Punta Cana VS Jamaica – Where to Spend your Caribbean Vacation?

Every year, people choosing the Caribbean for their vacation face a difficult choice: Punta Cana or Jamaica. Without a doubt, these are one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. Also, we specifically chose Punta Cana, not the Dominican Republic as a whole, since this is the most visited area by tourists.

Blue skies with a burst of sunshine all year round, great views, turquoise waters – you will find it all in both directions. But behind all this, there are unique features that are inherent in each of the countries. And to understand what you like best, we wrote this article, highlighting the most important points.

General information about both destinations

An interesting fact that unites these two locations is the number of tourists who come here every year. Well, Jamaica recorded about 4.2 million international visitor arrivals in 2019. Punta Cana has the same amount of visitors. Moreover, we remind you that this is only in Punta Cana and not in the Dominican Republic as a whole. So, it makes the DR a more popular holiday destination.

Punta Cana

The Dominican Republic is the second-largest country in the Caribbean by area and third-largest by population. And Punta Cana is a resort town. It is one of the most popular destinations among tourists and the most visited than any other area in the Caribbean region. There is the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Also, the Dominican Republic has more than 2400 named mountains.

Punta Cana

Punta Cana

Jamaica

Jamaica is the third-largest island country in the Greater Antilles. It has a location on the Caribbean Sea and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The northeastern coast is washed out by the ocean. Only eight percent of the country has mountains, and the other part of it is covered by land and water. There are also about 345 named mountains.

Jamaica also has a rich history. Christopher Columbus, the European explorer, landed in Jamaica in 1494. He had heard about the country and called it Xaymaca because Cubans described it as “the land of blessed gold”. Despite this, Columbus later found that there was no gold there. The name of the country from the Arawak language literally translates as “land of wood and water”.

Jamaica

Jamaica

The beach life in Jamaica & Punta Cana

Popular Jamaica beaches

Probably lots of people thinking about Jamaica imagine sun, beaches, Rastafarian lifestyle, reggae, and Jamaican singer – Bob Marley. There is no lie that this country has its own unique vibe. Jamaica has beautiful beaches, where crystalline and swim-friendly shallow waters. The island hosts many music festivals, and you can also listen to the local music on the beaches from pubs and restaurants.

  •  Seven Mile Beach. Without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica. It is located in Negril, which is a popular destination on the island. The beach has a range of all-inclusive hotels and many restaurants and bars.
  • Sandals Montego Bay Beach. When you come to this beach, you will not be disappointed. It is always clean and well maintained. But we should note that this beach is private.
  • Bloody Bay. It is a perfect place for water excursions, especially if you want to rent kayaks. Many snorkeling trips and cruises leave from Bloody Bay.

Popular Punta Cana beaches

Now let’s move on to Punta Cana. It is important to note that this is a beach-oriented location. Here you can relax and unwind to the fullest. Punta Cana is famous for its beaches because they have white and soft sand and turquoise waters. Dominicans are always friendly and smiling, so you will love their hospitality. Many luxury hotels and apartments are located in Punta Cana, and their resort standards are comparable to those of the United States.

  • Bavaro Beach (Playa Bavaro). It is the most popular beach in Punta Cana. On this beach, you feel like you are in an advertisement for “Bounty”. Also, many water excursions leave from this dreamy beach.
  • Macao Beach (Playa Macao). This is one of the locals’ favorite. And believe us, they know a lot about it because they have visited more than one beach.
  • Playa Blanca. It is a heartbreaking white-sandy beach. To get to its territory, you need to go to the Playa Blanca Restaurant or take water sports lessons on the beach.

Excursions in Punta Cana vs Jamaica

Since these two countries are in the Caribbean, there is nothing to argue about their beauty. Accordingly, any excursion that you take, you will remember for something unique.

Punta Cana Excursions

Punta Cana is widely known for its paradise beaches, so it is simply impossible to do without a beach excursion being here. What could be better than a beach excursion? Our answer is an excursion where you can culturally enrich yourself. You can take Saona Island and Altos de Chavon excursion.

It is a perfect opportunity to visit two places at once. Saona Island amazes with its beauty,  it is also a government-protected nature reserve. And Altos de Chavon is a replica 16th century of a Mediterranean-style European village of the Dominican countryside. This place will help you immerse yourself in the Dominican culture even more.

Jamaica Excursions

Jamaica has many unique plants and birds. For example, the doctor bird or swallow tail humming bird lives only in Jamaica. Also, we highly recommend that you take a guided hike to the Blue Mountains. Moreover, on a clear day, the outline of the island of Cuba can be seen. If you like coffee, you probably heard about Blue Mountain coffee.

This Jamaican coffee is grown on the Blue Mountain, which makes it the world’s highest mountain-grown coffee. This coffee is handpicked and has high quality. That is why it is considered one of the most expensive in the world. Therefore, hiking in this area with such a history is getting even better.

Authentic souvenirs from both destinations

When visiting the Caribbean, you will probably want to shop for some famous local goods before you leave home. And these two countries have plenty of souvenirs to offer. So, let’s take a look.

Dominican souvenirs

  • Rum. The Dominican Republic is known for its high-quality rum exports. The taste is “smoother”, because of the natural process of distillation and aging, that is why rum has a unique flavor.
  • Cigars. Dominican cigars have a reputation as some of the finest in the world. They have a unique flavor, and the Dominican Republic is also home to the most popular cigars in the world.
  • Coffee. Dominican coffee ranked as one of the best in the world. There are many specific areas where coffee is grown, and arabica beans are grown here the most.
  • Cocoa. Well, the quality of chocolate depends on a high-quality bean. The Dominican Republic is one of the best cocoa producers and exporters. Some of the world’s best chocolate use its cocoa.
  • Mama Juana. It is a traditional Dominican drink made by infusing red wine, a mixture of rum, and honey with tree bark and herbs. It is also considered a healthy drink that improves blood circulation, relieves nasal congestion and flu symptoms. Read more about souverirs from the DR.

Jamaica Souvenirs

  • Appleton Rum. Surely rum lovers know about the famous Jamaican rum. In local bars, you can taste a variety of cocktails with it. In addition, the island takes credit for its most expensive rum in the world that cost US$ 54 000. But, of course, you can find something cheaper and bring it home.
  • Blue Mountain Coffee. It is grown in the Blue Mountains, which are the highest in the Caribbean. The coffee is handpicked. It is also one of the rarest coffees in the world. So, probably that is why it can be pricey. But undoubtedly, this is one of the best that you can bring from the island.
  • Jamaican cold-pressed coconut oil. This oil may have good effects on your health. It can be used for body health, hair, and skincare.
  • Red Stripe beer. It is the best-known local beer. Red Stripe often associates its brand with music in marketing campaigns.
  • Jerk sauce. Well, it is not a secret that Jamaicans adore spicy food. Accordingly, they can live without this sauce. Once you have tasted this sauce, you will want to take it home with you. This sauce adds to different kinds of meat, and it tastes so good.

Safety in Punta Cana vs Jamaica

Here we want to point out that if you prefer a beach holiday where you do not leave your resort, then both destinations are completely safe. It is also necessary to follow all the recommendations of your travel agent or hotel administration before traveling. You should also not walk alone in places unknown to you at night.

But if we talk about criminal cases, then Punta Cana is safer. The safety scale in Punta Cana is 56.28%, and in Negril (the most popular destination among tourists in Jamaica) is 41.18% (according to numbeo.com).

The safety of walking alone during the night in Punta Cana is 50%, and in Negril is 38%. The crime index in Punta Cana is 43.72, this index is lower than in New York, USA, and almost the same as in Berlin, Germany. The crime index in Negril is higher – 58.82, which is almost the same as in Dehli, India. When walking in crowded places or outside a resort be careful with your belongings.

So, if you are not one of those who like to go to unknown places and look for dangerous adventures – you have nothing to worry about because it is safe in the protected tourist areas. Just keep your belongings with you and keep an eye on your expensive stuff.

Is it safe to swim in both destinations?

Well, it is safe if you take into account all the recommendations. In Punta Cana, there are no sharks. Why? Because the coast is surrounded by a coral reef. So, it makes a natural barrier for sharks. Probably, it is almost impossible to meet them in the water while swimming, but in any case, it is necessary to keep your eyes open.

Also, most of the time there is calm water on the beaches, without rough waves. There is also soft sand without rocks and shells. That is why it is perfect for swimming and spending time on beaches in Punta Cana.

What about Jamaica? Usually, water is calm. But many beaches have sharp coral and rocks, to avoid injury, we advise you to wear a pair of water shoes. Continuing our conversation about sharks, there is also a coral reef that protects the island from them. That is why it is very difficult to meet a shark close to the shore. There are sharks in Jamaica, but to a greater extent, they are not aggressive unless provoked.

The last attack was decades ago. And those attacks were in deep water far away from the reef. More likely you can see jellyfish and sea urchins there. But a good thing, that most of the hotels have workers who remove them, from the water. Also, since water in Negril is mostly calm, surfing is not as common. There are also rocky cliffs, so there are no perfect conditions for surfing.

The language comparison

  • Well, the official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. The population of the country is over 10 million, and more than 85% speak the official language. This language is in the top 5 most used languages in the world. But despite this, Dominicans speak Dominican Spanish. So, it means that if you know regular Spanish, you probably will not understand Dominicans 100 percent. But within the resort, you will have no problems with communication in English. Read more about languages in the DR.
  • The population of Jamaica is about 3 million people. The official language is English, so it makes it easier for English-speaking tourists to communicate with locals. Jamaica is considered a bilingual country where Jamaican English and Jamaican Patois are the most widely spoken languages. But anyway, the majority of the population speak Jamaican Patois. It is a creole language, that is made up of an English superstrate and African substrate.

The weather in Punta Cana and Jamaica

  • The warmest months in Jamaica are May, June, July, August, and September. The temperature does not drop below 24 °C (75.2 °F) at night. The warmest month in Punta Cana are July, August, September. The temperature does not drop below 25 °C (77 °F) at night.
  • The coldest months in Punta Cana are – January, February, and March. The average temperature is about 26 – 27 °C (78.8 – 80.6 °F). And the coldest months in Jamaica are January and February. The average temperature is about 27 °C (82 °F).
  • The rainiest months in Punta Cana are August, September, and October. The rainy season in Jamaica is from April to October, these months are hot and muggy. There are two peaks in May and October.
  • The windy season in Punta Cana is from December to March. In Jamaica, the windiest months are November, December, January, February, and March.
  • In Punta Cana, there is March with the lowest temperature. The average water temperature is about 26.2 °C (79.2 °F). The water temperature in Jamaica does not drop below 27 °C (80.6 °F). You can get more information in this article about the best time to visit Punta Cana.

So, what is better – Punta Cana or Jamaica?

As can be seen, both destinations attract to visit them. They have stunning beaches, warm weather all year round, crystal clear water. They have the same climate, similar resorts, incredibly beautiful tropical nature. But despite all this, they differ from each other. So, let’s summarize what we discussed in detail above in the article.

  • Firstly, Punta Cana is best known for its stunning white-sandy beaches with turquoise water. So, if you want to get a huge dose of relaxation – the Dominican republic is your perfect option. Punta Cana is more resort-oriented. That is why, if you just want to have a good rest and not worry about anything, we advise you to visit Punta Cana. In addition, your vacation here will be cheaper than in Jamaica in terms of hotels, restaurants, and other activities. If we compare the beaches, then in Punta Cana they are better. Also, it is better for water sports, since there are no many right conditions, for example, for surfing in Jamaica. Punta Cana is more relaxed than busy Jamaica.
  • Secondly, Jamaica is also a great place for your trip, it surprises you with its uniqueness. It has unique history and culture. That is why it is interesting to visit the island, about the history of which we have heard a lot. The birthplace of Bob Marley and reggae music – let’s not argue that the world-famous culture of Jamaica wins by this criterion. We should note that the official language here is English, so there will be no language barrier for most tourists. This is also the perfect place for outdoor activities. So, if you are a fan of a more relaxed holiday, then this is about Punta Cana. But if you love mountain hiking, the Blue Mountains of Jamaica is a good option for you. Jamaica also provides the best variety of its national cuisine. This island has a more active and party-oriented atmosphere, while Punta Cana is more family-oriented.

We have also prepared a small table with highlights for comparison.

Summary comparison of both destinations

Punta Cana Jamaica
High season From October to April From December to February
Beaches Clean beaches with white and soft sand. Usually, water is calm There are variations from rocky cliffs to white-sand beach
Prices Price are mostly lower Prices are mostly higher
Water sports It is possible doing windsurfind, kitesurfing etc. The most famous beach for surfers is Macao Beach It is not as common, because there are not always good conditions. The best month for surfing are December & March, July & September
Type of vacation More relaxed and family-oriented More active and cultural-oriented

We hope that our article helped you with a choice, or perhaps you would like to visit both countries. Anyway, contact us if you want to have a great experience in the Dominican Republic. We guarantee that by booking accommodation and excursions with us, you will have an unforgettable trip. Our company has properties only in secure and private areas. We will provide you with complete freedom of actions and privacy. No time to hesitate about your trip, our team looks forward to welcoming you to sunny Punta Cana!

Some of our apartments (view all properties)

Some of our villas (view all properties)

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