Why Not Go to Dominican Republic?

A vacation in the Dominican Republic can be whatever you want it to be

Photo credit: © Reinhard Link

As a vacation spot, the Dominican Republic mirrors its diverse culture by offering such a wide variety of attractions and activities that almost anyone can find something to do. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure to recount for years to come, the Dominican Republic can accommodate.

Dominican Republic: Facts at a Glance
Currency The official currency of the Dominican Republic, the Peso (RD$), is a floating currency, so check the current exchange rate when planning a vacation.
Electricity The Dominican Republic uses the 110-volt system, so visitors from the U.S. and Canada do not need adapters; all other visitors should consider this when packing.
GDP Per Capita The average household income of the Dominican Republic is $8,200(USD).
Island Size The half of Hispaniola occupied by the Dominican Republic is about 18,816 square miles in area.
Language Spanish is the official language, but Creole is also widespread on the island.
Population The Dominican Republic is home to about 10,280,000 people; the country also sees 2,882,000 visitors annually, of which 24 percent are from the U.S.
Entry Requirements All visitors to the Dominican Republic, even those from within the Caribbean, need a valid passport and visa and, upon arrival, must purchase a tourist card for about $10(USD). Keep track of your passport and tourist card at all times. Although entry customs and immigration may be difficult, be tenacious; all the work is worth the end benefits.

Geography and Weather

The Dominican Republic is located in the West Indies on the island of Hispanola, which it shares with the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The Dominican Republic has a total land area of 18,703.6 square miles and is characterized by rugged highlands, green valleys, and tall mountains. There are eight mountain ranges in the Dominican Republic, and some of the West Indies' highest peaks are found in those ranges.

Despite a history of violence and social unrest, and a reputation for crime, Dominicans are lovers of hospitality, and are genuinely friendly towards tourists, since tourists provide most Caribbean islanders with their daily bread. Politeness and modesty in behavior are the best ways to guarantee good treatment. Islanders typically view Westerners as lacking in these traits, and good manners are highly valued in local culture.

The climate of the Dominican Republic is tropical. This means that the country is located near the equator, and the sun reaches a point directly above and directly below the island at least one time each solar year. Temperatures in the Dominican Republic remain fairly steady, around 77 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, though it can reach up into the high 80s on some particularly hot summer days. Rainfall averages at about 56.5 inches per year, with May being the wettest month.

Around the Island

...hundreds of miles of coastline...


Vacation is all about relaxation. If this phrase rings true to you, the Dominican Republic has plenty of places for you to unwind. There are over a dozen golf courses, spas at many of the large resorts, and plenty of opportunity to shop at traditional malls as well as open air markets.

With over 350 beaches along hundreds of miles of coastline, vacationers are bound to find a beach that they can make their own in the Dominican Republic. On top of lounging in the warm sand and taking a dip in the ocean, water sports such as wind surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving are popular activities. Keep in mind that the beaches along the Atlantic Coast (such as Puerto Plata) tend to experience rougher waters, while west coast beaches provide a calmer, more family friendly surf. Punta Cana tends to be an exception; though located on the Atlantic coast, waters here tend to be safe throughout the year, making it one of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic.

Further inland, adventurers will be thrilled with the number of natural attractions they can partake in. Mountain climbing, hiking, rafting, nature tours, horseback riding, and even zip line tours are possible in the Dominican Republic.

Some of the most important attractions to see in the Dominican Republic are the historic structures that remain standing from as far back as the island's European discovery. Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo is where the first city in the Americas once stood. Today, the remains of those first buildings are situated throughout 12 city blocks – a surprising number of which have been amazingly well reserved. Also in Santo Domingo is Alcazar de Colon, once the palace of Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus. Alcazar is the most visted museum in the country, and houses exhibits of tapestry and a collection of medieval and Renaissance artwork. Other museums worth visiting in the Dominican Republic include the National Museum of History and Geography, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Eat Up and Have Fun!

...Santo Domingo is a city that never sleeps...


If your adventurous side comes out at night, the capitol city Santo Domingo is a city that never sleeps. Bars and nightclubs are always packed, beach resorts offer theater productions, and there are 20 casinos available for the monetary risk taker. Be warned when venturing out at night that the Dominican Republic and especially it's neighbor are both poverty stricken countries. As a result, criminal activity does happen, though rarely against tourists. Play it safe at all times, and you should be fine.

It might be easy to stick to what you know when it comes to food, but to really get the full Dominican Republic experience, you have to sample the cuisine. Natives treat breakfast and dinner as light meals consisting of tropical fruits, juices, teas, and sandwiches. Lunch is the large meal of the day, and the most common dish is lovingly referred to as “the Dominican Flag.” Bean stew, white rice, and a meat decorate the “flag.”

Health and Safety

Although the Dominican Republic is known for social unrest and crime, most of these problems are limited to the less visited areas of Santo Domingo. Nonetheless, many north coast resorts are isolated and lack proper security. If looking into the north coast area, be sure to check with the hotel or resort about security offered to visitors. Always exercise extreme caution with handbags and wallets; avoid wearing expensive-looking clothes and jewelry; and don't flash lots of cash. When visiting the Caribbean, follow the same common sense rules that apply in any major American or European city such as Chicago, New York, or London: Avoid dark, deserted areas and alleyways, don't talk to strangers, and never walk alone after dark. As far as water goes, it is advisable to stick to bottled water. Although the water is filtered, it is still questionable.

Visitors can be as relaxed or as adventurous as they want when they visit the Dominican Republic. From spa treatments and shopping trips to mountain climbing and jungle treks, and everything in between, there is something for everyone here.


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