Dominican Republic

Courtesy the Zimmerman Agency

Club Med Punta Cana’s private beach spans 2,000 feet on the Atlantic coast of the Dominican Republic. When you’re done lounging on the white sand, there’s no shortage of activities, from excursions to flying trapeze and archery.

Largely due to its production of coffee, cigars, and chocolate, the Dominican Republic is, understandably, one of the most popular Caribbean destinations. Located on the eastern-most tip of the main island of Hispaniola (the island shared by Haiti and the DR), Club Med Punta Cana (from $200 per person per night, based on double occupancy) is a great home base. Not only does this all-inclusive resort mean access to meals but there are daily, perfect-for-the-kids clown shows, archery lessons, and even a flying trapeze. And when it’s time for the adults to take part in some of the fun (activities include dancing lessons, fishing, and yoga), big perks at Club Med are Baby, Petit, and Mini Club Med child care services—there’s even a club for teenaged kids. Add in the daily excursions to swim with dolphins and the great snorkeling and you have a strong contender for a warm-weather family adventure. —Virginia Brown  

Try This, Not That
Every evening at 9:30, several staff members double as stage performers in cabaret-style shows that last well into the night. Skip these performances and get a good night’s sleep so you wake refreshed for the Dominican Colors excursion. This tour sends you exploring the real DR, stopping in a local school, taking back roads to some of the main sights of the area, and touring economic mainstays, from rum-production facilities to coffee- and chocolate-making plants.

Like a Local
Nearby Saona is a government-protected island rich in wildlife, located just off the southeast point of the DR. Take the day-trip excursion to find out why this island is famed for the untouched beauty of its beaches. Sandbars make the shallow surrounding waters perfect for spotting indigenous starfish, and the trip begins and ends with a 90-minute bus ride through scenic Higuey and Bayahibe and their colorful markets and architecture.

Getting There
US Airways offers direct flights to Punta Cana.

Who to Follow

Best-Kept Secret
Club Med is a French-based company, so there is a definite slant toward French customs, which can be fun (pain au chocolat for breakfast, boules on the lawn) but also leaves out many Dominican customs. Get your local fix, instead, by visiting the Cielo bar one night for the staff party, where local staffers teach and perform popular dances, known as “crazy signs,” to guests with a sense of adventure. 

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