Gear up for Punta Cana playtime: What to pack and what to leave at home
Beaches and boating are two of the prime activities in Punta Cana, so if you're thinking about leaving your parka at home, you're thinking wisely. The weather isn't always perfect in the Dominican Republic, though, so prepare for rain and mosquitoes. But you should leave plenty of suitcase space to fill up with flip-flops and shorts.
Bring: your passport
Your journey to the DR will be over before it begins if you forget your passport. Every member of your group must have a valid one with at least one blank page. You don't need a visa unless you're planning to stay for 30 days or longer, but you do need to purchase a tourist card. The fee is $10. You can buy a tourist card at the airport, but lines can get long during spring break and other popular periods. Save time by buying the card online through the Dirección General de Impuestos Internos website and printing a copy.
Don't worry about exchanging dollars for pesos at your local bank. Use your debit card to withdraw pesos from an ATM when you arrive, or exchange your money at your hotel. Make sure to alert your bank that you'll be traveling, or the bank might put a fraud alert on your card after you try to use it. American dollars are also accepted by many businesses that cater to tourists, such as restaurants and tour companies.
Bring: bathing suits and coverups
Punta Cana is a beach town, so many of the activities in the area are extremely casual. You may find yourself wearing a bathing suit all day, so bring a few pieces that you can use as quick, easy coverups. Sundresses and caftans work for ladies, while men may be comfortable just pulling on a T-shirt over swim trunks. Bring at least two suits. Punta Cana can be super humid, so a wet bathing suit may take a full day or more to dry out.
Bring: rainy-day gear
You may well spend a week in Punta Cana and see nothing but clear, sunny skies, especially if you visit during the first months of the year. But when you're visiting the tropics, you should always be prepared for rain. Bring shoes that you can wear in the rain without slipping and sliding, as well as a poncho or hooded rain jacket. If you visit during hurricane season (June through November, with September the most common month for these storms), it's more likely you'll experience rain. You may want to pack a travel umbrella.
Skip: multiple pairs of pants/sweaters
Punta Cana is HOT. Even in winter and even at night, you may never experience temperatures below the mid-70s. You may want to bring a pair of long pants and a sweatshirt or light jacket, but you shouldn't need more than one of each.
Check the dress code for your resort's restaurants and other eateries that you're thinking about visiting. Although Punta Cana is very relaxed during the day, some restaurants outlaw flip-flops and require men to wear long pants at night.
Bring: insect repellent
Everyone loves the tropics, even mosquitoes. Punta Cana is notoriously buggy, especially during summer and at night, so insect repellent is an absolute must-have. You can buy it there, but you may want to do your first application before even leaving the airport, so bring some with you.