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Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Beach Vacations

Dominican Republic beach
© Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
Dominican Republic is the Caribbean leader in beach vacations and all-inclusive resorts.

More than 5 million people visit the country every year for overnight vacations. Most of them go to the resort enclaves of Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. The total visitors far exceed the next most popular destination for beach vacations, which is Cuba with 3 million annual visitors.

Every island we have visited in the Caribbean has attractive qualities. But Dominican Republic has many of them packaged in one experience. It has white sands, perfectly colored water, swaying palm trees, steady breeze, shopping and unique excursions.

Where is Dominican Republic?


Dominican Republic is on the eastern side of the island of Hispaniola, which is shares with Haiti. Hispaniola lies between Jamaica to the west and Puerto Rico to the east.

Punta Cana is on the far eastern tip of the island. Puerto Plata is 250 miles away on the northern coast. The two are far enough away from each other that they have somewhat different weather patterns that determine the best times to visit each one.

Resort Visitor Tips


Punta Cana


Punta Cana resort visitors usually arrive at the Punta Cana International Airport. Its charming open-air terminal with thatched roofs reveals the massive inflow and outflow of tourists.

Resorts are clustered somewhat to the south of the Punta Cana airport but mostly to the north.

Punta Cana resorts are mostly all-inclusive to keep people on the properties as much as possible. The area is somewhat remote and not known for attractions outside of the resorts. But they do a great job of offering many things to do. Count on plenty of white sand beaches.

Puerto Plata


Puerto Plata visitors usually land at Gregorio Luperón International Airport about 25 minutes to the east of Puerto Plata. A small resort area around Playa Sosua is another 10 minutes to the east of the airport.

Most of the Puerto Plata resorts are clustered near the city. Although Puerto Plata is also known for all-inclusive resorts, the nearby area has more things to do outside of the resorts than Punta Cana.

They include Fort San Felipe, one of the first European forts in America, the Amber Museum and the Brugal Rum Factory. Others include Ocean World Adventure Park and a cable car ride up the side of Mount Isabel de Torres, which is 2,600 feet high.

Puerto Plata is Dominican Republic’s eighth largest city with a population of more than 250,000 people. The area also has the nearby cities of Cabarete and Sousa as well as various natural attractions.

Tourism / When to Go


© Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
It is no surprise that Dominican Republic is by far the most popular island for tourists in the entire Caribbean.

Dominican Republic is the second most popular island in the Caribbean for both cruise and resort vacations. It attracts 5 million resort visitors and about a half million cruise visitors to this eastern Caribbean island each year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

That total was nearly twice the size of Cuba, the second most popular island. Spanish is the dominant language, but English is widely spoken.

Dominican Republic is far more popular with European tourists than American or Canadian. Be aware, as a result, that topless bathing is common in the resorts.

The country lies in the middle of the hurricane belt, with the active season between June and October. Plan a visit with that in mind.

That said, the most popular month to visit in July, followed by March. The least popular month is September followed by October, consistent with other islands in the hurricane belt.

Weather


The climate is maritime semitropical, with an average yearly temperature of 80 Fahrenheit. It has little seasonal temperature variation.

The country lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October.

Punta Cana has moderate rainfall for most of the year. May and July usually have the most rain at about six inches each month, according to the Dominican Republic National Office of Meteorology.

The dry season is December through April, but the season also daytime temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit. Seawater is sometimes too cool for swimming.

July is the best month of the year for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain.

Otherwise, average high temperatures range from the low to upper 80s Fahrenheit throughout the year. Average lows, mostly at night, stay in the low to upper 70s.

Puerto Plata is both warmer and wetter. The average highs reach into the 90s Fahrenheit during the summer.

Unlike most Caribbean destinations, the Puerto Plata rainy season runs from November through May. The dry season is June through September.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes


Dominican peso, but U.S. currency is widely accepted. Like many top Caribbean destinations, bills are accepted but return change will be in pesos.

A 10 percent service charge is added to hotel and restaurant bills.

Upon arriving at the airport, expect local help to cart baggage from the terminal to the bus. A few dollars is a sufficient tip. Goods and services have a 16 percent sales tax.

Culture / Geography


Spanish is the dominant language. For a long time, the country was known for exporting sugar, coffee and tobacco. But the service sector has outgrown those industries because of tourism and free trade zones.

The geography consists of rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed. That said, the majority of the trip from the airport to many resorts is flat roads.

More Information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

Punta Cana Resort Map

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November 27, 2019

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