19 Top Dominican Republic Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Updated on January 21, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

What to bring on my Dominican Republic trip?

The Dominican Republic is an ideal travel destination for North Americans; it’s easily accessible via direct flights, in-country costs are fairly low, and the Caribbean weather is nearly perfect year-round. If you’re planning to first trip there, you might be wondering, “What do I need to take to the Dominican Republic?” That’s where this post comes in.

I put together a Dominican Republic packing list with everything you’ll need for your trip, plus a list of things NOT to bring with you. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll also find our top tips on what to wear in the Dominican Republic, what to pack for rainy season and dry season, and some FAQs covering things you should know before you should go.

What to Pack – 17 Essentials

1) Lonely Planet guidebook – Some people love Lonely Planet, and some people hate it. But no matter your travel preferences, their guidebooks provide a useful introduction to a country’s history and culture and an overview of places to consider going. Skimming the Dominican Republic edition will help you plan your trip and make sure you don’t miss any highlights.

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2) Packing cubes – When it comes to staying organized while you travel, packing cubes are a lifesaver. Instead of having to dig through your entire bag to find one missing sock or tank top, you’ll just pull out the packing cube those items are in. This set comes with three different sizes of cubes, so you’ll be able to store everything conveniently.

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3) Sunscreen – Since it’s known for its warm, sunny weather – and for long days at the beach – sunscreen will be one of your top Dominican Republic packing essentials. Choose a water-resistant formula like this one, or your first dip in the ocean will leave you unprotected.

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4) Insect repellent – For staying comfortable and healthy, insect repellent is another one of the essential things to take to the Dominican Republic.The risk of malaria is low, but it does exist in many parts of the country – and even if they probably won’t cause malaria, you still don’t want to get a bunch of bug bites on your trip.

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5) Neck Wallet – “Remember my passport” should be the top item on your checklist for traveling to the Dominican Republic – and that means you’ll need something to store it in. A neck wallet like this one will keep your most important item safe, plus it will hold any other documents you have and even your cash and credit cards.

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6) Leave-in conditioner – When you’re on vacation, there’s nothing like spending a long day at the beach, lying in the sun and hopping in and out of the water. But all the sun and saltwater can do a number on your hair, so bring a leave-in conditioner to use at the end of the day.

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7) Hand sanitizer – When you’re out all day, hanging out at the beach or exploring town, you’ll want to be able to clean your hands before you eat. Soap and water isn’t always available, so bring a bottle of hand sanitizer to be prepared.

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8) Activated charcoal – Many parts of the Dominican Republic are relatively visitor-friendly, so hopefully you won’t encounter any stomach troubles. But put some activated charcoal on your list of things to bring to the Dominican Republic anyway, because it can be a lifesaver if you do end up getting sick. Take a capsule when you start to feel sick, and it’ll absorb the toxins in your stomach and stop the dreaded traveler’s diarrhea.

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9) Electrolytes – Electrolytes are something else to put on your Dominican Republic packing list just in case you end up getting sick. The diarrhea and vomiting that usually comes with eating contaminated food or drinking dirty water can leave you dehydrated, which is especially problematic in a tropical climate. If you end up with a bout of illness, put these electrolyte tablets in your water to help the rehydration process.

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10) Swimsuit: Women’s and Men’s – If there’s one thing nearly all visitors to the Dominican Republic do, it’s hit the beach. Make sure you pack your favorite swimsuit – you’ll probably be wearing it a lot.

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11) Sundress – For many female visitors to the Dominican Republic, a sundress is the go-to outfit. The lightweight fabric makes sundresses comfortable in the heat and means they won’t take up too much space in your bag. Plus, they can easily be dressed up for a night out.

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12) Flip-flops: Women’s and Men’s – This is a country known for beach holidays, so flip-flops are probably the most common shoes for the Dominican Republic. They’re easy to slip on and off at the beach or pool, or for walking around your hotel.

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13) Beach bag – You’ll need a way to carry things like your towel, sunscreen, and snacks to the beach, so put a beach bag on your list of things to take to the Dominican Republic. This one is lightweight and waterproof, so it’ll be easy to clean off at the end of the day.

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14) Travel backpack – For many travelers, a backpack is the most convenient piece of luggage to use for traveling in the Dominican Republic. Osprey packs are revered among frequent travelers for their quality and comfort, and this one should hold everything you’ll need on a short trip.

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15) Sarong – A sarong is one of the most versatile things you could bring when you travel, and they’re especially useful in beach destinations. What else can be used equally well as a towel, swimsuit cover-up, picnic blanket, or curtain?

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16) Water bottle – Hydration is key in tropical climates, so a water bottle you can keep refilling should be one of the top things on your packing list for the Dominican Republic. Bottled water is available everywhere, but the cost will start to add up – and so will the environmental impact of all those plastic bottles.

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17) Camera – You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t have a way to capture the sunsets you’ll see in the Dominican Republic, so be sure to pack a camera. The Canon PowerShot is a good choice for most travelers, because it takes high-quality shots but is fairly compact, inexpensive, and easy to use.

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18) Umbrella – It can rain any time of year in the Dominican Republic, so bring an umbrella, or you may end up getting drenched at some point.

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19) Dominican Republic Travel Insurance – Travel insurance isn’t the most exciting part of planning a trip abroad, but it’s a worthwhile investment. In the unlikely event that you get sick or have another emergency, or that you have belongings get stolen or damaged, you’ll be glad you’re covered.

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Other Dominican Republic packing list items to consider bringing

What should I wear in the Dominican Republic?

It’s generally hot and humid in the Dominican Republic, so leave your winter clothes at home. Lightweight and breathable fabrics are the most comfortable in a tropical environment, and sundresses, shorts, and T-shirts are the outfits of choice for most visitors. While your swimsuit will probably be a staple of your Dominican Republic wardrobe, be sure to bring something you can easily cover up with when you’re away from the beach. Casual clothes are suitable for most situations, but it’s a good idea to bring one nicer outfit for nights out.

Sandals are generally the most convenient footwear for the Dominican Republic, whether it’s flip-flops at the beach or sturdier sandals for activities like kayaking, but again, you may want one pair of nicer shoes for wearing out. Lastly, you’ll definitely want some sunglasses and a hat as well as an umbrella and rain jacket so you’ll be ready for anything.

RAINY SEASON: May, June, July, August, September, and October

If you visit during these months, rain gear is a must, and it’s a good idea to bring both a rain jacket and an umbrella. It’s still quite warm, though, so pack summer clothes otherwise.

DRY SEASON: November, December, January, February, March, and April

It can rain any time of year, so it’s still a good idea to bring some rain gear so you’re prepared. But otherwise, packing for dry season means summer clothes, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

What NOT to take to the Dominican Republic

1) 🚫 DON’T BRING unnecessary valuables – The Dominican Republic is a safe place to visit, but there’s always a chance of things getting lost or stolen while traveling, and there’s no reason to risk it.
2) 🚫 DON’T PACK heavy books – A beach day is the perfect time to catch up on reading, but more than one or two books will really start to weigh down your bag. Pack a Kindle instead, and load it with as many books as you want.
3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE lots of cash – There are ATMs all over the Dominican Republic, so you’ll easily be able to access cash once you’re there.
4) 🚫 DON’T BRING a bath towel – Regular towels are notoriously big and bulky, and they can take all day to dry. Instead, pack a lightweight, quick-drying towel that’s designed for travel.
5) 🚫 DON’T PACK a mosquito net – Some Dominican Republic packing lists suggest bringing a mosquito net, but almost any hotel will provide a net if you need one – and if they don’t, there probably wouldn’t be a way to hang up your own, anyway.
6) 🚫 DON’T TAKE lots of warm clothes – The weather in the Dominican Republic is generally warm year-round, so you shouldn’t need anything warmer than a lightweight jacket.

10 frequently asked questions about travel in the Dominican Republic

1) Do I need a visa to go to the Dominican Republic?

Residents of the U.S. and most of Latin America and Europe do not need a visa to visit the Dominican Republic. However, almost all visitors must pay $10 for a Tourist Card, which is available on arrival.

2) What is the weather like in the Dominican Republic?

The weather in the Dominican Republic is remarkably stable year-round. Though June through September are the hottest months, most of the country has average highs in the mid- to high-80s and average lows in the low- to mid-70s every month of the year. May through October is generally the rainy season (and hurricane season), though it can rain any time of year.

3) How can I save money during my trip?

The Dominican Republic is a relatively affordable destination compared to others in the region, but there are plenty of ways to cut costs even further. When deciding where to eat, choose street food and local restaurants over dining spots that cater to tourists, and don’t forget that you can purchase groceries at a supermarket or local market for some of your meals. There are also hostels in several parts of the country, including Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, which will probably be the cheapest option for accommodations. All over the country, though, you’ll save significantly by staying at local guesthouses instead of chain hotels or big resorts. Lastly, buses connect most main areas of the island, so opt for public transportation whenever possible to keep your costs down.

4) What is the best way to get around in the Dominican Republic?

If your priority is to get off the beaten path or travel at your own speed, you can’t do better than a rental car. There are several beautiful drives in the Dominican Republic, both inland and along the coast, and having your own wheels will allow you to get to places that aren’t accessible otherwise. If you’re not interested in doing your own driving, though, various bus companies connect all the major towns. For the especially adventurous, hitchhiking is also fairly common in the Dominican Republic.

5) What is the best time of year to visit?

Though a winter trip to the Dominican Republic is appealing because it means an escape from the cold weather, winter is high season for tourism there – which means huge crowds in some parts of the country. Rain makes the summer and early fall months a less than ideal time as well, so most consider April or May to be the besttime to visit.

6) What should I know about hurricanes in the Dominican Republic?

Like much of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic’s hurricane season typically lasts from June to October, with the worst storms coming in August and September. Historically, the Dominican Republic has been directly hit by a hurricane only once every twenty years or so, but it frequently experiences tropical storms. In general, tourists are at low risk from hurricanes, as there is usually at least a 24-hour warning before one hits, and the country’s larger hotels and tour companies are well prepared.

7) How can I stay healthy in the Dominican Republic?

Besides making sure you have the appropriate vaccines (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid are recommended), the most important thing you can do to stay healthy is to watch what you eat and drink. Avoid drinking tap water, as well as any drinks that are made with tap water. Don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables that can’t be peeled, or any food that has been sitting out, and be sure to wash your hands before eating. In addition, talk to your doctor about whether you should consider taking a malaria prophylaxis during your trip.

8) What are the top things to do?

For such a small country, the Dominican Republic packs a real punch. The most obvious things to do revolve around the water – swim in the ocean, go snorkeling or diving, try kiteboarding or windsurfing, or just lay on the beach. But there’s plenty to do away from the sand as well. Enjoy nature at one of the country’s many national parks, like Parque Nacional Armando Bermudez, Parque Nacional Jose del Carmen Ramirez, or Parque Nacional Sierra de Bahoruc. See flamingos at Lake Enriquillo or whales on the Samana Peninsula, or visit the apple orchards and strawberry plantations of the highlands around Costanza. In Santo Domingo, roam the Zona Colonialand take in Alcazar de Colon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9) How can I get off the beaten path?

The majority of visitors to the Dominican Republic go to Punta Cana, so give the eastern tip of the country a miss if you want to get off the beaten path. Since the country is primarily thought of as a beach destination, heading inland to the mountains will give you a far less touristy experience. One inland town that’s beloved by the few who make it there is Bonao, known for its scenery and art scene. The southwestern corner of the Dominican Republic is the least touristed and least developed area on the coast, and is also home to two national parks. The beaches of the southwestern coast are secluded and pristine, making it well worth the journey.

10) What are the best beaches in the Dominican Republic?

In a country known for its beaches, it would be impossible to list every beach worth a visit – but these are some of the best. Bávaro Beach in Punta Cana is perhaps the best known, and while the soft sand and clear waters are stunning, it can get incredibly crowded. A similar beach is Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata, which is popular with resort-goers but has maintained a much less developed feel. Alternatively, head to Kite Beach in Cabarete to watch the kiteboarders and windsurfers who flock there (or try it out for yourself). Located on the Samana Peninsula, Playa Rincon and La Playita are some of the most beautiful beaches, and are gloriously free from the crowds, as is the nearby island of Cayo Levantado. If you make it down to the country’s secluded southwestern corner, you’ll be in for a treat with Bahia de Las Aguilas in Barahona. For an even more remote experience, continue on to Eagle Bay Beach, near the Haitian border, which is part of Jaragua National Park.

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