The warm and sunny weather, the generous scenery, the kids-friendly hotels and the wealth of its culture make the Dominican Republic an ideal destination for families. Take your pirates to the Caribbean in the footsteps of Captain Jack Sparrow. Head to the paradise island, the white sand beaches, the coconut trees and the crustaceans.
In addition to the unmissable exotic beaches, the country is full of hidden treasures, memorable activities, luxurious hotels and sumptuous delicacies, all encapsulated in a rich and captivating Spanish culture. Follow the guide.
Located on the East Coast that’s beautifully renamed the « Coconut Coast« , Punta Cana is known for its idyllic beaches, ocean-defying palm trees and clear waters. Here, swimmers are protected by a coral reef that stretches over about 60 kilometers along the coast, same as the length of the beach. The coconut trees and the festive atmosphere at nightfall make Punta Cana the ideal place for enjoying a relaxing family holiday.
Santo Domingo is certainly one of the most exciting cities in the Caribbean. Its colonial city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to beautiful monuments, lively alleyways and cafés with a local flavor. Discover the intrigues of its history amidst a population which is appreciated for its hospitality. Warm glances, smiles showing tobacco-blackened teeth, rum-colored noses, a sensual air of Bachata and the smell of sea spray constitute the peculiar riches of this colonial city.
A true nature paradise with its classified parks and solitary beaches, the South offers all that’s needed for an exotic experience. Between its famous « Capital of the South”, Bani, its sweet seaside resort, Casa de Campo, and its charming fishing villages, Bayahibe and Bavaro, let yourself be rocked to the merengue rhythm, a musical genre that is an integral part of Dominican Republic’s identity.
Much less known than the rest of the island, the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic shows off paradisiacal lagoons and offers breathtaking green landscapes. The natural parks and the mountains with vertiginous peaks that rise to an altitude of more than 3000 meters stretch as far as the eye can see. Not a single resort perturbs this exceptional picture, it is the dream place for small hikers, as well as for wildlife lovers. Off the built tracks, Barahona is home to unspoiled and little-known nooks, as well as rivers that are nestled in the lush forests of the Sierra de Bahoruco, wherein you can bathe with your children.
More peaceful than Punta Cana, the Puerto Plata tourist resort is renowned for its water activities, fishing ports and humpback whales that can be observed from the coast, between mid-January to late March. It was Christopher Columbus whom in 1493 gave the city its name, « Puerto Plata » which means « the port of money ». The passage of settlers in the area was marked by the presence of Victorian-style houses also known as Gingerbread. The Independence Park, whereon we will find the beautiful San Felipe Cathedral is a picturesque kiosk, worth visiting.
Along the Uvero Alto beach, nestled between coconut trees, the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resort Punta Cana *****, is a family-friendly facility. In a setting inspired by the fantasy world of your children’s favorite cartoons, you will find villas with contemporary architecture. Housed in a pineapple, the Pineapple Suite combines modern comfort with fantastic decorative elements. In this emblematic suite, the hotel has made SpongeBob the king of the area and paintings the hallmark of its interior design. A « Pineapple » swimming pool and a private garden frame this luxuriously designed scenery to meet the expectations of travelers who seek after serenity and fun.
At lunchtime, children will be happy to find their favorite heroes thanks to the Ninja Turtles Power Breakfast that’s served at Zest Restaurant. If you wish to savor the Mediterranean flavors, you can head to Verdello, a restaurant wherein Sicilian cuisine blends brilliantly with the endless flavors of Caribbean lobsters. At this address, all stomachs be it big or small, are treated like VIPs.
Just as Christopher Columbus, explore the Caribbean archipelago and dock on the island of Saona. Catamaran rides are organized by the hotel and are specially planned to meet the requirements of families with children. Sail with peace of mind, the captain is at the helm!
If you desire to satisfy Dad’s passion for golf, Mom’s love for zumba and 100% children’s activities, head to Eden Roc Cap Cana *****, a 5-Star hotel set in a private bay, away from mass tourism which founds charming and unmixed resorts that are coupled to each other along the entire East Coast. The younger guests will enjoy living for a few days in this ultra-chic décor that exemplifies the successful blend between traditional Spanish colonial style and modern Caribbean luxury.
Its name, the Eden Roc Hotel ensues from the unmissable natural cave that’s located in the heart of the bay and which welcomes swimmers who are fond of adventure. In the shade of the palm trees, the entire family will feel like being in a different world. With its spacious beachfront suites, private beach, infinity pool, bars and restaurants, the facility has all that’s required to enthrall. When it comes to activities, the hotel isn’t lagging either: kayak lesson for children, horseback rides, excursions that are suitable for the little ones, movie nights, golf, spa, …
The golf course, designed by champion, Jack Nicklaus, runs along the coast in an unparalleled natural environment. Set between cliffs, beaches and waterfalls, the hotel’s 18-hole course has been rated « Best Golf Course in the Caribbean and Mexico » by Golfweek. Dad’s really going to be happy!
Get your fill of culture and history through the Dominican Republic’s annual events: a colorful carnival, party nights punctuated by Bachata and Merengue or a seafood festival.
Crazier than ever, the Carnival in the Dominican Republic is « a food opera whose stage is the street and whose actors and protagonists are the people » according to Jose Guerrero, which takes place over the entire month of February. On February 27, the Dominican Republic’s National day, the carnival is at its fullest. The inhabitants take to the streets disguised as, Diablo Cojuelo, a lame demon wearing a costume adorned with cow bell; as Roba La Gallina, a chicken thief with huge breasts and a huge backside; or as Lechones, a devil with a pig face, to mingle with the colorful parades. The costumes can scare the little ones, so be warned.
From the 10th to the 18th of December, the Bachata puffs, a Dominican rhythm that has over the years dethroned the merengue, escape from the narrow-cobbled streets of the old city, floating in the air and mixing with the distant sound of the waves. While the Merengue is rhythm-filled and danceable, the Bachata is full of sensuality and romance. Out of the bass and the drums emerges the languorous and plaintive voice of a man who sings of his lost loves and conquests.
The best season to travel to the Dominican Republic runs from December to April, in order to avoid the rainy season that runs from May to June and from October to November. The island has a tropical climate that is tempered by trade winds, with temperatures ranging between 20 to 30 °C all year and 26 to 29 °C in the water. The is no doubts you will be enjoying you swimming sessions.
Between September and October, hurricanes crisscross the Caribbean blowing dangerously along the coasts, however, being sheltered in the hotels, the tourists do not run any risk except that for playing cards or hide-and-seek.
Even though no vaccine is required to travel to the island, it is advisable to check in with your doctor for the hepatitis A vaccine, especially for pregnant women. What’s always in and around whenever it comes to traveling to exotic land are the mosquitoes that frequent the seaside and mountain valleys. So, you should always be cautious that you do not expose yourself when it gets dark, do not forget mosquito nets and think of repellent-repellent-repellent whenever you go out. If Baby is traveling with you, do not hesitate to consult this overview of simple and effective methods of fighting against these pesky insects.
As in most tropical countries, it is recommended not to drink tap water. Prefer bottled mineral water. Besides, Jeffrey will not be giving you ice cubes, in fact he will not give you any at all. If you order drinks outside your hotel, avoid requesting for ice.
Getting to your place of vacation in the Dominican Republic has never been easier. Every corner of the island has its airport, in all there are 8 airports(!), enabling you to travel in the best conditions to any part of the country within 1 hour. Located at a 10-minute-drive away from the Punta Cana International Airport, the Eden Roc Cap Cana organizes the shuttles for your family from the airport to the hotel.
« I’m going on a trip to the Dominican Republic – my luggage should contain… » sunscreen, headgear, sunglasses, mosquito repellent, outfits for a hot climate, swimwear, flip flops, rubber shoes for water sports, as well as hiking shoes and a light raincoat for sea trips
Have a safe trip!
Audrey, 25 years old, journalist, from Brussels, Belgium