Dominican Republic up close
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Dominican Republic?
Boat sailing to Isla Saona
Photo: Ryan Bowen
The Dominican Republic is mostly sunny and warm year-round, but what are the perks and pitfalls of each season?
The Dominican Republic is sometimes called the land of eternal summer. Just north of the equator, daily temperatures are comfortable and very constant all year round, averaging 80°F (27°C).
Dry Season - December To April
The weather during this season is characterized by warm temperatures (high 70s to low 80s), low humidity and sunshine for days.
Thousands of tourists visit the country during this time of the year and to enjoy the sunshine at the numerous resorts of Punta Cana, La Romana, Puerto Plata, Samaná or visiting the colonial zone of Santo Domingo.
The dry season offers the best conditions for water sports (surfing, snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, rafting and more). During the dry season, seas are calmer, beaches tend to be cleaner, and river currents aren’t as rough or changeable as during the wet season.
Scenic coastal road in Nagua
Photo: José Miguel Pérez
Dry Season Top Events And Key Dates
Street parties with live bands, especially at the Malecón area of Santo Domingo, see locals and visitors pouring out onto the streets of the capital to celebrate christmas and new year's festivities. December is the beginning of the high season for the almost six million tourists who flock to the Dominican Republic every year, meaning all the resorts are running in high gear, everything is open, tours are running and the tourist-friendly events calendar is packed.
From January 10 to 11, enjoy "Santo Domingo de fiesta" a dominican folk music show with dancers that takes place at the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo every year. Entrance to the event is free.
Food lovers can enjoy the foodie extravaganza that is “Chef's Night” held in Punta Cana each January, with a special menu designed by an international team of culinary stars.
January is also the beginning of the season for whale-watching in the Dominican Republic. Between January 15 - March 25, Samaná is the perfect place to watch the North Atlantic Humpback Whales who overwinter in the warm marine sanctuary before they begin their long migration to their summer grounds - as far away as Greenland and Iceland! On any given day during the Samaná whale-watching season, there are at least 300 whales in Samaná Bay. With all those whales, you’ll have ample chance to watch all sorts of behaviour on display - it’s more a matter of patience than luck.
February is Carnival month in the Dominican Republic. Think week-long parties, colorful costumes, and dancing from dawn to dusk - all celebrating the independence of this Caribbean country as well as life itself. Expect to see lots of live music and parades throughout the country, especially in Santo Domingo, La Vega, Santiago and Montecristi.
The Master of the Ocean surfing tournament is held the last week of February every year at Playa Encuentro, in Cabarete, Puerto Plata. The world's best surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers hit Playa Encuentro every February to compete.
On the shoulder of the Dominican Republic’s peak season, you might think March is a great time to see the sights minus the crowds. But if you’re planning a spontaneous trip, watch out for Holy Week! Every year in the week leading up to Easter, local Dominicans celebrate Holy Week, and many of us take this opportunity to enjoy domestic tourism right here in the DR. Holy Week is a great time to be here if you’re a fairly independent traveler, but with so many Dominicans traveling internally, reservations are vital. Be aware that most businesses close during Holy Week, which could affect where you can sleep, eat, drink, dance and shop.
April is a fantastic time to visit Parque Nacional Jaragua, where you’ll have the chance to see leatherback Turtles laying their eggs. Next, go visit Oviedo to watch the cactus flowers bloom in the desert.
Carnival in Santo Domingo
Photo: Ryan Bowen
Wet Season - May To November
The wet season brings the highest temperatures (an average of 80-86°F and higher), combined with high humidity. Although it rains more often during the wet season, most of the time it will be sunny and warm. These months are a good time to visit the country if you are looking for a cheaper vacation or if you're hoping to avoid the crowds you'll usually find at high season.
Top things to do during the wet season
Enjoy Santo Domingo Jazz festival every Thursday during May at the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo.
San Pedro de Macorís celebrates Cocolo culture and bands of Guloya dancers perform traditional dances on the streets of San Pedro.
The Santo Domingo Merengue Festival is dedicated to the Dominican Republic’s national dance, the merengue. For two weeks every summer (late July and early August) the world’s top merengue dancers dance to the world’s best merengue bands all over the gorgeous Caribbean capital city of Santo Domingo. This fortnight-long festival fills the capital with the rhythms of merengue, bachata, bolero, reggaeton, salsa and more. Most of the action happens on the Malecón, but visitors can attend related events across the city.
The International Blue Marlin fishing tournament is celebrated at Cabeza de Toro every year during the month of August. On August 16, the country celebrates Restoration Day (marking the DR’s independence from Spain) with many street parades, especially in Santo Domingo and Santiago.
The end of the coffee-harvesting season is celebrated at Sierra de Bahoruco with a parade dedicated to coffee!
It's the beginning of the professional season for baseball, Dominicans' favorite sport, with teams playing every week.
The country celebrates the national Jazz Festival with events concentrated around Puerto Plata, Punta Cana and Santiago.
Bayahibe beach, La Romana
Photo: José Miguel Pérez
Hurricane season in the Dominican Republic is from June to November 30th, but a hurricane rarely hits the country.
September and October are the peak months for hurricanes, so despite the relatively low risk, it’s a good idea to buy travel insurance if you plan to travel during this period.
When is the best time to visit the Dominican Republic?
The best time to visit the country will only depend on what you expect from your trip.
If you’re looking for a bargain and/or relish the thought of having a whole beachside resort to yourself, the wet season is a great time to take advantage of lower prices and the lack of crowds.
But if you’re looking to escape the chill and gloom of the northern hemisphere winter, the Dominican Republic’s dry season (December to April) promises sunshine everyday - around nine hours of it, in fact. With clear skies, calm seas and the perfect amount of humidity, this is the ideal time to lounge around on the beach. Have we mentioned that the Dominican Republic is home to some of the world’s favorite beaches?
At this time of the year you'll find resorts are busier, especially along the Silver Coast, Samana Peninsula and south-east. This means rooms book out sooner and prices are usually higher, but it also means you’ll have the best access to everything that the Dominican Republic has to offer - all the shops, restaurants, national parks and historic sites are open, all the tours are running, and in urban destinations the tourist-friendly events calendar is packed.
Written by Nora Perez.
Published Ocotber 2021.
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