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Punta Cana & The Southeast/Dominican Republic

Introducing Punta Cana & The Southeast

This iconic region, synonymous with sun, sand and binge eating, is rightly popular with the hundreds of thousands of visitors who make the southeast the economic engine of the tourism industry in the DR. Sprawling resort developments, some like city-states unto themselves, line much of the beachfront from Punta Cana to Bávaro. However, the result is less like the high-rise congestion of Cancun or Miami and more like low-slung retirement communities, albeit ones populated by families, young and old, and couples and singles of all ages looking for a hassle-free holiday in the Caribbean.

Beyond the gated luxury enclaves, there’s a vast landscape of sugar plantations dotted with bateyes, the small communities where many of the workers live. La Romana, a bustling city hugging the Río Chavón, anchors the sugar economy, but for travelers it’s the nearby fishing village of Bayahibe that is of interest. Besides being the departure point for trips to the nearby islands in the Parque Nacional del Este, Bayahibe’s seaside restaurants and bars feed a close-knit community of Dominicans and loyal expats.

Only a few miles north of Bávaro, the resorts thin out and the road leads inland past plantations and through small villages where horses are the preferred mode of transportation. Further up the coast, down a rutted and rough road is Playa Limón, an isolated stretch of beach backed by palm trees but also, more unusually, a lagoon and several mountain peaks. Those committed to carrying on west to Sabana de la Mar are rewarded with the Parque Nacional Los Haitises, a protected maze of caves and mangroves.