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Punta Cana recommendations?

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The most recent thread for recommendations was 2 years ago, so starting up a new one in hopes of some recent additions. I'll be staying in Punta Cana for 5 nights at the new Westin.

I've heard taxis get quite expensive with them ripping off tourists, and renting a car seems out of the question given reports of how dangerous it is to drive. So is there anywhere really worth venturing out to, either specific restaurants at other hotels, or any non-resort hotels?

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  1. Have never been there and can only comment on what SIL told me about her experience. They went probably 10+ years ago in January/February... just to escape the NE Winter. She said resort (no idea name) was wonderful... great food and entertaiment, even for niece who was maybe 7-8 yo. They were advised NOT to wander off into "town" alone?!? Also told do NOT drink the WATER... in fact advised to fill the bathroom sink with stuff so niece wouldn't be tempted to forget and get herself a drink!?! Have NO idea if any of this is true anymore... just passing along what I was told.

    1. Sorry I can't be of any help since I won't be going until April, but if you find any good places, will you please update this post?! I really want to find a place that has traditional food but maybe they only cater to tourists in Punta Cana? I don't want Italian or American food...I want Dominican!

      1. Dangerous?...It can be viewed as such if you are unfamiliar with the DR's laws and customs. If you are city folks, Punta Cana / Bavaro has all the trappings of a city, including tourist traps and souvenir shops AND typical places where real folks eat lunches and dinners.

        We spent a pleasant afternoon in Higuey, the closest off-resort city. It was an adventure, to be sure, requiring a taxi to the intercity bus station, but for $3 per person each way, it was a fun ride and down to earth as far as seeing the countryside, quite colorful. Yes, the cab rides can be dear IF you don't negotiate them. On the return trip from Higuey, the bus makes stops in front of nearly every hotel.

        I would exercise some caution in town walking thru the bustling marketplace area. As we discovered, having a companion with language command works best.

        Higuey has the wonderfully unique Basilica and a pastel-hued Dominican Restaurante ("Aqui Me Quedo") directly across the main road with great fish and native comidas. Priced fair.

        Back in Bavaro/Punta Cana Beach, we had a beautifully prepared fish dinner at "El Capitan Cooke", by the beachfront. The hosts were super-accomodating and sent some extra appetizers to the table. Whole fish and native lobsters their specialty. Credit cards accepted.