Head to the Dominican Republic's east coast for luxury family resorts
After nine hours in the air, you’ll arrive to dig your feet into white sands and let the Dominican Republic’s hotels pamper you and your family.
The largest concentration of All Inclusive resorts in the Caribbean can be found on the 50-kilometre stretch of eastern coast around Punta Cana, making it a popular choice with families. Known as the Coconut Coast, it takes in the popular area of Bavaro and more remote and exclusive Uvero Alto.
Bavaro is the place for long, palm-lined beaches, a buzz of activities in the water and a dinosaur-themed adventure park. Plus it’s close to Punta Cana to make use of its waterpark, amusement and animal park, and beautiful natural caves and freshwater pool at Hoyo Azul. Further north is trendsetting Uvero Alto, with a more laid-back lifestyle and hotels that ooze luxury.
Best family friendly beaches
Bavaro’s white sands are some of the best serviced in the area with bright beach shacks serving drinks and snacks, but at 10 kilometres long, there’s plenty of space for relaxation too. There are shallow shores for paddling, backed by palms and mangroves, with watersports further out to sea, including parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing and speed boating.
Over at Uvero Alto’s wide beach, the pace and the watersports are markedly gentler. That being said, you can head to Uvero Alto Ranch to take horseback rides along the beach or hire beach buggies and start a 4×4 excursion. Between Bavaro and Uvero Alto, Macao beach takes things down a notch again as there are no nearby hotels, just surfers utilising the waves and a very good clifftop restaurant.
Best family activities in the Dominican Republic
A playground for kids and grown-ups, Bavaro Adventure Park has run with a dinosaur theme – you can’t miss the big statues. Among the 15 active pursuits here are treetop ziplines, a rope course, flight simulators, bungee trampolines and mountain bike and Segway tracks.
Another place to have an adventure is Scape Park in Punta Cana, which has more zipline and horse riding opportunities. The main attraction here is the Hoyo Azul lagoon – a 75-metre deep cenote sinkhole with a transparent blue freshwater pool you can descend into for a swim. For more fun in the water in Punta Cana, head to the waterslides and splash park at Sirenis Aquagames.
Located between Uvero Alto and Bavaro is the Historic Centre of Macao, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A fascinating place to wander around, ancient buildings here include Chinese temples, Portuguese fortresses and even Moorish-style barracks.
And to really explore the Dominican Republic’s natural side, take a day trip an hour’s drive away to Parque National del Este, near Bayahibe. Spread over 310 sq kilometres, and taking in Soana Island, it incorporates 400 caves, eight barrier reefs and hundreds of species of fish and birds. On Soana you can see where a small indigenous population lives and view 2,000-year-old cave paintings by the Taino tribe.
Other popular holidays in the Caribbean
To find out which other Caribbean countries would suit your family holiday, take a look at vibrant Jamaica and Cuba or greenery-rich St Lucia. And to see if the Dominican Republic has everything you’re looking for, read more in our travel guide and take a look at three top family hotel options below.
This 4* hotel is right on the beach and has a big kids' splash park, miniclub with nature activities and the Loft teen club. Its five restaurants include a themed buffet with kids' section, and Italian and grill places, which you get unlimited use of. Activities cover volleyball, mini-golf, football, aerobics, watersports for an hour a day and a mini-disco, plus you can use the facilities of two further nearby hotels. The cherry on top here is the full-size castle on an island in the pool that literally lights up at night, complete with a theatre inside.
A few minutes from Bavaro Beach, there's more water action at this 4* hotel's waterpark with loads of huge slides and little ones for the kids, all set in tropical gardens alongside the three outdoor pools. The main buffet restaurant has a healthy-eating station and a kids' section, or try the sports bar for casual dining, and the Mexican or Italian places. Enjoy activities together like tennis, mini-golf, pool games and beach Olympics or have a go at watersports and get introduced to scuba diving with a lesson in the pool. There's also a spa and fitness centre to use when the kids are in the club or your teenagers have gone to their lounge with games and even a non-alcoholic bar.
A 5* All Inclusive hotel, literally on Uvero Alto beach, the infinity pool ebbs away next to the sand, and there's a separate activities pool where things like aqua aerobics take place. Among the 10 lavish room choices are family suites, with the option of swim-up with baby gates to the pool. The seven restaurants include a food market themed buffet, five a la carte choices and a beachfront restaurant – all included in the price. Kids will love the burger bar and Spacewalker restaurant complete with astronaut suit decor and light and sound shows. Things to do here are endless, from cookery and dance classes to cycling or heading to the sports hub and kayaking or boogie boarding from the beach.