Cap Cana, Dominican Republic is just 15 minutes south of the popular destination, Punta Cana and our new favorite place for a beach vacation. After planning a trip to the Dominican with friends to stay at a resort in Punta Cana, Shane and I decided to add on to that trip by booking our own adventure to explore the local scene here.
Is Cap Cana, Dominican Republic safe?
Short answer- yes. Pretty much all of Cap Cana is in gated communities (almost like a compound), including restaurants, golf courses, and our Airbnb. We felt very safe and the locals were incredibly friendly. Parts of Punta Cana felt a little less safe, but we did not travel out past 8PM there.
Where We Stayed
We spent 5 nights in May 2022 in the most incredible beachfront Airbnb in a gated community near the marina. I’m not sure if it is because we stayed on a Sunday- Thursday but it seemed like the community was a ghost town – which for us was incredibly relaxing, especially compared to the crowded resort we went to next. Our Airbnb was gorgeous, comfortable, and the pool and beach area was pristine. We were glad to have brought our own sun screen & bug spray, ice trays, Yeti cups, and silicon straws – but we went to a local market to buy things like beer, bottled water, coffee, and snacks and ate meals out.
Things I recommend packing:
Where to Eat & Drink in Cap Cana
Hands down our favorite restaurant was Aura. The restaurant is mainly outdoors overlooking the bay at the Cap Cana Marina with a Santorini vibe. The staff, cocktails, and food were all 10/10. Another experience that we loved was La Palapa at Eden Roc resort. Also an outdoor restaurant, but this one is a stunning oceanfront space literally on top of the beach. I highly recommend going for a sunset dinner for cocktails and sushi. The “special roll” is an absolute must (we even ordered two).
The first day of our trip we spent the afternoon at Api Beach House which was absolutely beautiful. The private cabana area is $10/pp for the day, but the pool area and lounge chairs near the restaurant are free. We enjoyed the drinks, pool, and beach area but the food was just ok for lunch. Portions are very large, just not very flavorful. Get a passionfruit margarita or mojito here!
We tried a few other restaurants in the marina area that were just ok: Nakamura Sushi, Barbudo, and Dolce Italia but I wish we had time to try the tapas place.
“Presidente” is the local beer of the Dominican and is actually delicious (compared to Belikin in Belize). But most places offered US domestic beers or Caribbean drinks as well. Passionfruit is one of the most popular flavors here for cocktails and the tropical fruits here are amazing. For dessert, “tres leches” cake was on the menu at almost every restaurant we tried, just order it everywhere and thank me later.
Shop my outfits and swimwear:
Navigating around Cap Cana
Before our trip I read a lot of things about it not being safe to drive in Punta Cana, so we did not take that lightly when deciding to rent a car. As mentioned, the restaurants we dined at were within the gated community, but there was very little street traffic at night which can feel a little eerie. Another thing to note is that since the area is still being developed, Google maps can be wrong at times. There are no street name signs either which led to a few funny experiences on dirt roads. I used my Verizon international plan and would not have been able to get around without it. We were so glad to have a rental car to get to and from golf courses and stores in the area. If you plan on doing excursions, be sure to download WhatsApp for better communication and definitely have Google translate ready or brush up on your Spanish before your trip. The language barrier was tricky at times.
Golf & Cigars in Cap Cana
Shane loves to golf and I knew these courses would be gorgeous so I decided to tag along and ride in the cart while he played and I’m so glad I did. We booked early tee times so that it forced us to get up early on vacation and we could be back at the beach by noon(ish). The first day we went to the Punta Cana Resort and Club and played “La Cana” which I recommend bringing a bag and sticking around their pool and beach area for lunch after (p.s. Kim Kardashian vacays here).
The second day Shane played “Corales” which is part of the PGA Tour and it was such a cool experience. About 6 of the holes were oceanfront and just gorgeous. Plus our caddy’s at both courses were a blast: shoutout to Carlos and Angelo for a great time.
As you may know, The Dominican is now the largest producer of cigars and has some of the best in the world. Shane found a private cigar class that was literally out of man’s home (sounds sketchy I know) that was such a fun experience. Myself not being a cigar smoker, still had fun learning about it and watching Shane’s eyes light up every time he learned something new. The class and coffee were free, but you’ll be taking home a box of cigars for sure! Book a cigar class with Burt at Vivaldi Cigars 10/10.
Things we loved about Cap Cana
There was little to not love from the STUNNING waters and pristine upkeep of the area and friendly locals. If you’re looking for a relaxing destination, this is it, but not a place to party. We loved the local culture and beautiful beaches and cannot wait to plan a trip back here.
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