Dominican Republic


Overview

Dominican Republic travel guide, including map of the Dominican Republic, top Dominican Republican experiences, and tips for travel in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is Latin Caribbean life taken to a higher degree. Visit for justifiably famous beaches, hidden villages and cloud-forest treks.

Home to the highest peak in the Caribbean, sparkling lagoons, exotic wildlife and pristine shores, it has, rather unfairly, been dubbed a bit of a one-trick beach-holiday pony. But away from the all-inclusive resorts at Punta Cana in the east and Puerto Plata in the north, a more beguiling pictures emerges.

The capital city, Santo Domingo, contains the oldest buildings in the Western hemisphere, and has a great attitude, traditional feel and locals who like to party. Head for Cabarete, famous for its windsurfing and kitesurfing, if you want an aqua adventure. Or whale watching is popular with visitors: spot humpbacks returning from northern climes to give birth off the Peninsula De Samaná.

Wanderlust recommends

  • Santo Domingo The capital’s historic centre is a charming time warp.
  • Cachote A cool retreat up in the mountains with a beautiful cloud forest.
  • Bahía de la Águilas Simply the most stunning beach in the country.
  • Laguna de Oviedo A vast saltwater lagoon ideal for wildlife spotting.
  • Constanza A great area for trekking and outdoor pursuits.
  • Jarabacoa The adventure capital of the DR  and a springboard for Pico Duarte.
  • La Vega The best place to catch the colourful Carnaval (Sundays in Feb).
  • Punta Rucia A laidback beach town that has purposely avoided development.
  • Playa Rincón Giving Bahía de la Águilas a run for its money.

Wanderlust tip

The Dominican Republic has an extremely good road network, and exploring the country under your own steam in a hire car is an easier option than on neighbouring Caribbean islands. If you don't want the hassle of a car hop on a local bus – the public transport system here is extensive and also easy to use.

Further Reading

Dominican Republic – Vital Statistics

 

  • Capital of Dominican Republic: Santo Domingo
  • Population of Dominican Republic: 10 million
  • Languages in Dominican Republic: Spanish
  • Time in Dominican Republic: GMT -4
  • International dialling code in Dominican Republic: +1809
  • Voltage in Dominican Republic: 110V 60Hz
  • Visa information for Dominican Republic: Visa information
  • Money in Dominican Republic: Dominican Republic peso (DOP) Five banks in Dominican Republic have ATMs, which accept most foreign credit and debit cards, they are widely accessible across the island. Credit cards are also accepted in businesses in tourist areas.
  • Dominican Republic travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Dominican Republic tourist board: Dominican Republic

When to go

This being the Caribbean, temperatures are warm year-round. Mountainous places such as Jarabacoa and Constanza are considerably fresher than the rest of the country.

The winter (November-April) is the cooler time to visit but good for trekking; expect mid to high 20s with cool nights. Jan to March is best for whalewatching.

From May to July is the best to spot wildlife at Lago Enriquillo and the Laguna de Oviedo (feeding season), with large groups of flamingos visible. August is the active hurricane period for the Caribbean. September and October are the active hurricane periods for the Atlantic.

Getting there

BA flies to Santo Domingo or Punta Cana from Gatwick; Thomson flies from Manchester and Gatwick to Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Flight time is around 10 hours.

Getting around in the Dominican Republic

A list of car rental companies can be found at www.andri.com.do. You’ll need a sense of adventure if heading to the south-west. A 4WD with GPS is best if exploring (road signs are infrequent). Caribe Tours operates an extensive bus network.

No-frills buses travel set urban routes (known as guaguas; no more than RD$25) as do similar concho cars. There are also motoconchos (motorbike taxi; no more than RD$100 for a longer trip).

Cost of travel

The DR is inexpensive away from the resorts. A mid-range hotel costs around US$25-35 a day. Expect to pay around RD$100 for a sandwich and around RD$300 for fresh fish and tostones on the coast.

Dominican Republic accommodation

In Santo Domingo, Hotel Doña Elvira is a prettily restored colonial building in the historic centre with an internal courtyard (doubles from US$79).

In Pedernales, Doña Chava is a rustic-style family-run hotel that does a great breakfast. Jarabacoa’s Rancho Baiguate is an all-inclusive ranch catering to the booming adventure market (doubles from US$47 pp; including meals).

Dominican Republic food and drink

Comida criolla (traditional Dominican food) is delicious. On the coast you’ll have a choice of fish – grilled, steamed or deep-fried; rice, avocado and plantain are standard sides. Try mangú (mashed plantain with onions and salami) for breakfast – an energy boost for a day of outdoor activities.

Health and safety

There are no special requirements for the Dominican Republic; no vaccine certificates are needed. Malaria is present but not a high risk (apart from along the border with Haiti).