Planning a trip to the Dominican Republic? Then one key consideration is what activities you will do while there, especially with kids. Of course, it’s fun to throw in some adventure and unique excursions. Try something new. Or maybe chilling out and relaxing poolside is more your family’s speed. Whatever your preferences, we’ve got you covered with these ideas of things to do with kids in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is one of the most traveled to destinations. In 2016, it hosted more than 6 million visitors. Brainstorming what to do while traveling to the Dominican Republic as a family is easy. The hard part is deciding! Here are the top 3 things we did with our kids (a teen and a tween) on our amazing Dominican vacation.
Three Things to Do in the Dominican Republic
1. Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling Adventure to Catalina Island
A catamaran cruise is a fabulous way to spend the day. Between sightseeing, sailing, snorkeling, and relaxing on a private island, this is the ticket! What an all day excursion this is: a catamaran takes you snorkeling, followed by lunch and lounging on Catalina Island.
Getting from your resort to the marina for the catamaran does take quite a while. Our pickup time was 7:25 AM (zoinks!) and we were shuttled by van to an awaiting bus which then took us the rest of the way. So we traveled about 1 1/2 hours before we arrived at La Romana marina and laid eyes on our boat. But what a beauty it was!
Part of the tour features the area called Casa de Campo where many actors and baseball players own property. The adjacent river Chavon has been a popular site to film movies such as Rambo 2 and Apocalypse Now. The catamaran travels both in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. And believe me, there is a difference! The Caribbean waters were much choppier. To get everyone in the spirit of things, they played music and had a mini dance party in the back of the boat.
Our snorkeling spot was home to many varieties of fish and bejeweled coral. This was one of my favorite moments of the day, leisurely snorkeling and exploring the beauty of the sea. Of course, I also love that when we are snorkeling, my son loves to hold my hand and point out everything he sees. Not much longer before he outgrows that 🙁 One of our guides caught a yellow tailed snapper fish using only a fishing line and bread (no reel)!
Our next stop was Catalina Island. It was surreal to see a huge Costa cruise ship moored off the island’s coastline–there was no port and yet the ship was anchored just offshore! But the cruise ship had a totally separate beach access, so the island was not even close to being crowded. We noshed on a beach buffet of pork ribs, roasted chicken, rice, vegetables, and the ever-present pineapple. Then it was leisure time. Our family opted to swim, lounge on the beach and have some family photos taken. Time simply flew by until it was time to climb back into motor boats to be ferried back to the catamaran.
As they hoisted the sails back up, another guide cautioned us that we may get some water splashing up through the netting since we were sitting in the front of the catamaran. Not 10 minutes later, Taylor got simply SOAKED as a huge wave of water poured over onto her. And then it did it AGAIN. She was such a great sport, laughing and at the same time scooting as far away from that spot as possible.
As billed, this turned out to be an all day adventure. We didn’t get back to our hotel until almost 6pm. But it is well worth the price: $ 300 for our family.
I am so thankful we carved out an entire day for this excursion. For us, it hit all our desires: snorkeling, swimming, beach time and sailing. We chilled, we ate, we napped. Island life is good!
2. Horseback Riding
This was the one excursion we HAD to do. Having a horseloving teen, she couldn’t wait to try this! What was surprising was how enthusiastic Jared was about it and how when we left, he was asking could he also start taking horseback lessons. Oops-perhaps this activity was far more expensive than I first realized!
Everyone got helmets (something Taylor insisted that we should have if we were going to participate in this activity), we were matched up with a horse, and we were off! Fortunately, the horses knew the routine and stayed together. Taylor ended up way out in front with the guide because of her experience. The rest of us let our horses do the walking and soaked up the amazing vantage point of astride a horse on a gorgeous beach on a Caribbean island. I kept telling myself, “It may not get any better than this!”
Naturally, we had to buy the photos although it is a bit disappointing we didn’t get a group photo together. We were all spread out during the ride (with Taylor WAY in front) so it would have been tough to accomplish anyway. And I didn’t realize just how goofy I would look riding a horse!
One additional souvenir Clay and I brought back with us were our sore bums. Yowza when the horses took off at the end of the ride, we were definitely cantering pretty fast, which meant lots of jostling in the saddle. It’s a small price to pay for a family adventure that captured our senses, pushed us outside our comfort zones, and gave us a better understanding of why Taylor loves all things equestrian so much.
So my advice when traveling to the Dominican Republic (or any other vacation spot for that matter) is to incorporate in some fun activities and adventures. You will see and learn more, interact with natives, and get a greater sense of what the island/city/country is all about. I enjoyed chatting with one of our guides who lives in Santo Domingo and spoke French. Quite a change from all the Spanish we heard!
The company we used doesn’t have an recent reviews, so I would recommend HorsePlay Punta Cana.
However, do your homework and check out these tour companies ahead of time to make sure they follow local laws, especially when it comes to animal activities. If there is no scenario where you think that animals should be used for tours or activities, then definitely steer away from them. We checked out the possibilities ahead of time and had the additional affirmation from our resort that we were dealing with a reputable vendor.
3. Plenty of Pool & Beach Time
Since our resort (the Melia Caribe Tropicale) was on Bavaro Beach, we opted to have a beach day (or should I say pool day since the kids really like the pool better). Looking back on this decision, it was a GOOD CALL. While sitting there, one of the groundskeepers with a BIG machete walked by with a coconut and asked if we’d like one. Heck yes! He proceeded to crack that coconut open like a peanut, handed it to us with a straw, and we sipped on it greedily.
With a pool like this to chill out, it’s easy to see why the kids loved hanging out here. Between the thatched umbrellas for shade dotting the poolside to the lush palm trees and close proximity to the beach, a day at the pool is a kids’ dream. Sometimes we schedule so much on vacations that we fail to realize that our kids are overprogrammed. This is especially true for most of us at home, so isn’t the vacation supposed to be an escape from all that? My son jumps for joy at our pool fun!
I guess the moral of this story is to take advantage of your resort and the amenities, especially if it’s located on one of the best beaches in the world.
Dive into TravelingMom’s website (I’m am a contributing writer there) for more information on planning trips to the Dominican Republic.
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Good ideas to take advantage of every amenity wherever you’re staying. And at $300, a full day’s boating outing and snorkeling adventure seems like a reasonable – and memorable – deal.
Brings back great memories of family trips to the DR
The Open Suitcase says
The $300 price tag for the catamaran trip seems like a bargain for the amount of fun you had. Thanks for the tip.