Top Tips for visiting Punta Cana Dominican Republic with your Family
Please note: this is NOT a sponsored post. We recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and wanted to share our experiences with you to help you have a great time, too!
Our family had a terrible dilemma. We had a lot of West Jet dollars we had to use before they expired in January. Our Kenville-based local travel agent,
found us another great deal that we couldn’t resist!
So, outfitted by The Swimwear Hut in New Minas, we were ready to hit the beach!
We were all set to head to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a week in November! The following is a recount of our experiences, and our best tips.
This is actually the first thing I did – I went back and read what I said to bring to Cuba. It was immensely helpful because I had forgotten what to bring and what to pack!
Highlights: bring a reusable travel mug and an apothecary of medicines!
2. Don’t spend too much time on Trip Advisor
Before we go anywhere, I usually try to do as much research as possible about the area, and that usually involves reading reviews on Trip Advisor.
While these discussions on Trip Advisor can be helpful to learn what to bring, or costs, etc, they are really NOT GOOD for deciding the quality of a place. Opinions vary way too much, and it all depends on what traveling conditions you are used to and what you expect!
Read a few, but don’t base your judgement solely on reviews!
We stayed at the Sunscape Bavaro in Punta Cana and loved it. The food was wonderful, lots of choices, and a ton of fun activities and incredible scenery.
3. Pick your Travel Times
Twice we have traveled to the Caribbean the first week of January, and both times it was cold and rainy. This time, we went mid November, at the tail end of the rainy season. The weather was incredible, at +30 every day!
Plus, because we were a bit off-season, the resort wasn’t overly crowded!
You might not have a choice of when you go, or when the good deals come up. But, if you do, do your research on the best times to go. We won’t travel in January again!
4. Leave the Complex
A lot of people when traveling to an all-inclusive resort like to stay on the resort and relax for the whole week. There is nothing wrong with that! However, for a family that is used to being on the go all the time, this doesn’t really appeal to us.
In Punta Cana, there are a lot of shops in town to explore, and you can even take a bus or a taxi to the main shopping district where you will find Ikea, Burger King and other department stores.
I must, had I been on my own, I probably would have done this. I love wandering around department stores in other countries, looking at their products and trying something new. I had a friend who tried a new shampoo in every country she visited!
We did venture out a few times to look at the souvenir shops in the area outside the resort. There are markets inside the resort, where they charge prices that I wouldn’t even pay at home, but it makes it easy for tourists who like to stay and don’t want to barter.
We found a grocery mart for the locals, and loaded up on coffee and vanilla for a lot less money!
5. Go on an Excursion
Before going to the resort, I tried to look up a few excursions to get some idea of what we should do while in the Dominican. However, once we got there and met with our vacation rep in the meeting the next morning, everything, and all our options were fully explained to us.
There were so many things to pick from. Some of the excursions are adult only, and some seemed more like a party boat than a tour (which is fine, except when traveling with kids).
Excursions are expensive and usually run $100US per person. Many are worth it, but you may have to pick carefully. You can also pay by VISA, making it easy to set up and go.
Many of the excursions are available in both Puerto Plata and in Punta Cana.
We did two excursions in Punta Cana.
First, we went on a half-day trip with Marinarium.
The boys had never been snorkeling before, and with talk of our coral reefs disappearing, we wanted them to have the opportunity to see a living reef first hand.
The first part of the trip was snorkeling in the ocean. The seas were really rough that day, but the boys (10,12) are great swimmers, and you wear a life preserver, so there was no problem.
We got to see lots of tropical fish, too!
Then, we moved into another “fenced” area where we could hold a ray, and see giant ones on the ocean floor.
We also got to swim with giant nurse sharks!
This excursion was definitely a trip highlight for our 10 year old son who would have spent all day in the ocean, exploring!
Our second excursion was with Outback Adventures. This tour company runs out of several locations on the island.
This is a full day tour and takes you into the Dominican life off the resort and the beaches. We got to go to a coconut farm, help make coffee and chocolate, have a traditional buffet, and visit a traditional home and school.
This was an educational agri-tourism experience, and was definitely the trip highlight. The boys loved getting into the heart of the country and learning and doing new things.
Our tour guide, Angel, was phenomenal and made the day so fun and interesting.
We capped off the day boogie boarding at a local beach!
If you are only going to pick one adventure excursion, pick the Outback Adventure!
Not only was this full day trip cheaper than most of the other half-day trips, a lot of the money goes back into the charity projects done by the company to help the community!