The Dominican Republic is not an island, but half of the island Hispaniola in the Caribbean (the other half is Haiti). It’s easy to reach from the United States, and is under two hours by plane from Miami. The country offers opulent rainforests and beautiful waterfalls, as well as crystal clear turquoise waters and a rich history. It’s easy to visit the Dominican Republic with kids because it truly has something for everyone.
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Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic
Some all-inclusive Dominican Republic family resorts we recommend:
- Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana – Amazing property for families. Has swim-up suites and suites that sleep up to 5. The property has a water park, waterslides, a kids club and teens club, daily entertainment, and activities. There are five on-site restaurants, a coffee shop, and even a food truck. Plus a fitness center and spa! You’ll never want to leave!
- Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana – A great choice for families with younger kids as the hotel is Nickelodeon themed. Think Sponge Bob wandering the property, rooms designed with Nick in mind (there’s even a Pineapple Villa), and live game shows. Kids will love Aqua Nick waterpark and Club Nick. Some rooms are swim-up suites, while others have private plunge pools. It’s a very popular resort in Dominican Republic.
- Bahia Principe Fantastica Punta Cana -This resort has everything you would expect from an all-inclusive property. There are five restaurants, six bars, a fitness center, spa, water park, and kids club. Junior suites will sleep a family of 5.
Family friendly things to do in the Dominican Republic
1. Stay at an all-inclusive resort
If you’re looking for an unforgettable family vacation, consider staying at an all-inclusive resort. Kids and adults alike will enjoy unlimited food and drinks.
Most resorts offer daily activities and evening entertainment for the whole family. The majority will have a kids club that young children will enjoy. Parents can spend time on the golf courses or at the spa, or simply spend time at the beach. Older kids will love relaxing at the resort’s swimming pools and beautiful beaches. Who doesn’t love an all-inclusive resort?
One of the great things about the Dominican Republic is that there are so many inclusive resorts to choose from. You can find luxurious adults-only resorts or family friendly resorts when bringing the kids.
2. Spend the Day at Isla Saona
You know those postcard images you think of when you think of the Dominican Republic? Isla Soana is where you will find exactly this. For all beach lovers, Isla Soana is what dreams are made of.
This is a secluded tropical island with white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. There are plenty of tours available from the mainland. We recommend a guided premium excursion that includes food and beverage.
Keep in mind that if you opt to take a public boat that leaves from Bayahibe daily at 9am. Pack some towels, drinks, and a picnic lunch and you’ll have the perfect day at the beach.
3. Swim at Bavaro Beach
Bavaro Beach is the main stretch of beach in Punta Cana. It’s one of the best beaches in the area. Bavaro stretches more than 30 miles and is made up of several smaller beaches.
Many of the all inclusive family resorts in Punta Cana are located on this beach. There are also several public entry points, so everyone is welcome to use them. This is a great place to take the kids for an enjoyable day at the beach.
Bavaro Beach has soft white sand and clear blue water; any beach lover’s dream. It offers a wide array of water sports including swimming, snorkeling, or parasailing. You can also grab a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many restaurants along the shore.
4. Go Whale Watching in Samana Bay
The best time for whale watching in the Dominican Republic is typically December through March. During this time, thousands of humpback whales come together to mate, give birth, and nurse babies. In fact, the Samana Peninsula is considered one of the best places in the world for whale watching.
Some of the highlights of a whale watching excursion include seeing the whales breach and often you’ll see mothers swimming with their calves.
5. Visit Monkeyland and Plantation Safari Tour from Punta Cana
For animal lovers, Monkeyland and Plantation Safari make for an enjoyable day trip from Punta Cana. This is an activity the entire family can enjoy. Kids of all ages will love a chance to meet the adorable squirrel monkeys.
Parents will enjoy the fun and educational tour. The first stop is a plantation where families learn about organic farming. There’s also an opportunity to learn about coffee and cacao with a chance to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee or hot chocolate after the tour.
6. Explore Ocean World Adventure Park — Puerto Plata
This is an immersive experience for those who love marine life and learning about the ocean. Ocean World Adventure Park allows you to have close encounters with sea life and tropical animals.
Here you can swim with dolphins or sharks or simply hang out with sea lions. There’s also a tropical rainforest with an amazing bird exhibit and iguana habitat.
7. Take a Ride on Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car
Thrill seekers won’t want to miss a ride on the only cable car in the Caribbean. Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car will take you to the top of Isabel de Torres. You’ll be rewarded with views that will take your breath away.
From the top, you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding area of Puerto Plata. There are several hikes you can take around the top of the mountain, just take care not to get lost because it isn’t well-signed.
8. Explore The 3 Eyes National Park (Los Tres Ojos) – Santo Domingo
The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, and here you will find one of the best national parks on the island.
Los Tres Ojos National Park has caves with oval-shaped underground lagoons of crystal clear water representing an “eye”. The park is accessible from Santo Domingo. You can opt to take a cab to the park and explore on your own or join a group tour. Upon arrival there is a winding staircase that will lead you into the series of limestone caves.
Years after the original three lagoons were discovered, a fourth above-ground lake was found. The fourth lake is surrounded by a rocky landscape and greenery. You can opt to take a small boat ride to this fourth lake for an extra fee.
9. Have an Adventure at 27 Charcos de Damajagua – Puerto Plata
27 Charcos or 27 waterfalls is a natural adventure park located in Puerto Plata. You can swim in the freshwater lagoons and slide down actual waterfalls as you hike through the area. It’s the perfect natural water park!
A day trip to 27 Charcos can only be booked with a tour group. A trained tour guide (or guides) will take you through the winding mountain trails and show you the proper way to slide down the waterfalls. It’s definitely a unique experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
If you want to save some money, you can also take an Uber to the park and pay only the entrance fee.
Note: This is quite a strenuous activity that can require a lot of physical strength at times. We wouldn’t recommend it with young children or anyone with mobility issues.
10. Go Hiking While Chasing Waterfalls
The Dominican Republic has some excellent hiking opportunities. With tropical weather, a waterfall hike is always a good idea. The great thing about hiking in this area is that there are plenty of options for people of all skill levels.
Salto Jimenoa is a great option for a short hike with a moderate difficulty level. The way back will be more difficult since you hike down to the waterfall. When you reach the waterfall, you can opt to take a quick swim in the small pool at the bottom of the falls to cool off.
Salto de la Jalda is a hike that takes you to the tallest waterfall in the Dominican Republic. Another option is Salto El Limon, a stunning waterfall and a hike that offers beautiful views coming and going.
11. Spend the day at La Zona Colonial – Santo Domingo
If you are in need of a beach break during your stay, then head to Zona Colonial in the capital city of Santo Domingo. Immerse yourself in the island’s history and learn about the local food and culture.
La Zona Colonial is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is where Christopher Columbus first settled in the New World. This is a must-see attraction during your stay in the Dominican Republic.
Zona Colonial is like an open-air museum that is free to explore. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit some of the small shops, and try the local restaurants.
12. Break out Your Camera and Explore Altos de Chavon- La Romana
Altos de Chavon is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village. The village was designed and built by Dominican artisans. Many features were handcrafted using centuries-old techniques. The village is located at the top of the Chavon River and offers stunning views.
In the village, there is a museum, small hotel, church, and various local shops and restaurants to enjoy. There is an open-air amphitheater that can seat up to 5,000 guests. Major Dominican and international artists give concerts and performances year-round.
About the author: Julie Dameron can be found at Family Trips and Travels