Activities for your Kids in the Dominican Republic
Toddlers are usually quite content to play on the beach or do a little swimming. Older children tend to enjoy a little more variety or adventure. There are many activities kids can enjoy in the Dominican Republic. Activities that can be enjoyed on their own, or can be done with the whole family. Some of these require that children be a minimum age for participation (predominantly for safety reasons). As their parent or guardian, you are the best judge to determine whether a particular activity is appropriate for your child.
Activities For Young Children
Enjoying The Beach
Except in the cities, most areas that are visited in the Dominican Republic offer wonderful beaches where you and your family can relax and enjoy a day of sunning and swimming. If you are a guest of a beachfront hotel, loungers/beach chairs are usually provided to you free-of-charge. If they are not, they can usually be rented somewhere along the beach where there are businesses (restaurants, sports clubs, etc.). Snorkeling equipment, beach paddle ball and body boards are just some of the beach items usually available for free use, rent, or purchase, at most hotels or watersports clubs in various tourist destinations.
Hotels, resorts, etc., in tourist areas of the Dominican Republic, have generally chosen their location for its proximity to the beach/ocean. Most have a safe area marked (by flags or buoys) where guests are recommended to do their wading and swimming. Although this is usually the case, all children should be supervised when playing near, or swimming in, any body of water. A lifeguard does not oversee most swimming pools on hotel/resort premises. Ocean swell can be a lot bigger in the winter months, December through March, bringing with it a bigger shore break, bigger waves, and a stronger undertow. The summer months tend to have less swell, resulting in calmer, flatter, and safer waters. It is advisable to bring swimming aids for your children from home (PFD's, water wings, etc.), as all sizes may not be available in all locations.
Because most tourism destinations in the Dominican Republic are located near the ocean, it's likely they will offer some type of water sports activity for children. Water sports like snorkeling, body boarding, sailing and windsurfing are ones younger children can enjoy as long as an adult supervises them. Older children can also participate in water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, river rafting, wakeboarding/water skiing, surfing and kiteboarding - depending on the location in the Dominican Republic you plan to visit. Many of the hotels/resorts offer water sport options for their guests on site - either to enjoy in the swimming pool or the ocean. Check with your accommodation choice to see what they offer for children. It is advisable to bring swimming aids for your children from home (PFD's, water wings, etc.), as all sizes may not be available in all locations.
One of the most popular vacation activity excursions for families to do during their visit to the Dominican Republic is to go horseback riding. Many of the horseback riding ranches/operators offer Creole horses, known for their tameness, and trained specifically to go slowly for children's safety. Some ranches/operators offer rides along the beach and others offer rides away from the beach, on flat field ranch areas or in some of the Dominican Republic's more hilly and mountainous terrain.
- When: End of January to mid-April
- Where: Samaná
Between January and March each year, thousands of Humpback Whales of the North Atlantic population, migrate to the Samana Bay region, on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. Boat tour operators will take you out into the bay, trying to get you as close as possible (while maintaining safety), so that you may witness these incredible, large, warm blooded mammals frolic in the sea. Despite their incredible size, Humbacks are the most active and acrobatic of whales. Many tour operators also provide educational commentary about the whales during your excursion.
Activities For Older Children
Surfing, and more so boogie boarding, can be done on beaches anywhere in the country when there is larger swell. Most of the more advanced surfing is done on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, at Encuentro Beach, 7 km from Cabarete. More info...
Wakeboarding/waterskiing is offered on lakes, rivers and ocean areas in the Dominican Republic tourist areas where boat licenses are granted to operators because the waters are deemed relatively safe to participate in these exciting activities. More info...
Kiteboarding can be a heck of a lot of fun but it can also be a dangerous sport if you don't know what you are doing (have not had proper instruction, practice, or are unaware of the potential dangers involved). Adults practice this sport predominantly, but there are more and more kids learning to kiteboard every day. If your child is old enough to take the instruction required to begin the sport (usually a minimum three day course), they may want to give this exciting and challenging watersport a try. Cabarete or Las Terrenas, both located on the North Coast, are 'the spots' to learn and practice kiteboarding. More info...
Kayaking can be done from most tourism destinations in the Dominican Republic. Many hotels/resorts and watersports tour operators offer kayak use free of charge or rent them by the hour. This is a nice way to observe the coastline of your particular destination. The more skilled/adventurous can arrange to take kayaking trips with Tour Operators who arrange trips on the rivers near Jarabacoa, located in the central region of the country.
Canyoning adventures take place in the Cordillera Septentrional region, a 30 km drive southeast of Cabarete, on the North Coast, into the hill/mountain areas there. During these adventures you'll hike, climb, swim, jump and rappel into river canyons. There are some excursions that will take older children (of a minimum age) as long as they have a good fitness level and are comfortable in the water. Sneakers/runners are a must, but the Tour Operator provides all other necessary equipment - wetsuit, harness, etc. More info...
The Damajagua area, located a 30 km drive west of Cabarete, on the North Coast, hosts 27 waterfalls, ranging from .5 to 15 meters in size. A 30 minute walk/hike will take you to the first of 12 waterfalls you climb. The ability to proceed to each new waterfall depends on one's skill and fitness level. Arranging a tour through a Tour Operator is advised but you can also arrange for a local guide at Damajagua as well.
Mountain biking, or bike rental, can be arranged from many tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic through a local Tour Operator or your hotel/resort. Cabarete, on the North Coast, is the mountain biking paradise of the country due to the miles and miles of dirt tracks and endless mule trails in the surrounding areas. Anywhere you choose to bike, you'll most likely find that the scenery/countryside is breathtaking and that the locals you come across are very friendly. More info...
Activities Located On The North Coast
The following are activities that can be done if you are staying somewhere on the north coast, i.e. in the Puerto Plata area, Playa Dorada, Sosua, or Cabarete.
Fun City Action Park
This go-kart racing park is located 15 km east of Puerto Plata. The park offers 4 racing tracks with go-kart, sprint, midget, grand prix and bumper cars. There is a restaurant/snack bar on site. The park is generally open between 10 am and 8 pm every day.
Columbus Aquaparque/Water Park
This waterslide park is located 2 km west of Sosua and is the largest waterslide park in the Caribbean. The park has many different types (levels) of slides, as well as swimming pools, restaurants and shops. The park is generally open from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm daily and occasionally hosts live musical performances on weekends.
Ocean World Marine & Water Park
This marine park is located 5 km west of Puerto Plata, in the resort area of Cofresi. It has the world's largest dolphin lagoon, the only sea lion encounter of its kind, the world's first shark interaction pool, along with tigers, exotic birds, reptiles and tropical fish.
Glass Bottom Boat
Glass bottom boat tours are available from Sosua, on the North Coast, and are a fun excursion for the whole family. These boats travel the clear waters of Sosua Bay, allowing you to peak at the magnificence and beauty of the underwater world.
El Choco National Park/Laguna Cabarete y Goleta
This lush and diverse protected area was named a national monument in 1992 . The park is comprised of pasture land, a lagoon, and jungle area that contains lush tropical plants, exotic birds, fresh water springs and solution caves (caves dissolved out of solid rock by acidic waters - usually due to their time under the water table). The park's entrance is located 2 km from Cabarete, on the North Coast, and can be visited for an hour or two, or for the entire day. Due to the maze of unmarked paths and lush vegetation, its recommended you visit the park with a Tour Operator or Park guide who can not only guide you through but also provide you with information about the area.
Islabon Jungle River Tour
Islabon is located 5 km east of Cabarete. This tour allows kids to explore the river area by boat and also walk through jungle trails to a mini zoo that includes iguanas, snakes, turtles, ravens and North American crocodiles.