The Dominican Republic is a melting pot where you’ll find a bit of everything – stunning beaches, delicious cuisine, vibrant wildlife, and a cultural fusion of Indigenous and European influence. Add the Caribbean rum, and you’ve got a place unlike any other!
To navigate this destination, we’ve put together a Dominican Republic packing list, plus tips on what NOT to bring, what to wear in the Dominican Republic, seasonal advice, and important FAQs that could make or break your trip.
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What to Pack for the Dominican Republic– 28 Essentials
1. Activated Charcoal Tablets
These are a lifesaver. We do not travel without them! In the Dominican Republic, the water is not safe to drink and the food, even at reputable hotels, can sometimes be questionable. If you start to get an upset stomach and think you have food poisoning, take these ASAP. Activated charcoal stops the bacteria in its tracks, and instead of spending several days over the toilet, you’ll only feel a little funky for a few hours. Spare yourself the distress and save your vacation by bringing these along.
You’ll likely want to keep things like your cash, credit cards, passport, and phone with you when you’re out and about in the Dominican Republic. A handy neck wallet like this one will keep your valuables safe and concealed under your clothing. This way, you can access whatever you need without flashing your valuables to potential thieves!
With nearly 500 million cyberattacks in the first half of 2023 – the Dominican Republic is not the safest destination for online privacy. Protect your cybersecurity with a virtual private network that adds an extra layer of encryption to your information while browsing on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. We learned about this the hard way when our financial information was stolen at our Airbnb in Europe. You assume your accommodation will be safe, but any public network (at a cafe, library, airport, hotel, etc.) can put your data at risk.
Now we always use our VPN, both for foreign and domestic internet connections! A VPN will also give you access to geo-restricted websites that may be censored in the host country. Common ones that are blocked include Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube due to copyright issues, but you will have full access to the internet with an affordable VPN. I also like knowing that no one can monitor my activity (including my internet provider and government officials who already know too much about us, right?) I’ll never go back to a VPNless life!
As with any tropical destination, you’re likely to find swarms of mosquitoes in the Dominican. Don’t let that get in the way of you enjoying your day-to-day activities! Mosquito-repelling wristbands are an easy way to protect yourself from biting bugs without having to constantly reapply a spray.
Also, you’ll likely be boating, snorkeling, and swimming in lagoons, waterfalls, cenotes, and the ocean – so opting for something water-resistant is ideal. These last for hundreds of hours and are safe for children to wear too.
Packing cubes are popular with frequent travelers for a reason. They save a lot of space and make unpacking/repacking much easier. Simply label each cube “tops, bottoms, essentials, socks, etc.” and you won’t have to dig through a disheveled suitcase ever again!
We’ve used this brand for years and can safely say that travel organizers are a treat worth having. Get different colored sets for each family member and you’ll stay ahead of any explosive messes across the hotel room floor.
Don’t forget that your domestic provider does not cover you overseas, and the Dominican Republic does not provide free medical treatment for tourists. And since the local hospitals are privately owned, they are very expensive. Travel insurance is crucial because you do not want to risk paying out-of-pocket for costly medical bills or if things don’t go as planned. It will cover you for anything from delayed flights to things stolen out of your hotel room, to an unplanned trip to the E.R.
We use Faye because they have set a precedent for all providers with a modern and flexible approach. They handle everything on their easy-to-use mobile app, making the claims process so easy. And they even have an add-on to cancel your trip “ for ANY reason,” which basically makes a non-refundable trip – refundable! It’s affordable protection for your travel investment that offers real peace of mind – a serious no-brainer.
Let me tell you, it’s the worst thing ever to be stuck in a foreign country without GPS to help you navigate and with no way of communicating with those you’re traveling with. In order to prevent your devices from running out of battery, I recommend bringing this easy and compact portable charger. Even if you need to recharge on the go, you can do so without having to sit and wait. I just plug my phone into it while it sits in my day pack and it powers my devices while I am out exploring.
This windproof travel umbrella is sturdy and will do a fantastic job of keeping you protected from tropical rains. I always bring my umbrella while I’m traveling because you never know when a surprise storm will pop up. Not to mention, most people underestimate the winds, but this one has never flipped on us. If it did break on us, we’re happy knowing it has a lifetime replacement guarantee and would be swiftly replaced.
I absolutely love my rash guard. It’s extremely flattering, very comfortable, and protects me from harmful UV rays and sand abrasions. I wear mine for water sports and days at the beach, but I also have found that it’s incredibly useful for hot climates to keep the sun off of you even when you’re hiking and doing non-water activities.
Keep your electronics safe from the elements! You’ll want to have your phone with you for pictures, navigation, and other uses, so it’s important not to risk it getting damaged by rain or water activities. This waterproof phone case is extremely affordable and allows you full use of your phone while it’s tucked safely inside. Record stunning underwater videos (with sound) and document one of the most beautiful places on earth! It was designed in Hawaii by a woman-owned team that knows a thing or two about keeping phones safe from the elements in paradise!
Instead of carrying around bulky towels to lay out on the beach, we recommend traveling with this super compact beach blanket. It makes it much easier to walk around without lugging fluffy, wet hotel towels everywhere you go. I love this particular beach blanket because it’s sand-resistant (which means no more sand granules in your picnic!), super comfy, and sits up to 4 people.
You’ll need a lightweight travel towel as you hop between beaches, islands, mangroves, waterfalls, savannahs, etc. Resorts don’t always provide them or they’re overly bulky, and you don’t want to carry heavy things around as you explore. This one is light as a feather yet 10x more absorbent than cotton towels. It’s a very versatile item that we get creative with – it can be a makeshift seat cover, packing cushion, shawl, sweat bandana, napkin, and more.
The style in the D.R. is island-casual meets feminine-Señorita. While beach days won’t require anything fancy, you’ll want at least one stunning outfit on hand. This jumpsuit is sophisticated and subtle, with a flared waist that makes it almost look like a dress. The single strap adds a bit of flavor, but overall it’s a modest look (which is good since you don’t want to stick out like a revealing tourist). I get lots of compliments on this one, and it works for either day or night!
While visions of paradise always conjure a beautiful image in our minds – the reality can be muggy, sweaty, sandy, and HOT! The temps can reach about 90°F, which can feel quite heavy in the higher humidity. Counteract this with a set of cooling towels – these magical babies turn 20-30 degrees colder than the outside temperature and stay frosty cold for up to an hour. Simply add water and beat the heat so you can enjoy longer days in the sun.
We once made the mistake of throwing all of our items in a regular backpack on a tropical vacation… We didn’t realize the error of our ways until we saw it flopping on the deck of a boat like a fish, rocked by the waves and absolutely soaked! Now, we always use a waterproof backpack to ensure our cash, books, and other essentials don’t crumble into a pile of worthlessness. This one has proven a great purchase for us – everything comes out dry, whether boating, docking, snorkeling, or doing anything near the water.
The last thing you want to worry about while vacationing in paradise is having your belongings stolen from your bags. A reliable set of luggage locks will secure checked baggage, carry-ons, and even day bags so you can relax knowing that your things are safe from sticky fingers whether in transit, in the hotel, or when out exploring.
I’ve found these locks to be very durable, and I love the extra security that comes with the 4-digit combination lock vs. a 3-digit – and the lifetime guarantee is the cherry on top!
From the freshwater lagoons to colonial cities and mountains, you’ll need a game plan to cover all bases of the Dominican Republic. Mesh water shoes are ideal because they keep your feet protected on land but have traction for slippery cenotes and waterfalls. They’re also made of breathable material that dries quickly as you shift from sea to land. So even when wet, these water shoes won’t give you blisters. We love them!
Your trip is only the sum of your experiences, and the D.R. has so much to offer! Our go-to booking service is Get Your Guide, because you can book tours directly with local vendors that are top-rated and reputable.
For a perfect day in Punta Cana, start with morning snorkeling, spend the afternoon feasting through the beach clubs, and end the night at one of the most famous nightclubs in Latin America, Coco Bongo!
You’ll want to capture the beauty of the Caribbean, but leave your water-phobic DSRL at home. We own both this camera and a GoPro, and the only difference we can see is the price! This affordable waterproof camera takes stunning underwater photos and videos so you can enjoy the many reefs of Playa Bavaro, Saona, and Catalina Island. It’s a steal for the price and you’ll be happy to have it.
The heart of the Dominican lies in its sense of adventure. But if you’re prone to motion sickness, the constant movement could be overwhelming. I used to suffer from seasickness or get dizzy on winding roads. But these motion sickness patches actually work and have been a game-changer for me! Many areas like Bavaro and Punta Cana will have rough waters because of the incoming Atlantic current. If you’re doing any water activities, bring these along, just in case.
It is not safe to drink tap water in the Dominican Republic. Sure, you can buy bottled water there, but it’s a lot more convenient, cheaper, and less wasteful to carry around your own filtered water bottle to stay hydrated safely. Grayl is a survival brand known for high-quality filters. It will purify water to remove harmful pathogens, bacteria, viruses, chlorine, microplastics, sediment, and more. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s a small investment in your health when compared to gambling with E. Coli or Hepatitis A.
Being stinky after physical activity is a fact of life, but it’s a breeze to refresh with portable deodorant wipes. Whether it’s coming off of a plane after a day of travel or simply feeling a little grungy after exploring the coast – these wipes make it extremely simple to freshen up. They are also safe for sensitive skin and are individually packaged so that you can take just a few in your daybag without having to carry around the whole pack.
In a balmy tropical climate, it’s important to stay cool and dry whenever possible. Cute shorts like these make that easy! These are comfy and moisture-wicking, enabling any water that does get on them to evaporate quickly so you don’t stay soggy all day. I like to wear mine when I don’t feel like showing too much skin but I still want to tan my top and legs.
As the home of Caribbean rum, tobacco, and other enthralling vices – hangover relief supplements will feel like a gift sent from above! The Dominican is one of the world’s largest rum producers, so fair warning – Barceló shots may be passed out like candy. Even if you don’t drink much, you won’t regret having these natural hangover-prevention pills with you, especially if a morning headache kicks in or you’re feeling exhausted before a busy day of excursions. Take 1-2 before or after drinks, and thank us later.
Punta Cana is the most popular beach in the country, but there are SO many gems to check out like Cabarete, Puerto Plata, Santo Dominico, and Bayahibe. This beach bag is my favorite find because it’s got a detachable cooler for chilling snacks and drinks. With water-resistant material and 9+ pockets, you’ll be able to bring all travel towels, sunglasses, sunscreen, books, and sweet treats that your little heart desires.
The dress code around the Dominican is beach-casual, thus, a swimsuit cover-up is every-day-wear here! While you may need some dressier pieces for dinner, this wrap is ideal for days of lounging by the beach, tanning by the pool, shopping for lunch at the local market, or hotel hopping.
The lively nightlife is a major draw of the Dominican, so you’ll need a nicer dress for evenings out on the town. This one is perfect for dancing all night to bachata, disco, and merengue. With an off-the-shoulder fit, it’s sexy but still won’t offend any locals. I love that it hugs the curves and can be worn multiple ways (on the shoulder, off the shoulder, as a long dress, short dress, tunic, etc.)
Rum and cigars are obvious souvenirs, but you’ll want to bring back other authentic local goods like Taíno handicrafts, jewelry, Larimar (precious stones), Dominican coffee, sweets, Mamajuana (honey rum), and more.
This “just in case” bag is for those unexpected purchases you’ll make along the way. Pack it on the way there and it takes up virtually no space. On the way back, it counts as your personal item on the plane and fits under your seat. Don’t forget the wine wings to protect anything made of glass, like perfume or liquor.
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.
Packing for the Seasons in Dominican Republic
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 the 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.
FAQs about travel in the Dominican Republic
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. Also, talk to your doctor about whether you should consider taking malaria prophylaxis during your trip.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 the 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 best time to visit.
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.