One might think that the best part of Punta cana are the beaches and resorts, however, there is a little hidden forest with fresh water pools and an incredibly knowledgeable and charming guide that took my breath away.
I love nature and I could appreciate true unspoiled nature in this reserve. Yes, there is lots of pretty landscaping at the resorts, however it is mostly fake (the golf-course like grass for example). At Indigenous Eyes (Ojos Indigenos) you can see and learn about the trees, plants, birds and animals that are local and brought in from overseas (with the colonization) but that are basically existing undisturbed there and in their natural surroundings. If you go, get the guide Christian. Without him you will not be able to truly understand this very unique dry jungle. He will explain how the incredible fresh water lakes formed and you will even be invited to jump and swim into one. Don't be startled by the seemingly at arm's length bottom. It is much deeper than it looks. Personally, i have never seen such crystal clean turquoise water and swimming in it felt amazing. There were turtles and fish and beautiful coral rocks. In fact, the whole forest is basically growing out of coral. There are ancient medicinal trees that Christian pointed out (almost extinct) that the Tainos used for blood clotting and other healing and that were cut to near extinction by the colonialists. The foundation that manages the forest is working on some interesting projects, including recovering the growth of these trees, the coral reef and a type of rare Iguana that inhabits the forest.
The location of the forest is a little tricky to find. You have to go into the Punta Cana hotel and resorts property next to the Aeropuerto and the keep driving and following the signs. Visit Playa Blanca on the way back- a very sweet secluded white sand beach with a shnazzy bar/restaurant.