Playa del Carmen or Punta Cana? Which one to choose for vacations

Maybe one of the most difficult decisions while planning your vacations is to find the perfect destination, either you are going with the whole family, with your partner or alone. Punta Cana and Playa del Carmen are two popular destinations around the world with incredible beaches and a cool atmosphere to spend your time and create amazing experiences.

Both are easy to access from the airport with different transportation options, either you go by taxi, bus or shuttle from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen or get a transfer to Punta Cana to go from Santo Domingo Airport to Punta Cana. Time travel is about 1-2 hours, with some pretty views along the way. 

To help you determine which one is best for you, we’re taking a look at the good, the bad and the beautiful in these two dream vacation destinations.

The best atmosphere

Talking about atmosphere, both destinations are designed for tourism with miles of beautiful beaches to relax, and exclusive all-inclusive resorts to satisfy the needs of all travelers. 

For the night, both are perfect to go out with many discotheques and nightclubs for all budget ranges and different types of tastes and atmospheres, offering music of different genres. Do not miss visiting Coco Bongo, you can find it in both destinations, with live shows full of music and incredible productions to continue the party the whole night. 

Where is the best beach?

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, both have breathtaking beaches with white sand and crystal waters. Most of them are public, but there are some all-inclusive resorts built along the coastline. 

If you are looking for a quieter spot to avoid the crowds, there are many public beaches in both, Punta Cana and Playa del Carmen away from the more touristy areas that provide a comfortable and quiet space. Big differences can be that beaches in Punta Cana tend to have more waves or windy conditions, perfect for surfers and to practice windsurfing or kayaking.

What to visit nearby?

Playa del Carmen is full of more tourist-friendly activities in the surrounding region. One of the biggest options are the theme parks nearby like Xcaret or Xelha where you can enjoy different cultural shows or do some water sports. There are also several cenotes within a short drive of the city center and the famous Quinta Avenida to do some shopping and visit exclusive restaurants. Day trips to small towns like Cozumel, Tulum or Isla Mujeres are also popular from Playa del Carmen.

Just like Playa del Carmen, there are some colorful towns nearby Punta Cana where you can get some boat tours or enjoy other beaches to do some kayak or paddle. Some of the most famous are Cabeza de Toro, Macao, Boca de Yuma and Bavaro. 

Where to stay?

Playa del Carmen has a more diverse range of hotel offerings, with brand-name luxury resorts and all-inclusive properties in the coastline. If you are limited, the budget hotels in Playa del Carmen are located in the center of town, where it can be busy and noisy. The beach will generally be a five to ten minutes walk from there.