The Instagram Guide to Punta Cana

You’ll find white sand, endless pina coladas, and private island yoga retreats.

punta cana getaway
(Image credit: Melia)

I love an island vacation—dare I say—more than anyone. The beach, the peace, the ultimate relaxation. Still, I’m the first to admit that not all islands are created equal. Some are pure perfection for a family getaway, others a romantic escape. Then, there are those that make for the ultimate friends’ trip, where accommodations are modern and aesthetic at a price that isn’t entirely absurd, drinks are endlessly flowing, and good weather (and a tan) are seemingly guaranteed. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic falls into that category. 

Located in the Caribbean, this man-made destination is a quintessential tourist hot spot, with approximately 50,000 hotel rooms nestled in primarily all-inclusive resorts (I highly recommend Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort). You’ll find tour services, amusement parks, and fully equipped spa experiences at your command—alongside unlimited food and drink. But investigate the island a little deeper, and you’ll find a picturesque workout experience tailored to bachelorette parties, adults-only pools and ocean views, and water sports that are enjoyable regardless of your age. For an idea on what to do and where to stay, read ahead. 

Stay at Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort 

Situated just about 30 minutes from the airport (book your transportation with Otium for a no-bumps-along-the-way experience), this Melia outpost truly delivers a luxurious stay. There’s the primary resort, which is kid friendly, as well as The Reserve, an adults-only section accompanied by a private pool and beach (this is where my friends and I stayed—highly recommend). Upon arrival, you can expect to be met with your own, personal concierge, who doubles as your guiding-light-meets-personal-travel agent. They’ll book your excursions, advice on activities around the property (you can do everything from water aerobics to a silent disco), and schedule nightly dinner reservations for your party (thank you, Alvaro!). 

You can expect spacious rooms, impeccably kept grounds, and non-stop programming to ensure that your all-inclusive isn’t boring in the slightest. The property features a golf course, a stunning spa, and even a kid’s club if you’ll be in attendance with little ones.

A post shared by Paradisus by Meliá

A photo posted by paradisusbymelia_eng on

Enjoy Private Island Yoga

While your off-resort excursions will differ slightly depending on where you stay, it’s worthwhile to investigate if a private island yoga experience could be in your future. At Paradisus Palma Real, guests are able to hop aboard a catamaran for a three-hour excursion that takes them to a quiet, private beach. Once there, expert instructors lead a meditative, restorative yoga class that cherishes the beauty of the island. 

While I popped away with my best friend for an early birthday escape, I couldn’t help but think this was the perfect bachelorette experience. The class is friendly to all skill levels, the boat ride over to the island is pure bliss, and it’s an easy way to get some movement in when the majority of the trip is inevitably spent eating, drinking, and sitting. 

punta cana getaway

(Image credit: Melia)

Check Out Water Sports

I’m all in on settling down with a good beach read for a day or two, but when the itch for an activity strikes, you’ll be in luck. The island strip of all-inclusives is filled with water sport vendors. Check with your hotel to unlock the most reputable beach vendors, then pop on a life vest and try your hand at parasailing, jet skiing, wind gliding—the ocean is truly your oyster. And with crystal clear, never-freezing water, there’s no better spot to take a turn at water sports.

A post shared by Punta Cana 🌴

A photo posted by puntacana on

See the Wildlife

Punta Cana is known for having some stunning wildlife—and you’d be remiss not to take advantage. If you happen to be in the area from mid January to late March, sign yourself up for a whale watching experience; chances are you’ll get a glimpse of a humpback. You’ll be transported to Samana Bay, which is part of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic. The area has strict protocols in place to ensure a safe place for the mammals to swim, give birth, and enjoy the ocean.  

If whales aren’t your thing (to each their own), you might also want to consider scheduling a tour that allows you to swim with the dolphins or snorkel and observe the location’s stunning coral reefs and diversified fish. Sign up for a tour that’ll take you to Cabeza del Toro Nature Reserve or off the coast of Catalina—you’ll have the best views. 

A post shared by

A photo posted by puntacanaadventures on

Enjoy a Spa Treatment

Trust me: Being on a beach with your friends is simply asking the powers that be to sign up for a spa treatment. A perfect detox before a girls’ night out or the ultimate rest and relaxation activity (this island truly is what you make of it), a facial or massage completely while facing the picturesque shoreline is a non-negotiable. I highly recommend the Yhi Healing Spa, which combines therapies across cultures. You can experience an exotic body massage inspired by the ancient beauty rituals of Indonesia, breathing exercises that take technique from the Mayonggo, or a foot massage guided by Japanese principles.

punta cana getaway

(Image credit: Melia)

Drink Up!

The main allure of an all-inclusive: Unlimited drinks. Whether a frozen pina colada sipped beachside speaks your name or dinnertime rosé is more your speed, you’ll have no shortage of liquor at your disposal. That’s in large part what makes this an ideal setup for a big girls’ trip. There’s no need to figure out how to split the bill or stress—it’ll all be taken care of before your toes even hit the sand.

A post shared by Club Med Punta Cana

A photo posted by clubmedpuntacana on

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar,,, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.