Thinking about booking a trip to the Dominican Republic not sure whether it’s the right vacation for your family? Once you check out these top reasons to book an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation, you’ll be ready to pack your bags and hop on a plane. My family just returned from what was supposed to be a long Labor Day weekend getaway but became a full week vacation, thanks to Hurricane Dorian. Keep reading to find out how something that could have been frustrating just gave us even more reasons to love Punta Cana.
The vacation that almost didn’t happen, and how a weekend became a week
Before we can get into the reasons to book an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation right now, I have to tell you about how this was the trip that almost didn’t happen. It just makes our experience there all that much sweeter!
As I’m sure you know, Hurricane Dorian terrorized the Bahamas over Labor Day weekend, stalling out for days over the island nation. Even beforehand, though, when it was still days away from landfall, we were keeping a super close eye on it. As a Florida resident, we’re always watching out for hurricanes, but at the same time we don’t let them stop our plans. If we did, we’d never go anywhere from June through November!
So, even though we knew Dorian was building up to become one of the worst storms in recorded hurricane history, we still kept our plans to head to the Dominican Republic and Punta Cana for Labor Day weekend. The problem? Even though we were willing to keep our plans, the airlines weren’t quite as confident.
Our flight came *this* close to getting cancelled on the way down, so we spent a lot of time monitoring the storm. It moved, though, and we were able to make the trip. However, we were not able to make it back! So, long story short, we had to stay an extra four days because our flight was canceled and the Ft. Lauderdale airport was closed. I’m telling you about all of this because those extra days gave us a lot more time to explore all that Punta Cana has to offer. It also showed us how the staff handles issues like this.
Now, let’s talk about the reasons why you will want to an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation for your family!
Top Reasons to Book An All-Inclusive Punta Cana Vacation Right Now
Before we get into the reasons for booking a Punta Cana vacation, it would probably help for you to know exactly where it is, right? If you look at a map of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is all the way on the east side of the island. Think about it like this: although you won’t actually be able to see it, if you were to stand on the beach and look out over the sea, Puerto Rico’s west beaches would be almost directly across from you. Now that you know where it is, let’s talk about why you’d want to go there!
1. It’s just a 2-hour flight from Ft. Lauderdale
Punta Cana is just a quick 2-hour flight from Florida, so it’s really convenient to just hop down there for the weekend. Here’s a tip: if you have a choice between Florida airports when planning your vacation, go with Ft. Lauderdale. I live in Miami Beach but Ft. Lauderdale is only 30 minutes away and almost always has better deals. For the best prices, check out Jetblue. We love flying their airline. In just 2 hours you will be enjoying the best Punta Cana has to offer, beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, and quality family time!
2. It’s Inexpensive (and really easy to find deals to make it even cheaper)
An all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation is already fairly cheap to begin with. It’s not unreasonable to expect to find deals for around $200 a night per family, depending on the resort. Using sites like Travelocity (our favorite place to find the best travel deals) will save you even more money.
Here’s another tip that I learned from a staff member during our extended stay: sometimes it’s cheaper to just book directly through the hotel. We were able to stay 4 extra nights for cheaper than we booked before we went there with the hotel directly! They just happened to be running a flash 24-hour sale that day. I imagine the hurricane caused a lot of last-minute cancellations and vacancies.
Also, while it’s a fairly budget-friendly vacation all year round, you can save even more money by going on their off-season from around March to May. Don’t worry, the weather will still be gorgeous!
3. All-inclusive really means all-inclusive!
Remember when we talked about what all-inclusive means on a cruise, and how you have to pay extra to eat at certain restaurants or for things like soda and alcohol? Well, aside from your flights, most all-inclusive resorts at Punta Cana actually mean it when they say, “everything is included.” Yep, even alcohol.
We stayed at two different resorts during our stay, the Barcelo Bavaro Palace and the Melia Caribe Beach. Now, I’ll be honest, while the Melia was beautiful and the beach, pools and common area were very nice, the casinos had no night life and the food was just so-so. The service wasn’t really the best, either. That’s why we moved when our flight was canceled.
The Barcelo, on the other hand, was fantastic. Even though it was about the same price as the Melia, it was more luxurious and had a lot more things to do for both kids and adults. I’ll share more about that below, but just as a quick example, they have a great kids’ camp that stays open until midnight and a bigger theater for nightly shows than the Melia.
They also offer a ton of restaurants (see more about the food below, it’s worthy of its own section), activities, and even an airport shuttle in their all-inclusive plans. You get breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and most drinks (domestic and certain liquors) included, plus access to private beaches, boat rentals and so much more.
Like the Barcelo says, you just have to think about waking up, having fun, then going to sleep! They take care of the rest.
4. Tons of activities for all ages
One of the best things about an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation is the fact that you can easily spend your entire vacation right on resort property. There are TONS of activities for the entire family. Casinos, the beach, dance classes, competitions, sports, and amazing kids’ clubs where they will keep your kids entertained all day long.
Some resorts definitely offer more activities than others. Like I mentioned above, the Barcelo was overall a more family-friendly resort and offered more for us to do than the Melia. It even has its own water park and swimming pools (including one just for adults and one just for kids). Other fun things to do include kayaking, scuba diving, wind surfing and even Spanish lessons; plus a ton of “extras” activities that aren’t included in the price but are still really reasonable.
Of course, you don’t have to spend your entire trip on property. It’s easy to find professional guides to take you to the best fishing spots or on tours of historic areas, plantations and more. Just make sure you stick with professional guides recommended by the resort staff, stay in tourist locations and go in groups. The Dominican Republic isn’t quite as dangerous as some would make you think, but it does still have its fair share of crime in certain areas.
5. The Caribbean is always gorgeous
We can’t talk about the benefits of an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation without mentioning that stunning Caribbean Sea, can we? With incredible soft white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue water, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great vacation. Just about all of the major resorts have their own private beach access.
The weather is always gorgeous, too. Yes, hurricanes are a concern, but for the most part you’ll enjoy sunshine and warm temperatures. The average temperatures are in the 80s year round, although like pretty much all parts of the world the temps can go well outside of the averages. So, be prepared for a few 90+ degree days during the summer months.
6. The food is beyond magnificent
Although the Melia had some good dining options, I definitely liked the food at the Barcelo the best. The restaurants are really, really good! From the buffets to the reservation-only restaurants, all of the food was just amazing. Our favorite was the Japanese restaurant. The buffets are also fantastic if you prefer something a little more relaxed. They have two going all day long. One with international cuisine and one with Dominican food.
Oh, and the tropical fruit! What an abundance of delicious tropical fruits!! I was in love. Every day for breakfast I had a huge plate full of my favorite fruits: watermelon, mango, papaya, passion fruits, pineapples, and berries. If you want a taste of local cuisine, I highly recommend trying out the tostones and mangu. Both are typical plantain dishes there, and you really can’t leave the Dominican Republic without trying plantains.
7. They take your safety very seriously
Last (but far from least, of course), the resorts take your safety very, very seriously. I know the news has been pretty negative towards the Dominican Republic lately, but as long as you stay on or near resort property, you should be just fine. In fact, resorts are actually paying even closer attention than usual to guest safety because they took such a hit from those news reports.
Of course, use common sense. Stick to tourist areas, book outings through the resort or recommended tour guides, and don’t walk around with all of your valuables in plain sight. In other words, don’t be flashy. That goes for any vacation, really.
If you need a family getaway to just relax, recharge and bond with your loved ones, an all-inclusive Punta Cana vacation really is a fantastic idea. It’s convenient, the weather is perfect, the beaches are AMAZING, and the people are so friendly and happy. You will be learning how to dance merengue for sure by the end of your trip!