Captain Cewil is back with some top Punta Cana Shopping tips for fashionistas, drunken sailors, art connoisseurs and anybody and everybody who would like to haggle.
Some time back, the Dominican Republic’s Secretary of Tourism used a campaign slogan that said, “The Dominican Republic has it all.” Well, I can tell you that not only does my country have it all, so, too, does my beloved Punta Cana!
Punta Cana is a top international beach destinations and one of the favorite vacation spots in the entire Caribbean. And this little piece of tropical paradise is always ready to receive the thousands of international visitors who find their home away from home!
Of course, whenever you go on vacation sooner or later the time comes when you want to go shopping. Whether to take a break from the sun, look for some local deals or shop for souvenirs for loved ones back home, it’s always a good to have some ideas about where to go.
Here are my ideas for the 7 best places to shop in Punta Cana.
Don Lucas Cigar Shop | Mundo Autentico
When people think of the world’s best cigars, they often consider another Caribbean island, Cuba, to be the home of the real “puro”. Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic also produces some of the finest handmade cigars you will ever try. The Don Lucas Cigar Shop, whose cigars were ranked among the top 12 cigar brands in the Dominican Republic by both Golf & Travel Magazine and Hunting Magazine, is well worth a visit. Founded in 1992 with only two cigar makers, today the shop has more than 45 employees on its production line. The shop also includes the Mundo Autentico or Authentic World store, which sells products such as ambar, rum, coffee, cacao and larimar as well as arts & crafts.
Bella Mare / La Mare Museum & Store
Like Mundo Autentico, these two one-stop shops are great places to go all things Dominican at fixed prices. But what makes Bella Mare and La Mare really stand out are their outstanding collections of fine stones. For instance, a visit to either of these stores by the same owner will not only educate you about ambar resin and the precious larimar stone, which can only be found in the Dominican Republic; you will also find some beautiful pieces of authentic Dominican jewelry. This is also a great place to shop for faceless dolls.
Pirate Rum Factory
Agrrrrrr you ready for some rrrrrum? Few products are as representative of the Caribbean flavor as rum. And few Caribbean rums are as flavorful as those you will find in the Dominican Republic. This fun and rum-filled tour will share some of the secrets of this tasty spirit—mixed with fresh tropical fruits—which also happens to be poured in wonderfully crafted hand-painted bottles. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Taino museum dedicated to the people who inhabited the island at the time Christopher Colombus made his fateful arrival. Cheers!
Palma Real Shopping Village
Ever wondered what a shopping mall in the Caribbean is like? Palma Real Shopping Village is your chance to find out! Here you will find anything and everything. See the latest films at the movie theater, shop for shoes or clothes, check out the prices on jewelry and accessories, get a haircut or simply hang out and do some people watching Caribbean style.
San Juan Shopping Center
San Juan Shopping Center is the comercial center of Punta Cana for tourists and locals alike. Banks, supermarkets, stylists, souvenirs, drinks and, of course, delicious Dominican food. And not only will you find a little bit of everything at San Juan, you can also take time away from the beach while you enjoy a fun shopping experience.
Bi2JH2O Flea Market
Aren’t you even going to haggle? A visit to this colorful flea market is a whole different experience than the traditional shops, but one well worth the trip. Vendors, vendors and more vendors will be with you every step of the way to try and get your business. Here you will find a variety of wood carvings, authentic paintings, pieces of ambar, clothes and much, much more. Just remember, always haggle. It’s part of the game and, while not always appropriate everywhere, here it is an essential part of the experience.
To make your visit to this market more enjoyable, consider these bartering tips:
- Be kind. Be polite. The vendors, like you and me, are human beings trying to make ends meet. While you may feel uncomfortable at first, put yourself in their shoes and consider how difficult it may be to be successful in such a competitive place and surviving on such a low income.
- Have a look around when you arrive and see what everyone is selling. Stake out the market and decide which items you are truly interested in and who has them.
- You’ll be approached by a lot of people asking you in to their store or to look at their goods. Just smile, says “muchas gracias” and continue whatever you are doing, calm and unperturbed.
- If possible, only ask the price if you are serious about making a purchase. Of course, if you are going to compare prices it’s important that you ask more than one vendor to try and get a price that is fair to both you and the person who is selling the item.
- As a rule of thumb, start bartering about 50% below the asking price. Don’t worry, at first you’ll surely get an incredulous look as if you had a lot of nerve to go so low, but this is where the fun begins.
- As everywhere, even if it is the vast majority, some people can still be rude. If you feel uncomfortable, just move on. There are many nice people who would love to sell you their work.
Need assistance for your next shopping tour or the latest Punta Cana tips? Don’t hesitate to contact the Amstar representative at your resort or call or write us for more information.
Have you already been to Punta Cana? Tell us about your favorite place to shop!