8 mins

A guide to the Dominican Republic

From where to stay and what to eat to where to watch wildlife and adventurous things to do, we've teamed up with Club Med to give you everything you need to know before heading to the Dominican Republic...

Domican Republic travel guide (Shutterstock)
Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

With information on everything from where to stay and what to eat to adventurous things to do and where to spot wildlife, we’ve teamed up with Club Med to ensure you have all the information you need before travelling to this Caribbean island...

Click the links below to find the information you need. 

 

When to go

How to get there

Where to stay

Top traditional foods to eat

Great wildlife experiences

Adventurous things to do as a family

When is the best time to visit the Dominican Republic? 

The weather is always balmy in the Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

The weather is always balmy in the Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

You can expect a beautiful tropical climate, glorious sunshine and balmy temperatures in the Dominican Repuiblic whatever time of year you decide to go. However, the best time of year to visit is from December through to May. Travelling during these months also increases your chances of seeing humpback whales. Before jetting off, here's some essential information you should know: 

Time zone: GMT-4

Currency: Dominican Peso, but US Dollars are also widely accepted

Langauges: Spanish and English 

 

How to get there and around

Punta Cana International Airport welcomes flights from all over the world. You can fly directly from London Gatwick three times a week and twice a week from Manchester airport. Flights take around nine hours.

A taxi into Punta Cana will cost around $25 and there are many car rental options at the airport. As well as this, many hotels, including both Club Med hotels on the island include airport transfers in their package prices. 

If you want a taxi, make sure you wait at a designated stopping point, usually found outside hotels and bus stops. Alternatively, hop in a motoconcho; these motorcycle taxis are the cheapest way to travel around the island. 

Where to stay in the Dominican Republic 

Club Med have two exclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. At both accommmodations, you can enjoy luxurious service including transfers, mouth-watering food and drinks, an array of activities, childcare (included in the price for children aged four to seventeen) and entertainment for all the family...

Michès

(Club Med/Miches)

(Club Med/Miches)

Opening this month, this brand new, eco-friendly luxury resort is hidden away in the pristine paradise of Hispaniola island. This exclusive collection resort is a sustainable beachside hideaway offering four boutique 'villages' tailored to different tastes. Whether you're an active traveller, a family, a couple, or are looking for somewhere to rest and rejuvinate, you'll find the perfect stay for you. 

More information 

Punta Cana 

(Club Med/ Punta Cana)

(Club Med/ Punta Cana)

This vast resort is surrounded by perfectly manicured tropical gardens on one side and 600m of powdery white sand on the other. The hotel offers a beautiful place to relax as well as all kinds of adventures. You'll be eager to get off the sun lounger and try out kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and other watersports. Back on land, try something a bit different and learn circus tricks at the on-site Cirque du Soleil area. 

More information 

If you only eat four things in the Dominican Republic 

Try traditional food in the Dominican Republic

Try traditional food in the Dominican Republic

1. Sancocho

This seven meat stew is also popular across Latin America, but the Domican Republic has its own spin on the traditional dish. The stew usually includes pork sausage, beef and chicken, with carrot and butternut squash providing a splash of colour. 

2. Pollo Guisado

Chicken is extremely popular in the Dominican Republic, and this braised chicken dish is simple yet delicious. Fried, stewed and seasoned, the meat becomes incredibly tender and full of flavour. The dish is usually served with rice. 

3. Mangú

This traditional and tasty Dominican breakfast of mashed plantain served with salami is full of protein and will keep you full until lunchtime - perfect to have before a day of adventure. 

4. Tostones

More plantain, this time prepared before it is ripe and fried, flattened, then fried again. These crispy, golden coins make for a morish accompaniment to any main meal. 

Top 6 wildlife experiences in the Dominican Republic 

1. Discover animals at Los Tres Ojos National Park 

One of the caves at Los Tres Ojos (Shutterstock)

One of the caves at Los Tres Ojos (Shutterstock)

Venture just five miles east of Santo Dominigo and you'll be hidden in a thick pocket of jungle that surrounds three irridescent lakes. These lagoons - or eyes as they're known as - are the result of prehistoric caves that collapsed on themselves and filled with water, attracting rainbow-hued fish and graceful turtles. 

Not all of the caves collapsed, however. Step inside the gaping limestone mouths to spy bats hanging from the stalagmite and stalactite-studded walls. 

2. Watch humpback whales at Samana Peninsula

Watch whales at Samana Bay (Shutterstock)

Watch whales at Samana Bay (Shutterstock)

Head to the northern-most tip of the island and you will be rewarded with long stretches of palm-fringed white sands being lapped by the turquoise waters of the Atlantic. Beauty can be seen wherever you turn your head, but looking a little closer into the ocean will reveal more incredible sights. 

Every year between December and March, humpback whales migrate to Samana Peninsula in their thousands to reproduce in the warm waters. Take a boat trip to see them mating, birthing and caring for their calves.

3. Go birdwatching at El Limon waterfall

El Limon waterfall

El Limon waterfall

Clip clop through thick forest on horseback towards the EL Limon Waterfall. En route, many colourful birds will flit past, such as the Hispaniolan woodpecker, the broad-billed tody and Dominican Republic’s national bird, the palmchat. But it’s not just feathered creatures that will catch your eye. The 2.5km trail finishes at the foot of the 40m-high El Limon Waterfall that slides down a tower of rock before crashing into an aquamarine pool. Jump in to cool off in the refreshing water. 

4. Scuba dive or snorkel at Catalina Island

Reach this tiny island by boat from La Romana and you'll be glad you took the trip. With a cap on the number of travellers allowed to visit in a day, you can enjoy this slice of paradise in peace and quiet. Slip into the water where amber kelp forests hide colourful fish and 30m visibility makes it perfect for snorkellers. Those who choose to scuba dive can go deeper and see a wider range of marine life including yellow trumpet fish, angel fish, puffer fish and even barracudas and stingrays. 

5. See flamingos at Laguna de Oviedo

Flamingos in the Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

Flamingos in the Dominican Republic (Shutterstock)

Hike the shores of Laguna de Oviedo and you’ll quickly see why this lagoon is such a prime spot for birdwatching. Thanks to its high salt-water content, thick mangroves and sandy quays it’s a huge draw for flamingos. The best time to take a trail around the lake to see these beautiful birds is early in the morning and you might also spot royal and blue herons, the great egret, gulls, roseate spoonbills, sandpipers, pelicans and parrots too.

Top 5 adventurous things to do as a family in the Dominican Republic 

1. See the Dominican Republic from a kayak 

See the Dominican Republic from a kayak (Shutterstock)

See the Dominican Republic from a kayak (Shutterstock)

 

Travelling less than 30km east of Los Michès will lead you to the rural fishing village of Los Guineos. From here, you can hire a kayak and paddle across the vast surface of Laguna Limón, central to the communities that are built around its banks. You'll pass under the shade of mangrove forests where you slow down to a relaxing pace, taking time to seek out the rich birdlife that will flit in and out of the overgrown greenery. Later, stop for a rest by pulling your kayak onto the soft sands of Limón Beach where you can sip on fresh coconut water and enjoy the views from one of the least-visited beaches on the entire island. 

Sea kayaking is also a popular pastime in the Dominican Republic and in Punta Cana you can paddle out until the strip of sand you started from becomes just a speck in the distance and blue skies and water stretches out around you. 

2. Trek up mountains 

Climb Montana Redonda

Climb Montana Redonda

With jungles and mountain slopes aplenty in the Dominican Republic, it's no surprise that the island is criss-crossed with many hiking trails at all levels of difficulty. One of the most scenic climbs is Montana Redonda. At around 300m high, this peak translates to round mountain, apt when you consider its almost perfect dome shape. The verdant and windy climb offers 360 degree views from the summit, where you can look down on pristine Samaná Bay, Round Lagoon, Michès and the city of Seibo. There's a belly flipping-inducing swing at the top for those who are feeling brave.

More experienced hikers should head to 3,098m-high Pico Duarte, the tallest point in the whole of the Caribbean. This three-day hike isn't for the faint-hearted but the panoramic sunrise views from the summit make it well worth the climb. 

3. Learn to kitesurf 

Kitesurf at Carabete beach (Shutterstock)

Kitesurf at Carabete beach (Shutterstock)

The shallow waters of Punta Cana are a great place for beginners to learn to kitesurf. A teacher will take you through the basics before attaching you to a kite and guiding you as you're pulled across the sea. 

Experienced windsurfers should head to blustery Carabete beach, arguably the best place on the entire island to practice this thrilling sport. If you'd rather watch than participate, visit this beach in February during carnival, when kitesurfing stars come to show off their tricks. 

4. Fly over the mountaintops 

Zipline over the mountains in the Dominican Republic

Zipline over the mountains in the Dominican Republic

Get a unique view of Dominican Republic's broccoli-topped mountains on the longest zipline in the Dominican Republic. Located in Punta Cana, the thrilling experience consists of 12 lines - the longest stretching for a whopping 800m - connected by 18 platforms. The lines fly you over the Oriental mountain range, offering a birds-eye view on the rising and dipping green-carpeted landscape below. 

It isn't just about the zipline, though. Tropical trails lead you from platform to platform, meaning you can appreciate the flora and fauna on the jungle floor inbetween swooshing down the lines. 

5. Try canyoning 

Try canyoning (Go Dominican Republic)

Try canyoning (Go Dominican Republic)

27 waterfalls splash their way through the thick jungle of Puerto Plata making for a thrilling ride for those willing to take the plunge. Trek over the wooden bridges that cross the jungle paths until you find the various waterfalls shooting through carved rocks and crashing with force into cold, blue lagoons.  Put on protective gear and a helmet and slide, jump and swim your way through nature's own waterpark - a perfect escape for anyone wanting to cool down on a hot Dominican day. 

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