Dominican Republic Travel Guide

The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean on the island of Hispaniola—which it shares with Haiti. The country is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and impressive resorts. The terrain of the Dominican Republic is a mix of rainforest, savannah, and highlands. A trip to The Dominican Republic is sure to feel fun and rejuvenating.

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Know Before You Go

Language

Dominican Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic

When to Visit

The best time to visit The Dominican Republic is during its dry season from December to April when the weather is warm and sunny with minimal rain.

Currency & Payment

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso (DOP). Many vendors accept U.S. dollars, but it’s wise to pay in pesos as you will get a better exchange rate when given change. Credit cards are also widely accepted as a form of payment in areas with heavy tourist activity.

Transportation

In general, it is wise to take transportation that’s organized in advance by a trusted company or your accommodation. There is public transportation available in The Dominican Republic. Taxis are also available and Uber operates in the major cities including Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.

What to Pack

Here’s a list of suggested items to pack for the Dominican Republic…in addition to what you’d automatically think to bring. 

  • Sunscreen: The sun is strong in the Dominican Republic so be sure to bring sunscreen with a high SPF. 

  • Power adaptor: Electrical outlets in The Dominican Republic are 60 cycles / 120 volts which is compatible with all USA and Canadian devices. If coming from another country, you will need a two-pin flat adapter and a 220-volt converter.

  • Small backpack: If you’d like to go hiking or on an excursion, bring a small backpack.

  • Waterproof bag: Bring a waterproof bag with you for boat rides, etc. 

  • Travel towel: If you’re not staying at a resort then bring a travel towel with you to avoid high rental fees or buying one on the island. 

Experiences

Here’s a list of some top things to experience in the Dominican Republic

  1. Spend time on the beach in Punta Cana: A famous resort town in the Dominican Republic. It’s known for its beautiful stretch of beach, all-inclusive resorts and crystal clear blue waters. 
  2. Go to Playa Rincon: This beach is dubbed one of the most beautiful in the world and definitely worth a visit. 
  3. Check out historical Santo Domingo: This is the capital city of the Dominican Republic and one of the oldest cities in the America’s. There are lots of cool historical sites to see here. 
  4. Visit the indigenous ecological park and reserve: A cool natural forest reserve with hiking areas, lagoons and natural-history exhibits. 
  5. Visit Alcazar de Colon at night: This historical site was built by Christopher Columbus’s son between 1510 and 1514 and was one of the oldest remaining structures in the city. It’s a great site day and night but especially magical at night. 
  6. Take a dip in Hoyo Azul: A deep, blue hole located in a cave in Punta Cana. 
  7. Go on a dune buggie ride: There are little better ways to explore the natural landscape of the Dominican Republic than on a dune buggie ride. 
  8. Go to Isla Saona: This island is the Dominican Republic’s largest coastal Island and has beautiful beaches and coral reefs to explore. 
  9. Do some Whale Watching: Every year between mid-December and late March, thousands of humpback whales congregate in the warm waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic…and you can watch!
  10. Visit El Limon Waterfall: A beautiful and cascading waterfall located in Northern Dominican Republic. You’ll have to take a trail to get here and often times visitors go on horseback.
Fast Facts

Here are some facts about the Dominican Republic that you may have not already known!

  1. Baseball is the national sport of the Dominican Republic. There are over 100 professional players of Dominican origin in American professional baseball leagues, including David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, and Hanley Ramirez.

  2. Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The fast-paced, rhythmic music and dance originated there.

  3. The Dominican Republic is the site of the oldest colonial settlement in the Americas, and where Christopher Columbus’s first landed in 1492.

  4. Before the formation of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the island that the Dominican Republic resides on was named Hispaniola.

  5. Sugar production is one of the main industries in the country.

  6. The country experiences warm and sunny conditions for most of the year. Because of this, the climate can be referred to as an “endless summer.”

  7. The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean.

  8. 25% of the Dominican Republic’s land and shoreline are preserved as national parks, reserves, and sanctuaries.

  9. Oscar de la Renta, the acclaimed fashion designer, was born in The Dominican Republic. 

  10.  The Dominican Republic is known for producing the best rum. Their most famous rums are known as the 3 Bs: Brugal, Barcelo, and Bermudez.

Budget Suggestions

Here’s a look at what you might spend on the basics during a trip to the Dominican Republic. Costs may fluctuate based on the region that you visit or the time of year that you go. 

 

Item

Budget Travel

Mid-Range

High End

Notes

Accommodation

$12 – $30/Night (Hostel or a shared room in an Airbnb)

$45 – $100/Night 

(Airbnb or budget hotel)

$100 – $300/night (Hotel)

The most common experience in DR is to stay in an all-inclusive resort. Cost may vary.

Food

$5 – $20/meal
(Local Food)

$10 – $25/meal
(average restaurant)

If staying in a resort, meal costs will be much higher. Resorts offer meal plans that can help keep costs down if you don’t want to leave your resort. Costs vary per resort.

Alcohol

$2 – $4
(Beer)

$5 – $10
(Cocktails, Wines, etc.)

Presidente’s are a popular domestic beer and cost approx. $2

Explore from Home

Due to COVID-19, it’s not as possible to travel freely. Because of this, I wanted to share some resources for experiencing the country virtually. 

 

  1. Take a tour of Punta Cana in 4K

  2. Learn how to make Dominican Mangu from the comfort of your home

  3. Explore the Dominican Republic in Virtual Reality

  4. Go on a tour of the Hard Rock Punta Cana