Dominican Republic Travel Guide: Everything You Need To Know Before You Go

Get all the details about what to expect on your visit to this incredible country before you jet off with our whistle-stop Dominican Republic Travel Guide. 

Our Dominican Republic Travel Guide will give you all the juicy details of how the Dom Rep has established itself as the most visited tourist Destination in the Caribbean.

In fact, did you know that in 2022 not only did the Dominican become the most visited island in the Caribbean, but with 8.5 million tourists touching down it also held a top 5 berth on the list of most visited countries in the Americas too! 

With that amazing stat still ringing in our ears, why don’t we take a look at all the reasons why it’s just so popular? 

Dominican Republic travel guide
Welcome to our Dominican Republic Travel Guide! Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Dominican Republic Travel Guide: Fast Facts About The Dom Rep

  • Best Time of Year to visit: December – April
  • Capital: Santa Domingo
  • Size: 48,442 km²
  • Currency: Peso
  • Main Language: Spanish
  • Flight Time: Around 9 hours
  • Time Difference: –5 GMT

Why Visit the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic offers some of the best-value holidays in the Caribbean. You’ll find a wide range of luxury all-inclusive hotels lined across the dreamy stretches of long white beaches.

And while it’s is famed for being a palm-covered haven, there’s a lot more to the destination than meets the eye. During this travel guide to the Dominican Republic we’ll show you it all!

The tropical coastlines are dotted with first-class golf courses and resorts, fusing golf and sun-filled leisure in perfect harmony. Many have been designed by world-class golfers, ensuring they offer varied and challenging holes, whilst celebrating the natural beauty of the surroundings. It’s even home to the Caribbean’s number one course, Teeth of the Dog designed by Pete Dye.

Woman walking in the Caribbean Sea at sunset
There’s a reason why Dom Rep is the most popular Caribbean country with tourists. Photo by Leonardo Rossatti

Dominican Republic Culture

Dominican culture is proudly celebrated throughout the country. Be warned, you may leave with the tantalising and intoxicating rhythms of merengue and bachata, the national music, in your ears. If you get a chance, try and check out a vibrant fiesta patronal. These are fascinating arrays of annual fiestas, celebrating religion often though music-driven processions and street parties.

Dominican Republic Cuisine

The cuisine of Dominicans is just as tantalising as the music. Locally called comida criolla, it’s a blend of Spanish, African and Tanino elemets, with regional variants found across the island. With lots of rich, decadent flavours, we’d encourage you to indulge – that’s what holidays are about of course.

Let’s Talk About Coffee

While we’re on the subject of delicious food & drink. If, like me, you’re an extreme coffee lover, you’ll be happy to know Dominican coffee is among the best in the world. Grown at height in the Cordillera Central mountain range, it boasts a rich, smooth taste and has become a major export earner for the country due to its high quality.

What Are The Most Popular Things To Do In The Dominican Republic?

Now, this wouldn’t be a very good Dominican Republic Travel Guide if we didn’t look at some of the top spots to discover and amazing activities. The best (or most common) places to soak in the amazing things to see and do in Dom Rep are in two main areas: 

  1. Punta Cana
  2. La Romana

Discover Punta Cana

The most popular resort area in the Dom Rep, Punta Cana is where you’ll find the best beaches, luxury all-inclusive hotels, exhilarating activities and much more.

Today, it’s lovingly known as the “Coconut Coast” owing to the endless coconut palms that line the azure shoreline. Found on the eastern coast of Dom Rep, it’s one of the best holiday spots in the world, especially for those who prefer a more tropical climate.

But let’s dig a little deeper into Punta Cana and find out about the amazing places and activities you have to visit here. 

Where To Go In Punta Cana?

Punta Cana is a big area and it’s jam-packed with incredible things to do. But you need to know where to look in order to find them. Well search no more, as we’ve found them and plonked all 6 incredible destinations and fun activities below. They are: 

  • Uvero Alto 
  • Carretera Uvero Alto 
  • Go day tripping 
  • Bavaro 
  • Saona Island
  • Cap Cana
1. Uvero Alto

A secluded village based in Punta Cana, Uvero Alto may be one of the region’s best-kept secrets. Here rests a beautiful, unspoilt beach town that is ideal for those in search of a tranquil area in which to rest and rejuvenate.

The beach is long and golden, perfect for sunset strolls and a favourite for couples and honeymooners. If you prefer a bit of action, however, there is also plenty of beach-side fun to be had.

The region is home to a surf school, providing visitors with surfboards and educational courses if desired.  Windsurfing, diving and kiting are also available to enjoy.

Women with surfboards walking into the ocean
Grab a board and learn a new skill in Uvero Alto. Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash
2. Carretero Uvero Alto

Just behind the coastal resorts is Carretera Uvero Alto. Here you’ll find Dominican restaurants, a small shopping centre, and souvenir shops if you fancy an hour or two away from the beach.

3. Day Trippin’ in Punta Cana

If a day excursion is what you’re after, drive 30 minutes inland to Higüey, the eastern province’s capital. You’ll find many cultural attractions to ponder. For example, the famous 15th-century painting Virgen de la Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican resides here as well as a range of authentic Dominican markets.

Another great excursion is visiting one of the largest caves in the Caribbean, Cueva Fun Fun. Although it’s not for the faint-hearted. The cavern is located in a lush tropical forest in the middle of Los Haitises National Park.

To get there, you’ll be driven through the countryside of Dom Rep. You’ll start the fun at Rancho Capote where there’s horse-riding, followed by hiking through the tropical forest to reach the cave. Then you start the decline into the depths of the earth through a small hole. Once inside the cave, follow the underground river in almost complete darkness until you reach the exit, where you’ll ride the horses back to the ranch.  

4. Bavaro

Bavaro is a wonderful exotic town known for offering the best beach resorts in the country. Although it’s slightly busier than Uvero Alto, the beaches here still offer spacious sands and a calming sea alongside a host of attractions to fill up your days.

Get on a day trip to a local national park. Manati Park Bavaro is one of the most popular, showcasing exotic birds, parrots, reptiles, aquariums and sea lions. On the other hand, if you like a bit of action, head to Bavaro Adventure Park. Here bungee, zip lines, tree-top rope bridges and even life-size dinosaurs await.

Follow up those thrills with some retail therapy at Palma Real Shopping Village. It’s a colonial-style building, with hundreds of commodities including clothes, accessories and food. If that’s not enough, at Harrisons Fine Caribbean Jewellers customers can watch how the jewellers work, buy made-to-order designs, and see precious stones.

5. Saona Island

Catch a catamaran to Saona Island, a 110 sq kilometre offshore isle known for mangroves, coral, starfish-filled waters, and palm-fringed beaches.

It’s an Instagrammers-paradise, a picture-perfect unspoilt and authentic atmosphere embodied in the island that has been preserved by the inhabitants over the years.

Due to its large size, there are many things to do on your excursion to Saona. Including visiting Mano Juan fishing village and the Turtle Recovery Centre. Or why not go trekking around Laguna los Flamenco home to many native bird species?

6. Cap Cana

Maybe the most exclusive spot on the list, Cap Cana embodies everything we love about high-end luxury. The beaches are heavenly, and many hotels offer beach service so the most you need to do is pick up your book and flip the pages. 

Sports lovers this is probably the place for you too. Golf courses in Cap Cana are enviable too, particularly Punta Espada designed by Jack Nicklaus. In addition, Hacienda Gold, Las Iguanas and Le Cana Golf Club all offer breathtaking ocean views, well-kept grounds and challenging holes.

Elsewhere, head to the famous marina where you can admire the beautiful yachts and grab some light refreshments at Api Beach Bar. This is perfect at sunset when you’ll enjoy a lovely coastal breeze. Coffee, glamorous boats, and golden-hour views? Yes please!

Where To Go In La Romana?

The other renowned tourist area in the Dominican Republic. Famed for exquisite beaches, first-class golf courses, and unparalleled seclusion. La Romana has become a playground for the rich and famous, as well as holiday-makers seeking a higher level of indulgence and tranquillity. But what should you check out?

  • Water sports 
  • Incredible dive spots
  • Catalina Island
  • Altos de Chavon
Water Sports in La Romana

As with many coastal regions in the Dominican, due to the gorgeous beaches and crystal-clear waters, you’ll find no shortage of water activities to enjoy from deep-sea fishing to scuba diving.

But with the calmness of the Caribbean sea in La Romana you should be thinking more about swimming, snorkelling, diving and catamaran sailing than surfing or windsurfing. 

Diving in La Romana

On the subject of calm waters, those gentle tides in the area mean incredible diving conditions. Which is perfect for those who want to get below the surface and witness the unending beauty of the coral reef. 

However, cave diving is also very popular on the island with three water-filled cave systems near Santa Domingo, Bayahibe and Playa Dorada perfect for technical divers.

Woman snorkelling under the water giving a thumbs up in front of a clown fish
La Romana is the best place to get beneath the waves in the Dom Rep. Photo by Bagus Tri Kuncoro
Catalina Island

If you made the trip to Saona Island then you might like to check out Catalina Island too. It’s an uninhabited isle which enjoys national park protected status.

Two famous dive sites around the island are a haven for open sea divers. Discover a wealth of colourful, tropical fish species. For something really unique, seek out the Wreck of Saint George, a freighter laying between 72 and 230 feet below sea level,  perfect for advanced divers.

Altos de Chavon

There’s just as much fun to be had on dry land in La Romana. Altos de Chavon is a favourite with many visitors. Created by a Dominican architect, an Italian designer, and a cinematographer, it was invented to mimic a 16th-century Mediterranean village.

The site features cobblestone pathways, art galleries, shops and restaurants. As well as artists teaching sculpture, pottery, weaving, dance and more. The main attraction, the Roman-style amphitheatre, has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and Gloria Estefan to name a couple. 

Get To Know The Friendly Locals

The Dominican culture is very welcoming, and you’ll find locals to be very friendly, hospitable and always ready for a lively conversation or party. You’ll find they like to gather and celebrate life with good food, music and most importantly, great rum!

So, let your hair down and join in with the fun.

Start Your Dominican Republic Holiday Adventure Today

If our Dominican Republic Travel Guide has stimulated your travel bone. Then you may want to take a sneaky look at 3 Punta Cana resorts which we’re loving

Then get your Dom Rep adventure booked up! 

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