Punta Cana airport
Updated November 2015
The Punta Cana International airport is the busiest in the Dominican Republic and one of the most advanced in the Caribbean region. Its original design with thatched palm roofs and open to the sides, borrows from local culture, and blends with the immediate environment. Ceiling fans and a welcoming breeze help cool the interior.
In 2014, a new international terminal was built to meet growing traffic demands. The airport is located south of the westernmost cape of the island, Punta Cana (which translates as Cana Point; “cana” could be a corrupted form of “caña” de azúcar, sugar cane, referring to the region’s abundant fields, or possibly to the palm fronds used in the area for thatching roofs). As most of the luxury hotels are in the area of Bavaro, on the north coast bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, the location of the airport minimizes the air traffic noise that could otherwise affect the tranquillity of tourists.
There are four terminals. Two are used for private planes, one of which is dedicated to clients of the Punta Cana Resort, belonging to Grupo PUNTACANA, the owners of this private airport. The new terminal, Terminal B, could not be more different from the now, older and renamed Terminal A. It is a modern 3-storey structure designed for the convenience of passengers. Unlike Terminal A where passengers embark and disembark with the aid of portable steps and have to walk along the tarmac to, and from, the aircraft, the new structure has jet bridges extending to the planes’ doors. Terminal B supplements the old terminal that will continue operations. It adds a further 50 check-in counters, fully air-conditioned interior, and more shopping and catering facilities
On arrival, before passport control, if you do not need a visa (please, see our main page for Visa requirements), but have not purchased the obligatory “Tourist Card”, back home, through the Dominican Republic Consulate (or your Travel Agent) you must go to the appropriate Immigration counter to buy one for each passenger - even babies are included. The cost is US $10 that must be paid in American currency. For those coming from Britain, note that the current cost of the card through the Consulate is £10 plus return postage if needed, making it over 50% more expensive that on arrival.
However, the best option is to purchase the card online from the official Government site : simple, and economical.
Before proceeding to passport control you must fill in the “Tourist Cards”. After having your passport stamped, a copy of the card must be kept as it is needed on departure, or you will have to buy another one… The new Terminal has a currency exchange counter in the arrivals area, allowing you to change money, should you need it, to purchase your tourist card.
You will then, as expected, be allowed to the baggage area to wait for, and collect, your luggage off the revolving conveyor belts.
The queue for “Tourist Cards” is often long, but you can bypass it by arranging for the VIP service that will whisk you through all the airline and official formalities. Passengers are met as they disembark and are accompanied to their awaiting tour operator representatives, their vehicles, or taxi rank.
There is an extra charge for this service of $75.00 per person, or $60, if party is of 3 or more. It is also available for departing passengers, who will have access to a private lounge before embarking. The cost is $125 for up to 2 people, and $100 per person thereafter. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance. Should you be interested, use this email address.
Please, keep your copy of the Tourist Card safely, as you will need it on departure. Bear in mind that there is a departure tax of $20, which is often included in the airfare: check with the airline.
Most arriving passengers have arranged their transfers through their tour operator, or the hotel, which avoids the uncertainty of local customs, or of the seriousness of strange drivers. However, if no transport has been booked in advance, taxis can be found outside the terminals. There is an official price list for the various destinations, which all drivers have in the vehicle. Ask for it and agree the fare before you set off. The fare can be paid in either local currency or US dollars (Usually, Sterling, Euros, and Canadian Dollars are also accepted). Expect to pay around US$30 to US$40 for the Bavaro beach hotels, featured in our Punta Cana web-page.
The major local taxi companies are Beron Taxi and Siutratural identified by stickers in the windows of the cars and the colour of the driver's shirts (beige for the first, and pink for the other). They have an established reputation of being safe and reliable. Besides, if you want to pre-book a transfer, Dominican Plus has had very good reviews and their services can be arranged online.
For those on a budget and looking for adventure, local buses, the “guaguas”, (see section on local transportation) operate along the highway in the vicinity of the airport (around 4 minutes’ walk) to most destinations. They are cheap (from around 30 cents), but can be very full, and their condition often casts doubts on their safety. Besides, you may have to change buses in order to reach your destination, with the consequent and uncertain wait between services.
Shopping and Catering
Both terminals have a number of catering outlets, mostly with an American chain flavour (Baskin Robbins, Wendy’s, Nathan's Hot Dogs, etc.). Prices for food and drinks average what you would pay at major foreign international airports, rather than reflect the Dominican Republic economy. Expect to pay $4 dollars for a bottle of water and a little more for a beer.
The so called “duty-free shops” offers a range of international and domestic wares, which tend to be more expensive than the equivalent purchased outside the airport.
You might do better to walk across the road to the “Supermercado Nacional" (open daily from 8am to 9pm, except Sundays:9am to 6pm).
There are ATM’s at the airport located on the second floor of the new terminal, near the check-in counters. There is a currency exchange counter located before customs, and these counters are also found on the second floor.
Free Wi-Fi zones are available in most areas of the airport, especially in the new Terminal B. It has also many sockets for recharging electronic gadgets.
All hotels in the Punta Cana/Bavaro areas, featured in our Punta Cana web-page are 10 to 30 minutes from the airport, while located right on beach. Although they are All-Inclusive hotels, they also offer Room Only rates. If you prefer to stay within walking distance from the airport terminals, and away from the beach, then the 4-star "Four Points by Sheraton" would be a good choice.
Left luggage facilities are available at the airport.