Blog by Clinton and Emma-Kate. We are world citizens, and Canadian, traveling around the world as a family. We are the Cornell family! Here you'll find every information you need, to become a traveler. It has information ranging from the best destinations to most dangerous insects, it has it all.
A lot of vacationers consider the Dominican Republic the land of all-inclusive resorts. They are partly right: there are a lot of luxurious resorts where you can truly relax, rest and have a lot of fun.
You probably know by now that we prefer adventurous trips over all-inclusive vacations, even though once in a while we actually need an authentic relaxing vacation.
This itinerary is the most balanced and will please everyone: that’s why I say it is the ultimate 10-day Dominican Republic itinerary. You will get on this trip adventures, amazing discoveries, a stunning road trip as well as the best finale possible: a 4-day of total rest at the most fun place to be in the country!
International flights to Santo Domingo are probably the cheapest ones you can get to the Dominican Republic. The other cheapest flights will bring you to Punta Cana.
A 20-minute drive from the Santo Domingo international airport will bring you to Boca Chica, a cute little town by the Caribbean Sea. For young families, this destination is great because the crystal clear aqua sea is shallow, and the beach is powdery white. By the way, if you are looking for the cleanest stretch of beach in Boca Chica, book at the Boca Beach Residence. This brand new hotel also has a super fun pool and spacious apartments that will be a haven for your family.
To do in Boca Chica: walk the beach and sit at one of the cute little restaurants for a snack! You can also rent a pedal boat equipped with a slide: your kids will love it! We paid the pedal boat rental 350 DOP for 1 hour.
From Boca Chica, you can also go back to Santo Domingo for a discovery tour of the Dominican Republic capital, and come back at night to rest in your quiet and peaceful hotel.
Also, as you’ll spend time on Boca Chica’s stunning beach, you’ll be approached by a lot of tour vendors all offering the same packages to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina. We wanted to visit Isla Saona, so we inquired for their best price. At first, the all-inclusive, full day tour was $70 per adult and $25 for our 5-year old girl. After negotiating a little bit, the vendor was selling his tour at $55 per adult, and it was free for our little girl.
Then, since we had our own car, we thought we might as well use it and avoid paying for the transfer. So early one morning we drove all the way to Playa Bayahibe, which is a nice 1h10 minute drive. Playa Bayahibe is where all the excursion boats are leaving to Saona Island.
As soon as our car approached the drop-off spots for the transfer buses, a man waved at us and offered us the same all-inclusive day tour at $45 per adult, still free for Emma-Kate. Then we bargained again a little bit and made a deal with him at $30 per adult.
The all-inclusive day trip to Saona Island is fun. We left Playa Bayahibe on a speedboat and then stopped at a natural swimming pool where we snorkeled. Once we’ve made it to Saona Island, we enjoyed time on the beach and a good barbecue-style lunch. Please take note that there are bathrooms on the island, but there was no soap to wash our hands. And there are a lot of lounge chairs to enjoy your afternoon.
On our sailing catamaran ride on the way back to Bayahibe, there was an open bar on board and dancing on the deck.
Hotel suggestion: While in Boca Chica, we stayed at the Boca Beach Residence, which is a contemporary brand new apart-hotel that offers 5-star amenities. We loved their spacious, modern and quiet apartment, as well as their gorgeous pool and private white-sand beach. You can read more about our amazing stay at the Boca Beach Residence here.
A very scenic 2hr drive on the Autopista del Nordeste (#7) will take you from Boca Chica to Las Terrenas. The vistas along the way are breathtaking, and the road conditions are perfect. Please take note that this highway has a couple of expensive tolls to pay, a small fee to pay to get amazing driving conditions.
Las Terrenas is a super cute town located on the Samana Peninsula, in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. We loved the vibe there, and we are sure you will love it too!
There are 2 different waterfront areas: one with brand new restaurants designed to please the international travelers, and another one with small local eating venues to sit and enjoy the Dominican home cooking.
The most popular day trip from Las Terrenas is to get to El Limon waterfalls. This is a 30-minute drive if you have your own car, but don’t worry if you don’t because almost all locals know someone who can offer you the tour.
Almost everyone going at El Limon waterfalls will do horseback riding. You can hike too, but they don’t recommend it, because the trail can be very muddy, especially if it has been raining the day before. Stubborn as we are, we hiked! It took us 40 minutes to get to the fall, and Emma-Kate (5-years old) walked the whole trail. This is an easy walk. It was quite muddy, but there was always a way to go around the mud and even though I was wearing flip-flops (which I don’t even recommend lol), my toes were super clean after the return hike! By the way, if you’re going on a horse, you’ll still have to hike the last part of the trail!
There are a lot of people at the waterfall, unfortunately, so it’ll be hard to take a shot without strangers… unless you wait until the tour groups leave and then you get the whole area all to yourself, which happened for us around 3 PM.
You can swim in the fall, but beware the water is quite chilly.
Another cool activity to do in Las Terrenas is to rent a quad, and we recommend Jessie Car Rental. The owner is French and friendly J. There is nothing like driving a quad in paradise!
With the quad, we drove all the way to Playa Moron, which we had all for ourselves. It was amazing! The last stretch of the road is a dirt road, but that’s when driving a quad is the most fun!
Hotel suggestions: Your accommodation options in Las Terrenas are plenty, but we recommend 2 places. If you want a mix of contemporary and luxury, book at the Puerto Plaza Hotel. You’ll stay at the coolest place in town: a hotel that’s shaped like a cruise ship! The apartments are so spacious, with incredible views and the best location in town!
Your other best option is Hotel Alisei, where you’ll get all the luxury resort amenities with a local twist. Their pool was Emma-Kate’s favorite, and the spa and restaurant were mine!
Punta Cana is a 3hr 40m minute drive away from Las Terrenas. You get to see the same beautiful vistas as on your way North, so if you missed a cool shot on your way there, you have a second chance!
Punta Cana is without a doubt an all-inclusive destination, and we splurged! We choose to spend our last precious days in the Dominican Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana, which I recommend 100%.
The name of the resort might make you believe it’s for singles who want to party all night, and there are some areas where the music is fun and loud. And there are also special areas of the resort exclusively for the little ones, with slides, fun pools, yummy snacks and everything in-between to please the parents too.
I have to admit we were sold as soon as we arrived! Personalized 1st class service, 5-stars amenities and luxury: that’s my kind of resort! Our days at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana were easy and thrilling: in the morning, I would choose the best lounge chair right beside the huge water slides where Emma-Kate would endlessly go up and down, with fast WiFi and drinks served by super friendly staff. Please click here to know more about the best all-inclusive resort of Punta Cana.
It was actually the best way to end our trip. Exploring and going on great adventures can leave you tired. That’s why ending a trip with a couple of days at a fun and relaxing all-inclusive is the best of both worlds!
We finished our trip with a ride back to Santo Domingo to catch our flight.
Yes, the Dominican Republic charmed us. The landscapes are very beautiful, lush nature, crystal clear water, and you get a lot of different activities to enjoy your days to the fullest!
While everyone around you is planning a vacation or a road trip, and you feel a little awkward and insecure about this because you have a food allergy and you are convinced you won’t be safe while traveling.
Yes, it is a bit scary, because you don’t have control over it, but it isn’t something that you can’t handle. Is really the food allergy an excuse not to travel? Of course not. Go and travel around the world, but first, make some research and preparations.
Traveling with allergies: your complete guide
Choose your travel location carefully
Before you buy your airline ticket or book your hotel, make a quick research about the destination. If you are allergic to coconuts, well then it makes things a lot more complicated if you want to go to Indonesia. For your first trip abroad, let’s choose the safest destination for you, where people don’t often cook with the food you’re allergic to, or are very aware of how to cook safely meals without that ingredient.
Moreover, some kind of trips is safer than others. For example, going on a cruise where you’ll always eat at the same restaurant, being served by the same waiter, makes things a lot easier since cruises staff members are well trained to keep their guests with food allergies safe. The larger dining room galley is set up better to create allergy-free meals and avoid cross-contamination.
Anyway, it will be a smart step if you talk to your doctor before you choose your destination.
Take the medicines with you
Take everything with you, and don’t make plans to buy everything there when you arrive, because medicines are not quite the same around the world, and that may cause you troubles. If you think you might have boarding troubles, ask your doctor to write you an authorized letter about the medicine you take on board.
Search for the local emergency
Find out where the hospital is and how far it is from your hotel. It is a good idea to write down the name and address of the closest hospital translated into your destination’s language for a taxi driver to take you quickly if needed.
Also, always keep with you the emergency numbers to get your medical help immediately in case you need it.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for special arrangements
Your food allergy is something that you shouldn’t be ashamed of. It’s okay to ask for your food to be prepared in a different way than on the menu. It’s okay to ask the flight attendant about the ingredients of the food on the plane, and if there is any emergency help available while flying. In fact, you should call your airline company before your flight and get all the information you need so you won’t have a stressful flight.
Bring hand sanitizer and hand wipes with you
Hygiene is very important while traveling. Often we don’t have the opportunity to wash our hands, although we know it’s very important and can decrease infectious agents on the hands. But unfortunately, sometimes it’s impossible to wash our hands so often, so we must carry hand wipes and hand sanitizer because airplanes, trains, and buses are like a magnet for allergens.
Inform others about your allergy issue
If you like to eat out in restaurants, take with you a personalized “chef card” which contains details about your allergy and it will be useful for kitchen staff to prepare your meal properly. FARE provides an interactive PDF of chef card templates in English and a number of foreign languages to use while traveling.
Please don’t solely rely on your chef card. It is advisable to speak to your waiter about this.
Of course, you don’t have to write it on your forehead, but it’s a good idea if your friends who travel with you, or the person sitting next to you know about your food allergy so they will be prepared to help you.
Apps you must have on your phone
One app that can help you a lot is Allergy FT (Food Translator). First, you must open an account, and a profile which includes the food you must keep away from. The app offers you 86 different food allergy translations, and is multilingual. Also, you can have access even if you are offline, so it’s good because often we don’t have access to the internet while traveling.
Life is short and the world is wide! Don’t follow the advice that if you stay at home you will be safer than while traveling. You CAN travel safely with a food allergy, given the steps above.
Always take the food allergy emergency plan with you and keep your medications handy. Traveling with food allergy itself is stressful enough, so don’t try to stress the hell out of you more than that. In time you will gain confidence that you can travel without putting your health at risk.