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With its glorious beaches, hidden coves, tree-topped mountains and waterfalls, the Dominican Republic really is paradise found

Cast your mind back to the 80s – remember that Bounty advert? Well this is where it was filmed. And with its abundance of perfect white sand beaches and gently swaying palms, you’ll have no trouble recreating the scene.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and sitting pretty right in the middle of the Caribbean, this sundrenched isle has Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico for neighbours. Park your sun lounger in Punto Cana, dance the merengue in Santo Domingo, feast on fresh lobster within sight of the sea and sip rum cocktails under the stars.

 

Top holidays in the Dominican Republic

Culture and history

The Dominican lifestyle is more in tune with North American lifestyles than those in Latin America. There are great differences in class, education and wealth that separate different groups and great importance is placed on manners and grooming, so always behave in a polite and courteous manner and dress your best, especially in churches.

The sound of music resounds through society and the Republic is known for creating the upbeat rhythm and dance style of music called merengue. Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, baseball is by far the most popular sport, there’s a thriving fashion industry and the nation has a long history of fine art dating back to the 1850s.

Known as Tainos, the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic lived on the island until the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century. Sadly they were completely wiped out within less than a century by a combination of slavery and European diseases.

After the initial arrival of the Spanish, two colonies grew on the island of Hispaniola – one Spanish and one French. Both brought with them many thousands of African slaves to farm the land.

In 1804, after many decades of struggle, the French part of the island declared independence and became known as Haiti. The Spanish side followed suit in 1821, breaking away from the Spanish crown and becoming the Dominican Republic.

Things to do

On our holidays to the Dominican Republic you’ll enjoy one of the best Caribbean resorts on the island. Unwind on the paradise beaches of Punta Cana on an all-inclusive break, or pick up the pace (just a little) on a tour taking in the island’s colonial towns, as well as the natural beauty of its interior landscapes and wildlife. 

Visit a local butterfly farm and turtle sanctuary, get a flavour of chocolate production on a cocoa plantation or take in the colonial charm of ‘La Capital’. Seafaring souls can also stop off in the Dominican Republic on a cruise around Central America and the islands of the Caribbean.

Punta Cana 

Punta Cana, on the Dominican Republic’s eastern tip, is where you’ll find the majority of the island’s beach resorts. Here you can tee off in an ocean-side golf course, watch the sunset with a rum cocktail in hand and find your perfect stretch of sand.

Santo Domingo 

Known simply as ‘La Capital’ this busy city sits on the island’s southern shore. Dating back to the 1500s this is the oldest city in the Caribbean and has a well-preserved colonial centre to explore, featuring cobblestone streets and the grand cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor. 

This is also where the main cut and thrust of the island’s political and business worlds take place. Then there’s the buzzing nightlife, with merengue clubs, bars and elegant restaurants open late into the balmy nights.

Flight time

The flight time from London to the Dominican Republic is on average 9 hours 15 minutes.

Currency

Domincan peso -

The currency is the Dominican peso (DOP; symbol RD$), which is not available outside of the country.

As such we suggest you use an ATM on arrival, which will dispense pesos. We also recommend you take a few US dollars, which are widely accepted.

Please note you will not be able to leave the country with more foreign currency than you arrived with, which is never usually a problem you face at the end of a holiday!

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport. Residents of the UK don’t need a visa to enter the country, but you will need to complete a Tourist Card on arrival, which Saga will pay for.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Hello – Hola!

Good morning – Buenos dias

Good afternoon/evening – Buenas tardes

Goodbye – Adios

Thank you – Gracias

Yes – Si

No – No

This gentleman/lady will pay for everything – Este hombre/dame pagará por todo

Timezone

The Dominican Republic is five hours behind GMT.

Electricity

Most sockets take the standard North American-style flat two-pin plugs, so an adaptor is required for electrical appliances. Mains voltage is 110 volts, 60 cycles.

Language

Spanish; Castilian - Spanish is the official language on the island but English (and occasionally French) is spoken by staff in the larger resorts.

Tipping

Every dollar matters to those working in the service industry in the Dominican Republic.

Tip your maid $1-2 per day by leaving a note on your pillow with the money saying it is for them: they will need to show this to security to prove it was intended for them. You should tip your porter $1 per bag.

It is usual to leave a 10% gratuity in restaurants, but if you see the words ‘propino incluido’ or ‘servis’ on the bill it has automatically been added. Similarly, some taxi companies will add a service fee to your final fare so make sure you know if it is included before you pay.

Climate

You can expect tropical temperatures all year round; the average is 30ºC (86ºF). The hot and humid season lasts from May to October, and temperatures might reach 35ºC (95ºF).

From November to March, temperatures in the evening are a pleasing 20ºC (68ºF).

There are two rainy seasons – the heaviest is from May to August and the other is from November to December.

Storms and hurricanes may sometimes occur during these periods, so waterproofs are a boon.

Health

Visitors to the Dominican Republic are advised to vaccinate themselves against typhoid, polio, and hepatitis B and to make sure that standard vaccinations such as tetanus are up-to-date.

Malaria is present in the rural areas of the western provinces which border Haiti.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

A similar number of people live in the Dominican Republic as do in London; approximately 10 million.

At 48,671 square kilometers, the Dominican Republic is roughly the same size as Switzerland.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in all public places although some venues provide a smoking area outside.


Places in the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana

The tropical paradise of Punta Cana on the eastern tip of Hispaniola is wafted by cooling sea breezes


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