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The Dominican Republic is one of those destinations that seems to have it all. There are all-inclusive family resorts, activities for the whole family to enjoy and, of course, great weather. From Punta Cana and Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo and everywhere in between, this hot spot island nation — which shares a landmass with Haiti — is a great match for families.
Since Southwest Airlines operates nonstop flights into Punta Cana from Baltimore (BWI), Chicago (MDW), St. Louis (STL), Atlanta (ATL) and Houston (HOU), those who pick up the Companion Pass with just one Southwest credit card sign up by Feb. 11 can enjoy what the island has to offer for less.
Official application links: Earn the Companion Pass and enjoy 2-for-1 travel for the rest of 2019 with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.
Regardless of how you get to the Dominican Republic, here are six activities that are sure to please families.
1. Scape Park (Cap Cana)
Scape Park is located in Cap Cana on the eastern coast and spans 1 million square meters. The park includes natural elements worth exploring, like caverns, caves, lagoons and the Farallon Cliff that is more than 300 feet high. Book admission 15 days in advance and receive 10% off using the code “15DAYS.”
The park sells three types of tickets:
Full Admission: Adults $149, Children $89
- Transportation from all major hotels in Punta Cana, Bavaro and Bayahibe.
- Hoyo Azul Lagoon (Blue Hole) Eco Tour
- Zip Line Eco Splash (12 zip line circuit)
- Saltos Azules (zip lines, water hammock rides, diving platforms and more)
- Cultural Route (nature walk with replicas of living quarters of the Taino Indians, Spanish conquistadors, enslaved Africans and Dominican natives)
- Cave Swim
- Iguabonita Cave
- Iguanaland (close encounters with rhinoceros iguanas)
- El Rancho (visit with horses, ponies, goats and other farm animals)
- Playground (Eco Kids Village: from 2 to 12 years old)
- Beach Getaway (drinks not included)
- Dominican Buffet
Full Admission and Sunshine Cruise: Adults $179, Children $119
- This includes everything in the “full admission” ticket along with the Sunshine Cruise. The catamaran excursion takes you around the coastline of the Cap Cana resort area to snorkel at Bucaneros reef and Juanillo Bay. An open bar and snacks are part of the package.
Juanillo VIP: Adults $169, Children $99
- Transportation from all major hotels in Punta Cana, Bavaro and Bayahibe.
- Catamaran cruise along the coastline of Juanillo
- Snorkel (gear included)
- Private Beach Club
- Nonmotorized activities
- Four-course meal with lobster
- Premium open bar
- Tropical cocktails
- Hoyo Azul Cenote
Bring: Swimwear, athletic footwear, towels and cash or credit cards for souvenirs, pictures, beverages, lockers and snacks.
Video equipment, cameras, pets, selfie sticks and drones are not allowed in the park.
2. Choco Museo (Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata)
The Choco Museo has three locations in the Dominican Republic — Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata — and your family can book a variety of experiences where you’ll learn about making chocolate from cacao as well as the history of this sweet treat. Entrance to the museum is free but workshops — like the two-hour “Bean to Bar” (adults $25, kids under 12 $20) and the 45-minute Mini Chocolate Workshop ($15 per person) — cost extra.
You can pick up all sorts of edible products made from the cacao bean at the Choco Museo, including liqueurs, cookies, truffles and other artisan delights. The shop also features products, like notebooks, mugs and mortars and pestles, crafted from cacao.
3. Sirenis Aquagames (Punta Cana)
At the Grand Sirenas Punta Cana Resort, Sirenis Aquagames is a fun waterpark that never disappoints the kiddos.
The park includes a kids club, swimming pool for toddlers ages 2–4, a pirate-themed play area, racing slides and water tubes as well as a grill serving up barbecue meals and refreshments throughout the day.
Due to its reopening, the Grand Sirenis Punta Cana Resort is offering special deals through April 30, 2019. We’ve seen rates hovering in the $155/day range. But, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to use the waterpark as long as you purchase a day pass ($60 for adults and $30 for children 4–12).
4. Los Haitises National Park
Los Haitises is interesting to tour due to its limestone karst plateau and coastal mangrove forest. The remote park is packed with wonders like waterfalls, caverns, sinkholes and tons of bird species , including owls, pelicans, herons and frigatebirds. In the caves, you can spot Taino petroglyphs and pictographs and sometimes bats. Many families choose to explore Cueva de la Linea (Cueva del Ferrocarril) and/or Cueva de la Arena caves.
Kayaking, hiking and boat excursions are the most popular activities to book in the area.
Arrival is typically by sea from Sabana de la Mar, Sanchez or Samana. The number of tourists allowed into the park each day is limited so it never feels crowded. The entrance fee is about $2 per person.
5. Damajaqua Cascades (Puerto Plata)
At this park, you’ll discover the Damajaqua Cascades, also known as The 27 Waterfalls. Admission prices, including an English-speaking tour guide, vary depending on how many falls you’d like to climb. It is not advised to bring children under the age of 8 due to the amount of cliff jumping, climbing and sliding.
Visitors spend anywhere from two hours to a half-day exploring the falls.
6. Aquamundo Sambil (Santo Domingo)
This aquarium features more than 70 exhibits and 2,000 species within seven different themed zones. It is the first aquarium in the Dominican Republic and focuses on providing important marine conservation information to visitors and residents. The aquarium is part of the initiative “Salvando el Oceano” that partakes in cleaning the coast, education talks and other activities relative to conservation. (Admission prices vary.)
(Photo courtesy of Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism)Some features of the aquarium include:
Shark Tunnel: This exhibit is a clear, tunnel-shaped passage that allows you to see a variety of species of sharks and other marine life as you walk through.
Submarine Room: A great interactive play area for kids to learn more through pressing buttons, turning knobs and much more.
Insect & Reptile Room: Get an up-close and personal look at some of the most interesting creatures in the Dominican Republic.
Your family won’t run out of things to do when visiting the Dominican Republic. From its beaches and water sports to eco parks and aquariums, your kids will want to return again and again.
Have you been to the Dominican Republic? What did your kids enjoy the most?
Know before you go.
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