Punta Cana is part of the newly Punta Cana-Bavaro-Veron-Macao municipal district in La Altagracia, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area is best known for its beaches, which face both the Caribbean and Atlantic, and it has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970s. The Punta Cana area has an estimated population of 100,000 with a growth rate of 6%. To the north, it borders the village and beach of Cabeza de Toro, and then the Bávaro and El Cortecito beaches. The nearest city, the 500-year-old capital of the Province Higüey, is 45 kilometres (28 mi) away, and it takes about an hour to drive there. Europeans, particularly Spanish hotel chains, own all but two of the 50+ megaresorts of the Punta Cana tourism destination.
Punta Cana-Bavaro's resorts show a eclectic variety of architecture and interior design inspired by Spanish, Mexican, and native Dominican cultures. Areas bordering Punta Cana include Cap Cana to the south and the original tiny fishing-village of Cabo San Rafael. A 100 metres (330 ft) high cliff is located more to the south, near of Boca de Yuma town, a fishing village dated from the 16th century. Nearby, you can find the Ponce de Leon's Fortress, in San Rafael del Yuma town. This is one of the most isolated area within the La Altagracia Province though.
The province's 100 kilometres (62 mi) coastline tends to be mildly windy. The ocean waters are mainly shallows, with several natural marine pools in which visitors can bathe without any danger.
North to South the main beaches are: Uvero Alto, Macao, Arena Gorda, Bávaro, El Cortecito - all north of the cape - and Cabeza de Toro, Cabo Engaño, Punta Cana, Juanillo - south of the cape.
Bávaro is an area starting from Cabeza de Toro until Macao Beach. As the hotels started to rise along the East coast, Bavaro itself became a center of services with shopping malls, fast-food stores, drug stores, fine restaurants, banks, clinics, workshops, supermarkets, and schools. The major town in the district is Veron, now bigger than Higuey in territory, an espontaneus -and poor- urban development running along the original road from the west. Veron, last name of the French propietor of a timberline business in the early 30s, is now the base-city for hotel workers and related. It has, besides Bavaro, one of the only three gas stations in Punta Cana. The very next is located 48 kilometres (30 mi) west in Higuey, at the Fruisa crossroads, with a new Texaco gas station now under construction 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) south of Macao beach.
The Punta Cana International Airport is one of the busiest and best connected airports in the Caribbean. In 2008, Punta Cana received 3,758,109 passengers, making it the busiest airport in the country. The airport serves more passengers than the Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo. Grupo Puntacana built the Punta Cana International Airport in 1984 to facilitate tourism in the area. It was the world's first privately owned international airport. In late 2009, the airport will have a US Customs preclearance station, which will allow passengers to clear customs and immigration before boarding a direct flight to the USA. Precleared flights can land at domestic terminals in the US