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Dominican Republic Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated May 2022

Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic

Welcome to Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is known for gorgeous beaches, luxury resorts, and its rich cultural history. As one of the most diverse destinations on the Greater Antilles archipelago, you’ll find luxury, adventure, and history in the Dominican Republic. Home to the highest peak in the Caribbean, as well as tropical rainforests and sparkling lagoons, there is something for everyone in this island paradise. It’s a lively destination known for music and dancing, as well as friendly locals. Come and appreciate the rich culture and stunningly beautiful scenery of the Dominican Republic! 

Dominican Republic Map

Dominican Republic Map

Contents

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Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic

A Bit Of History

The Dominican Republic has a storied history beginning in 1492 when Christopher Columbus happened upon the large island. The archipelago was inhabited by the indigenous tribes of the Taino and Arawak peoples when Columbus claimed the land for the Spanish crown. Through much of the next century, rule of what is now the Dominican Republic went back and forth between the French and Spanish. It was finally declared an independent nation in 1844. This island nation has seen many occupations, dictatorships, and wars but that did not dampen the lively spirit of the Dominican Republic. In fact, the struggles and strife are what adds to the diverse culture and history.

Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Today

Today, this tropical paradise attracts thrill seekers, honeymooners, and cruise lines alike. Visitors can enjoy pristine white sand beaches with beautiful turquoise waters, listen and dance to bachata music or check out the amazing cocoa and coffee trails the Dominican Republic has to offer. Whether visiting a beach town or a colonial city, visitors will find the island’s culture and people both exciting and friendly.

Where is Dominican Republic?

click map to enlarge

The Dominican Republic is a country of the West Indies that occupies the eastern portion of Hispaniola. It is located in the Caribbean Sea and shares the island of Hispaniola with the country of Haiti. The Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo, is one of the largest cities in the Caribbean. 

Best Time to Visit Dominican Republic

The weather in the Dominican Republic varies depending on destination, the weather will be different if you are visiting the coastal areas, opposed to interior regions of the island. This is a popular winter destination for travelers from the United States and Canada. Peak tourist season in the Dominican Republic is typically mid-December through April. The temperatures remain tropical throughout the year, in Santo Domingo temperatures range from 72 F to 82 F. 

December-January

Peak tourist season in the Dominican Republic begins in mid-December. Visitors who book trips in early December can capitalize on lower rates and fewer crowds. In January, many escape the icy cold of the North and head to this tropical paradise. During this time of year, the nighttime temperatures can drop to 72 F, so make sure to pack light layers.

March-April

February and March are typically dry months making it a great time to visit the Dominican Republic, keep in mind that this is still the peak tourist season. April is typically the last month of the busy season, but rain can also begin by the end of the month.

May-August

May is a great time to capitalize on sunny days and lower prices, although rainfall is always possible, particularly toward the end of the month. June, July, and August are all considered the wet season in the Dominican Republic. June also marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season and visiting during this time can be a bit risky. These are also the hottest and most humid months in the region, so be sure to pack breathable clothing. 

September-October

September marks the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is an unwise time to travel to the Dominican Republic. If you do travel during this time, it is important to get travel insurance, just in case. The weather tends to be calmer and cools down during October and November. Humidity subsides and prices begin to dip, all while temperatures remain a perfect tropical 84 F.

How to Get to Dominican Republic & Around

The best ways to get to the Dominican Republic are by air and cruise. Once in the country, public transportation is widely available and gives visitors several options. 

By Air

There are various International Airports in the Dominican Republic. The most popular are Punta Cana International Airport and Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo. Visitors also have the option of flying into Cibao International airport in Santiago de los Caballeros or Gregorio Luperón International Airport in Puerto Plata. 

By Cruise

Several major cruise lines dock in the lively port of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. These include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival. 

Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic

By Taxis

In the Dominican Republic taxis are easily located in every major city, in fact, many are stationed outside of bus stations, tourist attractions, and hotels. In major cities such as Santo Domingo and Puerta Plata, calling a taxi service company is the best option. Make sure to ask for confirmation of fare, the color of the cab, and estimated wait times.  Carritos are also available in the Dominican Republic. These are shared taxis and you can find them all over the country. Fares typically range from $25-$50 pesos for set routes where passengers can be dropped off at any point along the way. There are also van services such as Coco Tours that provide transportation between major cities like Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.

Car Rental

All major car rental companies are available in the Dominican Republic, and if you are staying in one particular region this would be a great option for you. Car rentals are perfect for those wanting to explore the coastlines of Punta Cana, Puerto Playa, or Barahona. Renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended, and it’s a good idea to have a map on hand. You must be 25+ years old and possess a valid driver’s license from your home country to rent a car in the Dominican Republic. 

Dominican Republic Vacation Guide: The Best Things To Do In Dominican Republic

By Bus

Once you arrive in the Dominican Republic there are several options in terms of public transportation. These include local busses known as “guaguas”, or town to town transfers. This is a comfortable and easy way to get around the country. The Dominican Republic’s main bus services are Caribe Tours and Metro. Caribe Tours has a great inner-city bus system that costs around $7 pesos per ride. 

Things to Do in Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic's Top Highlights

Picturesque beaches, luxury resorts, and lush forests are only a few of the things that draw visitors to the Dominican Republic. These are some of the amazing activities you can enjoy! 

1. Wander Zona Colonial In Santo Domingo

While Santo Domingo is the largest city in all of the Caribbean, the Zona Colonial will transport you back in time. This is a great place to explore the rich cultural history of the Dominican Republic. The contrast of a modern-day bustling city, set with the backdrop of centuries-old architecture is awe inspiring. The Calle El Conde is the main thoroughfare of Zona Colonial and offers shopping, dining, architecture and wonderful museums. 

2. Enjoy Punta Cana

Known for its long stretches of white sand beaches and gorgeous emerald water, if you want to relax in the lap of luxury then Punta Cana is perfect for you. Bavaro Beach is one of Punta Cana’s premiere destinations for sunbathing and wading through dreamy emerald water. Luxury resorts line the beach and offer easy access to the many beach activities in the area. These include snorkeling, parasailing and boat tours among other water sports.

  Check out this excellent Snorkeling Coral Nursery + Seafood Lunch tour here or this amazing sailing, snorkeling and catamaron tour here.

  Water sport options abound in Punta Cana. Check out the best parasailing tours here.

3. Whale Watching In Samaná Bay

Humpback whales migrate to Samaná Bay each year from December through March to mate and give birth. This makes Samaná Bay one of the best places for whale watching in the world. Although the city of Samaná is a charmingly small town, whale watching is so popular that many companies offer day trips from destinations all around the Dominican Republic. You can even take a whale watching trip with a marine biologist. 

  Check out this amazing Whale Watching tour in Samana Bay here.

4. Pedro García Coffee Trail

To learn more about one of the Dominican Republic’s top exports, coffee, head to the Pedro García Coffee Trail. Located close to the border between Puerto Plata and Santiago, you’ll discover how to roast and then sample your own coffee creation. Don’t forget to purchase some fresh beans to take home with you! 

Tours can offer some amazing insight into Dominican Republic top exports. Check out this great Cocoa Plantation and Chocolate Factory tour. Or this adventurous 4×4 tour with coffee and chocolate tasting.

5. Relax On Saona Island

Surrounded by sugary white sand beaches, Saona Island is the perfect place to relax under swaying palms. The tranquil turquoise waters of the natural pools are perfect for swimming. The vibe on this island is chill and the crystalline waters provide the perfect place to snorkel with colorful tropical fish. There are several companies that offer day excursions to the island or you can take a catamaran. 

 Looking for the perfect day trip to Saona Island? This Full Day – Small Group Saona Island tour is perfect. Or check out this Full Day Excursion to Saona Island here.

6. Swimming In Waterfalls

Swimming in waterfalls in the Dominican Republic is an unforgettable experience. One of the most popular waterfalls is El Limón, where you’ll journey 1.5 miles through the lush jungle to reach this magnificent waterfall before you take a swim. Or you can head 30 minutes from Puerto Plata to the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. The area is hidden in a beautiful tropical canyon and features waterfalls that you have to see to believe. The entrance fee depends on how many waterfalls you hike to, for example, hiking 7 waterfalls takes 2.5 hours and costs $400 pesos. 

If a tour sounds better to you, then this 27 Waterfalls Of Damajagua tour or this Waterfalls Of Damajaua tour is perfect for you. 

7. Be Adventurous!

The Dominican Republic will awaken the adventurous spirit inside of you with options like zip-lining through the jungle! While there are many companies that offer fantastic zip lining that will have you flying high above the jungle, this Adventure Ziplining Tour is perfect for you. How does driving a 4×4 buggy through the jungle sound? Those looking for adventure will love this Adventure Bundle that offers adventurers zip-lining, fun buggies, and Monkeyland tours. 

  Check out a number of excellent adventure tours in Dominican Republic here.

 Check out this Half-Day Dune Buggy Tour  or this Fun Buggy Tour.

8. Swim In Hoyo Azul at Scape Park Cap Cana

Nature and adventure fans will love Scape Park Cap Cana, a tropical theme park filled with activities such as ziplining, cenote swimming, horseback riding, and other water activities. The most popular attraction is Hoyo Azul, a beautiful cenote blue lagoon that you can swim in. There is also cave exploration and more available at Scape Park Cap Cana.

  This Hoyo Azul & Scape Park Cap Cana Full Admission tour is the perfect way to enjoy the park!

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive while on vacation and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

Where to Stay in Dominican Republic

There are all types of accommodations in Dominican Republic. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels to hostels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our Dominican Republic Hotel Guide or our Dominican Republic All Inclusive Resort Guide.

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For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Dominican Republic Hotel Guide

What to Eat in Dominican Republic

You can find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat in the Dominican Republic. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, check out our Dominican Republic Restaurant Guide.

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For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Dominican Republic Restaurant Guide

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. We visit the DR every year so this will be very helpful. Some good suggestions here, especially the 27 waterfalls tour. One of our favorites.

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