Explore Dominican Republic
Maybe you won’t be surprised to learn the main Dominican airport is not in the country’s capital city, but in Punta Cana. You will find direct flights leading there from many American and European cities — and just so you have an idea of flight durations, it takes eight hours to fly from London to Punta Cana. Santo Domingo, the capital, does have its own airport as well, but you will find significantly fewer connections there. Once there, land transfers can take hours — you can cover short distances in chauffeured car or Uber, but for longer distances your best option is a private plane or a helicopter.
Climate & seasons
Simply put, there are two main seasons in the Dominican Republic: dry and rainy. The first runs from December to April, the second from May or June to November. The coolest months are January and February. The rainy season is hotter, with August being the hottest month. However, local realities are more complex — because of the mountainous ground, the climate can vary a lot over a short distance. For instance, along the northern coast of the island, the rainy season lasts from November through January. Also, while the temperature can rise to 40°C in some valleys, it can also fall to 0°C on mountain peaks. And this not to mention the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. The bottom line is: decide where you want to go, then get a local to tell you when is the best time to be in those specific areas.
Where to go
Santo Domingo is a fascinating mix of Europe and the Caribbean — Ciudad Colonial, the UNESCO Heritage old neighbourhood, is the longest-inhabited European settlement in the Americas. Among other landmarks, the Cathedral is one of the rare buildings in true gothic style located outside of Europe, and Fortaleza Ozama is the oldest fortress built by Europeans in the Americas. Elsewhere, Punta Cana is the most famous beach resort area, but you should expect mass tourism there. If you prefer a more remote, but luxurious place, go to Playa Grande in the north — this is where you will find the Amanera, the most lavish hotel in the country. For more active experiences in nature, there are several national parks — where you can hike, ride, explore caves and underground lagoons, discover waterfalls in the jungle, birdwatch, see prehistoric paintings, and more.
What to do
Bask on white sand beaches, dive into clear Caribbean waters, snorkel after colourful fish, relax in a beachside spa. If you are into culture, art and history, take a guided tour of Santo Domingo’s old neighbourhood, to discover the past and present of the city. Connect with locals and witness their traditional trades on visits to banana and tobacco plantations, and discover Dominican gastronomy in cooking classes and tailored culinary experiences. If you are in the mood for action you can go canyoning, discover waterfalls like Salto del Limón, scuba dive in caves, explore the jungle, and hike up Pico Duarte, the tallest peak in the island.