4 Outdoor Family Adventures Near Punta Cana Dominican Republic

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(Last Updated On: September 13, 2020)
outdoor family adventures near punta cana are abundant
Outdoor family adventures abound near Punta Cana (Photo Credit)
By Christian Jannasch – Punta Cana Travel Blog

Outdoor Family Adventures Near Punta Cana Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. But, most people don’t know a lot about the country. Usually, vacation planning here centers around the all-inclusive resorts in/around Punta Cana. And, while lots of parents think that staying at these types of places is the easiest way to experience the Dominican Republic with kids, there are actually a bunch of outdoor family adventures near Punta Cana. They are not only thrilling and off the beaten path but also totally doable with a family.

The Dominican Republic With Kids Is Thrilling

The Dominican Republic offers diversity and beauty no other country in the Caribbean can compete with. Secluded waterfalls, pristine beaches, national parks, areas which hardly see any tourists throughout the year and welcoming locals are just a few of the things you’ll be able to experience if you embark on these outdoor family adventures near Punta Cana. If you choose to venture a bit further off the beaten path by doing a Dominican Republic road trip for outdoor family adventures, there will be even more experiences you and your family will be able to have together.

No matter which of these outdoor family adventures near Punta Cana you choose to do, if you do decide to visit the Dominican Republic with kids and have any comments, questions or concerns, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you just as soon as we can!

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#1 Outdoor Family Adventure Near Punta Cana: Playa Esmeralda

The Most Pristine Beach In The Punta Cana Area

Playa Esmeralda is a perfect place for outdoor family adventures near punta cana
The beach of Playa Esmeralda (Photo Credit)

Punta Cana’s tourism sector is a billion-dollar industry and attracts 3-4 million tourists every year. But if you just head 50 miles northwest, you’ll find one of the most pristine beaches in the Dominican Republic. Here at Playa Esmeralda there are 2 miles of fine untouched sand. The tropical scenery, seemingly endless palm trees and serene bay as calm and as warm as your own bathtub will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard.

A Long Walk On The Beach Is Perfect For Kids

A great option for an outdoor family adventure at Playa Esmeralda is to walk along the beach and to explore the neighboring bays for up to 10 to 15 miles. There are further pristine areas and unspoiled coconut palm groves. And, it’s very unlikely that you’ll see any tourists in this area. It truly feels like paradise here and the whole family will enjoy it!

How To Get There: Drive approximately 1-hour from the Punta Cana area. You can rent a car or take a taxi.

Where To Stay: Besides a resort, which is due to open at the end of 2020, there are no accommodations directly at Playa Esmeralda. The nearest option is Hotel Atebey Miches.

Duration Of Visit: Depending on how long you would like to spend at the beach, this could be a half-day trip from Punta Cana.

#2 Outdoor Family Adventure: Salto De La Jalda

The Highest Waterfall In The Caribbean

Salto De La Jalda the tallest waterfall in the Caribbean
The highest waterfall in the Caribbean – Salto de la Jalda

Another one of the outdoor family adventures near Punta Cana is Salto de la Jalda – the highest waterfall in the Caribbean. The main reason most people don’t visit this is because it’s not well known outside of local circles. Also, because the hike is quite long. If you’re visiting the Dominican Republic with kids and they’re quite young, this is not a good choice. However, if your family is used to hiking, and your kids are a bit older (10+) this is something you certainly won’t want to miss. And, while you can hike Salto de la Jalda on your own, you can also hire a guide for the hike.

The Dominican Republic With Kids Can Be Challenging But Rewarding

If you do decide to embark on this outdoor family adventure, be prepared for a 10-mile round-trip hike. Fortunately however, most of the terrain leading to the waterfall is quite flat. As an added bonus, the trail crosses a river several times and leads through a cocoa plantation. The plantation is a perfect opportunity to cool down and to suck on the sweet jelly of the cocoa beans. Ask your guide how to do it, if you’re not sure how.

A cocoa bean
Fresh cocoa beans, right from the pod!

The reward for this rather long hike will be a spectacular and expansive view of the emerald green subtropical coniferous forests endemic to the Dominican Republic. And of course, you’ll also be able to swim in the highest waterfall in the Caribbean. The vast majority of the time, you’ll have the whole area to yourself.

A Map Of The Hike

If you and your family are experienced hikers, and you opt to not hire a guide, this map can help you find your way. Just download either the KML, GPX or GeoJSON file from the top righthand corner of the map. Then, open up the file in your favorite mapping app. The Guru Maps app (iOS/Android) is an excellent choice.

(map credit)

How To Get There: The trailhead to Salto de la Jalda is in Magua, and it’s between Miches and Sabana de la Mar. Roughly speaking, it’s a 2-hour drive from Punta Cana. From the trailhead to the waterfall it’s about 5-miles, and then you’ll have 5-miles back for a total of 10. Again, unless you and your family are experienced hikers, it’s best to hire a guide for this adventure.

Where To Stay: If you leave very early from Punta Cana, you can return back in the evening. Alternatively, you can stay in Miches. Of the few local options there, Hotel Atebey Miches is a decent one.

Duration Of Visit: You will need a full day to enjoy this outdoor family adventure near Punta Cana. Plan on a total trip time of 10-13 hours.

#3 Outdoor Family Adventure Near Punta Cana: Los Haitises National Park

Overnight In An Eco-Lodge Surrounded By Waterfalls

Los Haitises National Park is a great outdoor family adventure near punta cana
The eco-lodge in Los Haitises National Park

If you would like to leave Punta Cana for a night, Los Haitises National Park is one of your best options. The park itself is stunning and is a must-have experience due to its abundant flora and fauna. However, it’s not an off-the-beaten-track experience as many day tours head to the park. With that said, this is a very memorable and an easy way to adventure in the Dominican Republic with kids.

How To Avoid The Crowds

The best way to avoid crowds at Los Haitises is to spend a night in the park. There is no better way to do so than by staying at Paraíso Caño Hondo (or its sister property Altos de Caño Hondo). This amazing eco-lodge has waterfalls and natural swimming pools right on the property. While your kids enjoy splashing around and hopping from pool to pool, you can relax by listening to the steady soundscape of the waterfalls and admiring the beautiful views over Los Haitises National Park.

How To Get There: From Punta Cana, it’s a 2.5-hour drive to the park and the eco-lodge.

Where To Stay: Paraíso Caño Hondo and its sister property Altos de Caño Hondo are the only accommodation options in the park, and they are both excellent options.

Duration Of Visit: The best way to experience this adventure is by staying for one to two days

#4 Outdoor Family Adventure Near Punta Cana: Isla Saona, Dominican Republic

How To Get Off The Beaten Path At The Most Popular Attraction

Isla Saona is perfect for an outdoor family adventure
Postcard perfect Isla Saona

If you have ever been to the Dominican Republic, you have likely heard of Isla Saona. Thanks to it’s picture-perfect beaches and the option to enjoy catamaran excursions here, Isla Saona is the most popular attraction in the island nation. However, there is a way to avoid the many toursist who come here each day: Spend a night in the only village on the island.

Two simple guesthouses await you on Isla Saona. Thanks to their proximity to the island’s village, you will get a unique view into traditional Dominican island life. Furthermore, you’ll have the chance to be the first person in the crystal-clear water in the morning. And, it goes with out saying, but your kids will enjoy playing in the fine white Caribbean sand.

How To Get There: Head to Bayahibe (around 1-1.5 hours from Punta Cana). Take the boat from the harbor, which can be prearranged through your accommodation.

Where To Stay: Casa Rural and Saona Beach House are the only two accommodations on Saona Island.

Duration Of Visit: Spend two full days and one night.

Map Of The Adventures

When planning an outdoor family adventure it’s alwasy nice to have a map. In the one below, make sure to click the menu button hike Lamma Island and either Yung Shue Ha or Sham Wan to see all the map labels, etc.

Go Adventure In The Dominican Republic With Kids

Whether you prefer hiking, exploring beaches, delving into national parks or immersing yourselves in Dominican island life, there are plenty of outdoor family adventures near Punta Cana to choose from. If you’re keen to explore even more of this island nation, consider renting a car and doing a Dominican Republic road trip for outdoor family adventures. If you’re in need of a short break from your kids, consider checking out adult only Breathless Punta Cana. And, if a short flight doesn’t worry you, there are lovely and hidden beaches in Tortola BVI. But either way, definitely add this spectacular and family friendly place to your bucket list. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below, and in the mean time, happy adventuring!


If you’d like to know more about Chris and his second home country, the Dominican Republic, check out his website Punta Cana Travel Blog. After traveling through many parts of the world, he settled there in 2015 – mostly in Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. Chris’ expertise is in the Dominican’s pristine beaches and secluded waterfalls. Chris also offers travel coaching and can set up a personalized itinerary for your vacation in the Dominican Republic.


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