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A Punta Cana Family Getaway: The Nickelodeon Resort

A Punta Cana Family Getaway: The Nickelodeon Resort

Punta Cana, the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, is less than a four-hour flight from New York City,  and I’ve visited with my family three times. My boyfriend, our 5-year-old daughter, and I stayed recently at the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, about a 40-minute shuttle ride from the airport. This luxury resort is new, and it’s quite remarkable. 

When we arrived, we quickly checked in, after which a golf cart and driver escorted us around the grounds and to our room, which not only faced the ocean but featured a swim-up pool we could enter directly from our patio! 

 

Slimings and Water Slides

Getting slimed at Nickelodeon's Punta Cana Resort

The all-inclusive resort is well designed and branded, but you don’t see Nickelodeon logos, characters, or themes everywhere. The decor is very chic, with the classic Nickelodeon orange as the main accent color. The one exception is a giant pineapple-shaped villa, which, of course, belongs to SpongeBob SquarePants. There is a dedicated area called Nickelodeon Place at which you get the full-blown Nickelodeon experience, with drop-off activities, playrooms, daily green slimings, water slides, and character appearances. 

On our first day, our family got slimed, which was surprisingly fun, and my daughter is still talking about it. We played in the Aqua Nick water park and enjoyed lunch at a cool café called Aqua Bite at which you sit in swings at the table. There is also a fun indoor playroom called Just Kidding where we went to stay out of the sun a bit. 

There is a large plaza called the Village where most of the resort’s eight restaurants are located. The first night we ate at Verdello, a classic Italian restaurant. The food was great and the house wine was also very good. Every restaurant has a children’s menu and options for those with dietary restrictions. Although the food and alcohol is all-inclusive, we left tips for the service. 

That evening we went back to Nickelodeon Place and sang karaoke with a bunch of other families. Exhausted from the day of travel and activities, we were back in our room by 8pm. We ordered room service for the follow morning’s breakfast since we’d booked a day trip and had an early pick-up time. You can order room service 24 hours per day, so it is very accommodating for family members with unpredictable appetites.

 

La Hacienda Park

A buggy ride at La Hacienda Park in the Dominican Republic

On our second day, we ventured off the premises for an adventure at La Hacienda Park, which is a 40-minute drive into the countryside. Once we arrived at La Hacienda Park we checked in and were arranged into small groups, each with a leader. We began by driving a Polaris buggy (like an ATV or Jeep) along dirt roads. With my boyfriend at the wheel we were flying over muddy pits and getting completely drenched in mud. Midway through this adventure we stopped at the Anamuya River’s natural pools for a refreshing dip, after which we switched drivers and finished the drive.

This was my favorite activity of the day, but we also had great fun at the day’s other activities, including a safari ride to a classic farm where we each milked a cow, horseback riding through the countryside, and a chairlift ride above the trees. We also rode a zip line through the forest; it had five landing platforms, and at the final one we took a bungee down 20 feet to the ground. Our daughter participated in everything and loved every minute of it. Due to her size, she was accompanied by an experienced staff member while horseback riding, on the chairlift, and for tandem zip lining. Included in this experience is a delicious buffet of authentic Dominican food that we enjoyed while listening to live music. 

It sure was great returning back to the Nickelodeon resort after this filthy day of fun. We took a short swim in the ocean, which was quite rough and cool, but we still enjoyed it. After showering and dressing for dinner, we decided to try a restaurant called Spacewalker, which is designed to make you feel like you are in a space shuttle. The restaurant offers space helmets for kids to play with and a fantastic dessert that is not to be missed--a giant chocolate egg over which the waiter drizzles hot chocolate syrup right at your table until it breaks open to reveal a creamy surprise.

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Dolphin Island

The next day, we enjoyed the same breakfast in our room, then met our shuttle bus and headed to Dolphin Island. This was only a 20-minute drive from our resort. There are several options to choose from at this attraction, and we chose the Action experience. We all were instructed to put on life preservers and boarded a boat that took us out to sea to a series of containment pools where the dolphins live. We stepped into the pool and onto a ledge, and our dolphin, Luna, swam by several times allowing us to pet her. She also clapped her hands, and when we waved our hands like music directors, she sang. The highlight was when we individually swam out midway into the pool and she swam up to us, gave kisses, then allowed us to hold onto her fins as she swam each of us back to the platform ledge. Our daughter was too timid to swim out on her own, so she and her dad did that part together.

My boyfriend and I then snorkeled for a few minutes in a pool with sharks and manta rays. I was freaked out and saw only one shark because visibility was poor--but it was enough for me, and I happily hopped out of that pool and rejoined my daughter. Once the group was done snorkeling we took the boat to shore where you could buy photo packages and hang out on the beach while waiting for the bus ride back to the hotel.

Back at Nickelodeon, we enjoyed lunch at Brgrs.PH, which has great burgers, including a famous version that is family sized. After lunch we went to one of the big infinity pools with a swim-up bar, and our daughter made friends with some of the other kids there. Later we requested a tour of SpongeBob SquarePants’ Pineapple house. This villa has two bedrooms and indoor and outdoor living areas, including a garden, patio, infinity pool, and private butlers! Our daughter was tickled to be able to take a peek inside this awesome villa.  

Afterward, we made our way back to the Aqua Nick and played on the slides, while I mostly floated in the lazy river. For dinner that night we went to Wok Wok and enjoyed fine Asian cuisine and sake. The entertainment that night was a show, meet and greet, and dance party with Paw Patrol’s Marshall and Chase along with Dora the Explorer and Boots. The kids went nuts over these guys--it was adorable to see. Later that evening we watched a live Michael Jackson tribute.

On our final morning, we only had a few hours to spend before our bus took us to the airport. We finally tried breakfast out of our room at the buffet restaurant Sugarcane, at which the range of offerings was amazing and everything I tried was delicious. Afterwards we took a quick dip in the pool and then sadly packed up our suitcases and made our way to our bus. We wished we had stayed another day. There were so many activities we still wanted to do, so we’ll have to come back. This resort is luxury, which is reflected in its cost; however there are always promotions that help bring down the price. Of the three vacations to all-inclusive resorts my family has made to Punta Cana, the food and quality at Nickelodeon Resort was tops by far.

 

Tips for Visiting Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana

  • Bring your own sunscreen to avoid paying a premium for it onsite.
  • You can easily stay at the resort and never leave; however the day trips we did were fantastic. If you can only do one, La Hacienda Park was our favorite.
  • The resort grounds are sprawling, so bring comfortable shoes. You can also be escorted by golf carts that regularly circle the property.
  • Bring a stroller if you have little ones.
  • Resort attire is required at the restaurants at night, so pack a sundress and button down.
  • Most everyone speaks a little English, although it was fun practicing our Spanish when possible.
  • Bring $10 cash per person for entry tax at the airport.
  • Nickelodeon Resort only accepts Visa and Mastercard. They also take US dollars.
  • Pool towels are provided, so no need to pack towels.
  • Pack your own life jacket or water wings if your child uses them; these are available for sale onsite but not free.
  • The luggage weight limit is less in the Caribbean than domestic flights and most other countries, so check with your airline to see their policy to avoid any extra weight fees.

 

Looking for fun closer to home? Download our guide to the best NY-area family day trips.