How to Travel Like a Local in the Dominican Republic
We know your traveler type.
You bring the same appetite with street food as you would bring to an upscale restaurant.
You’d rather find your way to the beach (or museums, shops, restaurants, etc.) Instead of going with a tour.
You will receive suggestions from each guidebook at any time.
Bottom line: You are enticing local flavors. You want to travel like a local.
And you have chosen the right place. The Dominican Republic offers some of the friendliest people, the best food, the loveliest beaches, the widest selection of accommodation and the most diverse activities in the Caribbean.
Here’s what you need to know to enjoy it all.
When to go
No bad moments.
June to December, roughly, is the hurricane season, and some resorts close in October. But assuming no storms, temperatures are stable, rooms are discounted and crowds are smaller.
March to July is the shoulder season.
Santo Domingo on the southern coast is likely to see frequent short rains that continue through October. And the day can be windy. But the temperature was comfortable. May and June will see some cloudy days with occasional afternoon showers.
Mid-December to February and the week before Easter is a high season, which means higher prices and larger beach crowds.
(Note that water sports are banned all over the country for the week before Easter).
What to Pay and Where to Stay
You will find accommodations in almost every price and category range, from all-inclusive resorts and Dominican Republic villas to budget hostels and hotels.
Within the budget range, you can earn about US $ 60 per person per day, including hotel room or dorm for one person, food, and transportation via local motor taxi (motoconchos) and minibus (guaguas).
In mid-range, the average daily charge amounts to US $ 110- $ 150, including first-class bus transportation between the city and entertainment including a guided tour.
With a luxurious budget, the average daily cost is usually north of US $ 200 for luxury hotels or all-inclusive resorts and upscale dining.
The local currency is a Dominican Republic peso, so do not forget your currency conversion calculator.
And do not worry about the 28% service charge that is usually affixed to your restaurant bill; that includes a 10% tip (although you can add more).
In the same way, the hotel builds up with service charges, albeit a few U.S. dollars. per night for housekeeping will always be appreciated.
Where to go and what to do
Most resorts have beaches. But in a country famous for its beaches, you can do much better with a little traveling.
The most calm waters are the islands on the south side of the island. The beaches in Punta Cana, La Samana, and Puerto Plata are in the Atlantic and the water tends to be slightly rougher, especially between December and February.
In particular, Boca Chica is a beautiful white sand beach, just a few miles east of Santo Domingo. But its proximity to the city is also its biggest deficit, as Boca Chica tends to be very crowded with families from the city.
Juan Dolio beach a few minutes further east is quieter. And there are many alternatives, including beaches in the small town of Las Terrenas, Cayo Levantado near Samana Bay (accessible by boat only), El Rincon beach and – to a beautiful coral reef and great diving – Playa Cofresi.
Wherever you go, remember that on Sundays, easily accessible beaches tend to be more crowded with the locals.
But the Dominican Republic is more than just a beach.
Santo Domingo is the state capital and cultural center. The hotel has museums, parks, upscale restaurants and street food, music and nightlife.
Colonial City is a historic area that is very fascinating.
And Malecon, a seafront promenade, is the perfect place to drink at sunset in one of the many hotels, casinos and restaurants overlooking the Caribbean.
Unlike some of the Caribbean’s famous destinations for their beaches, the Dominican Republic also has lush mountains and forests.
Mount Isabel de Torres is famous for spectacular city views and a cable car ride to the summit. There are also steep hiking trails if you are feeling adventurous.
Cascades of Damajagua showcases a series of ponds and waterfalls. The ascent to the summit is very heavy and you may need help. But the result is an exhilarating tease back down.
Sportfishing is also a major entertainment in the Dominican Republic, and some operators operate zipline adventures and canopy tours in the jungle.