My husband, two kids and myself spent 5 days in beautiful Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We flew in from Fort Lauderdale on JetBlue on a quick 2 and a half hour plane ride. With two little inpatient children, the TV per seat on JetBlue is so appreciated. Just bring your headphones or earpieces and you can be sure they will be quiet in their seats. The fact that JetBlue allows you to bring one free bag along with the one carry-on is a plus for us as well. Once we arrived it was time to find a taxi, it was pretty simple since we speak Spanish, but even if you didn’t there were taxis being offered to almost everyone. $40 dollars from airport to hotel. When we got to the hotels entrance, it was an open space like many of the hotels on islands and they greeted us with drinks. Check in was pretty simple, we were taken to our room and it was impressive, Jacuzzi in the middle of the room, towels cutely shaped into swans, flower petals and nice cool AC. Each room has a deck with two chairs and a Jacuzzi. The closet space was very spacious, there was a mini fridge with waters and two sodas and two presidente beers, each replaced daily, included with the room.
A few hours after arriving we met up with my dear friend Lucy and her family. Her husband and two kids and my husband and two kids quickly flocked to one another. It was awesome to be reunited after 3 years. We ate at the buffet, and since it was our first meal, we were starving. The food was good at that moment, the kids ate rice, chicken and fries. Then it was on to the beach. A lovely blue wavy ocean with palm trees growing in the sand, tikki umbrellas and lounge chairs everywhere. We got in the water immediately since it was at a great temperature. The waves were stronger than what we were used to, as we usually go to Sanibel or Fort Myers beach where the waves are almost non existent off of the Gulf. We decided to go check out the pool because my kids began feeling itchy, maybe jellyfish, not sure. The pool was ginormous, as long as the hotel grounds. There was a swim up bar right in the middle and a giant Jacuzzi open to the pool so it was easy to get in. The drinks were decent, they were yummy, my favorite was amaretto sour and pina coladas.
Entertainment at the hotel was awesome, great music, and karaoke night, in which my daughter sang Wide Awake by Katy Perry in front of over a hundred people. One night they had a Michael Jackson show and wow, I truly felt like I was at a real concert, dope dancing, amazing choreography and nothing could beat the zombies in the crowd during Thriller. They have a small casino onsite, we played roulette one evening and had fun, not because we won but because it is such an exciting game. The slot machines looked a bit corny but if that’s your thing, then rest assured it’s available. They have a kids pool area called kids splash and offer babysitting for $15 an hour per child. The two ladies that were there seemed friendly and pleasant and definitely good with kids but we did not use the services. This pool area was a bit aways from the regular pool but we did spend an hour or so there. The kids didn’t mind hanging at the big pool at all.
We went on two excursions, snorkeling and ATV Riding. I think the snorkeling was overpriced at $140 for a family of 4. It was a 30 minute boat ride to a coral reef area where there were a lot of other boats and many people snorkeling around the same area. In that sense it felt safe, though you had to be very careful not to cut yourself on the reef in some of the more shallow parts. My friends husbands knee was bleeding after he scraped it swimming by. My 4 year old did amazingly well, probably the best snorkeler out of all 8 of us. I was doing more looking around for dangerous fish (aka sharks) rather than admiring the cute tropical fish near us. Kids enjoyed it and it was an unforgettable experience for them so that’s all that matters. My son fed the fish bread and the fish swarmed to us giving them an even more up close and personal experience. Once back on the boat, the driver took us to see a sunken ship, which was not part of the tour, but he was being nice, I could have done without it, because he had to slow down and the smell of the gas and the waves pushing us up and down got me sea sick. Once back at the hotel it took a few minutes for me to feel better.
The first night there we went to eat at the Chinese restaurant and it was thee worst of all the places they had, and so we didn’t eat well that evening. The next night we had Japanese/Hibachi and this food was good. It didn’t taste 100% Japanese but it was good nonetheless with much flavor. The next few days we had buffet from the two different buffet locations they had for breakfast lunch and dinner and it was not so good. For us adults, we could deal, there was something we could find to satisfy our hunger, but for my picky children, it was basically rice, chicken and fries daily ;( . The cereals were not fresh, they seemed very old and not even generic quality. The French toast was thicker than a tire wheel (ok exaggerating) but still, eggs that were pre cooked looked crazy old, sandwich breads were stale, and so for my kids, it was the same thing every day and that was not cool. I had bought one pack of ritz crackers and would have brought more but the hubby told me it was dumb to bring food to an all inclusive, I should of followed my mothers instincts. I also brought two small yogurt hard snacks (luckily) and they were gone by day 2. I brought two ensures for kids and wish I had bought more. So if you are travelling with picky eaters, pack a few snacks, don’t go crazy, but bring stuff that will satisfy their cravings when there may not be enough variety. My kids are used to having milk at night and I asked the bar for milk which they provided but it tasted more like creamer, either way my youngest drank it and didn’t have any stomach issues so that was good. My kids favorite drink is lemonade but it was mega sugary so I made sure my kiddos drank as much water as possible.
Okay so ATV riding was $55 per person for what was supposed to be 4 hours, but it was 3 hours. They told us it included water and chips neither of which we received, so that was jacked up. So it was fun, something cool for kids to experience and here are my thoughts on this excursion:
- The black seats of the buggy rides were HOT, like burning like a motha flower HOT, and they were wet, so yeah yuck and ouch.
- They sell bandanas for good reason, you will get mud in your mouth, your eyes, your nostrils, everywhere, come prepared.
- Wear clothes that you are okay throwing out because it is possible that you will get sooo muddy you can’t even clean it off.
- The vendors you see on this little tour are expensive as hell! Dayam, I mean ridiculous, I understand they are trying to survive but uh uh!
- The beach they take you to, Bavaro, is so amazingly beautiful and breathtaking, I wish they gave us an hour there, which SHOULD have been included since it was supposed to be 4 hours, but we were rushed back to the ATVs after maybe 10/15 minutes. Shame.
- At the first stop there were children offering us flowers in exchange for a dollar, now this tugged at my heart and I was happy my children got to see this. One little girl had holes in her shirt so we gave her the extra shirt I brought along for Addison, the look on her face was priceless 🙂
- If you bring kids, cover them up well, I think this long time in the sun is where my daughter got Sick from too much sun exposure, I wish I had another layer on her, that’s all.
So the trip was overall a success, amazing customer service, great workers and lovely grounds. My only complaint would be the quality of the food, maybe they need new chefs but other than that, it was fine. On the very last day I explored over to the hotel next door since they were connected by a walkway which I did not know about and found stores on their side that sold Doritos, candies, and other chips. I bought my kids a bag of Doritos for 3 dollars and it was not as cheesy, so I think products are just made differently there. When it was time to get a taxi to the airport, we realized we needed more cash. We took out 300 Dominican pesos from the ATM which was only about 7 American dollars because we totally miscalculated. It was 43 per dollar so we needed $1,700 Dominican Pesos to pay the cab. The ATM wouldn’t let us take out more money because we did not tell our bank we were traveling. We had to stop at a bank and use my card, but luckily we got the money we needed. When we got to the Punta Cana airport we were so happy to see Wendys, we rushed to get the kids food, yummyyy lol. Needless to say, while it was a lovely vacation, we were happy to get back to our home sweet home. If you have any questions or would like more info, please let me know.