance. She has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. Follow her on Twitter @meena_thiru, on Instagram @meenathiru, or read her work at meenamedia.com.