I always type this phrase in google, before deciding where to go and buying tickets. ‘Things to do’ or more like ‘many things to do’ is a major factor for me when choosing a destination. I don’t like doing nothing, I want to make the most of every single day, see everything I can, get so tired, that water running down my back from the shower would feel like an ultimate luxury. Whenever I go I want to see all the natural wonders, mountains, jungles, waterfalls and ruins, but most importantly to learn about people and their everyday life, the problems they are facing, and the culture and history that make them proud. This kind of experience means so much to me, much more than lying on the beach or even visiting museums.
When I was going to Dominican Republic I planned to plop myself on the beach for 2 weeks convinced that there was nothing to see (as if lying down and resting was possible with and 7 month old 🙂 I was even kind of happy that there was nothing to see, at least I wouldn’t regret missing out on something cool because I couldn’t have gone there with a baby. It turned out much to my surprise, that in a fat hotel folder full of trashy and made up excursions (like boogies adventures, where literally every hole in your head is filled with sand and dust and noise of the engine is drilling your brain through, or horse riding into the sea – tourist attraction in Jamaica, for real) it is actually possible to find some interesting things as well. If not full excursion – on some occasions I didn’t like all the points in itinerary – then at least ideas and hints where to go and what’s interesting.
Paradise island, where ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ where filmed, Dominican Republic top attraction, excursions are being sold on every corner. I wanted to avoid crowds, I didn’t want to feel like cattle hurried from place to place and actually be able to find a little bit of sand and water to myself (I’ve read many reviews like that), that’s why I’ve done more research and found Seavis Tours – top class local tour operator. Very professional, reply to emails immediately, they are No 1 in Punta Cana and specialise in all about nature eco tours. Small groups, no mass tourism and personal attention is what makes Seavis excursions so different from any other. Their Saona Crusoe VIP tour was voted best of all Saona excursion on tripadvisor. Highlights include visiting small fishing village – Mano Juan, the only village on the island, with characteristic colourful beach huts, and turtle sanctuary, where you have a chance to hold baby turtles. There is also stop in piscina natural, that is natural pool – a shallow place on the ocean far from the shore, where you can see starfish (remember not to take them out for photo, as they are like fish and cannot breath outside water. What’s more, this excursion has 3 beaches in itinerary (standard tours have 1) among which is Canto de la Playa, considered the most beautiful on Saona.
Adult: 95$, child: 43$, for more info go to: https://www.seavisbayahibe.com/Saona_e.htm
Whale watching in Samana Bay
If only I was in Dominican Republic between January and March, when this trip runs, I would definitely go, and also with Seavis tours. It must be absolutely awesome! There are approximately 300 whales coming into Samana Bay every day during mating season, so it’s almost impossible not to see one. Seavis guides for this tour are well trained and know how to ensure safety both people’s and whales’.
Adult: 145$, child<12: 99$, children under 4 not allowed.
In Samana city you will visit city square, churches and other historical buildings, especially memorable are rows of multi colour houses that look like they’ve been taken out from a cartoon, or made out of blocks. Next on the plan is El Valle – paradise island, and Cayo Levantado with white powder sand and warm turquoise water (organised by tour operators in hotels).
Adult: 169$, child: 85$
Catalina island, Chavon river and Tanama jungle
Great tour for kids, organised also by Seavis tours, starts with snorkeling (or sunbathing) on beautiful Catalina, next you will board the traditional boat and cruise stream up through the gorge of Chavon river, surrounded by tropical jungle (you’ll feel like you are in Amazonia), and the last stop is Tanama, with butterfly garden, reptile house and the tropical route – educational walk with lots of info about local flora and fauna.
Adult: 105$, child: 60$
I’ve done this tour with Lily, booked it through the hotel (Sunwings tour operator), I chose half day option, but you could also go for a full day. I recommend this especially for kids; they can learn how coffee, tea, coconut oil are produced, see sugar cane field, go to local village and visit typical Dominican house and school. All this in just couple of hours so it’s not to tiring. It’s a valuable lesson to see how people live in this part of the world and how different the school is from their own. Starting from the fact that it costs 50$ per month and many parents simply can’t afford to send their children, even if they want to. Lily had a chance to make a donation at school, which made her really proud. Your guide will probably tell you not to give away money, toys and sweets to people. It might seem like thoroughly good, straight from the heart gesture, but when you think about it deeper, it just sends message to people that they don’t need to go to work, kids don’t need to go to school and make better future for themselves, because they can live of tourists handouts. So just not to encourage this kind of passive attitude it’s best to donate money or things directly to schools or local organisations (your guide should be able to give you more details about how to do it).
Adult: 80$, Child: 40$
Exploring the capital and shopping is a leitmotiv of this tour, offered by majority of hotels. Santo Domingo is the oldest city in both Americas, so you have a chance to see the oldest cathedral, first paved street, hospital, university. Dose of history from colonial period will be a good exercise for intoxicated by cocktails and sun brains 🙂
Adult: 80$, Child: 40$
Pirates of the Caribbean show
Something special for children, interactive show on a pirate ship. Prepare yourselves for treasure hunt and swimming with sharks and stingrays. It’s a half day tour, very popular and with very good feedback.
Adult: 114$, Children: free
And if you are wondering how it’s possible to see anything at all with baby – post about it coming soon 🙂