Punta Cana Ecological Park
Lonely Planet review for Punta Cana Ecological Park
A half-kilometer south of Punta Cana Resort and Club, the Punta Cana Ecological Park covers almost 8 sq km of protected coastal and inland habitat and is home to some 80 bird species, 160 insect species and 500 plant species. Visitors can take very worthwhile 90-minute guided tours taken in English, French, German or Spanish through a lush 18-hectare portion of the reserve known as Parque Ojos Indígenas (Indigenous Eyes Park), so named for its 11 freshwater lagoons all fed by an underground river that flows into the ocean. The tour also includes a visit to the park’s botanical and fruit gardens, iguana farm (part of a breeding program) and a farm-animal petting zoo. The visitor center has a great collection of insects that was compiled by entomology students from Harvard, and interesting maps and photos of the area. One or two-hour Horseback riding tours through the park and along the coast can also be arranged with advance notice. The park is operated by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, a nonprofit foundation created in 1994 that works to protect the area’s ecosystems – including 8km of coral reef along the reserve’s shoreline – and to promote sustainable tourism and hotel practices. Nearly 4 hectares of the reserve are dedicated to the Cornell biodiversity laboratory, a joint project with other American universities to inventory and study native plants, birds and insects. Unfortunately, there is no hotel pickup service; a cab here will cost around US$25 each way from Bávaro or El Cortecito.