Dominican Republic Guide
Five Things First Time Travellers To The Dominican Republic Should Know
- Don't drink the tap water. It will make you sick for the rest of your holiday. Instead, stick to using it only for showering and buy bottled water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Learn some Spanish. While you will find English speakers in the big cities, once you leave these areas, you'll struggle to find someone that understands you.
- Use Uber. The taxi drivers in the Dominican Republic are notorious for ripping off tourists. Save yourself from the hassle and use the ride-sharing app. It's safer, cheaper and the driver won't drive around in circles trying to get more money from you.
- Don't pay for anything with US dollars. If someone tries to charge you in USD, it's a scam. Insist on paying in Dominican Pesos or walk away.
- Tipping is not part of the culture. In the Dominican Republic, you're not expected to tip for any service. Only high-end restaurants will have a service charge included in the bill.
Best Time To Visit The Dominican Republic
The most popular time to visit the Dominican Republic is during the summer months. From July to August, travellers from the Northern hemisphere arrive to soak up the idyllic island weather.
December to February is another high season as well as the week before Easter. If you're planning your trip during any of these busy months, book your trip in advance and expect higher hotel rates.
If you want to save money without sacrificing the good weather, visit during the shoulder seasons. In spring and autumn, you'll have an easier time booking a hotel room, and the island's beautiful beaches will have fewer crowds.
June to December is hurricane season and the least popular time to visit the Dominican Republic. August and September are when the biggest storms usually hit, but smaller ones might happen in the months before or after.
The good news is that temperatures won't change that much. If you can handle the frequent showers, you'll also be rewarded with heavily discounted hotel rooms and flights.
Dominican Republic Cities
Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the New World. It's full of ancient relics, colonial buildings and a vibrant culture.
The city's top attraction is the historic Colonial City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its streets are lined by excellent examples of Spanish architecture. The most famous building here is the oldest cathedral in the Western hemisphere, the First Cathedral of America.
Other notable sights include the Alcazar De Colon, built by Christopher Columbus's son; the city's plethora of museums and the Columbus Palace.
Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Punta Cana. It's one of the Dominican Republic's most popular resort destinations thanks to its beautiful beaches and world-class golf courses.
Punta Cana isn't just about bronzing yourself in the sun. It has something to offer every kind of traveller. Head to Scape Park for a zip line adventure or a dune buggy tour, visit the nearby fishing village of El Macao or explore the azure waters of the Hoyo Azul Lagoon.
La Romana is the third largest city on the island. While it not might be a sprawling metropolis, it's the best place to visit if you want to admire the creative side of the Dominican Republic.
Altos de Chavon is a replica of a 16th-century artisans village. Built by a Hollywood set designer, it's home to a historic church and an art school dedicated to teaching the next generation of artists.
If you're looking for arts and crafts to take back home, La Romana won't disappoint.
Top Attractions in The Dominican Republic
Eastern National Park
Eastern National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's home to a diverse range of plants and wildlife, including more than a hundred species of birds.
The park is also one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean. Its coral reef system attracts numerous tropical fish species as well as endangered sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and manatees.
Don't miss the opportunity to snorkel here or explore its excellent dive sites. For those that don't want to get wet, there are examples of pre-Columbian art in the park's system of caves, plus beautiful remote beaches and rugged hiking trails.
Samana Bay is one of the Dominican Republic's biggest tourist attractions. Each year, between January and February, pods of humpback whales flock to its waters to give birth.
Join a boat tour and watch the whales frolic and nurse their newborn calves. It's one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent creatures up close.
That's not all there is to see in the Bay. The peninsula is also part of the Parque Nacional Los Haitises. You'll find bird-filled caves, the famous Salto El Limon waterfall and thick mangroves teeming with wildlife.
Bahia de Las Aguilas and Jaragua National Park
Bahia de Las Aguilas is one of the Dominican Republic's most magnificent beaches. Located inside Jaragua National Park, it boasts a six-mile stretch of sand framed by turquoise waters.
Due to the beach only being accessible via a boat from the small village of La Cueva, it remains completely undeveloped and unspoiled.
Bring your snorkelling gear and spend the day exploring its depths. The waters here are full of marine life, and you won't need to swim far to appreciate Dominica's underwater heritage.
Back on land, the bay is home to many of the country's bird species and is a visit-must for any avid bird watcher.
A visit to Lake Enriquillo deserves a spot on any animal lover's bucket list. It's the largest saltwater lake in the Antilles and is famous for its abundance of flamingos and iguanas.
Located inside Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos, the reserve boasts over 100 different species of flora and 62 kinds of birds. It's also one of the largest natural reserves for the American Crocodile.
Despite its sheer number of flora, Lake Enriquillo is not a well-trodden destination. Very few people end up making their way here, and as a result, it's maintained its rugged and wild charms.
Nestled between the Cordillera Central Mountains, Jarabacoa is fast becoming a top ecotourism destination.
Its surrounding landscape is awash with pine forests, waterfalls, and the highest peaks in the Caribbean. It's also home to the Dominican Republic's only whitewater river and is a firm favourite with adventure travellers.
Due to the higher altitude, Jarabacoa is a great place to head to if the heat is getting to you. Temperatures are cooler making it easier to enjoy activities like mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing.
Major International Airports in The Dominican Republic
- Punta Cana International Airport
- Las Americas International Airport
- Cibao International Airport
- Gregorio Luperon International Airport
- La Romana International Airport