The great outdoors can be an endless field trip for children of all ages. In the Dominican Republic’s many natural parks, the whole family can discover what it means to have kid-friendly fun together while connecting with nature.
The abundance of beautiful and varied landscapes in The Dominican Republic makes it a perfect place to explore with your kids. Over 25 percent of the country is protected in the form of national parks, reserves, and marine sanctuaries and your family has several choices throughout the country.
There are numerous benefits of spending time outdoors, both for kids and adults. Some deem spending time in nature is necessary. Plenty of studies that have shown that kids who connect with nature are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention, known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure. Show your kids how spending time in nature is extremely beneficial (and fun) by taking them to explore the natural wonders of the Dominican Republic.
ISABEL DE TORRES NATIONAL PARK
If you find yourself in the Northwestern part of Dominican Republic, just 3.8 miles from the city of Puerto Plata lies Isabel de Torres National Park. Your kids will love the views of the city when ascending the park’s peak by cable car. If they are up for a little more exercise, you can also opt to hike through the forest and mountains to get to the top, exploring the various cultural sights along the way. Check out our 5-star hotel in Puerto Plata!
Once up there, you’ll find a system of easy walking trails that are perfect for the children, incredible manicured gardens, and the large Christ the Redeemer, a statue reminiscent of the famous Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There are also a slew of restaurants to dine at on the mountaintop so you can plan to have a delicious local Dominican lunch in the park before your descent. And let the kids know about the strategically placed snack shacks at the top of the hill and at the bottom.
PARQUE NACIONAL DEL ESTE AND SAONA ISLAND
Only 20 miles south of Punta Cana is Parque Nacional del Este, one of the Dominican’s most popular parks. Take your kids on a boat trip to Saona Island, an island off the coast that is part of the national park. Your children will enjoy the psychological benefits that come with swimming in clear turquoise waters and setting foot on the white sands of this quintessential 'desert island'.
With endless opportunities for spotting birds and fish of different kinds, the waters in the immediate area offer some of the Dominican's best scuba diving and snorkeling. Take your family on an underwater adventure to witness hundreds of fish fill the rich coral reefs. Maybe you’ll even see some manatees and dolphins. Another fun activity is exploring fields of starfish.
A popular way of exploring the park is by catamaran, which can easily be chartered from the small fishing village of Bayahibe. You can also opt to join a day tour that departs daily from the village to the island. There is even a glass-bottom boat, where everyone can gaze at the seafloor below, witnessing the underwater coral inhabitants, like starfish, sea rays, brilliant fish, and possibly even a loggerhead sea turtle. Or you can stay in our all inclusive hotel in Bayahibe and complete your holidays!
The Cueva de los Murcielagos (the “Bat Cave”) is a little more of a trek. To gain access to this cave, you need to climb down a dry cave, through two narrow passages with metal ladders into a fairly big cave which houses all sorts of creatures such as bats, tarantulas and scorpions. There are two slumps; to reach the first you need to climb down a vertical rock pile of 6-7 meters. Then from there it goes down vertically under water. This is a cave that you don’t necessarily need to dive in. You also have the option to explore this cave fully dry, as there are also wonderful rock formations to enjoy without diving.
Other non-caving activities to do in El Choco National Park include an idyllic river tour on the Catalina River, hiking through the forest and strolling through curated gardens. Another fun way to explore the park is by horseback. End the ride at the Monkey Jungle zip line park, a high-flying adventure that is always a hit with the kids.
PATRICIA SERRANO CHUNGSATHAPORN | 10/08/2017
Photography by Cordon Press and Dominican Republic Tourism