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Dominican Republic Travel and Information

Updated on March 5, 2013

Visit the Dominican Republic

With its beautiful white beaches, wonderful resorts, delicious food, the Dominican Republic is the jewel of the Caribbean. This lens will provide you a journey into the Dominican Republic.

Here is everything you need to know to get an introduction to the Dominican and plan your vacation to this beautiful country.

Dominican Republic History

Dominican Republic is the first permanent settlement of Europeans in the Americas.

The Dominican Republic was discovered on December 5, 1943 by Columbus. During that time he called the island Hispaniola. Columbus was welcomed by the Taino Indians who already lived there. These Taino Indians were very peaceful and hospitable to their newcomers. Columbus' crew discovered gold deposits in the rivers of the island which led to the first settlement in 1493 named La Isabela. Further settlements followed leading the Taino Indians into slavery. Aftrican slaves were also brought in for labor. By around mid 1500's many Taino indians died of infection, labor, breakup of family.

Spain ceded the colony to France in 1795, and haitian blacks under Toussaint L overuter took over in 1801.

In 1808 people revolted and recaptured Santo Domingo, setting up the first republic. In 1821, Haitians took over again. In 1844, the Haitians were thrown out and the Dominican Republic was established headed by Pedro Santana. On February 27, 1844, the eastern side of the island declared independence and gave their land the name "Dominican Republic."

Today Dominican Republic's current president is Leonel Fernández.

Facts about the Dominican Republic

Major crops for export: coffee, cotton, cocoa, rice, tobacco. Tourism accounts for more than $1.3 billion in annual earnings

Population Demographics

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the ethnic composition of the Dominican population is, 73% mixed race, 16% white and 11% black

Life expectancy: 71.44 years

Language: Spanish is the official language; French and Haitian Creole is spoken by Haitians, some English by the upper class.

Climate

Dominican Republic has tropical weather, its temperature goes from about 78 F to 88F. Subject to severe storms from June to October.

Tipping: Customary to tip 10% or more.

Drinking Age: 18 years old.

Currency: Dominican Peso. However, the dollar is taken in most tourist spots.

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic

Map And Geography

The Dominican is located in the Caribbean, comprising the eastern 2/3 portion of the island of Hispaniola, which is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Dominican Republic is split into 31 provinces and municipalities. The capital, Santo Domingo, is in its own National District.

In terms of size comparison, you can think of it as twice the size of New Hampshire.

The Dominican Republic has the highest point in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, which is named after one of the country's founding fathers.

Dominican Foods

One of the most popular breakfast dishes is called "mangu". It is comprised of plantains, cheese and bacon.

It is made into a puree and ready to serve. It is traditionally served with red onions, but can also be accompanied by cheese, eggs or salamin.

For lunch another popular dish is "La Bandera Dominicana" (the Dominican Republic flag meal). This one contains rice, beans, vegetables and fried plantains. There are many variations of this treat. Sometimes they can use different types of beans for different colors and different types of rices for different tastes.



Dominican Lunch - "La Bandera Dominicana".


Chicharrones - Fried Pork Rinds.

Among some of the most common ingredients in Dominican food is "Yuca" and "plantains". These are very common ingredients for any Dominican food.

You can get a great meal from as litte as $4 to $10 on the average.

Drinks

Presidente - Dominican beer which tastes excellent. This is the dominant brand. Say "una fria" and they'll know what you mean.

Rum - called Brugal, Barcelo or Bermudez (The three B's).

Traveling around

It is not recommended to rent a car in the Dominican Republic. The streets are crowded, streets are poorly lit, drivers rarely follow road rules and policemen are very corrupt readily willing to give you tickets on a whim. You also have to be careful not o run into pedestrians. Gas is also extremely expensive, about $7 per gallon. Using buses may be the best alternative if you need to travel around Santo Domingo (the capital). There are also gua guas which are smaller buses or vans that you may elect to try. Caribe Tours are the capital's biggest bus company and are subsidied by the government, giving you the best fares. They go to fixed locations, run from 7AM to 4PM and for the longest trips it will cost you onl

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Dominican Republic Festivals

One of the most beautiful and rewarding island nations in the entire Caribbean Sea to visit is the country of the Dominican Republic. Though it doesn't usually rank at the top of the list of Caribbean vacation destinations, it happens to be one of the best off the beaten path destinations in the region. The Dominican Republic offers great weather, beautiful scenery, and so much more. But, one of the best times to visit there and experience not only everything the country has to offer, but also a serious amount of culture from the island is during one of their many local festivals and celebrations.

Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Held on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival is one of the liveliest festivals in the region. Both local and international musicians are featured at the festival, and it is one of the top experiences of a trip to the Dominican Republic for both the performers and those attending the festival as spectators. The festival is so popular that it is attended by jazz music lovers from around the world. There is more to the festival than just music too, as the organizers have worked hard to also incorporate both the artwork and the culture of the region into the celebration. There are also classes and workshops to attend too that give some even that much more reason to attend the festival. The combination of the sound of great jazz music combined with the colors and flavors of the Dominican culture make the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival a one of a kind event to attend.

Merengue Festival

Usually held during the first week of October, the Merengue Festival is a harvest related celebration that is very popular. Visitors vacationing in the Dominican Republic during the Merengue Festival will find that they get to partake of some wonderful tasting freshly grown produce and at the same time experience some great examples of Dominican culture. There are usually open markets set up in the streets and live music, as well as other types of performances, as well. This festival puts an emphasis on education, so visitors and locals both are given the opportunity to see exactly how certain crops are grown and specific crafts are made.

Dominican Republic International Film Festival

One of the big celebrations that has attracted people from around the world, even though it is still quite young, is the Dominican Republic International Film Festival. The festival is held on Cofresi Beach and features a great many screenings of both popular and little known films. This is a unique opportunity to not only see some great movies, but also enjoy them in an environment that is second to none when it comes to beauty and relaxation. In addition to the film screenings, there are also VIP events, outdoor dinners, classes, historical exhibits, and discussion groups too. This is the perfect event to head to for anyone with an interest in film, who also would like to vacation in an exotic and beautiful land.

La Vega Carnival

Running from January clean through to March, the La Vega Carnival in the Dominican Republic is not only one of the larger and more popular carnival celebrations in the region, it is also one of the longest. Everything one would expect to find in an island carnival celebration is there for the taking. There are incredible outdoor performances done by musical groups, dance groups, and other kinds of performers. There are also a number of opportunities to sample the cuisine of the Dominican Republic too, with celebrations happening indoors in some of the more popular restaurants, as well as outdoors where there are food booths and street vendors selling their products. There is nothing quite like a carnival celebration, and the La Vega Carnival celebration in the Dominican Republic proves that well.

Christmas

Many countries and cultures celebrate Christmas, but very few do so in the same way that the Dominican Republic does. Christmas in the Dominican Republic is somewhat mild due to the Caribbean location. Though there is no snow, it is still very much a holiday season worth celebrating. The Christmas celebration begins in the early part of December and last clear through to January 6th. This is one of the top ways for anyone seeking a unique holiday experience this winter to choose to celebrate the Christmas holidays.

World Cup Windsurfing

The Dominican Republic is known the world over as one of the top windsurfing destinations on Earth. The wind is near constant and the water is wide and open, making for a perfect place to hold a big name competition. That is exactly what comes to the Dominican Republic during the month of June when a World Cup caliber event is held there. The world's best amateur and professional windsurfers flock to the Dominican Republic to compete and watch this World Cup Windsurfing event. For the vacationer vising the island during this time, they can not only enjoy the competition on the water, but also the many different types of spillover celebrations that spring up all along the beach area and in the local communities. These other featured attractions that occur during the windsurfing event include food fairs, craft exhibits, concerts, beach volleyball matches, and fiestas. For the active person, there is nothing quite like visiting the Dominican Republic during the World Cup Windsurfing event.

Cabarete Alegra

Held during the month of February in the community of Cabarete each year is the Cabarete Alegra celebration. The unique part of this celebration is that each weekend features a different festival where locals and guests visiting the area pour out onto the streets and have a fun, exciting, and sometimes even wild time. The different festival events that occur on the different weekends include a sandcastle building competition, mountain bike races, kite flying festival, as well as a surfing and windsurfing competition at the local beach. The length of this festival, and the fact that it is largely held on the weekends, make it a perfect thing for vacationers to aim at attending. Like most festivals in the region, this one is also accompanied by live music, stage performances, outdoor fiestas, and of course great food. Cabarete Alegra is a definite festival worth shooting for when planning a vacation to the Dominican Republic.

Santo Domingo Carnival

The Santo Domingo Carnival is celebrated throughout the Dominican Republic and is one of the more popular celebrations with locals. This is one of the best opportunities for those from outside the country to see the fabulous costumes, masks, and dances associated with carnivals in the region. At the end of the festival, people from all overcrowd the streets in the form of a parade, each wearing bright colors and participating in dances and songs that show the heritage of the people of the island. The sight of the Santo Domingo Carnival being celebrated during it's peak times is something that will not soon be forgotten by the lucky traveler making the trip to the Dominican Republic during that time.



Photo by vanwas.

Located in the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, it contains a coastline of sandy white beaches lined by coconut trees. This is a major tourist resort area, that sometimes receives more visitors than Santo Domingo. It is lined with all-inclusive resorts, where you won't need to go anywhere else if you so choose. Family amenities are excellent and is one of the top places in the Caribbean for rest and relaxation. You can golf, go partying at a disco and interact with some of the local residents there. It has Manatí Park, which is a popular waterpark. It also has Plaza Bolera Punta Cana, a shopping complex with a bowling center. If you are starved for familiarity, there is a popular Shopping Center name Palma Real, which houses the Hard Rock Cafe and Tony Romas.

1. Dolphin island - Swim with dolphins in this manmade island.

2. Manati Park Bavaro - Wonderful place to view exhibits of birds and other wildlife. There is also a show featuring parrots, dolphins and dancing horses.

3. Punta Cana Ecological Reserve - Guided tour through tropical flora with option of bath at the end of a cool spring.

Punta Cana Hotels and Restaurants

From yahoo traveler reviews these are the most popular hotels and restaurants in Punta Cana

Hotels in Punta Cana

Catalonia Royal Bavaro

Excellence Punta Cana

Majestic Colonial Punta Cana

Restaurants in Punta Cana

The JellyFish Restaurant

Capitan Cook restaurant

Steve's Corner bar

It has a population of 20,000 and is full of historic architecture and vibrant nightlife. Most visitors, however, go to Playa Dorada which is a walled off section that brings in half a million tourists per year. Playa Dorada has resorts in a U-Shaped structure which surrounds a beach and the Playa Dorada Golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones.

In Puerto Plata you can go on almost any water sport adventure you please: parasailing, glass bootom boats, sports fishing, snorkeling, spped boat, kayaking, windsurfing or anything else you can imagine.

There are also land activties such as buggy rides, safaris, helicopter rides and so much more. You can even horseback ride on the white sandy beaches.

1. Outback Safari - If you really want to get familiar with Dominican culture, this is a must do. This safari tour will really get you familiar with what the Dominican Republic is all about. Among some of the

activities you will do in this safari:

  • Visit a Dominican home and share a cup of coffee with them.
  • Swim in water river.
  • Shop at a rum store for rum, cigars, and more.
  • Walk through fruit plantations and taste fruit and sugarcane.
  • See crocodiles, iguanas and more native animals.
  • Free drinks including beer all day!
  • Watch a merengue show. (Dominican Dance)
  • Enjoy the tour through an experienced tour guide.
  • Cost for adults $80, children $40

2.Nightlife - You can dance and learn merengue at the clubs in your local hotel.

3.Ocean World Park - A zoo and marine animal park featuring custom made dolphin lagoon, sea lions, sharks and birds.

4.Fun City Action park - Go on GoKarts or Bumper Cars. Open late afternoons and evenings.

5. Mount Isabel de Torres - A 2,600 foot mountain. Ride a seven minute cable car up to the top to find botanical gardens with spectacular and breathtaking views of the city. about $10

6. Amber Museum - Features collections of fossilized resin, which has captured many fossils of plant and insect life. Amber is tree sap that has hardened for millions of years, so you can well imagine the preservation of the different life forms. $2 U.S.

7. San Felipe Fort and The Malecón -The Malecón is a popular roadside with numerous eating places with fresh ocean breezes. West Through this path you will end up in San Felipe Fort. This fort was built by Spaniards in the 16th century to fend off pirates. It is the oldest remnant of colonial time architecture. The fort features a museum, historical artifacts and a moat. It costs about $1 to enter.

Ziplining - Among one of the top rated attractions in the Dominican Republic is Yasika Adventures. The zip lining thrill is an amazing rush that you'll ever experience in your life. Yasika adventures is on of the top rated attractions in the Dominican and a must do when you go there. You'll experience great instructions from trained professionals who know exactly what they are doing.

Tel: 809-650-2323

Carretera Turistica Puerto Plata

La Cruz de Yasika Puerto Plata 00000

Puerto Plata Hotels and Restaurants

Recommended Puerto Plata Hotels and restaurants from Yahoo user reviews.

Puerto Plata Hotels

Gran Oasis Marien All Inclusive Resort

Riu Merengue All Inclusive

Riu Mambo All Inclusive

Gran Ventana All Inclusive Beach Resort

Puerto Plata Restaurants

Riu Bachata

Gran Ventana Beach Resort

Cafe Cito

El Jardin de Jade

Santo Domingo Places to Visit

A city that never sleeps, it is a city where you can view historical Spanish architecture. You can view how things were in the 1600's. Santo Domingo is also a place filled with restaurants and great bargain shopping.

1. Calle de las Damas, the oldest street in the new world. It contains Ozama Fortress, oldest fortress of the new world. It also contains the Museo de las Casas Reales, gives you a historical view of the Spanish Court.

2. Colonial Zone - Architecture that stands out. This place borders the Ozama River and it has buildings dating back to the 16th century. It is worth taking a stroll here, just do it in the daytime as some reports of unsafe activies happen at times during the night.

3. Catedral Primada de America - First cathedral in the new world. Its main facade was built out of coral rock. It was constructed from 1514 to 1546. YOu can check the arching ceilings, the 14 chapels, and numerous sculptures and paintings.

4. Los Tres Ojos - A cave filled with circular lakes, fed by a subterrenean river. There are four lakes, despite its name. All four have distinct characteristics. The first lake is filled with sulfurous waters is 20 feet deep. The second is chilly and temperatures drops to 15 degrees centigrade. The Women's Lake, the third and smallest, is warm and shallow. A fourth lake is named Los Saramagullones after a duck species which inhabits it.

One of the better shopping areas is an outdoor mall named El Conde. It has brand name clothing for extremely bargain prices. You can also get authentic art along with souvenirs for your friends and family back home.

Santo Domingo Hotels and Restaurants

A brief list of the more popular hotels and restaurants to try in Santo Domingo. This list is from Yahoo travelers reviews so visit the link if you want the latest prices and information.

Hotels Recommended

Coral Hamaca Beach Hotel Resort & Casino

Melia Santo Domingo

Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando Santo Domingo

Occidental El Embajador

Restaurants Recommended

Restaurant Vesuvio

Restaurante Conuco

Toscana

Restaurante Vesuvio II

Dominican Music and Dance

The Merengue is the country's national dance. Its core traditional elements are a melodeon (accordion like instrument), a tambora (double headed drum) and a guira (percussion piece). Its tempo is aggressive and its origin is a combination of African and european elements. In its inception, the Merengue used to talk about taboo subjects such as sex. Today it covers more diversified general subjects.

The Bachata is slower than the Merengue, it was derived from the bolero, a type of music similar to country or R&B of the United States. It is mostly comprised of guitar like melodies instead of a band. Lyrics are mostly about hard times and relationships. In the 70's and 80's hard times would come alive through the lyrics of the bachata.

Dominican Merengue

Dance Dominican Bachata

Dominican Republic Sports

The Dominican Republic is well known for its sports athletes, especially baseball. They have the second highest number of baseball players in Major League Baseball. Some of the more current and more famous

players are:

  1. Sammy Sosa 1988 NL MVP
  2. Albert Pujols 2005 NL MVP
  3. Pedro Martinez - One of the greatest pitchers in baseball
  4. Manny Ramirez - Awesome baseball player and probably the best hitter ever.
  5. David Ortiz - "Big Papi" - famous power home run hitter.
  6. Vladimir Guerrero
  7. - my personal favorite.

For a complete list of all Dominican baseball players go to the link.

There are also some athletes in the NBA and boxing. The most well known player in the NBA is Al Horford.

What else can be done?

Other than sightseeing, golfing, rest and relaxation, you can always go gambling. Gambling is similar to Las Vegas odds, so your chances are very fair. The only game you should avoid is Dominican Keno, which is not like the Keno in Las Vegas, and it offers terrible odds of winning. The Keno games are usually conducted by an independent contractor renting floor space in the casino. That should be your warning to avoid this game.

Plans to travel to the Dominican?

Do you ever plan to visit the Dominican?

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What do you think about the Dominican Republic - If you have visited the Dominican, please tell me your experience!

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    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 4 years ago

      Haven't been there yet but have a trip planned in December. Can't wait!!

    • NorDac LM profile image

      NorDac LM 7 years ago

      I've been living there for about 7 months now. Great place! So far we've been to the beaches at Puerto Plata, Boca Chica, and Sosua. We've been documenting most of it at Dominican Republic. Feel free to stop by and comment about some of the places you've been.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      That beach sure looks inviting. Maybe one day, I will visit.

    • profile image

      Travelsaddle 7 years ago

      The Information you provide for traveling to the Dominican Republic is out standing a right on point. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      De verían de cambiarle el nombre a mi país, entra si quieres, sal si puedes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Mi pais es maravilloso, estoy muy orgullosa de ser dominicana.

    • profile image

      gemenerni1 8 years ago

      Hey, really cool lens you got! I actually visited Dominican last year on the best Caribbean cruises ever, and I have to tell you that your pictures bring back lots of memories! Great stuff, keep it up! :)

      Best regards,

      Gem

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Dominicana4life:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I really love my first visit to the dominican republic. I have been traveling all my life. been through a lot of places but there was no other like dominican republic.they have everything, the beaches, entertainment, the people the foods, and the latin culture!! etc. its the best

    • ssuthep profile image

      ssuthep 8 years ago

      Enjoyed reading your lens. Squid Angel Blessings to you

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this is fairly good site with fairly good info.

    • profile image

      diwakat 8 years ago

      This is on place I have always wanted to visit. Learnt a lot about DR and well laid out lens. Lot's of hard work put into into it. Gave 5** rate. Check out my lens on Safari Travel and give your rate and comments.

    • profile image

      amsae64 8 years ago

      amazing lens thank you for your effort and information 5*****

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very nice lens, 5***** I have to admit though that no lens on DR would be complete without mention of Juan Luis Guerra Y 4:40, the greatest musician to come from the island and world famous. I have been thinking to create a lens on him, his music is wonderful (plenty of clips on Youtube). Also La Romana is a great resort area, and the nearby Altos De Chevon reproduction of a mediterranean town from the middle ages is a must place to visit. I love DR, can you tell?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very informative lens – 5*. Feel free to visit my new lens Everything About Easter

    • Twobit LM profile image

      Twobit LM 8 years ago

      I've always wondered what it would be like to go there, looks like a nice place! *thumbs up*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have just made my very first Squidoo lens about Sosua Bay in the DR. My husband and I have been to Playa Dorada a few times staying at the Iberostar and the Grand Oasis Marien. Both of these resorts are located next to each other and provide superior service, food, accommodation, and beach. Last year we rented an apartment in Sosua Bay and stayed for a month. It was a wonderful experience. Want to know more? Visit my squidoo - www.squidoo.com/Sosua-Bay

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I think I'm in love again. (With the Dominican Republic) White sandy beaches, green water, palm trees .. here I come. I'll have to talk with hubby first. 5*s, fan, favorite and lensrolled to a gorgeous lady's lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I loved it I didn't get to see a lot cuz I was only there for like 3 days but it was awesome I flew all the way from Las Cruces to Santo Domingo and I don't regret it one of the best moments in my life.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Awesome job! Welcome to All Things Travel. I've also given this a Squid Angel Blessing.