Like most Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists each season, mostly from the U.S. and Europe. Before you head off to the beaches and sunshine, take note of a few important travel tips from Forbes Travel Guide editors:
1. Currency and documents. You’ll need your passport to enter the Dominican Republic, and upon entering the country; visitors will need to pay a $10 per person entry fee. The fee can be paid in U.S. dollars. The local currency here is the Dominican peso, but U.S. dollars and Euros are widely accepted throughout the island and at the resorts.
2. The airports. The two airports, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, host the international arrivals and require some skill to navigate. Both airports are small in size compared to most U.S. international airports, but that also means they’re quite crowded at any given time. Give yourself ample time, at least 2.5 hours, at the airport before your flight. Whether or not you check in online, you’ll need to wait in line at the airport for your passport check and baggage drop off. On heavy travel days, these lines can seemingly go on forever.
3. Transportation. Transportation is a game for locals at the airports, so be sure to arrange transportation with your hotel or resort prior to arrival. You’ll be approached upon arrival by local “cab” and transportation companies who will offer to take you to your hotel and resort, but their goal is fast money. While typically safe, these local drivers will pack in as many travelers as they can to garner a good amount of money. If you choose this route, you might be stuck in a van for over an hour or two as the driver drops off each passenger at their various hotels. Using the transportation service that contracts with your hotel means you’ll go straight from the airport to the hotel without stops.
4. The beaches. The beaches in the Dominican Republic are some of the most beautiful in the world, which is why they attract worldwide visitors each year. That said, beaches have varying cultures, and while your hotel or resort beach might be tame, a few steps down the sand and you could end up on a nude beach without warning. If you’re with kids, we suggest you stay at your hotel’s beach.
5. Duty-free. You’ll need to declare your duty-free purchases when you arrive back in the U.S., if you’ve spent more than $500 on goods in the Dominican Republic. Cigar lovers will want to know you’re entitled to bring up to 100 cigars (with proof of purchase) into the U.S. Any more than that, you’ll be required to pay duty-tax on them, regardless of whether or not you’ve hit the $500 mark.