Here's the scoop on when to vacation in the Dominican Republic
Sun-baked beaches, palm tree-flanked golf courses and luxury resorts invite spending days on end in the Dominican Republic. The island country lies just a two-hour flight south of Miami and four hours from New York, making it an ideal weekend getaway. Check out the best times to visit to make the most of your time in this island paradise.
Best time to visit the Dominican Republic
April is one of the best months to visit the DR. It comes at the end of peak tourist season and before summer's sweltering heat arrives. Enjoy jazz nights featuring Caribbean and African rhythms at the Escalinatas de El Conde in Santo Domingo or catch the International Book Fair at the city's Plaza de la Cultura. April is when tour professionals head to the country too during the Dominican Republic's National Hotel & Tourism Association's annual travel booking event in Punta Cana.
April is also the best time to visit the Dominican Republic's exotic beaches. Wait until the day after Easter to arrive when crowds thin out. You'll find relatively few crowds at Puerto Cana, Puerto Plata and the Amber Coast. Late November and early December are also good times to visit these beach locales, when rains and searing heat have gone, and tourist crowds haven't arrived.
Tourist seasons in the Dominican Republic
High season: Go elbow to elbow with tourist crowds during mid-December to mid-April. There's more to high season than less beach blanket real estate to yourself, however. Discover festivals and fiestas every month including the Dominican Carnival, Festival Procigar and Barcelo Desalia Festival during February. The National Carnival Parade, Punta Cana Carnival and Caribbean Cigar Night are a few of the top events in March.
Low season: The Dominican Republic's low season runs from May through November. Increased humidity, rain, higher temperatures and strong Caribbean storms make this a less desirable time to go for more tourists. However, if saving money is the goal, you can find hotel rooms in low season for as little as $21 after back-to-school time snags summer travelers away. There's plenty to do during the slow season: Check out the electronic music concerts at Barbarella in June or nosh your way through the Punta Cana Food & Wine Festival in July.
The Dominican Republic's climate is warm to hot throughout the year, making a beach getaway workable any time you care to go. Year-round humidity averages 80 percent, so comfort levels can vary greatly between just a few degrees in temperature. Summer highs of 90 degrees F might not sound that high in a dry climate, but add in DR levels of humidity, and it feels like a 115-degree F day to your body. Temps drop during the night, and by dawn, wake to a cool 70 degrees F.
Bring a light jacket if you want to experience cooler weather in the mountains of Jarabacoa and Constanza where temps get down to 50 degrees F. On the coldest winter days, the mercury might even dip down to 0 in the highest mountains.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, but that doesn't mean every day is a cyclonic threat. Storm activity and chances for hurricanes build beginning the second week in August and peak throughout September. It's a good idea to buy trip insurance if you plan to travel to the Dominican Republic during those two months.
Getting around the Dominican Republic
Dominicans drive on the right-hand side of the road, so it's not vastly different from driving in the United States. A network of paved roads connects tourist destinations and towns throughout the country. Buzz along the Santo Domingo-Santiago-Puerto Plata highway to enjoy lush green landscape. For more panoramic ocean and mountain views, drive through Los Haitises National Park toward the Samana Peninsula. Stick to the well-maintained roads whenever possible as secondary roads have potholes.
If you're from Washington, Vermont, New York or Michigan, get an enhanced driver's license before leaving the states. The document does double-duty as a passport and license when you're behind the wheel in the DR. Other drivers can use their driver's license for up to 90 days in the country before having to convert to a Dominican driver's license.