Dominican Republic is a country with a rich history and beautiful, exotic nature. Sea and sand, palm trees and mountains – this island nation has everything for an amazing holiday. Here live open, friendly and independent people who will gladly introduce you to their homeland. Welcome to Dominica, it is looking forward to you!
Dominican Republic on the map
Geographical location of the country
Dominican Republic is a state that is usually referred to Latin America, because the island of Haiti, where it is located, belonged to the Spaniards for a long time. Dominica is located on the eastern half of the island, and the western half is occupied by its only land neighbour – the Republic of Haiti.
These countries are on the second largest island in the Greater Antilles archipelago. To the west of Haiti is Cuba, and to the east is Puerto Rico, which belongs to the United States. The Atlantic Ocean washes the shores of the island from the north and the Caribbean Sea from the south.
Dominica also owns several islands, the largest of which are Beata, Catalina and Saona.
The relief of the country is characterised by great diversity. Along the coastline there are lowlands and plateaus, in the south there are large lakes. The central part of the country is occupied by a mountain range, the highest point of which is Duarte Peak, 3087 metres.
Safety for tourists
Staying on the island for a tourist can become not only pleasant, but also dangerous. Many factors familiar to the locals turn out to be harmful to tourists. Dominican Republic is on the 83rd place in the global index of the world, which takes into account not only the safety of tourism, but also the attitude of residents to the guests of the country. This is the worst indicator among the Caribbean countries, which does not prevent the republic to remain one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.
In the Dominican Republic there is a rather high level of street crime, although over the past few years the situation has noticeably moved for the better. Now it is still recommended to keep an eye on your belongings and not to show large sums of money, but walking even on the night avenues has become much calmer. It is better not to go into the slums, neighbourhoods inhabited by the poor and migrants.
The second danger of the country is traffic. Local drivers, especially on mopeds, rarely follow the rules, and pedestrian pavements are often absent. Therefore, tourists should be doubly careful on the carriageway.
The climate and local fauna pose a certain danger. The bright sun threatens heat strokes, with unaccustomed can burn on the beach. Insects on the island are often carriers of dangerous diseases, including malaria. In the waters of the island there are poisonous fish and sharks, although there are very few cases of attacks of the latter on tourists.
Tourists should not forget about elementary rules of personal hygiene. Drinking tap water is not allowed, it is better to dine in trusted places, and fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed. And then any troubles that can overshadow the holiday, will bypass you!
Dominicans are very fond of various holidays and noisy processions. Here are intertwined traditions and customs of completely different peoples, holidays brought here from several continents. And this synthesis has created a unique culture of holidays, characteristic only for this country.
Among the official holidays of the country are Columbus Day, New Year, Christmas and Easter. Independence Day and Halloween are also celebrated here. In different cities there are noisy carnivals with the obligatory participation of the growing figures.
The most colourful is February Carnival, timed to coincide with the beginning of Lent. This is the Caribbean version of Shrovetide, which is held throughout the country. Coincides with the carnival and Independence Day – 27 February, which gives the holiday an official status. The most magnificent carnival is held in Santo Domingo.
In summer, the country holds another holiday – the Merengue Festival. This is a national dance, which blended the traditions of different cultures – African, Indian and Spanish.
Among the church holidays in the republic, Epiphany, Easter, Christmas and the day of St Altagracia, the patron saint of the Dominican Republic, are particularly favourite.
Things to do in the Dominican
In the Dominican Republic, tourists go primarily for the beautiful beaches, warm sea, amazing underwater world. This relatively small island can provide tourists with a lot of interesting entertainment.
- Beach holidays. Most of the beaches of the island have luxurious white sand and are surrounded by coconut palms. Some of the best are considered to be the beaches of Saona Island.
- Diving. A popular tourist attraction, because the coast of the island has many picturesque coral reefs. Almost every hotel and beaches have diving centres and specialised schools for beginners.
- Surfing and windsurfing. These entertainments are especially popular on the northern coast of Dominica, where the wind blows constantly, raising a decent wave. The northern resort of Cabaret is considered to be the capital of surfing.
- Fishing. In local waters there are such enviable for the avid fisherman fish as marlin, barracuda, tuna. You can fish from a boat or hire a whole yacht. There are group tours for fishermen.
- Thematic excursions. For those who wish to get acquainted with the history and culture of the republic, there are sightseeing tours to the capital Santo Domingo, famous for the monuments of the colonial period.
- Jeep safari. Special jeep tours along plantations, beaches and waterfalls are available for tourists wishing to get to know the nature of the island and the life of the local population.
- Rafting. The mountainous terrain of the centre of the island provides excellent opportunities to take a thrilling rafting trip down rivers such as the Yaque del Norte. It is characterised by fast currents, steep turns and tropical vegetation.
- Canyoning. The mountainous Jimenoa River is an ideal destination for lovers of extreme holidays. Here you can rappel down steep cliffs, jump into natural pools, and enjoy the unspoilt nature.
- Trekking or hiking. The Dominican Republic has several hiking trails through national parks and mountains. Here you will be offered to get acquainted with the amazing nature, waterfalls, caves with rock inscriptions and even climb to the top of Duarte.
- Night discos. The centre of nightlife is considered to be the city of Punta Cana, where bars and discos for every taste are gathered. Young people and gambling enthusiasts come here.
What is important to know about Dominica
If you are planning to visit Dominica, here are some of the most important things to know:
The country’s official language is Spanish, as it is on most of its neighbouring islands. But in some areas, such as the province of Samana, traditionally a large part of the population speaks English. There live the descendants of American slaves brought to the island in the XIX century.
Also, many people in the republic speak Creole. These are natives of neighbouring Haiti.
The country is currently home to just under 11 million people. Most of the population lives in urban areas and only 17 per cent are engaged in agriculture.
The Dominican Republic has many illegal migrants from neighbouring Haiti, who are a constant source of social tension in the society.
More than half of the population are mestizos, descendants of mixed marriages of white colonizers and local Indians. Mulattoes, that is, descendants of marriages between whites and Africans, are just over 12 per cent. Pure-blooded Africans are 14 per cent and Europeans are 16 per cent.
More facts about Dominicans their character and local colour can be found in this article.
The national currency of the country is the peso. One peso is divided into one hundred centavos.
Currently, centavo coins are not used in the country. Coins of 1, 5, 10 and 25 pesos are in use, as well as banknotes of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 pesos.
The country’s banknotes depict architectural sights and portraits of famous Dominicans, such as the National Palace Columbus Alcazar (1000 pesos) or the authors of the national anthem (2000 pesos).
It is better to bring dollars into the country, as euros are exchanged at an unfavourable rate.
Dominican Republic is a secular country, that is religion is separated from the state. Most of the population professes Christianity – almost 70%. Among Christians there are almost equal in number communities of Catholics and Protestants.
Almost 28% of the population do not consider themselves believers.
The country is located entirely in the humid tropical climate zone, which is characterised by high rainfall and a slight temperature gradient through the seasons of the year. The average annual temperature in the Dominican Republic is +24 degrees, and in the mountains it is only slightly cooler than on the coast. The hottest month is August. The high tourist season falls in winter.
During the season the island receives over 1000 mm of precipitation, and the north-eastern mountain slopes are flooded twice as much. The country is characterised by the division of the year into two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season lasts from November to March, and the rainy season from April to October.
The average seawater temperature in the Dominican Republic does not vary much by season of the year. This is due to the tropical climate and exposure to the ocean.
- The water temperature in winter, December-January: +28 to +29. There is very little rainfall in winter, this is the high beach season.
- Water temperature in spring, March-May: +28 to +29 degrees centigrade. In April, the rainy season begins and the number of sunny days decreases.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +27 to +30 degrees. The rainiest month is June, and in August the hurricane season begins.
- Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +27 to +29 degrees Celsius. By November, the rainy season ends and the weather is the best for tourists.
Dominican Republic often appears in the news as a place of another natural disaster. The small island is hit by storms and hurricanes, or there is a devastating earthquake. In fact, the situation is not so catastrophic.
Yes, tropical hurricanes often originate in the immediate vicinity of the island, but over the last hundred years only 25 of them have hit Dominica in full force. Most of the storms and typhoons pass safely by, heading for the shores of Florida and Mexico.
Dominican Republic is in the zone of high seismic activity, and it often shakes noticeably here. The last very strong earthquake on the island happened in 2010. But it affected to a greater extent the western part of the island – the Republic of Haiti. They’re killed up to 300 thousand people. In the Dominican Republic, the number of victims was not so great, only 3 thousand.
Tsunamis can happen here, but most of the coast is protected by coral reefs. Therefore, the last tsunami that managed to cause any damage was in 1946.
Floods caused by heavy rains do happen in the Dominican Republic and sometimes cause destruction and casualties. Most often such cataclysms occur in April-June, and hurricanes rage in September-October.
You can read about the most devastating disasters in Dominican history in this article.
Dominican Republic is a presidential republic of unitary type. The head of state is the President. The executive power is represented by the Government consisting of ministers, the legislative power is represented by the bicameral parliament, the National Assembly. There is no post of the Prime Minister in the country, his functions are fulfilled by the President himself
Administratively the republic is divided into 31 provinces headed by governors and the National Capital District.
The capital of the republic is the city of Santo Domingo.
The major cities and resorts
Santo Domingo is the capital of the country and its largest city. It was founded in 1496 by the younger brother of Christopher Columbus and is one of the oldest in the New World. Now it is home to 1.1 million people. Tourists are attracted here by numerous historical monuments – palaces, fortresses, lighthouses, monasteries and churches built in the early years of colonisation.
Punta Cana is the most popular resort centre of the Republic. Thousands of tourists come here, attracted by the white sand beaches and excellent service. The resort is designed for rich people, there are a lot of nightclubs, restaurants and casinos.
Boca Chica is a resort town 30 kilometres from the capital. Service here is less expensive and intrusive, more locals rest, but the same beautiful sand and coconut palms. For a budget holiday, it is an ideal option.
La Romana is a rapidly developing resort 100 kilometres from the capital. There are a lot of modern five-star hotels here, but the prices for holidays are very democratic. The only inconvenience – turbid water in places where rivers flow into the ocean. Therefore, tourists are advised to choose a hotel away from the mouth of the rivers.
Samana is not only a city, but the name of the whole province, located on a picturesque peninsula, deeply protruding into the ocean in the north-eastern part of the country. There is an amazing beauty of nature, several national parks, waterfalls, coral reefs and islands. In recent years, more and more tourists come here.
Symbols of Dominica
Royal palm tree is a huge and beautiful tree that grows in abundance on the island. Its branches are even on the coat of arms of the republic, symbolising peace and prosperity.
Lima doll – a figure of a woman without a face dressed in national clothes.
Coffee – many varieties of this drink are grown here, from budget to elite.
Rum – the drink so favoured by pirates in the past is still considered one of the symbols of the country. The Barcelo brand is particularly revered.
Amber – the richest deposits of this fossil resin are found in the mountains of the island. Dominican amber is second only to Baltic amber in terms of production.
How to get to Dominica
You can get to Dominica almost exclusively by aeroplane. This is an island and railway or road transport is immediately cancelled. There is also sea transport, but there is no regular ferry service between Haiti and, for example, Florida, and trying to travel by cruise liner, which are many in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, for the ordinary tourist is too expensive.
But air communication connects the republic with the whole world. It is through the airports that most of the 5 million tourists arrive here every year.
There are 8 international airports in Dominica. The most popular are the airports in Punta Cana, Las Terrenas and Santo Domingo. The largest number of flights connects the country with the United States.
How much money to take with you
Prices for holidays in the Dominican Republic can vary quite widely depending on the season and the level of comfort of the hotel. At the same time, the lion’s share of the amount can be the cost of flights. The most inexpensive week-long tours for two will cost a tourist about 5 thousand dollars. But this will be your main expenses, because the country itself is considered poor and the prices for holidays here are quite affordable.
In the country itself, tourists are waiting for the following expenses:
- Food: will cost from 20 to 30 dollars a day for those who like to save money, and can be an order of magnitude higher for connoisseurs of cookery. For example, dinner for two in a good restaurant will cost $50.
- Water parks, entertainments, excursions: popular sea and sightseeing excursions in the country cost from 100 dollars. That is, for a week you should put $500 for such entertainments.
- Souvenirs: coffee, rum, jewellery made of amber and semi-precious stones are most often brought from the republic. Here you can fit in 50, and you can spend 200 dollars.
- Transport: the cost of one trip on a city bus is 15 cents, on a taxi – from 50 cents. Intercity costs from 10 to 15 dollars. Here, everything will depend on how often you plan to travel by transport.
Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in the Dominican Republic for two will cost from 700 to 1000 thousand dollars for 7 days. And of course, the maximum holiday amount can be much higher.
If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all in the country, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!