There are some things to do in the Dominican Republic that are quite simply a must in order to have a fabulous getaway experience. I love the Caribbean – I have just returned from my holidays in Antigua and can never get enough of the area. Much like Antigua, I find the Dominican Republic to be of my absolute favorite destinations whenever I feel the need to get some sun and tranquility.
A trip to the Dominican Republic can be planned any time of the year. The weather is pretty much perfect year-round. More than that: there are so many things to do in the Dominican Republic; endless activities and amazing food make it the perfect place to get away from life’s responsibilities.
This nation shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is the location of many important historical Spanish landmarks. With so many things to do in the Dominican Republic, and so many accommodation options available, this is a place that can satisfy anyone’s travel needs. Not to mention, the Dominican Republic is known for being an affordable destination to travel or live.
In this post, I will explain how to make the most of a trip to the Dominican Republic, with tips on when to visit, on the places to see, the nicest beaches in the Dominican Republic, what to pack, and needless to say on the best place to stay in the Dominican Republic.
When Is The Best Time For A Trip To The Dominican Republic?
I have been to many destinations in the Caribbean – some islands, such as Cuba, as well as all of Central America, with countries such as Costa Rica and Panama which, though hardly considered Caribbean, technically are since their eastern coast is directly on the Caribbean Sea. Planning a trip to the Dominican Republic means taking account of the weather.
Like many of the tropical destinations in the Caribbean, daily rain showers are extremely common. However, the months of May and October observe the most precipitation, while the early months of the calendar year show records of the lowest precipitation. Luckily, the average temperature in the Dominican Republic stays well over 20 degrees Celsius all year, making a trip to the Dominican Republic perfect as a winter getaway or as a spring break vacation!
The Nicest Things To Do In The Dominican Republic
Explore the island
One of my favorite things to do in the Dominican Republic is exploring the island. There’s so much more than gorgeous beaches! Among my favorite places to visit in the Dominican Republic there is the province of Puerto Plata. This area is located in the north of the island and has a good mix of tourist attractions and beautiful, calm lodging options. The Gregorio Luperón International Airport is conveniently located near the beach of Puerto Plata. This makes the accommodations in the area favorable and sensible to optimize timing during a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Just south of Puerto Plata, there’s one of the nicest places to visit in the Dominican Republic. Here, the Cordillera Septentrional rises up from the Caribbean Sea, and visitors remain mesmerized by the beauty of the Damajaqua Cascades. Known as the 27 Waterfalls, they are in fact a series of canyons and natural pools. Visiting them is an adventure that involves hiking, climbing and getting into the cool mountain ponds, all the while admiring the beautiful wildlife.
Enjoy the nicest beaches in the Dominican Republic
A trip to the Dominican Republic wouldn’t be perfect without beaches – it’s that simple. And sure enough, beaches in the Dominican Republic are stunning. The area around Puerto Plata is packed with good beaches. Alicia beach is a fantastic place to catch the sunset (the photographer in me can’t help it!).
Playa Dorada is one of the beaches in the Dominican Republic favored by the locals – and they sure know where to go. It is a nice, golden sandy beach lined with palm trees and where the water is beautifully turquoise. A few all inclusive resorts have facilities here, but it is open to the public despite all the private hotel areas. To make it even better, there’s some nice bars, restaurants and even a kite school.
One of the beaches in the Dominican Republic that I really like is Long Beach: it is easily accessible and a favorite of local families as well as tourists. It’s very lively between April and December, and at weekends, and as a nice perk there’s a bunch of small restaurants and snack bars, and places to rent things such as kayaks, snorkeling equipment, etc.
One of the nicest things to do in the Dominican Republic is diving, and the best beach to do that is Playa Sosúa, where there’s many diving schools offering a variety of courses and even night dives or dives to shipwrecks. For those who, like me, aren’t expert divers (I have tried it once in the Maldives and actually loved it!) there’s other fun activities, such as fun tubing.
Get in or near the water
The area of Puerto Plata is packed with fun activities to do. The beautiful ocean nearby makes this a perfect location to go snorkeling or spend the day in the water: this is by far one of the top things to do in the Dominican Republic.
I love getting in the water, but there’s things to do in the Dominican Republic even for those who don’t enjoy swimming as much – yet like the idea of being close to it. One of the nicest ways to enjoy a trip to the Dominican Republic is to take the time to go sailing or deep-sea fishing on the amazing, clear blue water.
Here are some great ideas for Puerto Plata:
- Samana Day Trip from Puerto Plata
- Cayo Arena: Paradise Island & Mangroves Tour
- Snorkeling Tour & Sosua Beach Day
- Sosua 2-Hour Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Sosua Catamaran Excursion
- 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua Tour
Drive around the island
Another of the fun things to do in the Dominican Republic is taking advantage of the beautiful weather year-round and renting ATVs to take an adventure on the land.
Here are some ATV tours to try:
Admire the local wildlife (but do so responsibly!)
I love monkeys. No matter how naughty they are, I still love them: I love waking up to the sound of hawler monkeys, as it happens in Palenque, Mexico. I don’t mind when they try to steal my stuff as they did in Bali. I saw them in India, trying to get into people’s apartments, and in Sri Lanka and many other places. I just simply adore them. One of the perks of a trip to the Dominican Republic is seeing the monkeys.
When exploring the island, it is possible to see the adorable monkeys roaming around. I would never suggest running up to a wild animal, but these creatures are incredibly fun and friendly to tourists. One of the nicest things to do in the Dominican Republic is to experience the capuchin monkeys, and the best way to do so is to visit a park, such as The Monkey Jungle, where trained guides monitor encounters with the animals. Tours last about 40 minutes and are offered at affordable package prices. The best part of visiting this particular venue is that all profits are donated to charities that help implement medical and dental clinics in the Caribbean!
Another of the places to visit in the Dominican Republic for responsible tourists is the Los Haitises National Park. The area is inhabited by pelicans and hutia rodents, who live between the mangrove swamps. It’s an incredible place to hike, and there’s also caves with petroglyphs.
Learn more about the history of the country
One of the nicest things to do in the Dominican Republic, to me, is learning more about its history. Puerto Plata is a historical site for the colonial infrastructure that originated in this area. Fortaleza San Felipe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a Spanish fortress built in the 16th century to protect Puerto Plata from pirates and intruders. This historic piece of art has been turned into a museum for tourists to indulge in the Spanish history that surrounds Puerto Plata. The views from this monument are breathtaking and overlook the entire coast.
Here are some more historical Santo Domingo tour ideas:
- Santo Domingo – Colonial City Road Train Tour
- 3-Hour Santo Domingo Walking Tour
- Heritage of the Sugar Cane
- Santo Domingo Sightseeing Tour
Eat all the fabulous food
I love Caribbean food! I even wrote a post about all the Cuban dishes to try when there. One of the things to do in the Dominican Republic that I wholeheartedly recommend is to take advantage of being close to the ocean by eating the perfect combination of seafood with a twist of Caribbean culture. Many of the restaurants in this area specialize in serving seafood — one of my favorite spots near Puerto Plata is a restaurant called El Toro Negro. Located on Playa Sousa, this restaurant serves Hispanic and Central American-style food with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Many of the brunch spots in the area are equipped with a quaint atmosphere and a beautiful view of the ocean (is there anything better to do on a trip to the Dominican Republic?). The fresh fruit found in the Dominican Republic cannot be beat. Starting the day with a nutritious, relaxing breakfast is how I find myself energized for my daily adventures.
What to pack for a trip to the Dominican Republic
Packing for a trip to the Dominican Republic is easy: I suggest bringing light clothing options for daytime activities. Although the temperature is typically mildly warm, packing items such as shorts, skirts, dresses and short-sleeve shirts will save you from discomfort under the powerful sun during the daytime. Since Puerto Plata is close to the coast, the ocean breeze can cool down the place after sunset, so I would suggest bringing a jacket or sweater to throw on for evening activities.
Make sure to bring sensible shoe options as well! This is a common mistake for first-time travelers to the Caribbean. Tennis shoes will be necessary for things to do in the Dominican Republic onland outings available on the island. Sandals are always a viable option when vacationing in tropical weather, but make sure they are comfortable and sturdy enough to walk around the area of Puerto Plata.
The best place to stay in the Dominican Republic
One of the most important things to do in the Dominican Republic is selecting a good hotel or resort. Picking the right one in Puerto Plata can be challenging. With many options available, it can be difficult to select the best accommodation that will enhance the experience of a trip to the Dominican Republic. I advise to look for lodging that offers clean amenities, private pools and excursions.
I find that the best place to stay in the Dominican Republic is Villas Agua Dulce, located on the edge of El Choco National Park in Cabarete. This exclusive luxury resort offers the best views of the natural beauty found in the Dominican Republic. The location of Villas Agua Dulce is close to the destinations found within Puerto Plata but offers a sense of privacy and relaxation for guests.
The resort includes spas, beach access, casinos and water sport rentals. Villas Agua Dulce also offers complimentary transportation, which makes commuting to and from the airport convenient. For those who go on a regular trip to the Dominican Republic, the good news is that many of these tranquil villas are available for purchase. Villa owners at Villas Agua Dulce can rent property out to visitors and gain revenue during the time not spent in the Dominican Republic. This can turn a fantastic vacation spot into an investment and in return can make recurrent trips to the Caribbean effortless. Check here for prices & availability and check here for more reviews
Some other places you may like in Puerto Plata:
For more hotels in Puerto Plata, check here
With the Dominican Republic growing as a tourist hub, this getaway destination is the perfect place to go on adventures, have fun and relax. After the first time visiting the alluring province of Puerto Plata, discovering there’s so many things to do in the Dominican Republic, I have been wanting to return to this serene place.
There truly is never a bad time for a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Have you ever been to the Dominican Republic? What did you like the most about it?