Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana) is the second largest and most diverse Caribbean country with rainforests, beaches and Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. Tourist hot spot, Punta Cana, towards the east coast, has an abundance of golf courses and luxury resorts. The capital city, Santo Domingo has impressive Spanish landmarks such as the Gothic Catedral Primada de America which dates back 5 centuries. At just two hours south of Miami and less than a four hour flight from New York, this Caribbean island is a popular vacation destination for people in the US.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Wander the streets of the first European Colonial district in the New World and admire its historical buildings. Ciudad Colonial (Spanish for “Colonial City”) is the historic central neighborhood of Santo Domingo and the oldest permanent European settlement of the Americas. Visit the most romantic, lively and cultural neighborhood in the Dominican Republic and be inspired by the vibrancy and history.
Explore Coconut Coast
Punta Cana sits at the eastern most tip of the Dominican Republic where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The region’s 32km of white sand beaches and clear waters are known as La Costa del Coco or the Coconut Coast. With its white beaches, protected by reefs and placid clear waters Costa del Coco is the ultimate tropical paradise.
The Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo, or ‘La Capital’ is one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities. A collage of cultures Santo Domingo is also the most modern and dynamic metropolis in the Caribbean and a city that deserves more attention than it gets. Head to the cafe-lined Plaza de España and visit the Alcázar de Colón palace which is one of the city’s many museums, featuring Renaissance and medieval art.
Puerto Plata, officially known as San Felipe de Puerto Plata, is the ninth-largest city on the Atlantic north coast of the Dominican Republic, and capital of the province of Puerto Plata. Best known for its beautiful beaches, luxury resorts and golf courses.
Los Haitises National Park
Tucked into a corner of the Dominican Republic lies one of the country’s most spectacular hidden gems: The Park Nacional Los Haitises. Established in 1976 on the remote northeast coast of the Dominican Republic the National park has a massive expanse of red and white mangroves west of Sabana de la Mar that protects several plant and bird species. It also consists of a limestone karst plateau with conical hills, sinkholes and caverns. You can find multiple wild animal species like the Dominican hutia or swallow-tailed gull here too.
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TOP FESTIVALS
This is a festival not to be missed if you are looking for one of the most colorful and vibrant on the whole island. The town of San Pedro de Macorís is heavily influenced by Cuban culture because it was founded in the 19th century by Cuban refugees. Every year in January the Guloya festival celebrates its Cuban founding fathers who fled their homelands war during the 19th century.
The Carnival in the Dominican Republic is a Dominican celebration that takes place throughout February and sometimes March (some Dominicans celebrate it during Holy Week in March). In Santo Domingo, celebrations include a large military display with the Dominican air force, navy, and army.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BASICS
Language: The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish. There are many variants of Spanish being spoken here; the most common being Dominican Spanish. Other dialects which form the minority language include Haitian Creole and Samana English.
Currency: Dominican Peso.
Visa: Visiting the Dominican Republic requires a valid passport and a visa. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for the Dominican Republic is required (which depends on the country you’re from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: The Dominican Republic operates on 110 volts to 120 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Dominican Republic: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in the Dominican Republic are listed below. Prepare to drool!
Quipe: One of the best examples of a dish brought by immigrants and later adopted by the locals. Quipes, are a Dominicanized version of the Lebanese kibbeh. They were brought by a wave of Middle Eastern immigrants that arrived in the Dominican Republic at the end of the 19th century. This is a savory snack made with wheat, ground beef, minced onions and deep fried. This has become a Dominican staple that you must sample when you visit.
Sancocho: A traditional broth in several Latin American cuisines. It consists of large pieces of meat, tubers and vegetables served in a broth. The Dominican variant includes meat and is thickened by adding a puree of carrots, squash, and cooked vegetables.
Empanadas: The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, and literally translates as “enbreaded”, that is, wrapped or coated in bread. Empanadas are usually filled with cheese or meat and they can be baked or fried. The smaller versions of empanadas are perfect finger food when in the Dominican Republic.
Roasted Pork: Dominican streets are often filled with the smell of roasted pork thanks to the many roadside stands preparing the charred, seasoned, smoky and tender meat staple.
Chivo Guisado: Goat might not be your favorite source of protein, but that is not the case in the Dominican Republic. Chivo guisado is a tasty goat stew that is tender and flavorsome. The stew is served with white rice, beans, and plantains.
WHERE TO STAY
The Dominican Republic is a generally very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in the Dominican Republic is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels make travel to the Dominican Republic affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, the Dominican Republic will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in the Dominican Republic can cost less than $50 dollars.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Santo Domingo. If you’re traveling to the Dominican Republic during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in the Dominican Republic. However, if you are backpacking in the Dominican Republic or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel to the Caribbean more affordable and it’s also a great way to meet new travel partners and international travel buddies.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Consider avoiding the tourist high season when visiting the Dominican Republic. Expect tourist crowds during mid-December to mid-April and potential hurricanes during the hurricane season from the beginning of June until the end of November. The best time to visit Dominican Republic is from March to May, when the peak season rush is coming to an end yet the weather is still warm. Dominican Republic has average highs of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round though.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL BUDGET
The Dominican Republic is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to the Dominican Republic really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $40 to $80 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $80 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $100 to $200 plus a day.
IS THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to the Dominican Republic. Pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and other scams to take advantage of tourists are common. Female travelers should be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of the Dominican Republic are dangerous so do your research before you go and avoid these places at all costs. Based on my own experiences and mishaps as a solo female traveler, I would never leave home without travel insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you.
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FLIGHT DEALS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TOURS & ACTIVITIES
DOMINICAN PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to the Dominican Republic is easy with our awesome Caribbean Packing Guides. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to the Dominican Republic and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you.
It’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates just remember to pack lightweight and breathable lose-fitting clothing. Be prepared for a few cool morning and evenings depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater and a coat just in case.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to the Dominican Republic include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the backpack brand carefully and make sure that you find the correct size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related backpack blog post which is all about how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock and a money belt to keep important documents like your passport safe.