If you love animals, then a Punta Cana Monkeyland trip is a must do!! In April, we visited Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for the first time. The reason for our visit was pretty cool. It was an incentive trip I earned through my direct sales business. A bit unexpected but so exciting to be headed somewhere new for almost nothing!!
The Dominican Republic is not somewhere that was on our must see list previously. In fact, the Caribbean as a whole is an area I’m not overly familiar with, since we are close to a lot of other glorious islands and beach destinations, however it’s a beautiful place and Punta Cana is a tropical paradise!
It also just so happens that they have monkeys!! Yep… it just got even better!
If you are an animal lover and don’t mind getting a little messy, a visit to Monkeyland in Punta Cana is a must! Located around 45 minutes from the centre of Punta Cana is Monkey Land, deep within the Dominican jungle.
A visit to Monkeyland is via a tour with Bavaro Runners, the local branch of Runners Adventures, which takes you to the natural reserve situated on private property, in the middle of a traditional Dominican village. The land is still owned by the villagers, with Monkeyland operated by Runners.
Coffee and cocoa beans as well as other natural products such as coconut products are all produced in the village also, therefore the tour gives you the opportunity to see and learn all about these as well.
Punta Cana Monkeyland Tour
The Monkeyland tour is a half day tour departing Punta Cana early in the morning, with pick up points located at most of the larger accommodation and resorts in the area. Pick up is via an open safari bus which is easily identified with their bold animal print exterior.
The bus has seat belts, which is a reassuring extra when in an unfamiliar country. And when travelling with kids!
Once all the guests were on board, our tour guide kicked off with introductions and the commentary for the trip. Our guide was entertaining from the start and so informative. He shared with us extensive detail about the monkeys, the history of Monkeyland, the local area and village, and the types of production that take place on the property. It made the 45 minute transit go very quick.
One of the great things was the chance to see the local area with villages, towns and natural scenery along the way too. It was exciting to get outside of the resort and see a bit more of Dominican life.
When we arrived we were given the chance to use the facilities then walked up a steep set of stairs through the village and met with one of the villagers where we were given a demonstration on how coffee beans are collected, dried, ground and processed to make coffee. They followed this will a demonstration of cocoa beans too, which was interesting to see for us, although the kids were a little restless at times.
We were given a tour through the gardens and shown different plants and also shown how coconut oil is made. Then it was time to take a seat and taste test the coffee and cocoa from our demonstration with a coffee and hot chocolate provided to each guest. There was the option to purchase packaged versions of the products made on site too.
Then came the exciting part… off to meet the monkeys!
Punta Cana Monkeyland is home to over 30 squirrel monkeys who roam freely around the reserve. We were given an introduction and escorted into the reserve area. We were each given a bowl of fruit, nuts and seeds ready to meet some monkeys.
We were told there were two dominant males in the group, which resided on two different sides of the reserve and that the dominant monkey would be the first to assess the situation and make sure it was safe before the others would come true. For our group it was the most dominant of the two, Carlos… and he did exactly as expected. It wasn’t long before he jumped right onto our eldest daughter Lily, with the help of our Monkeyland local guide.
The rest of the squirrel monkeys soon followed and within a few minutes they were jumping all over us, on our heads, our shoulders, up our arms and leaping from one person to the next. It was so much fun! The kids were squealing with delight and loving every second of it.
It was a relief too because our eldest is a bit timid at times and she was quite apprehensive about the tour initially when we told her our plans, possibly expecting huge monkeys climbing on her. She quickly changed her mind and the second our visit was finished, she asked if we could go again!
Around 45 minutes is spent with the monkeys and for the most part, you simply stand still and hold out your bowl so they come to you. There are plenty of photo opportunities though and the guide also takes photographs with a DSLR camera during the excursion, which are available for purchase afterwards.
It was such a fun experience and we each had so many opportunities to get up close to the monkeys and enjoy their playful personalities. Although we also got a bit grubby with bits of fruit in our hair and on our clothes. All in good fun!
Afterwards its to the gift shop and a chance to view and purchase photographs from the experience. The photos are $10US each and we did purchase 2, however you have lots of opportunities to take your own photos too.
Monkeyland is situated around 45 minutes outside of the centre of Punta Cana and operated by Bavaro Runners. Access to Monkeyland is only via the guided tours, which includes a coffee and cocoa bean demonstration and with the option of also adding on a ziplining experience with your tour too. You can find details, pricing and can book directly online via their website.
Tip: If you book at least 10 days in advance, you also get 10% off your ticket price!!
The duration of the Punta Cana Monkeyland tour is around 5 hours and includes pick up and drop off from hotels. The tour is suitable for children, and we were able to take our 20 month old and 4 year old, both of whom had a great time, however there are some restrictions on who can participate in the tour.
Some of these include if you are suffering from cold and flu symptoms, pregnant women, anyone with mobility issues, due to the number of stairs. For a full list of restrictions and recommendations, please refer to the website.
You can take your camera/phone with you and take your own photos during the monkey encounter, plus your guide will also take photos for you with the option to purchase them after your tour. They are printed on the spot and put in a display folder as a great souvenir of the day.
We definitely recommend this tour if you are in Punta Cana. It is a must do! Kids and adults alike with love it, providing you love animals. If you are not a fan of animals or are scared at the thought of having cute little critters jumping on your head, it might not be for you. However our 20 month old thought this was the best thing ever! If you have nut allergies or similar, you may not want to risk it as you do end up with bits of monkey food all over the place as they jump from bowl to bowl to find the best bits!
Younger kids may get a bit restless during some of the more educational parts of the tour, such as during the garden walk and coffee/cocoa demonstration, but they will likely love the chance to sample hot chocolate.
We definitely recommend this tour and would do it again if we are in Punta Cana in future! So much fun! Make sure you check out some of our other animal encounters too while you’re here.
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*We received complimentary entry for our 2 children in exchange for a review of our tour. All opinions and photographs are our own.