Introduction: In the Dominican Republic, it is know as Cayo Arena and for most foreigners it is sold as Paradise Island, but it is not an island at all, just a sand dune in the middle of nowhere. It is basically a coral inlet, ideal for snorkelling. If you check out my photo above you see the shallow water, then the deep dark blue, which can be quite scary because it is literally a sheer drop from the edge of the coral, basically the deep blue without seabed in sight. It starts at about knee height and can go deeper than 2m and you are literally surrounded by coral and coral fish, which is beautiful, but you must be a competent swimmer and kids must always be accompanied by an adult as it can be a tad choppy.
How to get there: There are a few ways, mostly you go by tour as it usually works out at about $50USD from Santo Domingo or $65 from Puerto Plata itself, which is closer and more expensive as the group size is smaller. You can roll up yourself and pay about $40 and they will take you out there. It is whatever you wish to do, but usually a tour will cost you that amount and from Santo Domingo, it is almost a 3 hours trip there and back, and about 2 hours on the inlet itself and then you have lunch and back to Santo Domingo. It can be quite tiring at the end of the day but very good fun all the same.
Where to stay: booking.com (get €15 off using my code) I have been here twice, but since Punta Rusia, which is where the bus stops and you get onto the boat to go to Cayo Arena. They have really nice accommodations here literally all on the beach front itself. I haven’t stayed here but a friend has and he said it was amazing! So, they got a catamaran to Cayo Arena, it is only about 3km from the coast, so not really worth paying over $100 for that trip in my opinion. But the option is there for you guys to take. Check out booking.com and type in Punta Rusia and you will see what is available. If you rent a car, it would be ideal!
What to do there: It you look at the photo again, you will see little shacks, which one is where you leave your bags and another they serve cock and rum (not sure why if you are swimming and can get quite drunk if not responsible) lol you can swim, take nice photos, if you have a drone the pics are even more amazing, however, it can be quite windy. After the trip to the sand dune, they take you to the mangroves then back to the beach.
What to bring: the basics really, lots of sun cream as you are literally in the water for the full 2 or so hours knocking back Jack Sparrow rum and coke lol and eating the yummy pineapples and that. Sunglasses and hat, towel for shower before you have lunch next to where the bus parks when you arrive. apart from that you should be good to go!