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Dominican Republic

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL GUIDE

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. For the adventure tourist this Caribbean country offers a diverse countryside comprising tropical rain-forests, arid desert expanses, alpine ranges and steamy mangrove swamps. It's a playground for trekkers, mountain bike enthusiasts and water-sport junkies.

 

The northern and eastern coasts are dotted with many luxurious resorts however the Dominican Republic has much more to offer than this. There is the wonderful Caribbean music and dance, exotic foods and drink, popular local baseball games, and the remarkable colonial architecture found in the capital Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial. There are also sugar plantations, small quaint villages and wonderful mountain retreats to explore and enjoy in Jarabacoa and Constanza. If you're looking for a hassle-free holiday that's big on relaxation then the Dominican Republic is the place to be!

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  • Capital: Santo Domingo

  • Currency: Dominican peso (DOP)

  • Area: 48,730 km²

  • Population: 10,63 million (2018)

  • Language: Spanish

  • Religion: Roman Catholic 95%

  • Electricity: 110/60Hz (USA plug)

Quick Facts

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BEST TIME TO VISIT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  • High Season (mid-Dec–Feb) - July to August and the week before Easter are also high season. Expect significantly higher hotel prices and beaches. Most water sports are prohibited throughout the DR during the week before Easter.
  • Shoulder (Mar–Jul) - You may see short but strong daily rains in Santo Domingo (through October). March is generally one of the drier months in Samaná.
  • Low Season (Aug – early Dec) - Hurricane season (typically impacting the eastern part of DR), but if there are no storms it’s still an excellent time to travel. Temperatures don’t vary much (mountains are an exception). Room rates are deeply discounted.
Best Time To Go

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Tropical Maritime; Little Seasonal Temperature Variation; Seasonal Variation In Rainfall

Dominican Republic

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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BEST TIME FOR

SNOW SPORT IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

HIKING & CYCLING IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Outdoor activities in the Dominican Republic can be enjoyed all year round, just be prepared for the odd rain downpour! The dry season from November to April.

BEACH OPTIONS IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The best time to visit the stunning beaches of the Dominican Republic is during the dry season from November to April, although despite the odd rain downpour, the weather is warm all year round.

SURFING IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The Dominican Republic has great surf all year round. The big wave season is from October to April, while May to September generally has fun waves perfect for learning or intermediate surfers.

KITESURF IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

You can expect good kitesurfing conditions in the Dominican Republic for most of the year. The best period for consistent winds is from February to August, with June, July and August being the best months. September, October and November have the least wind.

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Always consider the current safety risk of each destination and do not travel without travel / medical insurance. For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

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Travel Safety

HEALTH RISKS IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Dominican Republic

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL COSTS

The Caribbean is not cheap, but there are ways to get the most bang for your buck with a little forward planning and some savvy choices.

 

  • Budget less than US$ 60 Budget room: under US$30, Take motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) and gua-guas (small buses) to get around
  • Midrange US$ 90 Internet deal on all-inclusive accommodations: US$ 80, First-class bus tickets between major destinations US$ 10, Join group tours for activities like snorkelling, hiking etc.
  • Top end over US$ 250 - Beachfront resort: US$200 and over, Activities in beautiful places: US$100 and up, eat out at top restaurants in urban areas, rent a car for the entire trip or at least for special excursions.
Cost & Spending

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL TIPS

  • Those with limited time should consider flying. Most one-way flights cost US$35 to US$170. The main domestic carriers and air-taxi companies include AeroDomca, Air Century and Dominican Shuttles.
  • First-class buses have air-con and often TVs and a movie. Fares are low – the most expensive is less than US$10. Reservations aren’t usually necessary. The country’s two main bus companies – Caribe Tours and Metro – have individual depots west of the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
  • Gua-guas range from minivans to midsize buses with room for around 30 passengers. They stop all along the route to pick up and drop off passengers – wave to be picked up. Most pass every 15 to 30 minutes and cost RD$35 to RD$70. They rarely have signs, so ask a local if you’re unsure which one to take.
  • Públicos are banged-up cars, minivans or small pickup trucks that pick up passengers along set routes in towns. Públicos (also called conchos or carros) don’t have signs, but the drivers hold their hands out the window to solicit fares.
  • Motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) are the best and sometimes only way to get around in many towns. An average ride should set you back no more than RD$30, but you might have to negotiate to get a fair price.
  • Large cities such as Santo Domingo have public bus systems that operate but generally Públicos pass much more frequently.
  • If you plan to do any driving outside major cities, a 4WD is recommended.

 

GENERAL TRANSPORT:

  • There are no buses that connect directly to either of Santo Domingo’s airports. From Las Américas, a taxi to the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo costs US$40.
  • The cost of a bus ride from one end of Santo Domingo by bus to the other is around RD$12. Most stops are marked with a sign and the word parada (stop). The routes tend to follow major thoroughfares.
  • The Santo Domingo Metro Line 1 runs from La Feria near the Malecón to the far northern suburb of Villa Mella. Line 2 runs east–west along Av John F Kennedy, Expreso V Centenario and Av Padre Castellanos.
  • More numerous than buses in Santo Domingo are públicos – mostly beat-up minivans and private cars that follow the same main routes but stop anywhere that someone flags them down.
  • Taxis in Santo Domingo don’t have meters, so you should always agree on the price before climbing in. Standard fare is around RD$200 from one side of the city to the other. Within the Zona Colonial it should be even cheaper.
  • None of the main bus companies services Cabarete. The closest depots are in Sosúa. The best place to arrange car rental is at Puerto Plata airport when you arrive.
  • Caribe Tours has the only 1st-class bus service between Jarabacoa and Santo Domingo.
Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Beyond the capital, much of the Dominican Republic is distinctly rural. Further inland are vistas reminiscent of the European alps: four of the Caribbean’s five highest peaks rise above the fertile lowlands around Santiago. Remote deserts extend through the southwest, giving the DR a complexity not found on other islands. The country’s roller-coaster past is writ large in the diversity of its ethnicities, not to mention the physical design of its towns and cities.

 

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES FOR THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:

SEVEN DAYS

  • Bávaro and Punta Cana Fly into the airport directly outside this resort area and base yourself at one of the beachfront properties for a little sun and sand and all-you-can-eat buffets for two or three days.
  • Bayahibe Not far from here and accessible on a long day trip is this tiny town on the edge of a national park with the best scuba diving in the Dominican Republic and a number of excursions including catamaran tours to Isla Saona, an island beach, and snorkelling trips.
  • Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo Take a walk through history in the Zona Colonial, past beautifully restored mansions, churches and forts, many converted into evocative museums. But the past and present coexist in the former seat of Spain’s 16th-century empire: pop into a shop selling CDs from the latest Dominican merengue star.
  • Santo Domingo night life Get dressed to the nines, do some limbering up and get your dance moves on. Nightclubs in the seaside resort hotels host some of the best merengue and salsa bands this side of Havana. Downtown has trendy clubs for the fashionable set and the Zona Colonial is chock-a-block with spots.
  • Bahía de Las Águilas Pick up a rental car in the city and hit the road for this stunning 10-km-long far-flung beach. Its remoteness and loneliness adds spice to the adventure of reaching these postcard-perfect sands in an extreme corner of the Pedernales Peninsula.

 

TEN DAYS

  • Jarabacoa Go white-water rafting in the morning and visit the nearby waterfalls in the afternoon before spending a cool night in the countryside with mountain vistas in the distance.
  • Pico Duarte Jarabacoa is also the gateway to Parque Nacionales Armando Bermúdez and the hike to Pico Duarte. Consider making the standard three-day hike to the summit, which at 3087m is the highest in the Caribbean.
  • Cabarete Head out of the mountains to this laid-back beach town and water-sports mecca on the north coast. Active types will assuredly want to stay in or around Cabarete, east of Puerto Plata; it also has a happening bar and restaurant scene. Carve out several hours or days learning the ropes from the best in kitesurfing, windsurfing or just plain surfing. Of course, the beaches are equally alluring for doing absolutely nothing but sipping cocktails and making headway in a good book.
  • Las Terrenas Continue further along the coast until you reach the Peninsula de Samaná and the cosmopolitan town of Las Terrenas. Kitesurfing and other water sports are deservedly popular here.
  • Las Galeras Another nearby option is this sleepy fishing village at the far eastern end of the peninsula. Swaying palm trees back beaches ready-made for a movie set, and waves crash over hard-to-get-to cliffs.
  • Whale Watching, Samaná If possible, plan your trip for mid-January to mid-March, when humpback whales migrate to the Bahía de Samaná and boat-based whale-watching tours are in full steam.
  • Parque Nacional Los Haitises Or arrange a boat trip to see the mangroves and cave paintings at this park by the bay side town of Sabana de la Mar.

 

Download map waypoints for Dominican Republic here: KML / GPX

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

(more location details are available in the above map)

 

SANTO DOMINGO, or ‘La Capital’ as it’s typically called, is a collage of cultures and neighbourhoods. At the heart of the city is the Zona Colonial, where you’ll find one of the oldest churches and the oldest surviving European fortress, among other New World firsts. Amid the cobblestone streets, it would be easy to forget Santo Domingo is in the Caribbean. But this is an intensely urban city, home not only to colonial-era architecture but also to hot clubs, vibrant cultural institutions and elegant restaurants. The city’s most interesting sights are all located in the cobblestone blocks of the Zona Colonial only steps from the port. Take a walking tour of Zona Colonial, eat in a restaurant in Plaza España and walk part of the Malecón.

 

A Caribbean workhorse of sun and sand, the SOUTHEAST is synonymous with go-big-or-go-home tourism where sprawling resort developments line the white sands and turquoise seas from Punta Cana to Bávaro. The fishing village of Bayahibe is the departure point for trips to the nearby islands in the Parque Nacional del Este and north of Bávaro is Playa Limón, an isolated stretch of beach backed by palm trees and, more unusually, a lagoon and several mountain peaks.

 

Laid-back and cosmopolitan, PENÍNSULA DE SAMANÁ offers a European vibe as strong as espresso. Of course, the majority come to gasp at the North Atlantic humpback whales doing their migratory song and dance from mid-January to mid-March. Sophisticated Las Terrenas is the place for those that crave a lively social scene, and sleepy Las Galeras boasts several of the best and most secluded beaches in the Dominican Republic. Renting a car is an excellent way to explore the peninsula on your own.

 

Within two hours’ drive of Puerto Plata airport you’ll find all the best the NORTH COAST has to offer – water sports and beach nightlife in Cabarete, mountain biking in the coastal hills, the celebrated 27 waterfalls of Damajagua, sleepy little Dominican towns where it’s still possible to escape the tourist hordes, and mile after mile of that famous Caribbean sand.

 

When you’ve overdosed on sun and sand, the cool mountainous playground of the CENTRAL HIGHLANDS is the place to go; where else can you sit at dusk, huddled in a sweater, watching the mist descend into the valley as the sun sets behind the mountains? Popular retreats, roaring rivers, soaring peaks and the only white-water rafting in the Caribbean, beckon. Nestled in the low foothills of the Cordillera Central, Jarabacoa maintains an under-the-radar allure as the antithesis to the clichéd Caribbean vacation

Dominican Republic
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

WHAT TO EAT IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Look out for:

  • La Bandera - (the flag) The most typically Dominican meal. Consists of white rice, habichuela (red beans), stewed meat, salad and fried green plantains.
  • Bananas - (guineos) A staple served stewed, candied or boiled and mashed. With plantains, the dish is called mangú; with pork rinds mixed in it is called mofongo and is nothing like the iconic Puerto Rican version.
  • Tostones (Twice fried plantain) Made from unripe plantains and served as a side dish to meat and fish dishes, or as part of a larger meal.
  • Habichuelas con Dulce Sweet (Cream Of Beans) A uniquely Dominican dish is an important tradition in the Dominican Republic, and it's one of the most popular Dominican foods.
  • Sanchocho (Meat Stew) The deluxe version "Sancocho de Siete Carnes", in which seven different types of meat from four types of animals are mixed with root vegetables and plantain to produce a very rich, thick, meaty stew, unlike anything you've tried before. The simplified version might contain just beef and perhaps chicken.
  • Niños envueltos (Wrapped Children) Rice and ground beef that are wrapped in cabbage and cooked in tomato sauce.
  • Pastelitos - By far the most common snack in the DR – fried dough containing beef or chicken, which has been stewed with onions, olives, tomatoes and then chopped and mixed with peas, nuts and raisins.

LGBTQ IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Dominican Republic

WHERE TO STAY IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

When visiting the Dominican Republic for the first time, you'll encounter a diverse array of landscapes, from stunning beaches to lush rainforests and vibrant cities. Choosing where to stay depends on your interests, whether it's relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration. Here are some recommendations for areas to stay, along with accommodation options for each category: budget, mid-range, and luxury.


Where to stay in Punta Cana:

Punta Cana is renowned for its pristine beaches, luxurious resorts, and vibrant nightlife, making it an ideal destination for relaxation and entertainment.

  • Budget: Whala! Urban Punta Cana: Situated in the heart of Punta Cana, Whala! Urban Punta Cana offers budget-friendly accommodations with modern amenities. Guests appreciate its central location, stylish rooms, and rooftop terrace with panoramic views.

  • Mid-range: Occidental Punta Cana - Situated on Bavaro Beach, this mid-range resort provides spacious accommodations, multiple dining options, and recreational activities such as water sports and excursions.

  • Luxury: The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana - For a luxurious retreat, consider staying at The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana, offering upscale suites, exclusive access to amenities, and personalized service amidst tropical surroundings.

Tips: To find the best value accommodation in Punta Cana, consider booking all-inclusive packages that often include meals, drinks, and activities, providing excellent value for money. Additionally, booking directly with resorts or reputable booking platforms and taking advantage of offseason deals can result in savings.


Where to stay in Santo Domingo:

Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic, known for its rich history, colonial architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, offering visitors a blend of tradition and modernity.

  • Budget: Hotel Discovery - A budget-friendly hotel located in the Colonial Zone, offering basic yet comfortable rooms, proximity to historical landmarks such as the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and easy access to dining and shopping.

  • Mid-range: Hodelpa Caribe Colonial - Situated in the heart of the Colonial Zone, this mid-range hotel provides stylish accommodations, a rooftop terrace with city views, and a central location near museums, restaurants, and nightlife.

  • Luxury: Billini Hotel - For a luxurious experience, stay at Billini Hotel, housed in a restored colonial building, offering elegant rooms, a rooftop infinity pool, gourmet dining options, and personalized service in a historic setting.

Tips: Accommodation options in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone tend to be more expensive due to their historical significance and central location. Consider exploring accommodations in other neighborhoods for better value, and utilize public transportation or ride-sharing services to explore the city's attractions.


Where to stay in Puerto Plata:

Puerto Plata is known for its golden beaches, lush mountains, and historic landmarks, offering visitors a combination of natural beauty and cultural experiences.

  • Budget: Hotel Villa Taina: Located near the beach in Puerto Plata, Hotel Villa Taina offers budget-friendly rooms with simple decor. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a swimming pool, restaurant, and easy access to nearby attractions.

  • Mid-range: Blue Bay Villas Doradas Adults Only - Situated on Playa Dorada, this mid-range resort provides comfortable accommodations, multiple pools, and entertainment options, including water sports and evening shows.

  • Luxury: Casa Colonial Beach & Spa - For a luxurious retreat, consider staying at Casa Colonial Beach & Spa, offering elegant suites, a tranquil spa, gourmet dining options, and beachfront access in an intimate setting.

Tips: Puerto Plata offers a range of accommodations catering to different budgets, so it's advisable to compare prices and amenities before booking. Additionally, visiting during the offseason (May to November) can result in lower rates and fewer crowds.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

Where To Stay

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