The Dominican Republic is a country on the Caribbean island Hispanolia. Santo Domingo is both its capital and largest city, and it was named after Saint Dominic, the country’s patron saint. The Dominican Republic destinations also include several smaller islands; Beata and Saona are the two biggest.
Dominican Republic travel typically involves a plane. Visitors from the US and Canada won’t need a passport or Dominican Republic visa to enter the country, providing they have other proof of citizenship like an original birth certificate. US citizens however, however, will need a passport to re-enter the United States.
How to Get to the Dominican Republic
- Do you need a Dominican Republic passport? A US citizen will need a Dominican Republic passport if they want to rent a car or cash traveler’s checks while there.
- A traveler can get a Dominican Republic tourist card at the airport for $10 USD. However, it is good for only 30 days, and an extension will cost extra.
- US citizens will have to apply for a passport in person if it is their first passport or their last passport was issued over 15 years ago. The applicant will have to fill in Form DS-11, and they will need to provide proof of US citizenship like a birth certificate and a form of ID like a valid driver’s license. They will also need to supply a full-face photograph that was taken within the past six months and is 2 x 2 inches.
- Customs places restrictions on the amount of alcohol or tobacco products that one might bring into the country. Dogs and cats need proof of vaccination issued within the past 30 days. Pet birds enter quarantine.
Planning the Trip
- Hurricane Irma, then a Category 5 storm, technically bypassed the Dominican Republic’s northern coast on September 7, 2017. Yet, it still flooded streets and damaged buildings in some areas.
- A local variant of Spanish called Dominican Spanish is the main language. Many Dominicans do learn some English, however.
- The Dominican Republic is a tropical island with a casual dress code. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is a must, and so are swimsuits, tank-tops and sarongs for visiting the beaches and nearby bars, restaurants or shops.
- Electronics may need an adapter.
- The local currency is the Dominican peso; about 48 Dominican pesos equal $1 USD.
Best Time to Go to the Dominican Republic
The peak tourist season for Dominican Republic travel is winter. Even the coldest month in the Republic, January, usually has an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). The crowds start to dissipate between March and May.
Carnival Dominicano is a festival that takes place over the entire month of February. The Carnival reaches its climax on February 27, the Dominican Independence Day. It borrows elements from all of the cultures associated with the Dominican Republic, such as the Africans, Spanish and Native Americans. The Carnival is a large draw for Dominican Republic travel.
Top Things to Do in the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone is a World Heritage Site that boasts the first castle, fortress, cathedral and monastery to be built in the Americas. Santo Domingo, a famous Dominican Republic location, in general is the oldest European city in the Americas. It was founded by Bartolome Columbus in 1496. The Cathedral, the Ozama Fort and the Alcazar de Colon were all built during his lifetime. Visiting Santa Domingo is a highlight of Dominican Republic travel.
Saona is an island off the south-eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is a nature reserve and part of the East National Park. It is also famous for its beaches. Visitors usually get there by boat, and they can arrange a tour through their hotel.
Choosing Where to Stay
- Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort, Punta Cana;
- Melia Caribe, Punta Cana;
- Casa de Campo, La Romano;
- Sublime Samana, Las Terrenas;
- Tortuga Bay Hotel, Punta Cana.
Other Dominican Republic Facts
- The Dominican Republic has the largest lake, Lake Enriquillo, and the highest mountain, Pico Duarte, in the Caribbean. Lake Enriquillo is near the Haitian border and is big enough to have an island, Isla Cabritos in its center. Furthermore, the island is home to several endemic plant species, plus birds, iguanas, and crocodiles.
- Pico Duarte is part of the Cordillera Central range that runs through both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The mountain has an elevation of 10,164 feet (3,098 meters). It stands in the José del Carmen Ramírez National Park, which is one of the oldest national parks in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). The terrain consists of mountains and valleys. So, there is a significant variation in local temperature. The highest mountains can actually experience freezing temperatures during the winter, for example.
The Dominican Republic does get hurricanes, and over half the impacts are along the southern coast. Most hurricanes strike between August and October. The last major hurricane to directly strike the country was 1998’s Hurricane Georges; 2017’s Hurricane Irma was a near-miss that still did damage.
Dominican cuisine is largely Spanish, African and Taíno. Lunch is the largest and most important meal.
- A popular lunch dish is La Bandera (the flag), which consists of red beans and meat on white rice.
- Sancocho de siete carnes is a soup or stew made with seven kinds of meat that usually includes chicken, beef and pork.
- Popular deserts include flan, dulce de leche and Dominican cake.
Sampling the cuisine is another reason for Dominican Republic travel.
Baseball is the favorite sport of the Dominican Republic. Baseball season runs from October to January. The major league consists of six teams. Also, the strongest team plays against teams from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela in the Caribbean Series. This is an analog of the World Series that usually takes place in February. The Estadio Cibao in Santiago is the Dominican Republic’s largest stadium.
Merengue is sometimes described as the Dominican Republic’s national dance and has been popular since the 1930s. The Merengue & Caribbean Rhythms Festival, which celebrates local styles of dance and music, takes place in Santo Domingo every year.
Every Dominican Republic location has something that will appeal to a visitor. Travelers can explore the countryside or shop and party in the cities. Moreover, they can climb Pico Duarte, sunbathe on a beach, or visit a 500-year-old cathedral. Dominican Republic travel thus has a lot to offer.
Images from pixabay.com.