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The rates given are only for your general guidance. In all candor, we must confess that no one actually pays these so-called rack rates. Guests book into the all-inclusives on some sort of deal, package or otherwise. The prices given can change within the week, if management, even in the dead of high season (winter), decides that business is slow and they want to lure more business by slashing prices.

In other words, prices along La Costa del Coco, unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean, change from week to week. Charges, incidentally, are always lower when purchased from an agent overseas. If you show up without a reservation seeking a room, you'll be charged about twice as much.

The Non-All-Inclusives

The all-inclusives, as we've previewed, dominate the Coconut Coast. Because of the crazy and ever-changing rate structure, and because of all the deals and the decision of management to suddenly slash prices to get business, you might call any of the all-inclusives a budget deal if you get in on the right price.

This bargain-basement price slashing has severely limited truly charming little inns that might flourish here in a different economy. There are some low-rent dives, including boardinghouses and even private homes for those wanting to escape the curse of the all-inclusive.

Nearly all the hotels along the Punta Cana beachfront want to book you in on an all-inclusive rate -- that is, food and drink included in one price. There are a few that do not insist on this requirement. But even at some of these establishments, breakfast and dinner are included, or else you can ask to be quoted a fee that includes meals.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.