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  • DR-Band-on-Stage-2-1.jpg - Hear local musicians during your cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-sailboard - Sailboarding in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-beach2 - A tropical beach in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-El-Morro - El Morro de San Felipe in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-sailboard2 - Sailboarding in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-children - Children in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-conch-girl - Girl with a conch shell in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-waterfall2 - A secluded waterfall in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-white-water - Whitewater rafting on the Yaque del Norte River in the Dominican Republic.
  • Altos-de-Chavon-Chapel-Dominican-Republic - Altos de Chavon was built as a center of culture for the Dominican people.
  • Altos-de-Chavon-vendor-donkey - A vendor with his donkey at Altos de Chavon in  La Romana, the Dominican Republic.
  • Butterfly-Dominican-Republic - A butterfly spotted in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-lizard-on-house - A lizard on a house in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-National-Park-East - East National Park in Bayahib in southeastern Dominican Republic.
  • Parque-National-del-Este-Dominican-Republic - Parque National del Este, or East National Park, in southeastern Dominican-Republic
  • Snorkeling-Dominican-Republic - Snorkelers and pleasure craft in a lagoon in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Band-on-Stage.jpg - See local musicians while visiting the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Children-Playing-in-Water-2.jpg - Cruise to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-impact-Traveler-Planting-with-Local-3.jpg - Impact travel allows you to work with local communities in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Boy-Smiling-Against-Wall.jpg - A boy in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Holding-Child-Outside-of-House-3.jpg - Meet the people of the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Local-Kid-on-Bleachers.jpg - Work with local literacy advocates in Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Kids-Sitting-on-Wall.jpg - Impact travel brings you into communities in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Man-Dancing.jpg - Get your Latin groove on: A man dances in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Outdoor-Dancing-2.jpg - Join in the dancing in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Playing-Drums-2.jpg - Feel the rhythms of the Dominican Republic on a cruise.
  • DR-Local-Trumpet-Player-2.jpg - Attend a concert in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Local-Young-Girl.jpg - Young girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave-2.jpg - Surf's up near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave-with-Palm-Trees-in-Background.jpg - A surfer takes advantage of the waves in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave.jpg - A surfer near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Neighborhood-Landscape-2.jpg - A neighborhood in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Neighborhood-Landscape-4.jpg - Dominican Republic neighborhood.
  • DR-Outdoor-Dancing-7.jpg - Immerse yourself in the local culture on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Traveler-Legs-Walking-on-Beach.jpg - Stroll along a beach near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Traveler-Local-Shared-Meal-14.jpg - Dine with local residents in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-at-Waterfall-10.jpg - Hike to waterfalls as part of your cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Dining-with-Locals.jpg - Dine with locals, if you wish, as part of an impact travel cruise.
  • DR-Travelers-Planting.jpg - Work within a local community on reforestation projects in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Playing-Game-2.jpg - Socialize with the local community in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Romance-in-Water-Sunset.jpg - Find romance in the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Travelers-Sharing-Meal-2.jpg - Dine on local cuisine in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Local-Teens-Smiling.jpg - Two teens in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Men-Paddling-in-Ocean-with-Beach-and-Palm-Tree-in-Background.jpg - Learn to surf in the gentle waves of the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Women-in-Doorway-of-Cacao.jpg - Come meet the locals on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Young-Girls-Playing-in-Water-2.jpg - Join in the fun on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Volunteers-Working-in-Cacao-Farm-2.jpg - With impact travel, you can plant cacao trees to help the local communities of the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Volunteers-Working-in-Cacao-Farm.jpg - Volunteers at a cacao farm in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-5.jpg - Cap a beautiful hike with a cool swim while on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-8.jpg - A waterfall in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-Tide-Pool.jpg - Enjoy the natural beauty of the Dominican Republic on a cruise.
  • DR-Waterfall.jpg - Cool down in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Boy.jpg - Boy in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Photo.jpg - Young girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Smiling-2.jpg - Girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-windsurf - Windsurfing in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Men-on-Motorcycles-Photograph.jpg - Young men in the Dominican Republic.
  • Toucan-caribbean.jpg - Encounter toucans and other exotic birds up close on a trip to the tropics.
  • parrots-in-tropics.jpg - See parrots and other tropical birds on a trip to Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Smiling-4.jpg - Teenager in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-beach3 - One of the beautiful beaches of the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-Playa-Rincon - Playa Rincon in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-Cayo-Levantado - Cayo Levantado is a small island near Samana in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-Lago-Enriquillo - Lago Enriquillo is a large lake in the southwestern corner of the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-Santo-Domingo-Cathedral - The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, completed in 1540.
  • Dominican-Republic-flamingos - Flamingos in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-golf1 - A scenic golf course in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-Cayo-Levantado2 - A bit out of the way, Cayo Levantado in the Dominican Republic is perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
  • Dominican-Republic-Santo-Domingo-Plaza - Plaza De España lies at the heart of Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial (colonial zone).
  • Dominican-Republic-Cascada-Limon - Cascada Limon waterfall near Samana in the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican-Republic-golf2 - A beautiful day for golf in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Trumpet-Player-2.jpg - Attend a concert in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave-2.jpg - Surf's up near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall.jpg - Cool down in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-5.jpg - Cap a beautiful hike with a cool swim while on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-at-Waterfall-10.jpg - Hike to waterfalls as part of your cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Band-on-Stage.jpg - See local musicians while visiting the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave.jpg - A surfer near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Traveler-Legs-Walking-on-Beach.jpg - Stroll along a beach near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Children-Playing-in-Water-2.jpg - Cruise to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-impact-Traveler-Planting-with-Local-3.jpg - Impact travel allows you to work with local communities in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Boy-Smiling-Against-Wall.jpg - A boy in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Holding-Child-Outside-of-House-3.jpg - Meet the people of the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Local-Kid-on-Bleachers.jpg - Work with local literacy advocates in Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Kids-Sitting-on-Wall.jpg - Impact travel brings you into communities in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Man-Dancing.jpg - Get your Latin groove on: A man dances in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Outdoor-Dancing-2.jpg - Join in the dancing in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Local-Playing-Drums-2.jpg - Feel the rhythms of the Dominican Republic on a cruise.
  • DR-Local-Young-Girl.jpg - Young girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Man-Surfing-on-Wave-with-Palm-Trees-in-Background.jpg - A surfer takes advantage of the waves in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Neighborhood-Landscape-2.jpg - A neighborhood in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Neighborhood-Landscape-4.jpg - Dominican Republic neighborhood.
  • DR-Outdoor-Dancing-7.jpg - Immerse yourself in the local culture on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Traveler-Local-Shared-Meal-14.jpg - Dine with local residents in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Dining-with-Locals.jpg - Dine with locals, if you wish, as part of an impact travel cruise.
  • DR-Travelers-Planting.jpg - Work within a local community on reforestation projects in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Playing-Game-2.jpg - Socialize with the local community in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Travelers-Romance-in-Water-Sunset.jpg - Find romance in the Dominican Republic on a Carnival cruise.
  • DR-Travelers-Sharing-Meal-2.jpg - Dine on local cuisine in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Local-Teens-Smiling.jpg - Two teens in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Men-Paddling-in-Ocean-with-Beach-and-Palm-Tree-in-Background.jpg - Learn to surf in the gentle waves of the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Women-in-Doorway-of-Cacao.jpg - Come meet the locals on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Two-Young-Girls-Playing-in-Water-2.jpg - Join in the fun on a cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Volunteers-Working-in-Cacao-Farm-2.jpg - With impact travel, you can plant cacao trees to help the local communities of the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Volunteers-Working-in-Cacao-Farm.jpg - Volunteers at a cacao farm in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-8.jpg - A waterfall in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Waterfall-Tide-Pool.jpg - Enjoy the natural beauty of the Dominican Republic on a cruise.
  • DR-Young-Boy.jpg - Boy in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Photo.jpg - Young girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Smiling-2.jpg - Girl in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Girl-Smiling-4.jpg - Teenager in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Young-Men-on-Motorcycles-Photograph.jpg - Young men in the Dominican Republic.
  • DR-Band-on-Stage-2-1.jpg - Hear local musicians during your cruise to the Dominican Republic.
  • Toucan-caribbean.jpg - Encounter toucans and other exotic birds up close on a trip to the tropics.
  • parrots-in-tropics.jpg - See parrots and other tropical birds on a trip to Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
  • carnival-triumph-in-amber-cove.jpg - Carnival Triumph docked in Amber Cove.
  • punta-cana-beach.jpg - A beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at dusk.
  • dolphins-in-punta-cana.jpg - Dolphins in a show in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
  • married-couple-on-beach.jpg - A newlywed couple on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at daybreak.
  • Dominican-Republic-Santo-Domingo-Cathedral - The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, completed in 1540.
  • Dominican-Republic-Santo-Domingo-Plaza - Plaza De España lies at the heart of Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial (colonial zone).

Dominican Republic travel guide: The original America

our guide

The vibe

The Dominican Republic is a part of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. The old part of its capital, Santo Domingo, is the oldest European city in the Americas and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so there is plenty of history to be discovered here for visitors.

The island nation is known for its beaches, there are over 1,000 miles of sugary white sands with beautiful blue waters in the Dominican Republic, shaded by coconut palms. But it's not just a beach destination, as it offers mountainous regions including the Caribbean's highest mountain, Pico Duarte. There are also other natural wonders to enjoy, including Lake Enriquillo, the Caribbean's largest lake and lowest elevation.

Two private resorts operated by cruise lines — Carnival's Amber Cove and Costa's Catalina Island — have made the Dominican Republic a tourism magnet in recent months. But try to get out of the walled gardens. Quisqueya, as the locals call their country, has plenty of natural beauty to enjoy alongside the rich history. 

Cruise ships that call on the Dominican Republic

Top reasons to go

  • Old Town in Santo Domingo is very popular with visitors, as it was the first major european settlement in the New World. Check out the many examples of 15th and 16th century architecture in the Colonial Zone
  • Plaza de la Cultura. This amazing complex is home to the National Theater and five museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the largest in the Caribbean.
  • Jaragua National Park is in the southwest part of the Dominican Republic is known for its diverse bird population
  • Surrounded by nearly 250 miles of coastline on the north, east and south, the Dominican Republic's beaches are known world wide for pristine white sands along Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Ministry of Tourism of The Dominican RepublicYou can find The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo.

Things to see & do in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the capital and the oldest city in the Americas, founded in 1496. The city’s cobbled streets feature the continent’s first cathedral, hospital, chapel and university. Otherwise, Santo Domingo is a modern city divided into two parts by the Ozama River. The western side is more developed than the eastern part, known as "Santo Domingo Oriental." Santo Domingo’s most important tourist destination is the Zona Colonial or Colonial Zone, on the Ozama’s western bank facing the Caribbean Sea.

Santo Domingo’s attractions include the cave complex Los Tres Ojos (the Three Eyes), featuring three turquoise lagoons on different levels. There's also the National Palace, or seat of Dominican Government, the National Theater, the Museums in the Plaza de la Cultura and the Palace of Fine Arts. There's also the Lighthouse in the older part of town, where the explorer Christopher Columbus' remains are purported to be buried.

Leave time to visit the lovely beaches of the Dominican Republic.
Ministry of Tourism of The Dominican RepublicLeave time to visit the lovely beaches of the Dominican Republic.

Punta Cana/Bavaro

If you're looking for beaches, this area features 21 miles of white-sand beaches and more than 30 all-inclusive resort properties. This is the perfect place for a variety of water activities, including fishing, racing speedboats, snorkeling through the reefs, and swimming with wildlife including dolphins and stingrays. 

Pico Duarte

At 10,164 feet, Pico Duarte is not only the tallest mountain in the Dominican Republic, but all of the Caribbean. If you are an experienced hiker, take the 14.4 mile trek to the top of the peak, located in the Cordillera Central mountains, but be prepared for an overnight stay on your way to the top.

Best bets for dining

Like most of the Caribbean, expect plenty of tropical fruits, rice, beans and seafood. However, Spanish culture plays a strong part in food, with lunch being the main meal followed by a siesta, or afternoon nap. In recent years, other cultures have started playing a part in Dominican cuisine, such as Middle Eastern, as there was a huge influx of immigrants from the area in the 19th century.

The alcohol is just as delicious, with plenty of local beers and rums to partake of. However, do not drink the tap water! It is dangerous and unhealthy. Either drink bottled water or boiled water. Avoid salads washed in tap water and ice unless it's from a luxury resort.

Best time to go

The tropical weather in the Dominican Republic is beautiful, but best to be avoided during hurricane season, which is between June and October. 

When you arrive

There are really three different areas in the Dominican Republic that ships may call on:

  • Santo Domingo's Don Diego Quay, is the best and is only a few minutes walk from the Old Town area of Santo Domingo.
  • Another cruise terminal lies between the village of La Romana and the resort of Casa de Campo. There are minimal services at the dock so one must either take a tour or negotiate for a taxi (limited and expensive)..
  • Yet another pier is available at Puerto Plata's commercial shipping area and is within easy walking distance of everything in Puerto Plata.

Getting around

Options for getting around the country include bus service and 'guaguas' (pronounced "Gwa-Gwas," small vans or trucks that serve as a collective taxi running fixed routes that are very cheap but can also be very overloaded). Most towns and cities have regularly scheduled bus service, if not by one of the big bus companies, then by guagua. You can take taxis, but you have to be judicious of the drivers, as some can be unlicensed. Cars are available for rental, but due to high gas prices, are not advised.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport to enter.

Language: Spanish, although in the major cities there are often bilingual Spanish-English speakers. If you speak a little Spanish, the locals will usually try to meet you halfway.

Currency: The Dominican peso

Safety: The Dominican Republic is generally a safe country. Although the major cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago have experienced growth, the Dominican Republic remains a third world country and poverty is still rampant, so take common sense precautions

Your take

Have you been to the Dominican Republic? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight for you? Please share in the comments below.

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

"In Santo Domingo, the city’s most interesting sights are all located in the cobblestone blocks of Zona Colonial only steps from the port. Take a walking tour of Zona Colonial, eat in a restaurant in Plaza Espana and walk to the Malecon."

Lonely Planet

“Punta Cana is the only place in the Caribbean that offers hot-air balloon rides. Our basket climbed as high as 3,000 feet and dipped so low I could touch the tips of sugar-cane stalks.”

Islands magazine

“If you’re pulling into Samana, take a boat out to the island of Cayo Levantado where only the western third of the island is open to the public.”

Lonely Planet

Your take: share your experience


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