Getting Off the Beaten Path in the Dominican Republic

Most people who visit the Dominican Republic fly directly in and out of Punta Cana and never visit the rest of the country.

Most people are unaware of the rich history of the country and the historical sites such as Alcázar de Colón in the country’s capitol, Santa Domingo. This was the home of Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’s first-born, gifted to him from the Spanish King Ferdinand II of Aragon in the early 1500s. It was at this home where several Spanish Colonial plans were drawn.

{Skip Punta Cana and Head to Bayahibe}

I’ve been to both and this is what I found to be different between them:

  1. Bayahibe is along the Caribbean ocean and Punta Cana along the Atlantic
  2. The water’s warmer in Bayahibe
  3. Bayahibe has a more local feel; Punt Cana is VERY developed and touristy
  4. Punta Cana is more expensive
  5. Think of Punta Cana as the Cancun of the DR
  6. Punta Cana is convenient because there’s an international airport there
  7. The beach is smaller in Bayahibe but just as beautiful as Punta Cana

You can find a 4-star resort in Bayahibe for 5 nights for as low as $150/night in summer vs. at least $230/night for a 4-star resort in Punta Cana.

In terms of activities, those were pretty much the same – beach time, pool time, relaxing, and water activities.

Both times I visited the DR were family trips with my parents, siblings, nephews etc. so staying in an all-inclusive made sense. Next time I go, I’ll skip the all inclusive.

Bayahibe Resort
White sand beach, Bayahibe

Dining Hall at Bayahibe Resort
Large, kid and adult-friendly swimming pools, as well as separate pools for adults only and kids only

{Costs of Punta Cana vs. Bayahibe}


  • SFO to Santo Domingo; avg. $600 during summer; 9.5-12 hours with 1 stop on each leg
  • SFO to Punta Cana; avg. $600 during summer; 9.5-13.5 hours with 1 stop on each leg

The drive from Santa Domingo to Bayahibe is about 2 hours so you actually save time on the inbound if you go to Punta Cana. On the outbound it’s almost a wash depending on what flights you choose.


  • Bayahibe: 5 nights at 4-star resort in summer – starting at $150/night
  • Punta Cana: 5 nights at 4-star resort in summer – starting at $230/night

The accommodations is where there’s a cost difference between the two destinations.

{How To Get to Bayahibe}

  • 80 miles from Las Americas International Airport (Santo Domingo)
  • 71 miles from Punta Cana International Airport

You can get a private transfer for $150-$200 each way or you you can rent a car at the airport for almost a week for that price. There’s a proper freeway on both routes so it won’t be difficult to drive there on that route.

I drove from Santa Domingo to Bayahibe. Aside from hitting traffic in a few places it was a smooth, 2.5 hour drive.

By the way on my second trip to the Dominican Republic, I drove from Santa Domingo to Punta Cana and it took a little over 4 hours with traffic.

{Being Vegan or Vegetarian in Bayahibe or Punta Cana}

In Bayahibe and Punta Cana most hotels and resorts are all inclusive. They all offer various packages but that’s the most convenient and common. All of the resorts have a buffet and additional restaurants that serve specific cuisine such as Indian or Italian food. Our resort in Bayahibe really came together to custom make delicious gourmet vegetarian meals for us. And they really put thought and energy into as you can see from the beautifully presented (and delicious) dish below. My last trip there was in 2010. So given how popular vegetarian and plant based diets have become and spread across the globe over the last two years I’m assuming things are even better now!

As a vegetarian I was underwhelmed with the vegetarian options in Punta Cana and also felt jipped for paying the same prices as everyone else but literally able to eat less than 1/4 of the items.

I called the resorts ahead of time and spoke to the staff when I arrived and since I was staying for 4 nights, they did have their chefs customize a couple dinners but no lunches.

Nicer resorts will work with dietary restrictions and have at least a couple options for you to select from. The Grand Palladium in Punta Cana is popular amongst vegetarians as they actually have a vegetarian as well as a gluten free menu.

You don’t have to eat your meals at the resort. There are restaurants in both towns as well.

{Safe for Solo Female Travelers?}

Yes. I’d probably go to Punta Cana next time if I was alone just to eliminate the drive to get to Bayahibe. The resort staff will hit on you, but you can expect that at any destination, not just in the DR. My tour guide in Bali tried to get me to take him back to the US with me!


This article is all about getting off the beaten path in the Dominican Republic, aka the DR. Try Bayahibe instead of Punta Cana. It has a smaller, more homey feel while still offering the same luxuries and amenities as resorts in popular Punta Cana. It attracts fewer tourists and accommodations are much less expensive while offering you beautiful white sand beaches.

It’s about a 2 hour drive from Santa Domingo or Punta Cana, so that’s a big reason why it’s less popular than it’s counterpart which has an international airport nearby.

Take some time to visit Santa Domingo. The city has a rich history, nice restaurants and war, friendly people.

{About PassportPages}

I created the PassportPages travel blog, to provide nuanced, detailed travel advice, tips, and hacks for traveling all over the world — from a unique and different perspective than the other popular travel blogs. There aren’t as many travel blogs geared towards:

  • nuanced, detailed travel tips and advice
  • vegetarians/vegan travelers
  • ethnic Americans, Canadians, and others
  • women, especially petite women

{About Samta}

When I’m not traveling and/or adventuring (and even when I am), I operate my tech startup, ShaadiShop. ShaadiShop is a marketplace for Indian-friendly wedding venues in California.

During undergrad I decided to study abroad which triggered my travel passion. I lived in Adelaide, Australia for a year and after that, for the next 10 years I spent 1-2 months each year, traveling to various destinations around the globe, on my own while I managed my direct marketing company.

I think traveling solo, prepared me to become an entrepreneur – journeying into new experiences, figuring it out as I went, self-reliance, facing your fears head on, trying new things, and so much more!

Then I decided to get a Masters in Business Administration in southern California, and I met my husband. Now we travel around the globe together and often. I love backpacks, vegetarian and vegan cooking and of course planning our next trip. I’m also kinda addicted to blueberries. =p

Check in on the blog or better yet follow PassportPages to get travel info from around the world. And definitely post your questions and comments. I love hearing from our readers! Cheers!

Samta, Founder, PassportPages


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