> Destinations > Dominican Republic > Punta Cana, Bavaro and Macao
Twenty-five years ago, the east coast was little more than a lonely stretch of beach and scrub-brush. Today, that diamond in the rough has been polished into a glittering gem, unquestionably the Caribbean's most popular and fastest growing tourist destination. Leisure tourists or convention delegates arriving to thye Punta Cana International Airport head to more than 30 large tourist complexes with around 20,000 hotel rooms in the area.
The beach though continues to be the biggest draw to this area. For around 35 kilometers of secluded pearl white sand beaches, the east coast is a beach-lover's paradise. The brilliant sands of Juanillo, Punta Cana, Cabeza de Toro, Bávaro, Cortecito, Macao and Uvero Alto beckon to travelers from all corners of the globe. Arouind 100 charter and regular flights arrive weekly at Punta Cana's international airport from a dozen European cities as well as Canada, the United States and South America.
One of the most popular nearby attractions here is Manati Park Bavaro, comprising a 130,000 square meter preserve with permanent exhibits of live animals, birds, reptiles and fish, as well as remarkable performing dolphins, sea lions, talkative parrots and Andalusian horses. Visitors can also observe the flamingos and iguanas that are bred at the park as part of the reproduction programs for endangered species. There's also an archaeologically authentic replica of a Taino Indian village.
New in the area is the Pirate's Adventure, a themed park. The Marinarium offers a catamaran cruise for viewing coral and marine life for the least adventurous, marine park snorkelling and swimming with sharks and rays for the more daring. Helicopter tours are also popular and offer tourist an aerial snapshot of what the area is all about. Discover beaches to return to by land from way up above.
The Punta Cana Resort and Club prides itself on its ecological walk through tropical jungles with the promise of a refreshing dip in a cool spring. The walk is open to all tourists visiting the region. Or take a half day 4 x 4 motorbike adventure tour along the beach shore, with a dive into the Pozo cavern's clear blue waters included.
In the region, big game fishing is unsurpassed, and tournaments draw international contestants in the summer. The Cabeza de Toro Yacht Ckub and the Marina Punta Cana international port service visiting yachts and sailboats. And the Caribbean's largest marina is under construction at Cap Cana, the southernmost development point. The region already also offers wonderful trails for horseback riders, four golf courses, sailing and a variety of water sports.
The East Coast is fast becoming accustomed to hosting VIPs. For instance, in November 2002, the Barcelo Bavaro Convention Center, considered among the best in the Caribbean, hosted the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of Government and State. The King and Queen of Spain and the heads of government from almost all Latin American countries came for work and to enjoy Dominican hospitality and the lovely beach area.
Take a side trip to La Romana and return in the late afternoon, passing through Higuey, the nearest urban center to the East Coast resorts., There, take the late afternoon tour of the Basilica de la Altagracia. And then wait for the sun to set and witness the impressive lighting of the Basilica that honors the patron saint of Dominicans.
For those with energy left over, resort entertainment staff present variety shows. The Tropicalissimo show at the Barcelo Bavaro Casino competes for the title of the leading Caribbean and Latin music extravaganza. Naturally there are also several casinos for gaming enthusiast and hotel discos for night owls. And bowling fanatics, can play Punta Cana's own championship bowling alley, Punta Cana lanes, and at the same time go shopping at the adjacent shopping mall.
Information provided by the National Hotel & Restaurant Association Tourism Promotion Council.