To travel to Dominican Republic means mostly to go into one of the 5 star all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. Not my kind of holiday to be honest. Hence I was surprised when I found out that this Caribbean island has more to offer than just all inclusive resorts. In the north of the country, there is a bustling surf area around Cabarete with a cute little surf beach called El Encuentro. Also I found out that on the Samana island there are beautiful tropical beaches as well but without the crowds that you have in the south. So let’s go!

How to get there

We booked flights with Air Canada with a stop back and return in Canada with final destination Puerto Plata, the airport in the north of Dominican Republic. Arrived in Puerto Plata we have been picked up at the airport by our driver that we organized via our first hotel, El Encuentro surf lodge. It was a bit tricky to organize a child car seat as this is absolutely unusual for the Dominican Republic, but the hotel manager, Lina, an Austrian mom, was so helpful and organized everything for us. In general, we booked all our transfers via the hotel which was for us the safest and also most convenient way to go around.

When is the best time to go?

Travel season for the north of the Dominican Republic is from Feb to April. We went there beginning of March for 2 weeks, one week in El Encuentro, the little surf town, and another week in Las Terrenas on the Samana peninsula. (Read more about the Samana peninsula in my blog post BEACH PARADISE SAMANA.)

Our hotel – a real surfer’s paradise

El Encuentro Surf Lodge was our first hotel. We rented one of their brand new beach bungalows. The rooms are a bit further away from the main hotel but therefor just 20m away from the beach and have their own pool area. Breakfast was delivered upon request via whatsapp straight to your room. How cool is that?

Breakfast at El Encuentro surf lodge
Breakfast at El Encuentro surf lodge
beach bungalow El Encuentro
El Encuentro Beach Bungalow main terrace

What to do in El Encuentro

We explored the area around the hotel by bikes that we rented at the hotel. Just a few meters down the beach there was a surf spot with a little bar, two surf schools and one restaurant, that’s it! We were lucky that this one restaurant, Chez Arsenio, was good so we had dinner there nearly every night. Just steps away from our bungalow. We liked this remote feeling for a week. Once we went for dinner to Cabarete at Fresh Fresh restaurant. The restaurant was super nice, but we didn’t like Cabarete so much as it was very loud and very crowded.

El Encuentro Beach
El Encuentro beach
surf trip with kids
Surf school at El Encuentro beach
fresh fresh cabarete
Dinner at FRESH FRESH in Cabarete


For our flights we spend around 600 EUR per person. Even though Levi was still one month under 2 years old, we booked him a seat, as I didn’t want to have him on my lap for 15 hours. 😉 The hotels were around 1200 EUR for all of us for 12 days (6 days El Encuentro Surf Lodge, 6 days La Maison Las Terrenas), including breakfast. (On top come costs for further food, transfers and activities.)

Total budget: 3000 EUR

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