|Santiago de los Caballeros||$199|
Sugar-white beaches, beautiful landscapes, and the rhythmic sounds of Latin American music welcome visitors to the Dominican Republic. Aside from being a hospitable country with loads of opportunities for travelers—including swimming, snorkeling, and sight-seeing—the Dominican Republic is one of the cheaper destinations for travelers in North America. Airline tickets to the Dominican Republic can always be found.
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola (Haiti occupies the west). The coastline is rich with perfect Caribbean beaches and the interior is diverse, with rainforests, 27 waterfalls, mangrove swamps, mountain ranges and savannas.
While many travelers book cheap flights to the Dominican Republic to explore the natural paradise, this country has one of the more illustrious histories of the Caribbean islands. Its history dates back to the Taino inhabitants whose cave paintings can still be seen in caves around the country. Christopher Columbus landed here too, on his first voyage in 1492, claiming the island for Spain and exploring the northern coast of the Republic.
Santo Domingo, the capital, was founded by Columbus’s brother and became the Americas’ first colonial capital. Today, it’s a city with many “firsts”—first Catholic cathedral, first monastery, oldest fortress, gilded palaces and historic squares.
Some Dominican Republic flights arrive in the capital, Santo Domingo, which is the oldest remaining European city in the New World and one of the most vibrant cities in the Caribbean. Travelers book Dominican Republic flights to walk in the footsteps of Cortés, Ponce de León, and Christopher Columbus. Santo Domingo is also home to one of the largest shopping bazaars of the Caribbean. Travelers leaving the Dominican Republic will take with them local jewelry and artifacts, artists’ renderings of landscapes, and if one is lucky enough, a hand-wrapped cigar.
The Dominican Republic’s climate is great all year long. In the summer, temperatures range from 70 degrees to 90 degrees, and it only drops a bit in the winter. The weather can get much cooler in the mountains, and rainstorms are usually brief.
Thanks to the great weather, most of the year is peak season. Rainy season hits the north coast between October and May and the south coast from May to October, meaning there are always dry beaches to be found. The rains can last half a day when they arrive, however, so be prepared. As with the rest of the Caribbean, the country is most visited by tourists during the “winter” months of December-April as vacationers escape the bad weather of their own countries.
Prices fall after the Easter holidays and the country is less invaded by tourists. This is likely to be the best time to find cheap flights to the Dominican Republic. The hurricane season, between June and November, is the least popular time to visit.
If you can secure your flight tickets after Easter then you give yourself a better chance of finding cheap flights to the Dominican Republic as they do get costly beforehand. If you have the luxury of flexibility then you will find cheap flights to the Dominican Republic much easier than if you’re fixed to a school holiday or specific month of the year. November typically has the best reduced prices but the conditions upon your arrival might not be ideal.
Flights to the Dominican Republic vary greatly in duration. Your flight can last just a few hours or as long as one day, depending on your departure destination. If you’re flying from Kennedy Airport in New York City to Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, expect your flight to last approximately four hours nonstop. Flights from California, Washington, or any state in the West Coast of the United States last approximately eight hours and generally include at least one stop. Flights from London, Germany, Amsterdam, or France last anywhere from 18 to 24 hours and usually include a stop or two along the way. If you’re departing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or any city in the southernmost region of the United States, a nonstop flight to the Dominican Republic lasts just a couple of hours.
Travelers to the Dominican Republic fly into one of six major airports, including Las Americas International, Punta Cana International, Cibao International, Gregorio Lupron International, La Romana International and El Catey International. Many major airlines fly into these airports, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest. Visitors flying into the country from England use British Airways. Air France, Air Canada and Air Berlin also fly directly into the country.
Dominican Republic is a beautiful tropical island with many sandy white beaches for you to enjoy, so be sure to pack your swimsuit, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops. The country has plenty of gorgeous landscapes and offers many opportunities for sightseeing, so bring your camera and binoculars along. Pack a light poncho and at least one umbrella, especially if you’re traveling between June and November when it rains at least once each day. Don’t forget your bug repellent, as you’ll likely see mosquitoes and a few other insects.
There are seven international airports in the country and domestic Dominican Republic flights between the main tourist regions are readily available from Air Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic flights are cheap and reliable.
Once you’ve purchased your flights to the Dominican Republic your best bet is to look into hotels that provide airport transfers that are either included in the overall price or available for an additional fee. You can also pre-arrange for a car or shuttle to collect you from the airport too. Failing that, your only real option is to hail a taxi. Prices vary depending on which resort you are going to, but make sure you agree on the fare before you set off. If anyone tries to ‘help’ you take your luggage to your vehicle, kindly refuse several times and they should leave you be. If you don’t fancy any of the above then the cheapest option is to take a bus. They aren’t usually found inside the airport but you can find them on the roads. They are cheap but you might struggle to find your way properly without researching the right lines in advance.
There is a very unreliable bus service available, that’s very infrequent and difficult to get. It might be best to avoid altogether, unless you’re an experienced traveler who has booked flights to the Dominican Republic before. Your best option would be to hail a taxi. They are easy to find, but be warned that they do try and cram as many people into a cab as possible, so your journey might not be that comfortable. There is also a metro system you could take a taxi to and then ride the metro for the rest of the journey.
There is no train service in the DR, but—save Santo Domingo—buses are frequent, inexpensive and often air-conditioned. There is an extensive network that covers most of the country. However, be aware that services stop at 9pm, so travel throughout the night is not possible.
Tourist taxis are available in most towns, and from airports. Prices are not cheap and often more than double those of the “city taxis” which tend to be less modern cars.
Car rental is expensive and not available to under-25s. Roads are not very safe and littered with accident. Transport police are often corrupt, so if you are driving expect to pay some bribes.
The following chart gives approximate journey times from Santo Domingo (in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Dominican Republic:
A trip to the Dominican Republic wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach. Thankfully, the country offers many for visitors to choose from. Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana is a popular with tourists. It has soft powdery sand that feels great between your toes, and there are small huts throughout Bavaro Beach where visitors can sit back and enjoy a cool tropical beverage when they’re not enjoying the water. Isla Saona is another beautiful beach on the island. This gorgeous beach has clear water and white sand, and it doesn’t attract as many tourists as Bavaro, making it a great choice for visitors seeking a more peaceful beach experience. Isla Saona Beach is close to many great restaurants, so you can easily grab a bite to eat and get right back to relaxing. Other popular beaches in the country include Macao Beach, Bayahibe and Dominicus. All of these beaches offer a variety of activities, including fishing, snorkeling and boating.
The Dominican Republic offers many other activities for visitors to enjoy. To learn a bit about the country’s history, visit the Zona Colonial museum in Santo Domingo, and walk along Calle de las Damas to retrace the steps of the first Spanish conquistadors. If you enjoy nature and love sightseeing, visit The Dominican Alps, a gorgeous mountainous area with pine forests and national parks with serene streams and valleys. If you want a taste of the city life, visit the thriving metropolis of Santiago, which is the country’s second largest city. There, you’ll find plenty of small shops, theaters, malls, art galleries and other amenities to enjoy. If you love adventure, contact Canopy Adventures Zipline Tours in Punta Cana, where you can enjoy a day of zip lining and hiking.
Since so many major airlines depart from the various airports in the Dominican Republic, finding flights from the country to virtually any destination you choose is quite easy. Choose JetBlue, American, United or Southwest Airlines to fly from the Dominican Republic into any major city in the United States. Qantas Airways offers flights from the Dominican Republic to Australia, and Delta offers flights to Tokyo, Japan. If you’d like to head to Africa after your tropical vacation, book a flight on South African Airways, which flies out of the Punta Cana International Airport. Emirates also flies out of Punta Cana International and offers flights to the exciting city of Dubai. There’s no limit to where you can go.
(prices quoted are from London)