Traveling With Family Can Be Stressful – We Tell You Everything You Need, To Make Your Vacation Planning Easier And More Fun For Everyone.
The idea of travelling with the whole family can be quiet fun but also terrifying, especially when travelling to a tourist destination in a third world country like the Dominican Republic. Although most of the tourist centers like Punta Cana are very nice developed you might be asking yourself what you have to pack and what you can find right here. We tell you what you really need to bring and what activities to do and which are the most family friendly hotels in Punta Cana , so don’t have to worry about when coming here.
Punta Cana is located at the East of Dominican Republic and probably the best location to stay when you travel with small children, toddlers and teens. Why am I saying that? Well.
Punta Cana has the most beautiful sandy beaches, with little or no surge and very small waves that are perfect to swim, snorkel and have fun in the sun.
It is a family friendly destination. Most hotels have adapted to the needs of families and offer special family suites and connecting rooms, restaurants with a great variety of food to choose for everyone and fantastic amenities like water parks and kids clubs
There are quiet a lot of tours and activities for families you can do with your children inside and outside the all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana.
10 Things You Should Pack When Travelling With Your Family:
Sun protection and protective clothing – bring enough for each member of your family. Go with SPF 50 or higher for the little ones and bring enough for the time you plan to stay, since they are very expensive to buy here. You pay around US $ 20.00 in the local super markets and even more in the hotels own gift shop. Bring shades and hats for your kids. The sun is out early and is really strong during daytime, remember you are in the Caribbean and you don’t want to miss out on the fun, having to cure those nasty burns. As a mum of a small toddler, I suggest having your little ones wear UV shirts every time you stay longer at the pool or swim in the ocean.
Electronic devices – Save yourself the headache of frustrated kids. Bring iPad, Tablet or whatever your precious one loves to watch or listen to, to ease the boredom during flight or down time in the room.
Bring some After sun lotions with Aloe Vera just in case you got a little bit too much and keep it cool in the minibar of your room. Even though you did not get burned it is nice and refreshing after a day out in the hot Caribbean sun.
If you are traveling from Europe you need to bring at least one adapter for the plug in as yours won’t fit. You can find them on Amazon for small money and they won’t take any space in your bag. Electricity here is 110 volt some hotels might have 220 v, but it is not that common. Special travel hack, bring a console so everybody can charge their phones and you don’t fight over a place to plug in. Find more great travel hacks for families right here.
Beach Floats – bring them from back home if you have the space in your luggage. Like this you avoid the high prices in the gift shops on the beach. I mean it, totally over charged! Go online or the next dollar shop and purchase them before coming here. You don’t need to pack extra beach towels and can save this space, since each hotel provides fresh ones close to the pool area or on your room every day.
Bug Repellent is a must on your list of things to bring when traveling to Dominican Republic. Especially around May and November to December it rains quite a bit, even though mostly at night. The hotels do fumigate and control the insects, but to protect your little ones from nasty mosquito bites bring enough spray with you. There are options for tropical climate like OFF or this natural bracelets with mosquito repellent hat I found on Amazon, which work quiet well. Bring Anti-itch cream to avoid sleepless nights and scratched legs in case you got bitten and are a sensitive skin. You can find them in local pharmacies here as well, but it means you would have to leave the hotel and take a cab to the next store.
Formula for baby’s bottles and diapers. If you travel to family friendly hotel in Punta Cana like Club Med or Barceló Palace Bavaro, Nickelodeon or Iberostar Dominicana you have free access to their kids club and might want to take advantage of it and enjoy some free time. Some of them provide full meals specialized for small children, but to be on the safe side take enough from your baby’s formula, so caretakers can prepare it for them. Bring pull ups and enough regular diapers. You can find in most supermarkets the common brands like Huggies and Pampers, they are quiet expensive and you have to take trip to one of the supermarkets in town.
Medicine and First aid kit – Bring some Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, maybe ear drops and some cough medicine for your family. If you need prescription medicine, stock up and bring enough since it won’t be easy to get the one you might need here in Dominican Republic. Hotel Doctors are expensive and pharmacies don’t necessarily have the brand you need. Bring a small first aid kit for travels, trust me sooner or later, with all the adventure going on you have somebody asking for some Band-Aids. Pack enough, different sizes and water proof once . I always carry a non-stinging disinfection spray as well.
Bring some Zip log bags of different sizes. You will find it a useful item to store open shampoo bottles, wet clothing when traveling back or control any loose items from getting lost in your luggage.
Bring your stroller, so you can walk your little ones in the green gardens of resort or to put them asleep. I took a carrier and a stroller, just due the fact, that there are activities where the stroller is just not handy and you might want to carry your baby close to you. If in front or on your back, bring one that is not overheating and comfortable for the little one, in case they want to nap for a while.
Transportation For Families In Punta Cana:
It is not really common to use a booster seat or a baby seat here in Dominican Republic, so don’t expect the taxi driver that pick you from the airport to have one available. Bring your own or organize private transportation prior and request a seat if available.
I do highly recommend to spend this extra money on a private transport. After a long flight and traveling with a cranky toddler, you do not want to wait for the big buses to fill up, since they wait until the last guests are getting out of the airport to leave towards the first hotel.
It can take a while until you get dropped off, if your hotel is not the first one on their list. (You can find reliable transport companies in Punta Cana right here) or contact your travel company before starting your vacation and ask them to arrange it for you.
Which Are The 3 Most Family Friendly Hotels In Punta Cana?
There are so many hotels to choose from and it is hard to select the right one for you and your family. Take your time and read some reviews or my next blog about kids friendly hotels in Punta Cana.
Nickelodeon Punta Cana
is a brand new hotel. The whole design of this all inclusive resort in Uvero Alto is built around adventure for the whole family. From the themed kids clubs for small children and teens, to the different entertainment characters you meet inside the resort.
There are many fun activities like “Slime time” available and amazing restaurants like the “Space-walker” where the staff looks like astronauts and the food just looks and taste out of this world.
You can choose between swim up apartments with super cool designs or over sized suites filled with comfortable amenities and many extras that your kids will enjoy. The staff is super friendly and offers a truly personalized vacation experience.
Extras: Baby and kid essentials, including baby food, strollers, cribs, bottle sterilizers and warmers, step stools, bathrobes, bath tubs, changing tables, baby monitors, beach toys and more are included in the package
Club Med Punta Cana
is a well know family resort in Punta Cana, located just about 10 minute’s drive from the airport. It is a smaller hotel but we just loved it. The staff in the kids club is amazing and takes care of small babies as little as 4 month old and teens up to 17 year old.
The opening times of the children’s clubs are adapted so that the parents can make the most of their day, the evening or even go on an excursion with total peace of mind, that they are well taken care of. (Find a full list of the 10 best kid’s friendly hotels in my next blog.)
There are only 3 restaurant to dine out at the resort, but I have to admit we took most of the time advantage of the in Room-Dining service. Just make sure to order in time, so you don’t wait hungry on your rooms. The variety of activities offered are fantastic, so everybody will find something new to explore.
Extras: all restaurants have high chairs available and a little baby corner in the restaurants so parents can prepare the meal for their smallest family member right there.
Dreams Punta Cana
is an ideal hotel for families, since they do not accept any loud spring breaker crowd. This hotel brides itself with the most expansive free form pool in the Dominican Republic. They have beautiful gardens that offer plenty of shade to walk around.
This hotel really know how to treat the smallest of your family like kings and queens with an extensive child and teen oriented entertainment and activities program. This includes aerobic, arts and dance classes.
My kids loved this hotel because of all the different restaurant options and the fact that they prepare fresh pizza and pasta for lunch, every day! And who doesn’t like that? For breakfast they serve every kid’s favorite- pancakes and fresh juice.
Extras: Kids are truly welcome here and up to two children until one year old are staying free (contact the hotel directly for more information on packages) free extra beds and cribs!
Why Your Family Should Take Advantage Of The Kids Club
Your children will be in great hands – Dominicans love kids! Make sure you try out the kids club the first time just for a few hours and go and check on them if they feel comfortable with the staff and the surroundings. Leave a contact for the staff to be able to reach you in case this changes, but don’t freak out and sneak around to spy on them all the time.
Your kids most likely don’t even notice you are gone, since all kids clubs offer a fantastic variety of activities for children to do, like dancing classes, explorer tours, cooking classes, rock climbing walls, discotheques and so much more.
Trust me it gives you this extra free time for yourself. Go and get a massage on the beach or enjoy one of the many water sport activities offered by the water sport center of the hotel on your own, like kayaking, windsurfing or scuba diving
Relax and enjoy some time with your husband or wife. You deserve to relax on vacation as well.
Family Friendly Activities And Tours In Punta Cana
Dominican Republic has so many things to do and to explore, but not everything is doable as a families with children. Here is listed some i think would be the best for you.
Free Water Sports And Activities In The Hotel
All inclusive resorts and hotels in Punta Cana have a water and activity center right at the beach. There you can rent boogie boards, snorkeling gear, kayaks and small sailing catamarans if you know how to do them. They do offer free scuba dive lessons in the pool every day for those who are interested to see what is underwater
You have to pass by early as the availability is limited and they do not take reservations from one day to the other. Most of the times the list is already full if you get there after breakfast, but you can ask very nice and with a big smile and the staff will try to find a time where you can use the equipment.
You get to use the snorkel equipment only in the marked swimming zone and I recommend strongly to stay inside. There are many boats passing by and they will not watch out for you swimming and looking after colorful fishes.
The animation team will invite you for some fun dance and aerobic classes either in the pool or on the beach. It is fun to try, but depends how active your family really wants to get in this vacation.
Outback Adventures Safari Tour
We do offer day tours to the countryside of Punta Cana to meet locals and see how they live. Our staff loves children f all ages and the whole team is eager to interact and get them engaged in the whole experience by smelling and tasting new things. For families with children of all ages, our Outback Adventures Safari a great choice. Don’t miss out, on one of the best cultural tours in Punta Cana!
You get to visit a typical house and meet the family that produces coffee and cocoa, you stop at a local school and learn about the educational system here in Dominican Republic and for many family that is an eye opening experience. Enjoy a fantastic family style lunch that kids just love – we serve the best “Dominican Fried Chicken”.
After this you meet a coconut oil farmer and learn what you can be done with coconuts before heading to the beach of Macao to swim in the ocean (read this article to learn more about secluded beaches in Dominican Republic) or try out some boogie boarding with the tour guide. Infants under 3 years are traveling free on their parents lap and children up to 12 years pay half price. Contact us prior, since there are promotional codes and family discounts available when booking in advanced.
This exclusive tour gives you a great opportunity to explore the countryside but with the comfort of an air conditioned SUV. Your guide is your bartender and driver for the day and will show lots of interesting things along the road. Since you travel with him alone you can do everything on your own pace.
Baby or booster seats are provided when requested and our guides love families. With the Jungle Rally Tour your children will be able to explore a new culture and see how other kids learn at school, they get to taste fruits and chocolate and usually love our ranch, where they get close with our Rhino Iguanas and some farm animals
But the best part of all is the end of the tour, when our guides gets the boogie boards to ride the waves on the best beach in Punta Cana – Macao. This tour has limited space and it is recommended to book this tour prior. Ask for family specials and private group rates to save some money and contact one of our local representatives for an individual itinerary.
Snorkeling Tours And Swimming With Stingrays And Nurse Sharks
You can book these tours in the water sport center of your hotel or your representative on the front desk. These tours takes you to a nearby reef and a gated area right in the ocean. You get life jackets to float on the surface and snorkel equipment so you get to see those colorful fishes, nurse sharks and stingrays swimming right below you. Do this tour only if your children feel comfortable in the water and know how to swim and most importantly – Don’t forget to take an underwater camera with you to snap some great memories to talk about later.
Prices are around US $ 45-60 and you can book it once you are here. There are several turns a day going out. See first how if the ocean is calm and not to wavy to do this o you really get to enjoy it with your kids.
There are several tour operators that offer half day tours and full day tours to go zip lining. This is more for children 10 years and up as you get to slide through the jungles, hanging in a harness. Teens love this action filled tour and will talk about it for quite a while. Prices are around US $90 for adults and half price for the children, but contact your representative and see if you can get a family rate.
Dominican horses are lazy and very kids friendly. Again i would do it only, if you don’t have small kids. The bouncing around is not for everybody. You know your children best and if this is something they would like. The tour usually last 1 ½ hour or two and you get to ride through mangroves and palm trees right on the beach. The prices vary a bit between the companies but you can find tours starting at US $ 75.00/adults and the kids around US $ 40.00
One of the most popular tours with horses is HorsePlay Punta Cana (they provide zipline activities, too) where you have the opportunity to see the beautiful mountain countryside alongside a winding river. Pricing is $75 for adults and $45 for kids. Horseback riding experience is not necessary, friendly guides will assist you with every aspect of your tour.
Make sure to ask for safety equipment like helmets!
There is a water adventure park called RAD Park Punta Cana at where you can try more than 15 different activities like wake boarding and long board paddling and other stuff. Find more information www.radpark (dot) com. Fun, but more for children 10 years and up.
Another one is Bavaro Adventure Park with activities ranging from paintball & rope climbing to zip lines & ATV rides. They have a dinosaur world for the smallest explorers of your family, pools with waterfalls and mountain biking. Contact them for more information www.bavaroadventurepark (dot) com or ask your representative in the hotel to book one of their packages for you.
This is an amazing and one of a lifetime adventure, but I comes with a really heavy price tag for the whole family. There are some restrictions on the age and height for safety reasons so take the time and read their information carefully. There are several packages depending how much of an interaction you want. Usually you are paired in groups and you get to touch the belly or give them signals to jump or sing for you. So it is not only you and the dolphins. Cameras are not allowed, since they have photographers around that offer the pictures after on CD or prints. Be warned: this costs some extra money!
We did this fantastic tour and the kids just loved it. You spend the afternoon on a pirate ship sailing towards “Tortuga Bay” to find a hidden treasure. The staff is really fun and engaging with everybody, but especially with the children. You get to sing and dance like the real Buccaneers and they will take you to swim with sharks ( nurse sharks – really save) and interact with stingrays with the safest interaction program in the world.
Prices start around US $ 110/ adults, but the great deals is: kids are free! They sell out fast and I do recommend to book this tour a few days prior.
So you see there is plenty of things you can do inside and outside of your all inclusive resort in Punta Cana.
3 important Tips to make this family vacation fun and stress-free for everyone
Get your kids involved in the planning, simply ask them what they would like to do and what they think of this activity or that tour and make all together a nice plan that includes something for everybody’s interest, but plan also enough time to relax between each activities. And if you just want to hang around on the beach and build sandcastles than this is fine. Remember Happy Kids, Happy Parents!
Make sure you get some time for yourself and do not only cater to your kids. Us the amenities of the hotels and the entertaining program to sneak away for an hour or two and enjoy a partner massage or walk on the beach or a romantic cocktail at night when the kids are all asleep.
Plan ahead of time to avoid disappointment, but don’t get set and have alternatives in case something is just not turning out as you thought. You are on vacation and you should have fun. Here in Dominican Republic we do it like on most of the Caribbean islands, we take it easy, with a big smile and a laughter and enjoy our time together in family to the fullest.
I hope this blog was helpful planning your stress free getaway as a family.