Dominican Republic Travel Guide, Gap Year Volunteering and Tours
Plan a break to the spectacular Dominican Republic (DR), where there is a warm tropical climate, spectacular beaches and lots of activities and things to do all year round. There is something for everyone in the Dominican Republic - couples, honeymooners, families, golfers, groups and travellers seeking a relaxing vacation.
Dominican Republic Travel Ideas, Gap Year Programs & Experiences
Get inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic Travel Guide
Get essential travel information, ideas and inspiration for visiting the Dominican Republic.
- Capital: Santo Domingo
- Population: 9.4 million
- Currency: Peso
Top Reasons to Visit the Dominican Republic
- Have you seen any pictures?
- Warm climate
- Vibrant Caribbean atmosphere
- Incredible beaches with white sandy beaches and palm trees
- Great value for money
- Amazing resorts
- Go off the beaten track to see nature, wildlife and beautiful waterfalls
- Reasonable priced accommodation and packages available
Enjoy local activities like snorkelling, sailing and kayaking
Weather & Best Time to Go
You can book a trip to the Dominican Republic all year round due to the warm climate. In July and August which are consider peak high season temperatures can reach 80 degrees so beaware of this. Hurricane season lasts from June to November but the Dominican Republic is rarely affected by this.
Travel in Dominican Republic
There are so many different experiences in the Dominican Republic, you could go in search on the best beach, see breathtaking architecture in Santo Domingo or visit the highest peak in the Caribbean. If you have a passion for wildlife you could go whale watching in Península de Samaná and enjoy dancing in La Vega. There are lots of land and water sports available to book like horseback riding, white water rafting, learning to surf, going canyoning and rappeling, cliff-jumping, visiting remote waterfalls, exploring caves or trying one of the local passions - salsa dancing.
Best Places to Visit in Dominican Republic
Here are some of the most popular places and attractions to add to your Dominican Republic itinerary:
- Punta Cana
- Eastern National Park
- Bahia de Las Aguilas & Jaragua National Park
- La Romana
- Playa Dorada
- Lago Enriquillo (Lake Enriquillo)
- Samana Peninsula and Bay
- Basilica of Our Lady
- Santo Domingo
Best Resorts in Dominican Republic
Here are some of the top rated resorts located throughout the country:
- Tortuga Bay Hotel at Puntacana Resort & Club
- Paradius Palma Real Resort
- Secrets Royal Beach, Punta Cana
- Casa de Campo, La Romana
- Sublime Samana, Las Terrenas
Dominican Republic Travel Tips
- General Advice: July and August are generally the most expensive times to visit due to the summer holidays in the UK and USA which make visitor numbers during this period very high. Accommodation can be booked up and very expensive during this period so avoid if you would like to not break the bank.
- Flights: You can get discounted and great deals on flights to the DR throughout the year, you just need to keep an eye out on deals.
- Health & Safety: You might need to visit your local healthcare facility to check vaccinations, you might want to consider getting jabs for hepatitis A/B, typhoid and rabies. The Dominican Republic is a very safe destination for travelers and crimes against tourists are very low but you should always keep your wits about you e.g. walking in a group and letting people know where you are going
View our travel guide to Central America.
Guide to Volunteering in Dominican Republic
If you would like to do more than sunbathing we have some rewarding rewarding community and conservation programs where you can help local people and animals. Most placements are organised in groups and you can apply all year round. Organisations like Habitat for Humanity have been operating here for a number of years and have been doing amazing work helping communities. You will get to really understand local people and the vibrant culture which makes this destination special. Due to the location of this destination, most volunteers arrive from the USA and Canada on cultural exchanges although applications are open to all nationalities.
Why the Need for Assistance
There is real poverty and also to make matters worse in 1998, Hurricane George struck the Dominican Republic which damaged infrastructure further and left a housing crisis for thousands of local people. In the Dominican Republic there is a poverty level of around 42% but local people are very open and friendly, especially if you converse with them in Spanish. Lots of local people in this country live away from the tourist resorts and don't have very much in regards to belongings and money. You will be able to improve the lives for people and children, especially in the more remote areas of the country where unemployment is high and education is of poor quality.
Location of Projects
Most programs have a focus on building and construction, medical and healthcare, working with communities and helping at schools. There are several places where projects happen including the capital - Santo Domingo (this is the biggest city in the country), Santiago de los Caballeros which is a city located in the North of the country and also there are outreach programs where you might be based in more rural areas like La Romana. You might also like to search more volunteer programs in the Caribbean.
How You Can Help
- Animal Care & Wildlife
- Arts & Music
- Childcare & Orphanage Work
- Community Development, Elderly Care & Special Needs
- Conservation & Environment
- Construction and Renovation
- Education & Volunteer Teaching
- Medical & Health
- NGO Support
- Women's Empowerment
Building & Construction Volunteer Programs in Dominican Republic
Over 50% of housing in the Dominican Republic is rated as poor and this is where a lot of organisations are helping by putting people on the ground. Hundreds of people take part in group building projects with the aim of improving communities, you could be part of a team constructing schools, community centres, houses and public recreation centres. There are lots of places in the DR which are not developed to Western standards and you might be shocked by some of the basic living conditions some local people live in. There are also skilled placements for professionals where you can help with sustainability community development where you might be implementing solar energy and water filtration systems.
Summer Volunteer Programs in Dominican Republic
There are several non-profit organizations who offer summer educational programs for local children - this allows local youngsters to attend for free and learn in a fun environment. This is a chance for children to improve academically, or practise their English skills or give direct help to students with learning difficulties. Organisations like The Esperanza Project are very active in the Dominican Republic working to help school children aged between 4 and 15. They recruit international volunteers from September to July and you can stay for a year, or a 3 month period. To be eligible you will need to be aged 18+ and be patient, responsible, enthusiastic, hard-working, and also enjoy working with children and youth. This is a fantastic way to integrate into the local cultue, gain experience and do something rewarding.
Most organisations will require you to be aged 18+ but there are special service groups for both families and school groups.
How to Apply
Some organiations charge a sign up fee to volunteer in the Dominican Republic, on these placements you usually get
- Airport pick-up and transfer to project
- All food and accommodation
- Training materials and science equipment
- Pre-departure support and services
- Comprehensive training necessary for research techniques
- 24-hour in-country support and a 24-hour emergency phone line
Volunteer in Dominican Republic for Free
There are also free and low cost volunteer programs with local NGO's - you can contact these by searching our featured organisations. After spending time working as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic you will find it a struggle to leave, there will be lasting impressions kept with you forever. There will be lots of free time to explore the island too, there are huge mountains, caves, relaxing beach spots and lots of activities on offer.
Dominican Republic Volunteer Reviews
"I volunteered in La Romana in the Dominican Republic with Gap Medics which was filled with excitement & encouragement in the direction of a future medical profession. I made incredible friends & will never forget the good times had. Push yourself out of your comfort zone & go for it. You will not regret it." - Faith, UK
"My time in Dominican Republic was amazing and more than I ever could have expected. I would recommend to everyone as it truly was a once in a lifetime experience." - Emma, UK
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