The Dominican Republic: miles of white sand beaches stretching along the crystal-blue water, world-renowned resorts, and even mountainous terrain.
The unique landscape of the Dominican attracts travellers from around the world with the promise of a relaxing tropical getaway.
While the beaches in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata tempt you with the chance to lay back, close your eyes, and relax beneath the sun, you won’t want to stay stuck in the sand for too long. There is even more adventure waiting beyond the Dominican Republic’s coastline.
Along with the world-renowned beaches that draw in millions of travellers each year, the Dominican Republic offers a rich cultural center and vast natural terrain.
You can immerse yourself in Dominican culture in the capital city of Santo Domingo and even travel inland to hike the largest mountain in the Caribbean.
While it's home to some of the world’s best beaches, the Dominican Republic is so much more than just its coastline. This Dominican Republic travel guide is designed to show you the best way to spend your time in the Dominican Republic so you can get around the island and explore all that this Caribbean country has to offer.
- Where is the Dominican
- When to travel to the Dominican
- Things to know before you visit the Dominican
- Things to do in the Dominican
- Places to visit in the Dominican
- Getting around the Dominican
- Highlights of travelling to the Dominican
Where is the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican Republic is located alongside Haiti on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Residing in the heart of the Caribbean, you can find it between Cuba and Puerto Rico on the map of the Caribbean.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south, the Dominican Republic has nearly 1000 miles of coastline, 250 of which are beautiful, white sand beaches.
If you’re looking for a quick getaway, the Dominican Republic is a two-hour flight south of Miami. And if you’re traveling to escape the cold, you still don’t have to travel too far because the Dominican Republic is less than a four-hour flight from New York City.
These short-haul flights make the decision to visit the Dominican Republican that much easier to make.
When to Travel to the Dominican Republic
The best time to travel to the Dominican Republic for near-perfect weather is during the winter and spring months when the country is in its dry season. The weather in the Dominican Republic is warm year-round, but during the winter and spring, there is less humidity. With less humidity, there’s less of a chance that a little rain might intrude on your Caribbean getaway.
The only downside is that great minds think alike and many people like to escape the cold in the winter months. That means it might get crowded traveling to the Dominican Republic around the holidays and during different periods of high school and college spring breaks.
Even with less people traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's still important to remember that these are the times of year when people tend to travel out of the country the most.
Weather in the Dominican Republic
Expect warm weather and lots of sun when you’re in the Dominican Republic because of its tropical climate.
Before you go to the beach or start an excursion into the lush forests of Dominican Republic, it helps to know that the typical noontime temperatures get to about 80 to 90°F in the summertime and about 60 to 70°F in the winter.
Because the water of the Caribbean Sea is so warm, hurricanes are something to be aware of whenever you travel to any Caribbean island as your final destination. The Dominican Republic follows the Atlantic hurricane season which begins on June 1 and lasts until November 30.
Luckily, the chances of a hurricane making landfall in the Dominican Republic are slim and the country has been able to avoid its share of storms.
But if 2020 taught us one thing, it’s that anything can happen so many resorts and hotels in the Dominican Republic are prepared with hurricane evacuation and emergency procedures just in case.
Things to Know Before You Visit the Dominican Republic
With different travel requirements throughout the world in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, you should know the correct coronavirus information before traveling to the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic no longer requires travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test.
Instead, airports and other ports of entry will perform a breath test to between 3 percent and 10 percent of travellers and to anyone who presents symptoms upon arrival.
Now more than ever, it’s so important to stay healthy when you travel and there’s a lot to catch up for when it comes to what to expect when traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic
There are many ways to get to the Dominican Republic including:
- Flights to any of the country's eight airports
- Cruises to any of its five cruise destinations
- Smaller boats at a variety of marinas along the coast.
Because there are eight different airports and the Dominican Republic is the second largest country in the Caribbean, double check which airport you’re flying into and compare it to the location of your accommodations.
You wouldn’t want to fly into the Santo Domingo airport only to find that your resort in Punta Cana is more than a two hour drive away.
Visa & Passport Requirements
As a citizen of the US or Canada, all you’ll need to get into the Dominican Republic is a U.S. passport.
The Dominican Republic also no longer requires a separate payment for its mandatory 30-day tourist card. Instead, this cost will be included in your airline fee so you have one less thing to worry about when you land.
Because the fee for the required 30-day tourist card will be included in your airline ticket fee, you don’t need a visa as long as your trip does not exceed that time limit.
The departure tax is also included in your airline ticket fee, so can have a stress free trip home too.
Flights to the Dominican Republic
There are limited international flights due to COVID-19 Pandemic, but major airlines like United, American, Delta and JetBlue all still offer flights to the Dominican Republic.
United and American are still offering flights to:
- Santo Domingo
- Puerto Plata
- Punta Cana
- Santiago De Los Caballeros
Delta has services to all these airports except for Puerto Plata. JetBlue limits its flights to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo.
Is the Dominican Safe to Travel To?
The Dominican Republic is considered safe to travel to and has one of the lowest crime rates of the Caribbean, according to the country’s official tourism website.
Despite these statistics, the Dominican Republic’s government still recommends that travellers still remain vigilant and practice common sense when it comes to their behaviour in a foreign country.
What Language is Spoken in the Dominican Republic?
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic.
There are many residents who work in the hospitality industry who speak English, so if you’re coming from Canada or the US, you should be able to get by. However, outside of resorts, hotels and restaurants, English isn’t common.
Brushing up on Spanish basics would before traveling to the Dominican Republic.
Money in the Dominican Republic
A little bit can go a long way when it comes to your money in the Dominican. With an exchange rate that gives the US dollar the advantage, travellers can already expect to see their trip to the DR be cheaper than many other tropical destinations.
It’s convenient to exchange your currency at the airport when you land, but your best option is to do so with a bank.
If you can't get to a bank ahead of time, most restaurants, bars, stores, and supermarkets in the Dominican Republic still accept US dollars.
The only downside to paying with US dollars is that you won’t get the best exchange rate as you would if you did so through a bank.
The Dominican Republic’s Currency
The Dominican Peso is the official currency of the Dominican Republic.
One US dollar is the equivalent of about 58 Dominican Pesos.
Prices are listed in pesos and are typically non negotiable outside of a market setting.
Is the Dominican Republic Expensive?
Overall, the Dominican Republic is not expensive to travel to.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic can actually be a great idea for a cost-effective trip because many resorts offer inclusive deals and the exchange rate for the US dollar is strong.
Tipping Etiquette in the Dominican Republic
Most restaurants and hotels in the Dominican Republic automatically add a 10 percent service charge to your bill, but it is customary to add another 5 to 10 percent tip if the service was above average.
How to Pay for Things in the Dominican Republic
The best way to pay for things in the Dominican Republic is to use the Dominican Peso, but as mentioned, sometimes all you have is US currency. You can still pay for things using the US dollar or your debit or credit card without issue.
Dress & What to Pack for the Dominican Republic
The tropical climate of the Dominican Republic dictates what you should pack. You’ll want to stick with lighter clothing that you’d typically wear in the summer, but also be sure to bring a few layers for when it gets colder as the sun sets.
We recommend you pack these clothes for your trip to the Dominican Republic:
- light cotton or linen clothing
- swimwear and beachwear
- a light cardigan
- casual and dress pants
- a light jacket
- an upscale outfit for resort dinners or special occasions
- at least one pair of closed-toed shoes
Knowing what to pack for your trip lets you feel prepared for wherever your adventures take you in the Dominican Republic.
Packing during the COVID-19 Pandemic is also very important and you should be sure to prioritize your health by packing important vitamins and supplements as well.
A great way to get all the nutrients you need in one dose is to pack the FLIGHTFUD Flight Elixir. With natural ingredients like the camu camu berry that is high in vitamin C, Flight Elixir will give your immune system a boost when you’re traveling away from home.
Dominican Republic Laws to Know
- The legal drinking age in the Dominican Republic is 18 years old.
- Marijuana and other drugs are illegal to possess in the Dominican Republic.
- All embassies, including the US embassy, are located in Santo Domingo.
- You can Dial 911in case of an emergency.
Things to Do in the Dominican Republic
From the coastline to the mountain tops and everywhere in between, activities are endless in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic gives you the opportunity to go swimming or deep sea diving at the beach in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, hiking the Caribbean’s tallest mountains or walking through a museum in Santo Domingo.
Enjoying the food and music is also essential to experiencing the culture of the Dominican Republic on your trip. There is always somewhere to enjoy music in the Dominican Republic and the people there are typically friendly and full of energy.
When it comes to food, the official dish of the Dominican Republic is La Bandera Dominicana, which translates to “the Dominican flag” and consists of a plate of rice and beans with a stew of either chicken or beef.
With unlimited options for outdoor excursions and lots of local energy to go around, you can get a lot done and have a lot fun doing it in the Dominican Republic.
Places to Visit in the Dominican Republic
When it comes to world class beaches, Punta Cana is responsible for putting the Dominican Republic on the map as a popular destination for travellers.
This area on the eastern shore is known for its strikingly beautiful views and its wide variety of all-inclusive resorts.
Another popular beach location is Puerto Plata. This area is located on the northern side of the island along the Atlantic Ocean. Along with its beaches, Puerto Plata is also famous for its golf course. Every year, the Dominican Republic hosts the PGA TOUR Latin America tournaments in Puerto Plata.
If you want to dive deeper into the culture of the Dominican Republic, the Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo is beaming with important historical significance.
Also referred to as the Colonial Zone, this historic district dates back to the 15th Century and is home to the first paved street in the Americas the Calle de las Damas and the first Cathedral established in the Americas, Cathedral of Santa María la Menor.
The Colonial Zone is also home to some must-see museums including Alcázar de Colón, which was once the residence of Christopher Columbus’s first born son, Diego Columbus.
Centuries since the Columbus family lived here, you can now walk through the large palace and see art of that time period and even take a guided tour.
While these places may offer different experiences, the best thing about the Dominican Republic is its variety and how easily you can experience so much in one trip.
Getting Around the Dominican Republic
The best way to get around the Dominican Republic is by car.
The country is home to the most modern road infrastructure in the Caribbean with a highway system that connects popular tourist destinations like Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, making day trips to multiple locations possible.
Renting a car is a great way for you to see the different areas of the Dominican Republic, but you should always remember to be cautious when you get behind the wheel. Driving in the Dominican Republic can be overwhelming, so the government recommends driving defensively. The government also urges you to avoid driving at night by any means because there is little to no lighting on many roads.
In larger cities like Santo Domingo, the best way to get around the immediate area is to use Uber and other taxis.
Highlights of Traveling to the Dominican
Under-rated Attraction: Most people don’t think above sea level when it comes to their trip to the Dominican, but one of the best places to visit the country’s beautiful mountains. The Cibao Valley is considered one of the most visually stunning parts of the Dominican Republic with a breathtaking view of the Cordillera Central mountain range, which includes the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte. The Dominican Republic is also home to Constanza, the highest altitude town in the Caribbean region, where you can see locals grow and cook their own organic foods grown there.
Best Cup of Coffee: You can find the best cup of coffee in the Dominican Republic at Affogato Cafe in Santo Domingo. Though the cafe is upscale and trendy, it still offers authentic baked goods and artisanal coffee that reflects the culture of the Dominican Republic.
Best Hidden Gem: While tourists flock to Punta Cana for the beaches, the Dominican Republic’s best kept secret is the Samaná Península. This North Eastern peninsula boasts beaches that are just as beautiful as those of Punta Cana, but are far closer to the local environment than a crowded resort town. The Samaná Península is much quieter and laid back in comparison, but just as enjoyable for a beautiful day at the beach.
Local Favourite Restaurant: Located in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, Mesón de Bari is a time-honoured restaurant and a popular hangout for locals. Situated in a restored two-story home, this restaurant serves fresh, authentic Dominican food and is known for hosting live merengue music on most weekends.
Little-Known Fact: The Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo is the oldest European settlement in the Americas and was founded in 1496.
Don’t Forget to Pack: Packing a waterproof phone case or an affordable underwater camera can be a great way to capture important moments during your many outdoor activities in the Dominican Republic.