Dominican Republic vacation Reviews

Pros

  • Large selection of affordable all-inclusive resorts
  • Extremely warm, friendly people who seem happy to receive tourists
  • The world capital of merengue and bachata music

Cons

  • For non-Spanish-speakers, communicating can be very difficult
  • Dengue fever and malaria are a risk (so bring strong bug spray and antimalarial drugs)
  • Prostitution is legal, and very visible
  • Roads can be narrow, poorly paved, and nausea-inducing
  • Many resorts sorely lack local culture, including music, cuisine, and dance
  • Service at resorts can be slow and inconsistent compared with that of other Caribbean islands

Area Guides

  • Puerto Plata: Puerto Plata is an historic and scenic shipping town on the north coast; Playa Dorada, 15 minutes west of the Puerto Plata airport, is a gated complex of 15 all-inclusive resorts.
  • Punta Cana: Gorgeous white-sand beaches, high-end all-inclusive mega-resorts, and not much else.
  • Cabarete and Sosua: Funky, Euro-inflected beach towns 15 minutes east of Puerto Plata airport; Cabarete is known for its kite surfing, Sosua for its prostitutes.
  • La Romana: Seriously calm and scenic beaches, plus world-class golf - but not much of a cultural vibe.

What It's Like

At their worst, Dominican resorts can represent the most frustrating aspects of foreign travel: language barriers, bad food, poor infrastructure, and dated rooms and amenities. But the worst can easily be avoided - and at its best, the D.R. is very, very good, with a beautiful natural landscape, great weather, convenient flights, reasonable (sometimes strikingly low) prices, and ubiquitous merengue beats and dancing.

Dominicans themselves tend to be extremely warm and welcoming to tourists, even when they don't speak much English. (They can also seem very flirtatious to some Americans, an impression that may be exaggerated by the uncomfortable fact that prostitution is legal in the country.)

The bumpy, potholed roads are clogged with motoconchos (motorscooters) but worth braving in order to reach the island's stunning natural attractions, including the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua, the surf-perfect winds of Cabarete, the white-sand beaches of Punta Cana, and the lush splendor of the Samana Peninsula.

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