After years of planning and visiting several different destinations around the globe, Sayulita Mexico, Nosara Costa Rica we finally found the perfect location for a new Swell project. We started building 1 year ago, and last week we finished Swell Bali.
BALI IS AN IDEAL SURF HOLIDAY DESTINATION
The new Swell Bali is located in the south of Bali, where some of the prettiest beaches can be found: white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water.
The town we are in is called Bingin, a super charming still very cloak Balinese village on the edge of a cliff. From the cliff edge several world-class waves can be seen: Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Dreamland and Balangan. Those beaches all have waves that cater to different levels of surfers; from hardcore barreling waves to mellow beach break type waves. It’s all here, and most can be accessed by foot. No need for a taxi or scooter, just walk from Swell to the surf.
The Surf Season in Bali
One of the reasons we chose Bali over Mexico and Costa Rica is the consistency of year-round waves. The waves here are world-class, all year. There are 2 distinct seasons here though.
Dry season: From March to November, where the winds blow offshore all day here on the west coast of Bali, creating perfect waves.
The other months: the wet season in Bali; everything turns very green and lush and refreshment comes from the rain. The wind turns onshore here on the west coast, however, a 20-minute drive away is the east coast of the Bukit and that has offshore winds and perfect waves in those months. So any time of the year is a good time to go on a Bali surf holiday
The most vital part of Swell has always been about meeting other guests, so the communal area is where we want the guests to hang out. A Pool table, Ping Pong Table and games station is where we hang out.
We have added a cosy sofa/lounge area with a fire pit.
Moms and Dads, tasked with planning family vacations, have so much to consider; Safety, Travel, Boredom, Fun, Food, Sleep, Cost; they all come into play when you try to plan the perfect active family summer holiday.
We don’t envy you the stress of the planning, but we do think we have just the answer to give you and your family the ultimate family, action-adventure summer vacation. We understand the magic ingredient on a family vacation; happy kids = happy parents!
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS IT ALL
The Dominican Republic is a large Caribbean island with so much to offer. It has a really interesting history and strong culture dating back centuries and is the most beautiful and mountainous of all the Caribbean islands, topped with Pico Duarte, the region’s highest mountain (which even keeps snow on its peak during summer months!). It’s a water-sport, eco-touristic, adventure playground with such dramatic scenery and stunning beaches, you won’t believe your eyes!
We’ve put together a suggested itinerary for what we hope you will agree is the perfect active vacation below, with something to suit everyone.
This 7-night itinerary is just a guide and you can stay for longer or shorter, take rest days and add even more adventures to suit. We think that at least some or all of the suggestions below will add up to a perfect family summer vacation. Most suggestions are suitable for May to early September vacations and for kids aged 8 and up.
Swell is ideally set up for families; Mom does not need to cook (or clean up!), so it’s a well-earned vacation for her and dad too. Food on offer at the camp is loved by kids and adults alike and when we are not cooking at Swell, we are surrounded by great food alternatives to suit all diets.
Kids can enjoy our pool, the garden, our foosball table and the pool table at the camp. Swell is a small, secure environment with a permanently closed main door, so there’s no need to worry about keeping an eye on your kids. Medical facilities are good and close by.
OUR SUGGESTION FOR A WEEK-LONG ACTIVE FAMILY SUMMER HOLIDAY
Day One; Fly into Puerto Plata airport (airport code POP) or Santiago Los Cabelleros (airport code STI), or even Santo Domingo (airport code SDQ). POP airport pick up and drop off costs are included in our packages. STI, journey time 1hr 45m is +$160 USD per private taxi and includes pick up and drop off. SDQ, journey time 2hr 45m, adds + $360 USD per private taxi, including pick up and drop off).
Arrive at Swell surf camp and check into your room(s). As most flights arrive in the afternoon, you can wander 5 minutes level walk to the beach for a late afternoon beach-side drink and a bite to eat. If you arrive on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, dinner is at the camp.
Mom (and dad) can relax and perhaps do some Yoga at Swell on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday at sunset. Start to get to know your fellow guests around a huge dining table, shoot some pool, play cards, Jenga or any of the other fun games and activities we’ve got in the camp.
Day two; up with the lark and off to the beach for your first surf lesson (surf lessons costs are included in our packages). Its light at 6 am so we make the best of these beautiful, warm sunrise mornings.
You will all surf together in warm, shallow Caribbean water, so nothing to fear for anyone who’s not a good swimmer as you can just stand up at any time.
You’ll come back to Swell at 9.30 am for a delicious breakfast (yes, we make food that kids love too!).
After breakfast, it’s back to the beach for another surf lesson, or if you need some rest, you can skip the 2nd surf of the day and lie by the pool or in one of our hammocks, or retire to your room to catch up on a bit of sleep.
The 2nd surf session returns at around 12.30 pm, so once you are showered and changed, perhaps it’s off to Gordito’s (great Mexican food, 150m from Swell) for fresh mahi-mahi fish, chicken, beef or pork tacos (tacos cost approximately $6 USD each).
The afternoon is spent on the beach at Cabarete Bay across the road from us, swimming and sunbathing, or trying a kite surfing lesson (kite lessons start at $72 USD per person per hour with one IKO kite instructor per student).
Mom can enjoy a massage or beauty treatment at a charming spa closeby. Finish the day with either a dinner at Swell, or at a beach-side restaurant outing organized by Swell staff on your behalf (prices vary, depending on the kind of restaurant you want to visit) or you can also just wander across to the beach to choose your own dining experience, from fish BBQ’s to pizzas, it’s all on offer in Cabarete.
Day three;Surf as per day two, but the 2nd surf session is replaced by an amazing Canyoning experience. Transport will take you an hour from Swell, deep into the canyon to begin the adventure of a lifetime: This is no lightweight sightseeing tour; you’ll be fully briefed by the trained safety crew and wearing helmets, harnesses and safety vests as you ascend through canyons and waterfalls to finally reach the Magic Mushroom, a true geological wonder of the World.
You will be jumping, rapelling and swimming though most spectacular scenery. You’ll need lightweight sneakers which can get wet; wet-suits are provided (cost is $89 USD per person).
Dine at Swell in the evening if there is dinner at the camp, or head out to the beach to eat beneath the pam trees.
Day four; Day off from surfing as you will be heading to the stunning Laguna Gri Gri for a charming boat ride through the mangroves to the ocean.
The color of the water here is something to behold.
After your boat trip, you will be taken to Playa Grande, a stunning white sand beach for a BBQ lunch on the beach and a swim in the sea (approximate cost of this trip is $55 USD per person + drinks, but prices will vary slightly depending on taxi-occupation).
Day five; Surf as per day one. Head to the beach for more kite lessons, or just relax for the afternoon, or go on a horse riding trip along the beach or through the hills and rivers (horse riding trips are $45 USD per person and are organized for you by Swell staff including pick up and drop off).
Day six; Surf as per day one. After returning to Swell at lunchtime, you’ll be picked up by TSM, a professional dive school and taken to Sosua where you will go out in the stunning azure water to snorkel and feed the many fish in the bay ($45 USD per person).
This snorkel trip lasts around 2 to 3 hours. You can enjoy the beach at Sosua with easy swimming and lots of dining on offer.
Dine at Swell in the evening if there is dinner at the camp or head to the beach.
Day seven; Surf as per day one. After lunch, off to the Monkey Jungle (15 minutes from Swell by taxi) to zipline through the forest and see/play with the squirrel and capuchin monkeys.
The Monkey Jungle is a well-run charity and your visit is not only fun but will also help provide medical and dental facilities for those who are unable to afford this kind of care.
Approx cost is $55 USD per adult and $35 per child for ziplining.
Entry to the Jungle without ziplining is $28/$20 USD. A taxi for 4 people costs $20 USD each way.
Day eight;Surf as per day one. Your flight will probably leave mid-afternoon, so generally speaking, our guests skip the 2nd surf session and head straight to the airport.
PRICING GUIDE FOR THIS ACTIVE FAMILY SUMMER HOLIDAY
A rough guide for this 7-night Active Family Summer Vacation, based on two adults and two kids sharing one of our dorm-style rooms with A/C (two beds on the upper level and a king, or two single beds below, en-suite shower and WC) is $3876 USD + any of the activities undertaken, food (outside of Swell) and drinks.
In two rooms next door to each other, the cost would be $4596 USD + any of the activities undertaken, food (outside of Swell) and drinks.
Please contact us for an exact quotation based on your ideal accommodation and itinerary.
Here are some more suggestions for you for other activities either to add to your active family vacation or to replace some of the suggested adventures above.
Swell can organize a wonderful big game deep sea fishing trip for you where you can try to catch your own Mahi Mahi, Marlin or other large fish species (if you are successful, we’ll even prepare it for you at the camp so you can enjoy it on a dinner night at Swell)! Prices vary depending on how many guests go on the fishing trip.
CAMPING/TREKKING ON PICO DUARTE
If you would like to head away from the beach for a few days, you can break up your beach vacation with a trip to go hiking around the Cordillera Central, commonly referred to as the Dominican Alps, a mountainous, green and cool region of the country.
The Cordillera Central stretches the entire length of the island. The Jose Armando Bermudez National Park here is home to the prestigious and magnificent Pico Duarte, soaring at over 3,000 meters (10,000+ feet) in height. One of the best-known hiking trails is la Ruta Cienega, which is approximately 23km and takes 3 days; this trip can be with or without the help of mules and is a great adventure for those who are looking for some real tranquility in the peaks and valleys. Prices vary.
WHALE WATCHING IN SAMANA
Late December through March sees the yearly migration of the humpback whales as they reach their breeding grounds off the coast of Samana, in the East of the Dominican Republic.
The whales are regularly seen off the coast of Cabarete as they pass us by, but organized boat trips to visit the breeding grounds are possible during those months. Please note that our minimum age at Swell during Winter months (December to April, is 13). Prices vary.
VISIT THE HISTORIC ZONA COLONIAL
This area of the island’s capital, Santo Domingo, is where Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Dominican Republic.
The Zona Colonial is a vibrant area of stunning old buildings steeped in history and culture. Known for a busy street/cafe dining and music scene, it’s well worth spending a night in this area to experience the ‘real’ history of this beautiful island.
We recommend staying at a place like the Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando, close to all the bars and restaurants and itself a historic building dating back to 1502. Santo Domingo has excellent shopping too!
VISIT THE ANCIENT PORT OF PUERTO PLATA
Only 30 minutes from Swell is the historic town of Puerto Plata, a fort/harbor town, dating back in parts as far as the 16th century. Puerto Plata’s charming timber buildings are host to many shops and restaurants and the Malecon is a charming beachside stroll.
Here in the Dominican Republic, we have some of the Caribbean’s finest golf courses. Playa Grande and Playa Dorada are both quite close to Swell. Playa Grande, a Robert Trent Jones course, is widely thought to be one of the best links courses on the island; it’s only an hour’s drive from us.
Playa Dorada, also a Robert Trent Jones course, is just 20 minutes from Swell. Further afield, in La Romana, you can find Pete Dye’s ‘The Teeth of the Dog’ a world-famous links course. Perhaps combine a round there with a visit to the Zona Colonial for the night?
SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME TO DO IT!
We hope that with this information on your ideal family vacation, you can see the Dominican Republic really does have it all to offer. We haven’t even mentioned so far some of the other activities people love to do here, like mountain biking, sailing, windsurfing, trail biking, go-karting (yes there’s a really fun go-kart place with 3 different tracks, only 20 minutes from Swell).
We also have a delightful Ocean World at Puerto Plata where you can actually swim through tanks with some amazing fish, watch a hilarious sea lion show and swim with dolphins. Our own mini-mountain, Isabel de Torres with a cable car and a botanical garden at the top, watches down on it all.
IS YOUR FAMILY UP FOR AN ADVENTURE HOLIDAY?
The only problem you may face with your family vacation to Swell is trying to fit everything in: We’d love to show you our beautiful, unspoiled Caribbean playground; please do send us a message and we will help you organize your ideal, active family summer holiday.
We hope to welcome you and your family to Swell for a unique active family summer holiday