One: Timing of things
Punta Cana is on tropical time, not as tropical as Jamaica but things certainly take time. The sun is out an no one is in a rush to get anywhere even if it is to bring you coffee. If you have chores to do – such as confirming your off-resort trips or getting your shuttle pick up time, wake up early and plan to spend an hour doing that.
Two: Money things
Basic resort currency is US dollars but if you run out of those buying them might not be the best option. Resort Exchanges charge hefty fees on US currency purchases and if your native dollar isn’t US the exchange rate will make your tipping money into gold: for example $150 US comes with a $37 US fee which makes that $150 US cost $250+ Canadian. Mind blowing, I know. Your other option is using an ATM and taking out pesos directly from your bank account in which case DOP to CA exchange will be the one your bank set up and the only fee will be a minimal ATM fee.
Three: Local markets dealings
Pretty much every resort has a market night during which local vendors set up shops in the common area and pull you by your hand to have a look at their merchandise. They will also promise you the best price around but in Bavaro there is an ocean front market which you can likely walk to along the beach where everything will be a few dollars less with a few more dollars of bargaining power. It is located near the Punta Cana Princess All Suites Resort & Spa and makes for a lovely stroll during the day. As a ballpark $12 for a large coffee is $5 to much.
Four: Scuba diving matters
If you are scuba diving there is not much to see on the Bavaro side and many corals are sadly dead but there are a lot of boat trips that can take you out and around to see wrecks and more populated oceanic parts. That being said whales do come in on this side and I’ve been told you can hear them when scuba diving in Bavaro waters which could be a pretty mind blowing experience.
Five: Cultural nuances
And lastly an interesting fact: while many, if not most, of the tour guides and scuba instructors are expats of the world the primary visitors to the region are from Russia. There is a direct flight from Moscow to Punta Cana which results in over 60% of guests being Russian speaking and the locals have adopted to that quite well – there are Russian shops and many Dominicans speak better Russian than English.
Instagram feed for this trip is #XOBavaro