Punta Cana has got it all: white sandy beaches, pumping nightlife, and amazing all-inclusive resorts at every turn.
In fact, this ritzy resort town on the tip of the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in Latin America.
Why, you ask?
Because – in addition to the above highlights – there’s no shortage of fun-filled activities to enjoy. And among those, none are as exciting as the Punta Cana buggies, an automotive adventure where you take center stage.
Here’s everything you need to know about Punta Cana’s favorite pass time.
Are These The Same As All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s)?
Not at all. Even the best ATV can’t match the raw horsepower of a dune buggy. And with more power comes more fun, without compromising on safety.
Essentially, an ATV, A.K.A a quad bike, is designed to allow the user to navigate all kinds of difficult terrain. As you would expect, that’s great for offroading, but they not exactly optimized for thrills and spills.
The Disadvantages of ATV’s
ATV’s aren’t particularly well balanced, which means they’re all too easy for a novice rider to flip. Accidents often occur on even what might appear to be relatively manageable terrain.
Because ATV’s don’t have a roll cage (unlike a beach buggy), getting into an accident could cause serious injury. The vehicle could crush the rider, or worse, the rider could land on their neck.
Even if the rider manages to escape scotch-free, it’s quite likely they’ll scratch or damage their ATV in the accident. Unfortunately, some shady operators in Punta Cana and around the world overcharge tourists for repairs, aggressively extorting a fortune for what should be a minor repair job.
The other great disadvantage of ATVs is that due to their poor balance, it’s unsafe for novices to drive them at high speeds on anything but straight and flat terrain. At let’s face it, that’s the fun part.
The Advantages of Dune Buggies
Dune buggies, on the other hand, are a whole different kettle of fish. With a lower, flatter, and more streamlined design, they’re much more stable than ATV’s. As a result, they’re way harder to flip and, therefore, a lot safer than ATV’s. A roll cage and seat belt are other essential safety features.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a beginner can put the pedal to the metal from the get-go. These puppies still need to be treated with an appropriate amount of respect. They are, however, a lot more suitable for the novice who doesn’t have much experience in venturing off-road.
The other distinct advantage is that a bigger engine and a safer design means you can safely achieve a higher top speed. You’ll be flying through the backroads and sand dunes on these babies, throwing up dust in your wake.
As you can see, beach buggies are vastly superior to ATVs. Having said that, you could always just do both.
What To Expect On A Punta Cana Buggies Tour
Although private rentals are possible, most visitors to Punta Cana choose to go on an organized dune buggy tour. That way, they’ll receive expert safety and driving instruction from a qualified guide and be able to visit the best nearby spots with ease.
Tours typically cost about $80 for a 4-hour excursion, which is pretty good value for a once in a lifetime experience.
Most people choose to share their buggy with a partner or traveling companion. Of course, it is possible to ride solo as well.
You’ll be cruising along dirt roads and beaches, so expect to get all muddy and wet.
What To Bring On The Tour
Make sure you’ve got the following items with you.
- Old clothing, or clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Money for souvenirs, soft drinks or snacks
- A swimsuit and towel (most tours visit a beach or cave for a swim)
- Mosquito repellent
- A camera
Most tours leave in the morning or afternoon thus don’t include lunch. Make sure you have a decent bite to eat beforehand or bring a few snacks with you.
Who Shouldn’t Go On A Dune Buggy Tour
Pregnant women and those suffering from back problems and seizures are generally not recommended to partake in these sorts of activities.
Children are welcome, although nobody under the age of 18 is allowed to drive.
What You’ll See On A Punta Cana Dune Buggies Tour
Itineraries tend to vary depending on the company in question. Nevertheless, most roughly follow the same route.
After your hotel pickup, the tour leader will provide an in-depth safety and driving lesson. Once that’s done and dusted, you’re ready to hit the road.
Riders leave the city center to cruise the rugged Dominican countryside, passing by banana plantations and remote farmland along the way. The first stop is the El Hoyo cave complex, where an underground lake is the perfect spot for a refreshing swim.
Back on the road again, riders will pass by a working limestone mine and colorful Carribean style houses before arriving at their next destination, the crystal clear waters of Macao Beach. Kick back under the palm trees on the white sand beach or go for another swim in the idyllic turquoise water.
After navigating another labyrinth of backroads, you’ll arrive at the next stop of this 4×4 adventure – a traditional Dominican farm. Sample local produce such as coffee and cacao, or indulge in a thick Dominican cigar.
The final stretch is via a paved road through the villages of La Ciaba and Macao. Here, you’ll get to haggle for goods at a traditional market and feast or a tasty local snack or two.
From there, it’s just a short ride away from your hotel.
Booking A Tour
Stacks of companies out there sell tours for Punta Cana buggies, but not all are created equally. Some overcharge, while others provide substandard service and dangerous equipment.
For a tour company you can trust, check out TravelSearch Guru. These guys are experts in the region and only sell verified operators at competitive prices.
All that’s left to do now is rev your engines as you get set to embark on an adrenaline-pumping Punta Cana adventure.