Bright tropical flowers smother the gazebo in a kaleidoscope of colour. The bride and groom stand underneath, twitching their toes in the sand. The sea winks at them just as the sighs of a violin fill the air. Sure, it may sound like a cliché, but weddings in Punta Cana do that—exactly that.
Many of the most famous all-inclusive resorts are here, including Excellence, Dreams, Bahia Principe, Iberostar, Paradisus and Hard Rock. Most are wedding-savvy and can arrange everything from employing a wedding coordinator to hiring the judge, needed for a civil ceremony on the beach. The beaches, which stretch for 60 km along the east coast of the D.R. run all the way from Playa Uvero Alto—about an hour’s drive north of the Punta Cana airport—to Playa Juanillo in Cap Cana, half an hour to the south.
Most of the 80-plus hotels are beachfront, so hammocks for two are typically just a short stroll from your room. Whether you come to marry, for romance or just for some good, ol’ R&R, the beach always beckons. If you get bored, take a walk—the beaches are public and there are no restrictions on walking from one hotel beach to another. Any thirst or hunger you work up can easily be sated at one of the many independent restaurants—popular in spots such as Bávaro and in the small town of Cortecito.
Dance into the wee hours at El Photobar (also known as La Casa de Piedra), a lively spot in El Cortecito next door to the resto, Captain Cook. It’s known by locals as the best spot in Punta Cana to see live music, DJ sets and displays of all kinds of wild dancing, from flamenco to belly dancing.
Grab your kids and head to Manatí Park in Punta Cana/Bávaro, where you’ll be awed by the complex moves of horses that perform equestrian exercises. You can also watch a Taíno dance or another one of the park’s nine different shows.
Rent an ATV or join a horseback excursion to the undeveloped Playa Macao. At the nearby tiny fishing village of Macao, you will see fishermen’s colourful boats hauled up on the beach. Here’s where you can lunch on the fresh catch of the day prepared by local vendors.
Wonder what’s beyond the beaches and resorts? Take a full-day cultural immersion tour where you can mingle with the locals and discover how they live off the land. Your Jeep Safari 4×4 will take you to a typical country home. Here you can sample exotic Caribbean fruits, roasted coffee and cacao. You might also stop at a Taíno cave where the early natives lived thousands of years ago.
Don’t mind teeth-rattling rough roads? Then head to the wilderness area of Playa Limón (Lemon Beach) in Miches, about 100 km northwest of Punta Cana. The freshwater lagoons, Laguna del Limón and Laguna Redonda, are thick with mangroves that support profuse bird life. Saddle up and see the two lagoons on horseback.