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Punta Cana is one of the most stunning places to visit in the Dominican Republic and it is a great destination for a family trip! Think white sandy beaches, palm trees and glorious tropical weather! Of course teamed with plenty of lush fancy resorts and beachside accommodation. Punta Cana with kids is an experience the whole family will love!
Although if you are a little hesitant, don’t worry… we were too. You see, it was never on our list of places to visit. Especially not travelling to Punta Cana with a toddler! We hadn’t even heard of it a year earlier, but by luck it became a destination we got to experience and can now look back fondly at the family memories made!
Our trip to Punta Cana was during April, which coincided around the time of US Spring Break, so it was a fairly popular time to be anywhere in the Americas. Plenty of other families were enjoying the perfect weather and beautiful Punta Cana beaches, but there is so much more than just beaches to enjoy!
Here are our best tips, recommendations and attractions for visiting Punta Cana with children!
TRAVEL GUIDE PUNTA CANA WITH KIDS
Getting There & Around
We travelled to the Dominican Republic all the way from Australia, which meant no direct flight options. Our flight from Brisbane was with Virgin Australia, which flew us to Los Angeles where we enjoyed a few days exploring California to break up our long trip. You can read about our North American adventures here.
We then did our second leg of the trip around 5 days later with Delta Airlines, stopping briefly in Panama City along the way. When you are travelling such long distances with young children, having a couple of days to stop over along the way there and back can make the world of difference. We did the same thing on the way home and are so glad we did!
There are many international airline carriers that travel to and from Punta Cana each week, so you will have plenty of options for your trip. We had no issue with Delta and found them to be a great airline during our experience.
Once you arrive at Punta Cana International Airport, be prepared for a bit of chaos. There are taxi drivers and private transport companies everywhere once you make your way into the main foyer area towards the exit. It is kind of nuts!
Everyone wants your business! Everyone will try and offer to drive you where you’re got to go and it is really hard trying to work out who is actually an official airport worker and who is another well dressed local trying to earn a kickback for referrals.
We recommend organising your transfer prior to arrival and making a beeline to the person holding up your name quick smart. Stay focused on your end point and don’t get caught up in the madness.
Or if like us you find your transport isn’t there, find the most official looking airport help desk person to help you. Unfortunately we ended up having to pay for a taxi as our initial hotel transport wasn’t there. But our taxi driver was reliable. Just take care!
Getting Around Punta Cana
If you are staying fairly central to the tourist hub of Punta Cana or in one of the resorts, most of what you need will either be there or nearby so you can walk to most of the places yourself.
However if you are going a little further or to the airport, you will need to use public transport. The resorts will be able to assist with taxis, private cars and bus services which are reliable and safe. Always make sure you get assistance with booking these services where possible to ensure you are choosing a safe and official version.
Tip: They do not have car seat laws like we do here in Australia or in USA and many other countries, so this can be quite an eye opener, although Vietnam is similar too. It can be tricky to organise a transport that will provide them and you don’t know what the quality will be like either, so you may be best to take your own booster seats and capsules, especially if you are travelling to Punta Cana with a baby!
Where to Stay in Punta Cana
There are so many places to stay in Punta Cana. If you are looking for a fancy resort, the options are pretty endless and the price point differs significantly. There are also small hotels and private housing available too. It really depends on what you’re looking for.
We stayed in a budget friendly place for the first 2 nights to keep our costs down, and did a pretty thorough check of the reviews online… but they were not very accurate compared to our experience. Our room was not very clean. There was no hot water. Our sink kept falling apart. Oh and that transport that never came.
They did knock off the cost of our taxi from our bill at least.
We stayed at Guesthouse Caribe Punta Cana for those first 2 nights. What it did have going for it was it was an easy walk to shops, restaurants and the beach. But as they say, you get what you pay for and I very nearly cancelled and found a different place to stay. Not somewhere I enjoyed staying at all… especially not with kids! What made this even worse was the fact we were visiting Punta Cana with toddler who was sick the first few days too.
However it was short term and we knew we had an amazing stay ahead of us at Now Larimar Punta Cana!
What a contrast! Now Larimar Punta Cana is a luxury resort that is part of the Secrets chain of resorts worldwide. We have stayed at two of these properties now and have loved everything about them.
Now Larimar is an all inclusive resort which means all meals and drink are included in your package. You pay more but when travelling with kids, this sure does make for a convenient holiday. We love all inclusive for family travel!
You are able to eat at any of the restaurants at the resort and can get snacks or room service during the day too. And all the drinks you can hope for. Our kids thought they were royalty getting served glasses of fresh squeezed juice to the side of the pool!
It is also along a beautiful stretch of beach where most of the more popular resorts are located. You may have to dodge the seaweed that washes up each day but the staff do a great job of cleaning it up as best they can. Still a great beach for building sand castles!
The rooms are excellent, the staff are friendly and the kids will LOVE the kids club! Our eldest was old enough to go for sessions and you pretty much drop them off and pick them up when you feel like it. And they are very reluctant to leave! Our youngest wasn’t old enough yet but they did let her stay for a half hour play. Oh and parents aren’t allowed in. Kids only zone!
They can contact you using a pager they give you, if you need to come earlier to pick up your child but otherwise they take them for meals across the path at the buffet restaurant if they are there over meal time. It is a great family friendly resort in Punta Cana.
You can see our Now Larimar Punta Cana reviews here for more details!
Here are some other popular accommodation for families in Punta Cana are:
- Barcelo Bavaro Palace All Inclusive – luxury option
- BlueBay Grand Punta Cana Luxury All Inclusive Resort – mid range option
- Punta Cana Beach Resort – mid range option
- Ducassi 408 – very close to beach & mid range option
- Villas Paseo del Sol – budget option
- Villa Fortuna – budget option
One thing to note is that when you are booking extremely budget places in Punta Cana like the one we did, hot running water is not always expected so if you don’t fancy yourself a cold shower, choose something a little less basic. I don’t even know how we picked so badly with the number of amazing properties in the area! #travelfail
Punta Cana Weather and Packing Tips
Dominican Republic is a tropical country so any Punta Cana travel guide is going to give you good warning to expect warm, humid weather no matter the season. But the best thing is that it is fairly consistent throughout the year, so your packing is made easier no matter when you are visiting!
Summer falls between June to August with average temperatures of 28C to 32C. And they get their highest rainfall in September during Autumn, with an average of 128mm. This is also around the time when Punta Cana has it’s highest hurricane season, during September and October.
With tropical climates, make sure you pack your summer protection gear. Especially for the kids!
Hats, sunnies, sunscreen, shoulder coverage with sleeved shirts and protective swimming vests are a must!
Depending on where you are staying, you may also need to pack beach towels although most resorts will provide these for you making it very easy to pack light!
Things to Do in Punta Cana
There are so many family friendly activities to do in Punta Cana! Depending on the ages of your children and the things they love to do, you will find lots of outdoor activities to fill your time. And if you are a family of thrill seekers, that’s covered too! Punta Cana for kids is going to give them plenty of reason to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and salt water.
Punta Cana Monkey Land Tour
This has to be top of our list since it was our favourite experience during our family holiday to Punta Cana! If you love animals… and coffee (although the later is less important), then you will love this day trip! Monkey Land is a half day trip into the jungle to learn about coffee production and meet the cutest monkeys you will ever see. Have them jump all over you and hear the kids excitement as they get to learn all about squirrel monkeys during this fantastic educational experience. You will also have a coffee and cocoa bean demonstration and a chance to sample the goods.
Ziplining in Punta Cana is a popular tourist activity and there are so many different options. Bavaro Runners offer several different zipline courses and tours, some which even combine with a visit to Monkey Land since there is one in the same area, in the beautiful jungle area. There are lots of other tourism companies in the area that also offer zip line experiences too, so you can try out some different courses. Super fun for big kids and parents!
Visit Santo Domingo
If you love historical cities and want to learn a bit of the culture surrounding the Dominican Republic, a day trip to Santo Domingo is a must. It’s a fair distance from Punta Cana so you will need either private transport or a guided tour to visit the city where you will see the beautiful architecture of the city.
Visit Isla Saona
Isla Saona is located just off the Punta Cana coast and is famous due to being largely untouched by modern tourism along it’s beautiful beaches, plus it is without the huge crowds of Bavaro Beach too. The island is a government-protected nature reserve so you can enjoy the white sand, palm trees and crystal waters and there are lots of ferry and tour packages that can get you there easily for a day trip from the mainland.
This one is a pretty obvious choice, and one of the best things to do in Punta Cana with family! Most places you will stay in the area will be relatively close to Bavaro Beach which is a long stretch of white sand beaches along the resort front. Worth it just to see the beautiful aqua water, however the kids will love spending time along the beach with plenty of beach fun to be had – building sand castles, swimming, and exploring the local area. There are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby and you will more than likely find locals trying to sell you their wares too.
If you have water babies in the family, being in a place surrounded by perfect beaches makes a pretty great place to enjoy some water sports. Many of the resorts offer free use or hire of water sport equipment and some even have lessons available for guests so check out what your accommodation has on offer first. They can point you in the right direction for hire otherwise! Imagine how cool the kids will feel telling their friends back home they learnt how to kayak or surf on their holiday!
Hoyo Azul Cave
There are so many natural wonders to enjoy around Punta Cana and Hoyo Azul Dominican Republic cave is definitely one worth seeing. A visit to the cave may not be possible if you are travelling with really young children, simply because it can be a little tricky trekking through the jungle and swimming in the sinkhole, however the bigger kids will love it. There are also adventure activities like zip line of course too. So many zip lines in Punta Cana! A super fun experience!
Bavaro Adventure Park
If you want one place with a gazillion things to do, this is the place to go! We didn’t visit Bavaro Adventure Park on our visit as time did not permit but whoa, there is a lot to do there! They specialise in adventure activities and offer a huge range of attractions and tours to suit different interests, including plenty that are kid friendly! There is too many to name, so be sure to visit the website for the full list, however here is a mini summary of a few of them:
- Bungee trampoline
- Dinosaur park
- Horse back riding
- Flight simulator
- Buggy tours
- BMX & mountain bikes
- And heaps more….
Dolphin Island Park
If animal encounters are high on your list of favourite experiences when you travel, then a visit to Dolphin Island Park may be a great day trip for your family. A short boat trip will take you to the island where you can interact with dolphins and sea lions. You will learn about the animals during a show, then have the chance to snorkel with the animals. It should be noted though, that the swimming part of the excursion is only suitable for kids 8 years and up.
Places to Eat in Punta Cana
There are lots of different cuisines and cultural influences at play in Punta Cana which means you are going to find plenty of options to suit you and the family. For us, day one meant an Italian restaurant so that our 4 year old could end up a spaghetti faced mess, but a very happy one! Thankfully there are loads of local Punta Cana restaurants that cover a huge range of cuisines to suit even the fussiest kids.
Here are some of the best places to eat in Punta Cana:
If you are looking for a casual dining option that is reasonably priced and has some great simple meals for breakfast, lunch, drinks and snacks, Kat’s is great. They make some pretty incredible fruit juices too! Very refreshing after a big walk along the beach.
Want to get your Mexican food fix, Wacamole delivers. Plus you will get great friendly service and a tequila shot too if you so please. Simple meals the kids will enjoy too and well priced.
Cuts and Grill
Sometimes you just really feel like a juicy big steak and this is a great place to come! This Punta Cana resturant is a really funky little place with modern decor and not a lot of seats, but the food was good and we enjoyed the atmosphere too. The kids seemed to enjoy it as well and they brought their meals out quickly, which is always a win!
Montserrat Manor Restaurant
Currently in the top spot on TripAdvisor for places to eat in Punta Cana, Montserrat specialised in seafood and steak. The reviews speak for themselves really, noting it as the one of the best restaurants in Punta Cana. It is located at the Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana so you will need a reservation to dine here, but do not need to be a guest of the resort.
Bar Trattoria Mamma Luisa
That big bowl of spaghetti we mentioned, well this is the place. What we loved most about this place is how accommodating they were to us as a family. When we arrived in Punta Cana, our youngest was really unwell so she was a snotty nosed miserable mess, but they went to every effort to give us an enjoyable dinner and make the kids happy. We were so incredibly grateful! Their English was not exceptional but their service could not be faulted!
Toc Beach Bar & Restaurant
When you are in a coastal town, you need to visit a good beach bar, even when you’re travelling with kids! This one is perfect for lunch with the family or to enjoy a refreshing drink by the beach. They have fruit juices and soft drink for the kids.
Visiting Punta Cana With Babies & Toddlers
Most of the major resorts and popular dining areas will have amenities to suit families travelling with young children and babies, such as a change area and high chair. We found it relatively easy to get a high chair for our toddler during our stay when we dined out, although there were some exceptions. Luckily she was at that age where it wasn’t a complete necessity.
You can get around easily with a stroller as the streets and paths are paved. We always travel with our favourite compact travel stroller which at least doubled as a high chair if we needed and of course, a place to nap when out and about.
If you are planning on doing any excursions into the jungle or with lots of walking, you may consider bringing a baby carrier as well. We found ours was very useful during our Monkey land visit as our little miss got a bit bored during the safari tour and coffee demonstration at the start, since she was under the weather.
The local shops have essentials such as nappies and baby food. We took enough of our own for our stay so we did not need to worry about trying to track things down if we ran short. They also stock a range of medications too, including well known US brands.
Most of the resorts have a full or part time doctor on staff if you need urgent medical care in Punta Cana. We did take our daughter for a check up when we arrived due to her running a mild temperature however were able to bring it down with baby paracetamol and did not need a full consultation, which would have been $100US just for the consultation. It is reassuring to know the option is there though.
We are so glad we took our family to Dominican Republic and had the chance to experience what Punta Cana has to offer. It sure helped that we visited Disneyland a couple of days later to make it a stand out holiday for our kids, however it was fantastic as a stand alone destination!
The locals are really friendly. Of course you need to take the usual safety precautions you do when travelling anywhere, whether in your own country or overseas, however we did not feel at risk at anytime walking around the city. Although Simon did have a local offer to sell him something a little herbal while pushing the pram with our toddler! Oh dear! HA
It was stressful how unwell our daughter was when we arrived however we had medical support and compassionate staff to help us navigate through.
The all inclusive resort facilities we had were exceptional and made our holiday really easy too, not having to worry about meals or entertaining the kids too much during our stay at Now Larimar Resort as it was all pretty much there. Yet we did have the chance to experience some real Punta Cana outside of the resort too, and it’s those authentic experiences that make trips so memorable!
What do our girls remember most? The monkeys, the poolside drink service and playing on the beach! And I honestly think I’m right there with them, even if my drink had a little something stronger than theirs ;)
Punta Cana is a fun family vacation destination with something for all ages to enjoy! We hope our Punta Cana guide helps you to plan an incredible family vacation too!
Booking resources for your Punta Cana vacation:
Have you visited the Dominican Republic before? Tell us where and what you enjoyed most!