80° BY THE SEA
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As the sun rises in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana awakens to the lapping ocean—clear, unspoiled blue brushing up against the pristine stretches of sugar-white sand, with swaying coco palms in the backdrop. A thriving tourism industry fuels the region, and with such plentiful ingredients as sun, sand, and sea, it's no wonder.
The larger area known as Punta Cana encompasses Cabeza de
Torres, Playa Bávaro, and continues all the way around the peninsula to Playa de Uvero Alto. Development continues in Galerias Punta-Cana Village, a shopping center that is a draw for visitors from around the area. A new Four Points by Sheraton just opened across from the area and is the only "airport" hotel in the region. Each hotel has its own strip of sand with rows of chaise longues, and most of these resorts will arrange in advance for day passes. The stretch between Club Med and the Puntacana Resort & Club is one of the most beautiful. Playa El Cortecito is more how life used to be, with fishermen bringing in their catch, and it is where the crazy restaurant Capitan Cook's is located. Farther north along the coast is a stretch of beach known as Arena Gorda, literally "fat sand." About 32 km (20 miles) from Punta Cana International Airport, it's an area brimming with coconut groves and the location of several resorts. Macao is a pastoral village, but its public beach is no longer a good option, having first been taken over by four-wheeler excursions and now dominated by the huge Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.