Punta Cana or Cancun – Which Caribbean Resort is Better in 2021?

Holidays in the Caribbean – what could be better? Here will compare two popular destinations and try to answer the question – which resort is better this year: Punta Cana or Cancun? Mexico or the Dominican Republic?

At first glance, Mexico and the Dominican Republic have a lot in common: rich Indian and colonial past, Spanish culture, Christian traditions, tropical climate. But upon closer inspection, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are very different from each other.

A couple of years ago, Mexico was a serious competitor to the Dominican Republic, but now everything is different. Currently, most tourists, if they are faced with the question “Punta Cana or Cancun?”, “The Dominican Republic or Mexico?” will choose the first option. Why? Below we will tell you about the main advantages of the Dominican Republic over Mexico.

What are Punta Cana and Cancun resorts like?

Punta Cana is a resort town in the Dominican Republic, in the Higüey municipality of La Altagracia Province, the famous Coconut Coast, washed by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Punta Cana, The Dominican Republic

Punta Cana, The Dominican Republic

Cancun is one of the best resorts in Mexico on the east coast of the Riviera Maya with a tropical climate and hot average annual temperatures of about 30 degrees.

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun, Mexico

When planning a vacation and choosing a heavenly place, you want to get the most comfortable and memorable vacation. So which one to choose? Let’s compare.

Currency and prices in the DR vs Mexico

The national currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso. Money can be exchanged at banks, hotels, and exchange offices. In Mexico, tips to service personnel are highly welcome. In cafes and restaurants, it is customary to leave 10% of the order, and you can leave 2-3 dollars or more for the porter, guide, or driver, at your discretion. Fruits and vegetables are fairly cheap in Mexico, but bottled water is expensive.

The national currency in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso. In the resort areas, you can freely pay in dollars. Also, like in Mexico, it is customary to leave a tip here. Be aware that many restaurants will add 18% tax and 10% tip to your bill. In the Dominican Republic, there are also inexpensive local fruits and vegetables, but all imported products and things are very expensive.

One of the most important questions is which is more economical: the Dominican Republic or Mexico? The cost of tours in both directions is approximately the same. However, tourists claim that flights and accommodation are more expensive in Mexico.

Weather in Cancun vs Punta Cana

The climate of both resorts is close to paradise, apart from those periods of the year when there’s an “off-season”.

  • In Cancun, these are rains that begin at the end of August, but these rains are short enough and may not cause much discomfort. September is hurricane season (although, they are not as frequent as described on other resources)
  • In Punta Cana, the climate is milder and the rainy season is only from May to July, the rains are also short and heavy. The hurricane season also falls from August – September.

Beaches in Punta Cana and Cancun

Both resort towns have clean, sandy beaches that make for a good rest. There are very small flaws that cannot darken the trip. In Cancun, you can suddenly find large waves, and in Punta Cana, you get entangled in algae, which is too much on the coast.

A characteristic feature of the Dominican Republic, without a doubt, is the sophisticated palm trees along the beach. Gorgeous sunrises, beaches with soft white sand. Cancun also has beautiful white, wide beaches, however, there may be more tourists on them.

Mexican vs Caribbean Food

  • According to tourists, delicious food can be found both in Cancun and in Punta Cana. Cancun serves traditional Mexican cuisine – quesadillas, burritos, tacos.
  • In Punta Cana, they prepare national dishes based on rice, legumes, and seafood. Goat is preferred among other kinds of meat because of its inexpensive price. The most popular product – bananas, which locals can cook in any form, including fried or as an addition to the main dish.

Dominican & Mexico Nature

Mexico occupies a fairly large territory and has many climatic zones. Due to this, the natural world of Mexico is very diverse. There are humid subtropical forests, desert zones, and mountainous regions, where, near the snowy peaks, the landscape is very reminiscent of the alpine regions. On the territory of Mexico, there are 58 parks and biosphere reserves, which are home to a wide variety of exotic fauna.

Although the Dominican Republic is much smaller in area than Mexico, nature here is extremely diverse. As you move from the coast to the center of the island, 12 climatic zones can be seen. The island has rainforests, pine forests, bamboo thickets, desert regions with cacti and thorny bushes. There are even dwarf forests in the highlands of the central part of the country.

Here you can see waterfalls, bays, lagoons, caves, salt lakes, and mountain rivers. On the territory of the Dominican Republic, there are several dozen reserves with unique, including endemic plants. The big advantage of the Dominican Republic is that the distances between various natural attractions are relatively short, from 1 to 5 hours drive.

Attractions in Mexico vs the DR

Attractions in Mexico

The history of Mexico is unusually rich, so it will be extremely interesting for lovers of historical sights. Much of Mexico’s historical heritage dates back to the heyday of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. Tourists are invited to visit the ancient cities of the Indians.

The sacred places, and amazing pyramids, shrouded in many mysteries and legends. The Yucatan Peninsula, which is considered the cradle of the Mayan civilization, has many archaeological sites, including Uxmal, Merida, and the famous Chichen Itza. In addition to historical excursions, Mexico has a good selection of active entertainment – diving, snorkeling, and surfing are popular in all Mexican resorts.

Attractions in the DR

The history of the Dominican Republic is far from being as rich as the Mexican one. But it was here that one of the largest events in the history of the American Continent took place – the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. On a historical excursion to Santo Domingo, you can hear a story about the amazing and mysterious events of that era, as well as see with your own eyes the first European city in America.

Although there is only one historical excursion on the island, the choice of active entertainment is unusually rich. The Dominican Republic is visited by divers, surfers, cavers, rafting, and trekking enthusiasts. From less extreme sports, trips around the country on buggies, jeeps or quads, paragliding, helicopter, small airplane and hot air ballooning, various eco-tours, horseback riding, and, of course, boat trips, yachts, and catamarans are popular here.

But the main highlight of the Dominican Republic is the mating season of large humpback whales, which come to Samana Bay every year. Whale watching is the highest tourist season in the Dominican Republic.

Excursions Comparison

  • Mexico is a country rich in history and sights. In Cancun, excursions are varied and interesting – the Mayan pyramids, swimming with whale sharks, the ruins of El Rey, underground caves and cenotes, colonial cities. Places like this allow you to soak up ancient culture and feel the spirit of Mexico.
  • In the Dominican Republic, excursions are mainly aimed at exploring the natural corners of the islands, eco-tours – it’s about Punta Cana.

Conclusion – Which tourist destination is better?

If you need to make a choice in favor of one country, then:

  • Choose Cancun, Mexico if you like multi-day historical excursions. It’s long journeys around the country, and are not going to save on vacation.
  • Choose Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic if you love nature and active entertainment. If your style is an all-inclusive vacation, luxury private rest, and paradise white beaches with turquoise water.

Wherever you go – Punta Cana or Cancun – great beaches, a comfortable tropical climate, and generous Caribbean sunshine await you!

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