Vacation Rentals in the Dominican Republic
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Overview of the Dominican Republic
||48,730 sq km (18,815 sq mi)
||Spanish is the official language. Some English and French are spoken.
||4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
||110 V, 60 Hz. American-style two-pin plugs are in use.
||Lightweight or tropical all year round. Light raincoats are useful during the wet season.
||95% Roman Catholic, small Protestant and Jewish minorities.
||Dominican Republic Peso (DOP)
Location of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a country located on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of
Hispaniola, bordering Haiti. Hispaniola is the second-largest of the Greater Antilles islands,
and lies west of Puerto Rico and east of Cuba and Jamaica. The Dominican Republic is truly an
island of contrasts where rocky cliffs and mountain ranges tower to the highest peak, and valleys
fall to the lowest-lying point in the Caribbean. It is a land that spreads from rain forests and
fertile valleys to cacti-strewn desert regions. Its 1,600 km of coastline include 300 km of prime,
soft sand beaches.
Climate in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic enjoys a year-round tropical maritime climate. Temperatures average 23°C in
the early mornings to 32°C at noon time year round. Temperatures rarely falling below 16°C (60°F)
nor rising above 32°C (90°F). The average temperature in Santo Domingo in January is 24°C, and
27°C in July. The average rainfall is 1346 mm, with extremes of 2500 mm in the North-east and
500 mm in the West. May through November are regarded as the rainy season. Although the hurricane
season goes from June through November, August-September are the peak of the season.
Best Time to Travel to the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has a primarily tropical climate, with more local variations in temperature
than seasonal ones. August is muggy and hot, January a bit less so. There are two rainy seasons,
October to May along the northern coast and May to October in the south; bring an umbrella if you
plan to travel the entire country. Dominican rain isn't your garden-variety 'just-enough-to-cool-things-off'
precipitation native to Hawaii or Central America - this stuff drenches waterfall-style and could
easily last half a day. The June-to-September hurricane season might be worth missing; though
the chances of one blowing through are miniscule, remember that one little hurricane can wreck
your whole holiday.
Attractions in the Dominican Republic
The white-sand beaches, impressive mountain ranges veined with spectacular rivers and waterfalls,
and saltwater lakes teeming with exotic wildlife are just part of the Dominican Republic's appeal.
Whether you're looking to party, relax or explore, the Dominican Republic has a lot to offer.
Cabarete - this is the serious vacationer's destination. It's got an enormous, beautiful
bay, considered one of the best in the world for windsurfing and the newer sport of kiteboarding.
The lovely, white-sand beaches are postcard perfect and proud of it. If you need a bathful of luxury,
Cabarete is your town. Don't overlook the bars and discos either, where live music is served fresh
nightly to hundreds of well-dressed party people. Even if the thought of scantily clad European
20-somethings enjoying sand and surf isn't your cup of tea, you'll have to admit that the ocean
view is spectacular. Santo Domingo - it's the capital of the Dominican Republic and the
oldest remaining European city in the 'New World'. It's also a vibrant, exciting, polluted,
sometimes dangerous and always interesting Caribbean city with more to do and see than you might
think. Sights to take in include the Zona Colonial, the ground zero of the Spanish conquest of
the Americas, the arrival point for settlers and conquistadors, and an administrative centre once
helmed by Christopher Columbus' son, Diego. La Casa de Juan Ponce de Leon - conquistador
Juan Ponce de León had a residence built in the countryside near San Rafael del Yuma and used
it on occasion during the time he governed Higüey for the Spanish Crown. Nearly 500 years later,
his two-storey stone residence still stands, now as a museum to a man who led a momentous life.
Parque Nacional Del Este - the park is home to 112 known species of bird, eight of which
are endemic to the island, and a rather unimpressive variety of mammals. However, if you come
across a critter that looks like a sick rat - pale and bony with a long snout and tiny eyes -
consider yourself fortunate: you've spotted a Hispaniolan solenodon, which is both endemic to
the Dominican Republic and quite rare. Also endangered are the West Indian manatees and the
bottlenose dolphins that ply the strait between Isla Saona and the peninsula. The Parque Nacional
del Este (National Park of the East) comprises 310 sq km (120 sq mi) of dry forest, subtropical
humid forest and a transitional forest type that falls between the two. It also includes 110
sq km (42 sq mi) of island territory covered mostly with palms and outlined in white, sandy beach.
The park has many caves, some of which contain pre-Columbian pictographs (drawings) and petrographs
(rock carvings). They are none too spectacular, either in their complexity or number. Park rangers
can lead you to them. Steel your feet for the carpet of bat guano you'll encounter in the caves;
leave the sandals back at the kayak. Sosua - still in the early stages of development,
yet impossibly rich in wide sandy shores and coconut trees, Sosua is more than just another perfect
Carnivals, fiestas and festivals are held frequently all year round, both in larger cities as
well as among the rural communities. As in many Latin American countries, Carnival is a
traditional event. Merengue is the national music and the Merengue Festival draws
large numbers of nationals as well as international musicians and spectators. One Carnival
isn't enough for fun-loving Santo Domingo. Nope, the pre-Lent celebration, which is echoed
throughout the country, always begins two or 3 days before February 27 Independence Day
and ends a few days later. It's a monster party combining Catholic decompression with African
spirituality, not to mention great costumes, spectacular floats and all the rum you can drink.
The second Carnival begins August 15, to coincide with Restoration Day (when the
Dominican Republic declared war on Spain); August festivities may be marginally more sedate,
but they're still the perfect place to wear that sequined-and-feathered number. Don't miss
the three-day Latin Music Festival. Other can't-miss festivities worth crossing the
Caribbean for include Puerto Plata's week-long Cultural Festival in June, with jazz,
blues, merengue and folk concerts throughout town; Cabarete Alegría, in which the country
dedicates the entire month of February to fun, with weekend events like mountain-bike races,
kite-flying competitions and sand-castle building contests; and the Encuentro Classic, an
internationally known windsurfing spectacular that pits the sport's stars against the hurricane season.
Society in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a Hispanic country, therefore, as with all Hispanic countries in
the Americas, its culture is derived predominantly from Spain, though heavily blended with
African traditions, and to a much smaller degree with indigenous Amerindian cultural elements.
The Spanish herritage of the culture is most evident in the national language and predominant
religion - Catholicism. African cultural elements are most prominent in musical expressions
and the carnival vibe of life, testimony to the rich African heritage that existed before
and after slavery, but was not allowed to be practiced during it. More recent Antilliean and
Anglo-American influences also exist. Baseball is the top national sport in the Dominican Republic.
Food in the Dominican Republic
The cuisine of the Dominican Republic is predominantly made up of a combination of Taino,
Spanish and African influences. Typical cuisine is quite similar to what can be found in
other Latin American countries but many of the names of dishes are different. Breakfast usually
consists of eggs and mangú (a boiled cassava or some other root vegetable). For heartier
versions, these are accompanied by deep-fried meat and/or cheese. Similar to Spain, lunch is
generally the largest and most important meal of the day. Lunch usually consists of some type
of meat (chicken, pork or fish), rice and beans, and a side portion of salad. La Bandera,
the most popular lunch dish, consists of broiled chicken, white rice and red beans. Typical
Dominican cuisine usually accommodates all four food groups, incorporating meat or seafood; rice,
potatoes or plantains; and is accompanied by some other type of vegetable or salad. Many dishes are
made with sofrito, which is a mix of local herbs and spices sautéed to bring out all of
the dish's flavors. You can discover chicharones, pork rind marinated in the juice of
bitter oranges and cooked in its own fat. Stop in at a pica pollo and try fried chicken
prepared the local way, served with plantain. Paradas, or road-side restaurants, found
along all major routes will provide you with a good local meal that you can eat on site, often
in loud and colourful surroundings. Order modongo (tripe stew flavoured with lime zest),
or sample fish accompanied by various garlic or lemon-based sauces or prepared criolla
style (with pepper and tomatoes), a dish always served with rice. Try the local specialties:
samana fish con coco (with coconut cream), chivo de Azua (a goat dish from the
Azua region), or chivo liniero (another goat dish, this one from the northwest part
of the country). Locrio or Dominican Rice - this is the dish that you could say links
the Dominican Republic to its mother country. Let's step back in history for a moment… in 1492,
Christopher Columbus, thinking he had arrived in the Indies, landed on the island and named
it Isla Española, which later became Hispaniola. During the period of the conquest, Spanish
women who relocated here wanted to recreate the famous paella of their homeland but were
forced to adapt the recipe to local ingredients. Their revamping of paella became the basis
for locrio. Since there is no saffron here, the rice is coloured with achiote or annatto.
This is the most versatile dish in Dominican cuisine, since countless variations are possible,
beginning with just a little rice and whatever else is on hand. Casabe, a round flat
cassava bread, and catibias, cassava flour fritters filled with meat, are the only
culinary legacy of the Taino Indians (the "friend people," in their language) who lived on
the island from at least the 8th century. This peaceful tribe, who had advanced agricultural
skills, cultivated cassava, sweet potato, beans, squash, peanuts and pineapple.
Desserts here are very sweet, made with sugar and condensed milk in various flavours (coconut,
papaya, banana, pineapple, soursop, ginger), prepared as flans, puddings, creams… Tropical
fruits are abundant and are used in desserts throughout the year, but many different
varieties are found depending on the altitude (for example, cherries, plums and strawberries
grow in the central regions).
Visa for the Dominican Republic
All visitors require a valid passport; citizens of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina,
Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Curacao, Czech Republic, France, Germany,
Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland,
Russia, Surinam, Switzerland, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela and Yugoslavia are eligible for a 90-day
tourist card. Check with the Dominican consulate for the latest visa requirements.