Updated on March 4, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
I’ve 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 the rainy and dry seasons, and important FAQs covering things you should know before you go.
What to Pack for Dominican – 17 Essentials
1. Neck Wallet
You’ll likely want to keep things like your cash, credit cards, passport, and smartphone on you when you’re out and about in the Dominican Republic. A handy neck wallet like this one will allow you to keep your valuables safe and concealed under your clothing. This way you can access whatever you need without flashing your valuables to potential thieves!
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. They 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, they make packing much easier, and they allow you to access your belongings without having to dig through your entire bag to find them. We’ve used this brand for years and can safely say they’re completely worth it.
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 so that 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 so it can charge while I am out exploring.
This windproof travel umbrella is sturdy and will do a great job of keeping you protected from tropical rains. It’s also very compact when folded up, and comes with a nifty case to store it in! I never forget to bring my umbrella while I’m traveling – I carry it with me wherever I go in case of surprise storms.
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.
A VPN has multiple uses, but the most common reason people use them is to add an extra layer of encryption to their information while they are browsing on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. We learned the hard way exactly how crucial a VPN really is: when my family and I were traveling in Paris, we had our financial information stolen when we logged onto unsecured Wi-Fi at an Airbnb. Now we always use our VPN, both for foreign and domestic internet connections! A VPN will also give you access to websites from home that may be censored or blocked in the host country and can be used to get around paywalls on popular news sites that restrict monthly article views.
Being stinky after physical activity is a fact of life, but it’s easy 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 Dominican Republic, these wipes make it extremely easy to freshen up. They are also safe for sensitive skin, and are individually packaged so that you can take just a few in your day bag without having to carry around the whole pack.
We own both this camera and a GoPro, and the only difference we can see is the price! This camera is much more affordable and performs just as well, so you’ll never miss photos and videos of the action – even in the water!
It is not safe to drink tap water in the Dominican Republic. Sure, you can buy bottled water there, but it’s a lot easier, cheaper, and less wasteful to carry around your own filtered water bottle so you can stay hydrated safely. LifeStraw is well known for high-quality filters, and makes it affordable and sanitary to keep water with you at all times.
These are a life saver. 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. I find they stop the bacteria in its tracks and instead of spending several days over the toilet you might feel a little funky for a few hours. Save your vacation by bringing these along.
Don’t forget that the Dominican Republic is still a developing country, and things don’t always go as planned even in the easiest of destinations. Consider a dose of patience and a sense of humor, and definitely bring travel insurance. You don’t want to end up with things stolen out of your room, or an unplanned trip to the ER without a back up plan. Even things like emergency cancellations may be covered depending on the plan! We prefer World Nomads – they’ve kept us protected for years and years.
13. Quick Dry Shorts
In a climate like this, it’s important to stay cool and dry whenever possible. Cute shorts like these make that easy! These are comfy and moisture wicking, and will allow 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 still want to tan my top and my legs.
Instead of carrying around bulky towels to lay out on the beach, I recommend traveling with this super compact beach blanket and a quick dry towel. It makes it much easier to go from your hotel to the beach and then to the shops or walking around without carrying bulky wet towels with you. I love this particular beach blanket because it’s sand resistant, compact, and super comfy.
It’s a good idea to bring a swimsuit cover-up with you, but not just because it’s a highly fashionable way to lounge at the beach. It can also allow you to slip something on without having to completely dry off and get re-dressed just to go get snacks or a drink, and is a cute outfit to wear if you are just lounging around poolside!
Turquoise shoes? Yes! These are amazing, comfy, and great for hikes into beaches, waterfalls, etc. They’ll keep your feet protected from rocks and dangerous terrain, and they dry quickly. Even when wet, these water shoes won’t give you blisters. We love them!
I absolutely love my rash guard. It’s extremely flattering and very comfortable, and comes in all sorts of fun colors. I wear mine for water sports and days at the beach, but I also have found that it’s incredibly handy for hot climates to keep the sun off of you even when you’re hiking and doing non-water activities.
Other Dominican Republic packing list items to consider bringing
Waterproof phone case
Board shorts: Women’s and Men’s
Light jacket: Women’s and Men’s
Rain jacket: Women’s and Men’s
Sturdy sandals: Women’s and Men’s
Sun hat: Women’s and Men’s
Sunglasses: Women’s and Men’s
Vitamins: Women’s and Men’s
Steripod toothbrush cover
Reusable cloth bag
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
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.
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) 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.