The Ultimate Punta Cana Packing List
Craving miles of pristine white sand bordered by turquoise waters and leaning coconut palms? Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s most famous resort town, will deliver. A vacay here typically means relaxing at one of more than 75 all-inclusives (or an intimate boutique resort), sunning yourself on 30 miles of blissful beaches, and getting your heart racing on action adventures (hot air ballooning at sunrise, anyone?). Flights from the U.S. are plentiful—this is, after all, the most popular Caribbean destination for North Americans. But before you board, make sure you’ve got all the right stuff for your week of sun, sand, snorkeling, and ceviche. Here’s what we recommend: packing lists, shoe suggestions, perfect outfits, and more.
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Your suitcase packing checklist
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THE PERFECT LUGGAGE
When it comes to luggage, size really does matter. Too small and you may have to sit on your case to close it (or risk leaving essentials behind). Too big and, depending on the airline, you may be forced to check it, or you’ll be tempted to fill it to the brim and end up paying hefty overweight charges. For weekend trips, you can’t go wrong with Paravel’s Main Line Duffle, a handsome and understated coated canvas weekender with a lockable zipper and leather accents. For longer trips, we’re fans of Arlo Skye’s zipper-less and lightweight rollaboard carry-on, which looks sleek and packs plenty of handy features such as a removable portable charger, smooth and silent wheels, and included shoe and laundry bags. If you’re there for the two-week range, first of all—lucky you! Consider Dakine’s capacious wheeled duffel, which opens like a book to reveal separate top and bottom compartments so you can pack with ease. Mesh dividers help you keep stuff organized, and the bag folds flat for easy storage once you return home.
THE 3 PAIRS OF SHOES YOU’LL NEED FOR EXPLORING PUNTA CANA
Guy or gal, you’ll need three essential pieces of footwear to take you from the breakfast buffet to Bavaro Beach to the pool bar for sunset drinks. For both sexes, we’ve tracked down day-to-night sandals, water shoes that are stylish enough for beyond-the-waves wear, and sporty sneakers that work whether you’re running tropical trails or simply posing under your palapa.
WHAT NOT TO PACK FOR PUNTA CANA
You’ve come for the sun and, trust us, you won’t leave disappointed. Punta Cana’s year-round balmy temps and warm breezes mean that you can leave all your heavyweight outerwear, winter woolies, and boots at home, making space for clothing made from light, quick-drying, sweat-wicking fabrics. Brief tropical showers (we like to think of them as “liquid sunshine”) could call for an umbrella or waterproof jacket, but we prefer to interpret rain as a sign to linger over one more frosty Coco Loco. Other items to leave at home: A travel iron (wrinkled linen is a look, we swear!) and bulky beach towels and snorkel gear (every resort has both). Precious jewelry is easily lost and can make you a potential mark for pickpockets. So we leave the good stuff at home and always stash our wedding rings in the in-room safe.
THE *ONE THING* WTP EDITORS ALWAYS PACK FOR PUNTA CANA
If you’re going to Punta Cana, you’re probably staying at an all-inclusive resort. (Case in point: of the 93 Punta Cana hotels reviewed on Oyster, our sister site, a whopping 75 of them offer all-inclusive rates.) This means your hotel room, food, drinks, and some activities/entertainment are all paid for in advance. Nevertheless, you’re still going to want a little cash on hand for tipping resort staff—the porter or bell person who brings your luggage to the room, the driver of the courtesy shuttle, and the bartender at the end of a big night of margaritas and Mama Juana (a local favorite made from rum, red wine, and honey). This darling little wristlet is perfect for stashing away a few dollars—plus your room key and iPhone for safekeeping. —WTP Editors
PUNTA CANA’S WEATHER AND SEASONS
Punta Cana’s tropical temperatures average between the mid-80s to the mid-90s during the summer months, and cool by about 10 degrees in the winter. This means that regardless of the season, you can expect warm weather and should pack accordingly. There’s more rain May through October, but we’re not talking all-day deluges here. Instead, expect afternoon showers, which may be heavy but are very short. Our advice: When you’re not in your swimwear, dress as the locals do, in lightweight dresses and T-shirts and button-downs with shorts or khakis. For evenings, bring a light jacket or wrap. It’ll come in handy for aggressively air-conditioned restaurants and the (rare) cool night alfresco.
Note: This data comes from our friends at Weather.com. We recommend using this together with a traditional forecast as you get closer to your departure date.
- Plan for day temps between 71.4 and 81.9 temps
- Expect 2.6 inches of precipitation in January
What to Wear in Punta Cana in January: Punta Cana’s “winter” still means summertime wear, but pack a light jacket, long-sleeves or a wrap, just in case.
- Plan for day temps between 71.2 and 81.7 temps
- Expect 2.1 inches of precipitation in February
What to Wear in Punta Cana in February: Sexy reds are a weather-appropriate way to celebrate Valentine’s Day the Dominican Republic way.
- Plan for day temps between 71.6 and 82.6 temps
- Expect 2.1 inches of precipitation in March
What to Wear in Punta Cana in March: It’s officially spring but it already feels like summer here, so choose pieces that offer coverage while still keeping you cool on the beach, by the pool, or on one of Punta Cana’s 10 golf courses.
- Plan for day temps between 72.5 and 83.7 temps
- Expect 2.7 inches of precipitation in April
What to Wear in Punta Cana in April: This just might be the perfect month to visit. Temps are balmy and the rainy season is at least a month away, so bust out all your shoulder-baring tops and dresses.
- Plan for day temps between 73.8 and 85.3 temps
- Expect 4.9 inches of precipitation in May
What to Wear in Punta Cana in May: With May comes the start of the rainy season. Sail through those short afternoon showers with gear that’s rain-ready but still colorful and Caribbean-appropriate.
- Plan for day temps between 75.4 and 86.5 temps
- Expect 4.1 inches of precipitation in June
What to Wear in Punta Cana in June: Yes, it is hot in heeeerre! But you’ll still look cool if you stick to styles in sweat-wicking fabrics.
- Plan for day temps between 76.3 and 86.9 temps
- Expect 3.1 inches of precipitation in July
What to Wear in Punta Cana in July: Sweltering mid-summer days turn into sultry (OK, sweaty!) nights, so pack evening wear that’s cool in every sense of the word.
- Plan for day temps between 76.6 and 87.3 temps
- Expect 4.1 inches of precipitation in August
What to Wear in Punta Cana in August: There’s no escaping the Dominican sun this month, so give your UV-protection game your all.
- Plan for day temps between 75.9 and 87.6 temps
- Expect 4 inches of precipitation in September
What to Wear in Punta Cana in September: It may be cooling down in your hometown, but you’ll still be feeling the heat as you lounge on Bavaro Beach or by your resort pool. A stylish cover-up will help protect against fierce midday rays.
- Plan for day temps between 74.5 and 86.9 temps
- Expect 6 inches of precipitation in October
What to Wear in Punta Cana in October: This is likely Punta Cana’s wettest month but rain doesn’t have to put a damper (ahem!) on your vacay. Pack a lightweight slicker and you’re good to go.
- Plan for day temps between 73.8 and 84.9 temps
- Expect 4.6 inches of precipitation in November
What to Wear in Punta Cana in November: Temperatures are finally dropping but it’s always shorts weather here. So whether you’re rocking Daisy dukes, cargo shorts or something in between, let’s see those knees!
- Plan for day temps between 72.1 and 82.6 temps
- Expect 3.1 inches of precipitation in December
What to Wear in Punta Cana in December: Celebrate the festive season—and your good fortune to be at the beach in the middle of winter!—with party wear that’s appropriately merry and bright.
STYLE FOR PUNTA CANA
You’re in the Caribbean, one of the most colorful and dynamic regions in the world. So dress like it! Now’s the time to ditch your head-to-toe black ensembles and understated neutral separates in favor of vivid hues and simple shapes, throwing in as many body-con silhouettes as you feel comfortable with. Men can get by with lightweight slacks for night and khaki shorts by day, but should feel free to pair them with colorful button-downs and T-shirts (and go wild with patterned swim shorts). Ladies, this is your time to shine! Florals, stripes, neon and all the pom-poms and tassels are appropriate. Maxi dresses will take you from the beach to the club, and standout sunnies will elevate even the simplest T-shirt-and-shorts combo.
WOMEN’S STREET STYLE
Punta Cana Style for Women
MEN’S STREET STYLE
Punta Cana Style for Men
FIVE FOOLPROOF OUTFITS FOR YOUR TRIP TO PUNTA CANA
1. What to wear to go sightseeing in Punta Cana
We don’t blame you for wanting to spend every moment on the beach, but Punta Cana has so many sights beyond the sand. So book at least one excursion, perhaps to the historic capital of Santo Domingo or the surreal reproduction of a Mediterranean village at Altos de Chavon. Then plan your outfit around comfy walking shoes and shorts like these, and you’ll be good to go.
Women’s Outfit for Sightseeing in Punta Cana
Men’s Outfit for Sightseeing in Punta Cana
2. What to wear to the beach
Let’s face it: the beach is likely the number one reason you’re in Punta Cana. And when you first set sight on the sands at Cap Cana, you’ll know you made the right choice. Anchored by colorful swimwear and fun flip-flops, this seaside ensemble will have you ready to soak up the sun—and admiring stares.
Women’s Beach Outfit for Punta Cana
Men’s Beach Outfit for Punta Cana
3. What to wear to do an aquatic tour
Don’t leave Punta Cana without enjoying its waters; snorkeling and swimming in a cenote at Scape Park and Marinarium’s catamaran cruises will bring you thiiis close to the destination’s aquatic assets. But all that time in the sun also puts you at risk of sunburn. Apply (and reapply) powerful, reef-friendly sunscreen, and cover up when you’re not swimming and saying hello to PC’s marine life.
Women’s Outfit for an Aquatic Tour in Punta Cana
Men’s Outfit for an Aquatic Tour in Punta Cana
4. What to wear out dancing in Punta Cana
If you’re planning to hit the clubs in Punta Cana, better hit ‘em hard! These sequin-y outfits (that dress, that jacket!) guarantee you’ll dazzle on the dance floor at CoCo Bongo or Oro. Your only competition will be the disco ball.
Women’s Outfit for Dancing in Punta Cana
Men’s Outfit for Dancing in Punta Cana
5. What to wear out to dinner in Punta Cana
Whether it’s a romantic mesa para dos, a barbecue on the beach in Cap Cana, or a high-top in a hipster bar with your entire squad, you gotta eat, right? Wherever you’re dining, Punta Cana’s warm weather and cool vibe call for hot looks, and these pieces (including a floaty boho-chic maxi dress and look-at-me shirt) are guaranteed to round out your tropical trousseau.
Women’s Outfit for Dinner in Punta Cana
Men’s Outfit for Dinner in Punta Cana
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PACKING FOR PUNTA CANA
What is the official language of Punta Cana? Can I get by with English?
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. You’ll find, however, that many people in tourist hubs such as Punta Can also speak English. Still, it’s only polite to learn a few Spanish words and basic expressions to communicate with your hosts. Hola, por favor, como esta? and con permiso go a long way!
Do you have to pay to use the beaches in Punta Cana?
All the beaches in the Punta Cana area are public. Of course you won’t have to pay to access the beach at your resort, and certainly not at outside beaches. But at swanky beach clubs and restaurants, access may be restricted to members and guests or you may have to dine to use the facilities.
Are there nude beaches in Punta Cana?
Some resorts may have swimsuit-optional sections of their beach, but there are no official nude beaches in Punta Cana, and topless and nude bathing is frowned upon. In most cases, if you’re on a beach or at a pool beyond your resort (and particularly if there are children around), keep your swimwear on!
Is the ocean sandy or rocky? Do I need water shoes?
You’ll certainly appreciate water shoes for wet activities such as excursions to waterfalls or afternoons at your resort’s water park (yes, several Punta Cana resorts, such as Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana, have their own!) But aqua socks definitely aren’t required on Punta Cana’s beaches, where powdery white and golden sand stretches for miles.
Can I drink the tap water in Punta Cana?
Most large Punta Cana resorts serve bottled or filtered water (at no charge), and provide bottled water in bathrooms for teeth brushing. Our recommendation: Stick to bottled water and always wash unpeeled fruit to avoid any stomach troubles.