The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular Caribbean countries for Americans to visit. Most notable for its wide variety of resorts and all-inclusives, it boasts beautiful Caribbean beaches, warm water and lively culture.
This year is certain to be a popular year for the country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. In fact, last September’s arrivals into the country broke pre-pandemic records, wiping out 2018 and 2019’s number of arrivals with over 365 travelers entering the country in the single month.
Safety, Entry Requirements and COVID-19
The country’s popularity isn’t just because of its beautiful beaches and warm weather; it’s also one of the easiest countries to enter during the pandemic, with very few entry requirements.
It was one of the first countries to reopen during 2020 and currently doesn’t require proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter, making it a popular choice amongst travelers who don’t want to worry about entry requirements, or who won’t meet the most required-entry requirement, which is being fully vaccinated.
While those who do present symptoms upon arrival will be tested and quarantined if they test positive, only up to fifteen percent of all travelers to the Dominican Republic will be tested randomly upon arrival according to the U.S. State Department. All travelers will still be required to fill out an electronic health declaration form 72 hours prior to entering the country, though.
The State Department currently designates the Dominican Republic as a Level 3 risk country, advising travelers to reconsider traveling there due to COVID-19 and the risk of widespread crime. Travelers who are fully vaccinated can, of course, travel easier knowing they’re better protected, though the risk of crime is always prevalent.
The advisory also makes note that resort properties are generally safer and more secure than other destinations. If you’ll be traveling to the Dominican Republic, our tip is to stay on-property at a reputable resort, and book excursions through the resort’s concierge service. Many resorts also have free COVID-19 testing programs in place to satisfy the testing requirements to reenter the United States.
Iberostar, for instance, features seven resorts in the Dominican Republic and offers its ‘Travel at Ease’ protection plan for free for resort stays booked now through the end of March. It includes free PCR tests for getting back to the U.S., free additional tests to anyone who shows symptoms, as well as up to fourteen free days in an isolation room should a member of the travel party test positive for COVID-19. Such plans can provide peace of mind for families or travel parties.
The Dominican Republic is always growing and expanding its tourism efforts; later this year, Melia Hotel International will open a theme park in Punta Cana called Katmandu Park, complete with roller coasters and other family-friendly attractions.
The country’s Puerto Plata province is also growing its cruise tourism. It recently opened a new cruise ship port that will help travelers aboard cruise lines like MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages and many more to experience the country in a cruise setting instead of as a resort destination. It welcomed 10,000 cruise ship travelers soon after the new port opened, breaking records for the country.
Last year, two new properties opened in the Dominican Republic; the Margaritaville Island Reserve Cap Cana opened in November of 2021, offering private villas with swim-up access or private pools with an energizing Caribbean flair. The Azul Beach Resort Cap Cana opened in the same month and shares amenities with the other new resort.
While the Dominican Republic is most notable as being a resort paradise, it’s also home to plenty of wonderful attractions that travelers should take the time to discover in between other leisure activities.
The Dominican Republic has 29 national parks, including the only cloud forest in the Caribbean and a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve. The Jaragua National Park is part of the biosphere reserve and is home to over a hundred species of birds, hundreds of plant species and several endemic species of both. Travelers can discover turtles, iguanas, birds and even manatees throughout the diverse landscape.
The Sierra de Bahoruco National Park is another part of the biosphere reserve and is the only cloud forest in the Caribbean. Travelers here can enjoy exploring a historic coffee plantation and hiking along trails in search of endemic species of birds. Also located in the Dominican Republic are some beautiful botanical gardens, the greatest flower of which is the Dominican rose.
The island is also home to some infamous history; it’s the island Christopher Columbus first landed upon when he made his way west looking for a new route to Asia. Instead, he found Hispaniola. Today, the remnants of his legacy live on at historic sites around the country, including the Alcazar de Colon, the house of Spaniard explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and the Catedral Primada de América, the first Christian church in the Americas, built in the mid-1500s.
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