DR off the beaten path
The nearest city to Punta Cana is pretty much Higuey, its about 45 mins drive, I havent visited in some time so time may change. Outside of the resort area things are nice and calm. IN Higuey, there is the Basilica de Higuey, which is cathedral, but i wouldnt really call the city a tourist attraction
I am pretty sure you have heard of the Marinarium, Manati Park , and Dolphin Island, which are water attractions.
if you like history you may find Ponce de Leon House which is in San Rafael de Yuma and he used to live there, but I have never been here So i dont know whats there, and I am not sure if it is the best place to attend as a tourist with limited language skills.
if you do travel an hour you will enter the Province of La Romana, I will be quick, search around.
Altos de Chavon is a beautiful old city, with great views.
if you like nature, then theres the Los Haitises National Park and there is caves, and pre-Colombian drawings, really nice.
if you like flower, PlantaciÃ³n Tropical seems as a nice option, but it is farther away
also your hotel may offer some excursions with tour people and etc, you should also give that a look.
sorry if i did not help as much, I dont visit that part of the country that much.
Arededor de mi Quisqueya Trip 2014
A good road map is essential and the internet is full of sites and stories from travelers. As JYF said, all those places are interesting but some are tourist traps and very expensive. Go and spend the day in HigÃ¼ey or venture further to La Romana (Casa de Campo is a good choice to stay if you have the money!), like jyf says Altos de Chavon is a recreation of a medieval town with nice views and atractions.
But the best of all when in La Romana is to take a one day package (all inclusive:food, drinks, boat)and visit Isla Saona. That by itself will be enough to remember for the rest of your live.
If you feel really adventurous you can visit the sugar mill Bateyes (a Batey is where the Haitians live) or you can go to San Pedro de Macoris and ask where to eat the best Pasteles en hoja (right across the central park). It's up to you. Plan carefully because public transportation is not 24/7. Be careful and follow your common sense: ask the natives about your safety before you walk the streets, specially at night. You can contract a taxi but you'll have to agree on the price after consulting with a trusted local.
Don't pay in advance and be informed.
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