The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean for obvious reasons. With a vast choice of luxury hotels in Dominican Republic, along with world-class beaches and marine life, it’s the ideal holiday for beach bums and romantic getaways. But, for many people, it’s a completely different world that is very far away. So, we have put together 7 things you should know before heading over to the paradise island.
The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking nation, and while English is spoken in many tourist areas, it’s useful to learn a few phrases before heading over. Greeting locals with a friendly “Hola” (Hello) or being able to say “Gracias” (Thank you) not only helps communication but also shows respect for the local culture. Learning to ask for the bill (La cuenta, por favor), how much something is (¿Cuánto cuesta?), and saying please (Por favor) will also go a long way.
Best Time to Go
The Dominican Republic boasts a tropical climate year-round, so the best time to visit can depend on what you want from your holiday. If you’re seeking sunshine without the heavy rainfall, the dry season from December to April is your best bet. Of course, you can expect a few more tourists this time of year, so budget travellers may opt for off-season. Hurricanes are mostly at the end of summer, early fall.
The Dominican Republic is famous for its stunning sandy white beaches. Punta Cana is arguably the most popular, offering clear waters and an extensive strip of lush sand. For a quieter, more laid-back beach experience, consider Playa Rincon in Samana. The beaches of Isla Saona are also ideal for day-trippers, with many tours available from nearby Bayahibe.
The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (DOP). However, US dollars are also widely accepted, but generally you can expect to pay more using USD. ATMs are available in urban areas and most hotels, and credit cards are widely accepted. Carrying a small amount of local currency can be useful for tipping or for purchases in smaller shops and markets.
Dominicans are a warm and friendly people, but it’s important to remember to respect local traditions and customs. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and when away from the beach. You will always have the more positive experience when you respect the local culture and environment.
The Dominican Republic offers a wealth of attractions beyond its beaches. Santo Domingo, the capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to the oldest cathedral and fortress in the Americas. History buffs should also consider a visit to La Isabela, the site of Columbus’ first settlement in the New World. For nature lovers, the stunning El Limón waterfall and the Los Haitises National Park are not to be missed.
While the Dominican Republic does have public transport in the form of buses and shared taxis, they can often be overcrowded and less comfortable. Renting a car is an option, but bear in mind that the driving conditions can be challenging. For short distances within cities or resorts, local motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) are a cheap and fun.
In conclusion, the Dominican Republic offers something for everyone. There are as many attractions as there are beaches, and being respectful, mindful, and knowing a small amount of Spanish can go very far.