Plenty of Dominican resorts will happily host kids, but there are some that truly exceed a simple “kids allowed” policy, with children’s pools and water parks, PG entertainment, supervised activities like face-painting and nature tours, fun water sports, free cribs, and rooms large enough for a family. Here’s a list of where to stay in Punta Cana if you want to make it through your trip tantrum-free!
With fewer than 200 suites, this family-friendly section of Paradisus Palma Real all-inclusive offers a serene, luxurious environment. The property offers sprawling grounds, meandering pathways, and upscale amenities such as a top-notch spa, yoga, and a seemingly never-ending pool area; couples will find that the well-behaved little ones here are hardly ever a bother. Guests have free access to the services, facilities, and restaurants at next door Palma Real -– particularly the beach area, which this property lacks. Parents will likely appreciate the Kids Zone -- complete with a rock climbing wall and trampoline -- and babysitting services, while all can enjoy the daily excursions, quality restaurants and bars, and personal concierge service.
One of four Paradisus resorts in Punta Cana, the upscale, 554-room Palma Real has a romantic Caribbean setting and feels bigger than its sister properties, with a palatial lobby leading to a jaw-dropping courtyard, pool and beach area. The food and beverage offering here is a highlight; there are impressive international buffets as well as a la carte restaurants. Suites are decorated with classic mahogany furniture and marble tile floors, and have coffeemakers, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. Workshops, sports, and leisure activities for both adults and children are available, including an adventure park with climbing wall and trampolines (located next door at The Reserve), arts and crafts, cooking classes, golf, tennis, and parasailing.
The largest of four Paradisus resorts in Punta Cana, this 683-room property still manages to feel uncrowded due to its expansive grounds. Guests can expect to walk or hitch rides on the regular shuttle service to get to the beach, pools, luxury spa, yoga studio and impressive restaurants around the resort; there are also bike stations for those who prefer to cycle. The beach doesn’t quiet down at night as it can at other resorts, but rather comes alive with a party scene appealing to both young and old. The Royal Service upgrade -- expect a sales pitch upon arrival -- allows access to the private lounge and a separate pool and beach area.
Perhaps due to slightly higher rates, the Dreams lacks a raucous spring break crowd and instead attracts families and couples with its large, pristine pool -- one of the most expansive pools in the D.R. -- extensive child- and teen-oriented amenities, and daily entertainment and activities (dance lessons, aerobics classes, arts and crafts). The Explorers' club offers a full schedule of activities for young children, such as nature tours and "Looking for Shells and Snails." The kids' club has large indoor and outdoor play areas and also offers childcare. For teens, the resort staff hosts organized sporting events, and there's even a "teen disco" at night. There's also an active lifeguard on duty on the beach, a pretty and crowd-free stretch of white sand that offers fun water sports.
With 1,790 rooms, 13 pools, 13 restaurants, 23 bars, an 18-hole golf course, 65,000 square feet of meeting space, a massive spa and fitness center, and the Dominican Republic’s largest casino, the word “huge” doesn’t even seem big enough to describe the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. Fantastic family amenities the Little Big Club, the on-site kids' club, which has lots of toys and a schedule of live shows and daily activities to keep the little ones interested. Activities may include Spanish lessons, face painting, and cooking classes. For older kids, the arcade room is right next door to the kids' club. Other amenities include a large children’s pool, which features two waterslides and a lazy river, a mini-golf course, and a 16-foot rock-climbing wall.
The 1,139-room, all-inclusive mega-resort Melia Caribe features three supervised kids' clubs, including a Flintstones-themed one with boulders and dinosaurs and an elaborate Flintstones pool, complete with colorful play structures, waterslides, and animal-print lounge chairs. The 120-acre resort includes a nature preserve filled with flamingoes, peacocks, and turtles; it also has a branch-level ropes course. Kid-friendly rooms come with pull-out beds and kid amenities; the 450-square-foot family suite comes with two pull-out sofa beds that have "themed children's bedding" and a big bed for parents.
This family-friendly all-inclusive resort with 658 suites has an attractive setting, affordable prices, and a compact layout (no shuttle) that puts everyone within walking distance to the beach. It's a popular place for Americans, and the resort can sometimes feel overrun by destination wedding groups. Food is not the highlight here (and reservations can be frustrating); the beach is the biggest draw, and there is also a large and lengthy pool area that runs the length of the resort (the kids' club has a separate pool with slides, plus a playground), a number of bars, and a charismatic animation team. Rooms have classic, romantic style and marble bathrooms with jetted tubs (indoor or outdoor), but do show some wear and tear. A range of non-motorized water sports are included with the price.
A kids' haven that's not quite directly on the beach, this 525-room all-inclusive resort one-ups King Neptune with what's billed as the largest resort water park in all of the Caribbean. Rooms are upscale and some categories have big whirlpool tubs; Family Suites with bunk beds are available. Restaurant options include a buffet, three a la carte restaurants, and multiple bars, and guests also have access to some options at sister property next door, the Royalton Punta Cana.
The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighbors, and renovated rooms are the big draws. Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids' club, but the beach can get crowded. The sports center includes tennis courts, a soccer field, archery, basketball court, and mini-golf course. There's also beach volleyball on the beach and free use of snorkel gear, kayaks, and windsurfing equipment.
The 1,600-room Palace Deluxe is the main resort at the Barcelo Bavaro complex, and features tons of on-site features including an attractive spa, a 24-hour casino, four pools, and 11 restaurants. But aside from substantial lines at the front desk, the guest capacity of the resort rarely shows: Guests do not have to search for spots at the pools and beach, and reservation requirements keep restaurants well organized. Couples, families, and partiers all mingle seamlessly at the property. Though the adults-only sister property has a slightly more romantic vibe, plenty of couples opt to stay here as it is where most of the features are located. The hotel's rooms feature iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and attractive, sleek decor.
The Iberostar Bavaro Suites is slightly higher-end than the Iberostar Dominicana next door, and offers nearly 600 Junior suites (the only room type) spread out in 75 bungalow-style buildings. The Junior Suites are bright and contemporary, with separate seating areas and stocked minibars. A lucky few will have an ocean view, while most should expect garden views and a lot of walking. The renowned beach is the highlight, and there's a large pool adjacent to the sand with a swim-up bar, snack area, and kids section with slides. For food, guests can choose between the main buffet and a range of a la carte restaurants that require a reservation, or use the 24-hour room service. Golf, tennis, late-night bars, and free Wi-Fi are also available.
This 708-room upscale resort a 10-minute drive from downtown Bavaro aims to appeal to guests of all ages -- especially children, with its kids' club, live theater, and teen-oriented game building with bowling alley. The focal points here are the large, music-filled pool area and the mock town center -- not the small strip of beach. The rooms are spacious, but not as stylish as one might expect from this category, and not many have ocean views. There are plenty of dining and activity options, and prices are among Punta Cana's most affordable for an upscale resort.
This large maze-like property is arguably the best of the four Princess properties in Punta Cana. Set on a great stretch of slightly less crowded beach in the area of Bavaro, there are 808 condo-style units spread out over seemingly never-ending grounds (families can arrange to have two twin beds added to the rooms for children). The sprawling property allows for more privacy but also means a long walk to the beach and pool area for many guests. The walk can be broken up with a little exploration in the ecological park, which contains rabbits, peacocks, chickens, and parrots; otherwise, guests will have to patiently wait for the tram, which comes around every 15 minutes or so. Decent restaurant options and daily specials allow for dining variety, and the lively (but not too lively) bar scene is a highlight, especially in the lobby for pre-dinner drinks and piano music.
As the biggest section of the Grand Bahia Principe (five hotels within), the Bavaro has a whopping 816 rooms in itself. Rooms are spacious and clean, though they mostly contain outdated decor. Guests at the Bavaro section tend to be families, and those with little ones have access to a number of kid-friendly activities: a water park, basketball court, go-cart track, mini-golf course, tennis courts, and animation activities at the pools and beach. The beach is a great place for building sand-castles while parents relax in the lounge chairs.
This 570-room property is part of the Bahia Principe brand's Don Pablo Collection and is one of the smaller, more luxurious options in the Bahia Principe resort complex. With an airy, relaxed scene and pretty surroundings, this seaside locale seems to attract an even mix of families and couples. Guests can choose to get their Vitamin D fix at two pools (one is a shallow kiddy pool) or the adjacent beach (best to snag a spot early). Though dining options on-site are limited, guests get unlimited access to several restaurant, bar and nightlife areas -- as well as all the family-friendly amenities -- of the entire resort complex by walking or using the shuttle.
Two Sirenis properties have merged into one here, with more than 800 rooms. Aquagames, the biggest water park in Punta Cana, has a number of cool vertical slides (adults love them, too), two kids' pools, and sunbathing areas. Guests have unlimited free access to the water park. The resort, which is on a beach, offers clean (if slightly basic) tropical-style rooms with colorful decor accents. Its facilities, including two swim-up bars, a full fitness center, evening entertainment, a disco, casino, and several themed restaurants draw guests from North America, Europe, and Russia. Not all the rooms have been renovated, though. Guests have complained about maintenance problems.
The Iberostar mega-complex is made up of four neighboring properties, and the 500-room Iberostar Dominicana is perhaps the best option for families given its more compact size and adjoining rooms. It's also popular with couples, who can likely appreciate the romantic, manicured grounds and fountains, while partiers can take advantage of the lively scene at the pool and beach bars. The beach here is renowned for a reason, but the chairs nearest to the ocean often get snagged in the early morning. With access to the golf course, tennis center, late-night disco and quality food and beverage options, it's a stand-out option for the low price. Just don't expect to be wowed by room decor, or have free Wi-Fi.
The three-pearl Karibo Punta Cana is a pleasant condo-style option that's right on the grounds of the White Sands Golf Club in the Punta Cana area. There are 66 rooms here, including a mix of traditional hotel rooms and apartments with full kitchens. The look is tropical-modern, with decor that can include marble floors and dark wood furniture, and amenities like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. While there have been complaints regarding upkeep and maintenance, this mid-range hotel has won over many vacationers with its sparkling 24-hour pool, modern style, and rates that easily beat the competition in Punta Cana.