The Scoop on the Dominican Republic
One reason that the Dominican Republic is so popular among tourists, particularly during the winter holiday season, is because this region has the largest number of all-inclusive resorts in the world. They are often the most economical as well. For one package price, vacationers receive round-trip airfare, resort accommodations, meals, and plenty of activities. No matter what your travel budget, chances are you'll discover a vacation package your family can afford. This is one of the most economical places in the Caribbean to visit, although if you have a large budget, it's easy to find luxurious accommodations. This is also a relatively noncommercial place to vacation. Unlike other Caribbean islands, you won't find too many franchise stores or popular fast-food chains in the Dominican Republic. Plus, if you're staying at an all-inclusive, full-service resort, most of your time will be spent on the resort's property.
Encompassing about 30,000 square miles, the landmass that makes up the Dominican Republic is comprised of lowlands, rainforest, swamps, desert, and mountains. Combine these landscapes with beautiful coastal surroundings, and virtually any type of warm weather, outdoor activity, or sport can be experienced here.
In the summer, the average temperature remains in the low 80s, while in the winter, the temperature will dip to the mid 70s. Thanks to the year-round warmth of the water temperature, not only is the climate ideal for water sports like scuba diving, swimming, and snorkeling, but it appeals to aquatic wildlife as well. Every year, tourists can witness over 3,000 humpback whales travel to the coast of Bahia de Samana, where they mate, give birth, and play.
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish, yet most of the locals speak fluent English as well. The official currency is the Dominican peso. The exchange rate fluctuates daily but averages about 16 to 17 pesos to one U.S. dollar. Currency can be exchanged at banks, at many hotels/resorts, and at currency exchange services located throughout the Dominican Republic. Throughout the island, you'll find standard, 110-volt electricity (the same as used in the United States).
Refrain from drinking the tap water in the Dominican Republic. You're much better off drinking only bottled water or tap water that has been boiled. Almost all of the resorts have purified water coming through their taps. The time to exercise caution is when you're exploring the island and dining at independent restaurants.
The Dominican Republic is about the size of Scotland, although it occupies only about half of the island of Hispaniola. If you're looking for an all-inclusive resort vacation, chances are you'll find it in either Bavaro or Punta Cana. Puerto Plata is also an extremely popular tourist destination, while Santo Domingo has appeal from a historical perspective.
Santo Domingo is one of the largest cities in the Dominican Republic. You'll find Aeropuerto Internacional Las Americas, the largest international airport in the country, in Santo Domingo. This area of the country is far less tropical in terms of being a vacation getaway, but it does offer many historical landmarks and tourist attractions, plus more traditional, high-rise hotels.
If you're looking for beaches and beauty, the Samana Peninsula and the Silver Coast are the places to visit. In the Silver Coast region, you'll find Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada, the unofficial tourism capitals of the country.
While many Caribbean islands generate much of their tourism traffic from American visitors, the Dominican Republic is different. The majority of tourists visiting this country come from Europe and other parts of the world.