The Best Time to Visit the Dominican Republic

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

 Getty / Leanna Rathkelly

The best time to visit the Dominican Republic is in April and May when the peak tourist season has ended and before the start of the hurricane season later in the year. The Dominican Republic is a reliably popular winter destination for travelers looking to escape the cold up north. As a result, prices are known to increase drastically during the coldest season of the year. We've considered crowds, costs, and the likelihood of sunny days when compiling the ultimate guide to visiting the Dominican Republic. Read on to determine when you should visit the Dominican Republic, and get ready to start planning your next trip.

Weather in the Dominican Republic

The weather in the Dominican Republic varies depending on whether you're staying on the coast or the interior, as the beach is generally quite warmer, and the climate in the ever-popular Punta Cana, for example, remains relatively consistent throughout the year. The weather in December and January is relatively dry, while February through April ushers in slightly warmer temperatures and, eventually, the first of the Dominican Republic's two wet seasons, which occur from May to June, and then again from August to November. September is also the month of heightened hurricane activity, so cautious visitors should purchase travelers insurance.

Peak Tourist Season in the Dominican Republic

Though the busy season technically begins in the Dominican Republic in December, it is not until mid-month that prices will start to skyrocket, so wise travelers should plan for an early vacation during the last month of the year. As more travelers are venturing down to this Caribbean oasis for their holidays, the peak tourist season extends from mid-December through to April. Would-be visitors looking to travel to the Dominican Republic during this period should plan their hotel bookings and airfare.

Key Holidays & in Festivals in the Dominican Republic 

Whether the festival's cause is religious, musical, or historical, there is no shortage of holidays and celebrations in the Dominican Republic. From Patron Saint Celebrations to Public Holidays, the calendar year is filled with diverting excuses for visitors and locals alike to get together and (salsa) dance. There are two Independence Days celebrated in the Dominican Republic—the first celebrates independence from Haiti in February, and the second, from Spain, in August.

January

January is a popular time for visitors to travel to the Dominican Republic, as the tropics are always an appealing option for the holidays when visitors find themselves choosing between the polar vortex up north or the Caribbean beaches to the south (and preferring the latter). The temperature can drop on January evenings, however, to a chilly 72 F (22 C), so visitors to the Dominican Republic should pack some light layers as well.

Events to check out:

  • On January 21st, the Día de la Altagracia is held in tribute to the patron saint. The Virgin de Altagracia is commemorated with annual pilgrimages to her 15th-century painting, hanging in a basilica in Higüey. For the less devout, fear not: There is always partying that follows the praying.
  • Another important holiday is Juan Pablo Duarte Day when people march the streets in honor of the legendary activist’s birthday. The holiday is always held the Monday closest to his birthday of Jan. 26.

February

Though still in peak tourist season, there are many reasons why visitors may want to consider traveling to the Dominican Republic in February. Aside from the dry weather, there's the enticing parties and festivities occurring throughout the month, from Carnival to the Independence Day Parade.

Events to check out:

  • The final day of Dominican Carnival, Feb. 27, also commemorates the date when the Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti, which means that the festivities and celebrations are twice as impressive. The Independence Day Parade marks the final close of Carnival, ending the season on a high.

March

The average high from March through April is 82 F (28 C) with an average low averaging around 73 F(23 C) during this time period as well. This is a very beautiful month to visit for the weather, as the temperatures are rising and the rainfall, luckily for would-be sunbathers, is not.

Events to check out:

  • Two critical battles from the Dominican Republic's war for independence are commemorated with public holidays in March. The Batalla del 19 de Marzo (the Battle of March 19th) recognizes a crucial day of fighting in 1844 Azua, while the Batalla del 30 de Marzo (also known as the Batalla de Santiago) recognizes another battle fought later that very month.

April

April represents the last month of the busy season for tourists. The late winter/early spring temperatures (relatively consistent since February), are warmer than prior months, while the wet season has yet to arrive. Though, it will, towards the end of the month, when you can expect to see more rainfall.

Events to check out:

  • Easter celebrations (including Good Friday and Palm Sunday) in the Dominican Republic is a serious matter, and the festivities that occur during Christian Holy Week are known to combine church-going with parties, and, occasionally, voodoo (if you’re of Haitian descent). 

May

Though May brings in slightly more rainfall (and is the arrival of the second wet season in popular regions such as Punta Cana), this month boasts an irresistible combination of sunny days and lower prices and is an often-overlooked month for would-be visitors. (Read: You won't be tasked with navigating too many crowds.)

Events to check out:

  • The Espiritu Santo Festival celebrates African sounds and music in rural areas throughout the country. If you’re visiting during that period, you should attend a celebration, not only for the lively and joyous ambiance but also for the spectacular conga drumming. The most vibrant celebration of all occurs in Villa Mella, located just outside of Santa Domingo.

June

Though June is technically the beginning of both the wet season and the hurricane season, the chances of either heavy rainfall or tropical storms are not significant this early in the season. Travelers should pack breathable clothing, however, to combat the heat.

Events to check out:

  • The Puerto Plaza Cultural Festival takes place on the third week of June, and displays an array of dancing, from African tribal to salsa to merengue.
  • For those who would rather eat than dance, the Food & Wine Festival also occurs in June, in the luxurious environs of Punta Cana.

July

The likelihood of tropical storms increases in July, though that risk remains low at this period in the year, making the month a very appealing time for travelers to visit. Another draw, aside from the lowered price-points? The Merengue Festival, which transforms the city of Santo Domingo into a week-long party in the streets.

Events to check out:

  • The Merengue Festival is a week of live music and dancing (as well as delicious food) along the boulevard of El Malecon in Santo Domingo in late July, transforming the Dominican capital into an even more vibrant destination for visitors.

August

August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 83 F, and it is also the wettest month, at 4.57 average inches of rainfall. So, visitors should be prepared both sartorially and mentally when traveling to the Dominican Republic in August. Bring light, breathable clothing, and maybe don't plan on running that half-marathon in the heat.

Events to check out:

  • On Aug. 16, the Dominican Republic celebrates Restoration Day, marching the streets in celebration of regaining their independence from Spain (for the second time) in 1863.

September

The peak of hurricane season, September is an unwise month to travel for overly-cautious visitors or travelers who want to spend maximal hours in the sun. The regular rainfall will interrupt your planned picnic, so we recommend that visitors in September purchase traveler's insurance as a cautionary measure, and to plan indoor events and activities to attend in case the beach day is rained out.

Events to check out:

  • The Dia de las Mercedes is an annual procession on Sept. 24 in honor of Our Lady of Mercy, the Virgin who helped assist Christopher Columbus in battle.

October

Things begin to cool down in the month of October, with an average high of 84 F (29 C) that will remain in November. As the humidity subsides, travelers are recommended to pack layers for evening.

Events to check out:

  • The Puerto Plata Festival occurs every October on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, with Fuerte San Felipe serving as the go-to destination for the musical festivities. Expect lively dancing, enthusiastic parades, and vivid costumes. 

November

November marks the conclusion to the second wet season, and travelers will find that the island's signature sun will begin to shine more regularly once again. Given the fact that this is still the off-season, visitors would be wise to consider booking their travel for November, when the temperatures rise, but the price remains low.

Events to check out:

  • The Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) is a public holiday every year. Though it falls on the 6th, the date is often adjusted to accommodate a long weekend for would-be vacationers.

December

The tourist season begins in the Dominican Republic mid-month during December, so visitors looking to capitalize on cheaper deals should book trips towards the beginning of the month.

Events to check out:

  • Head to Ave George Washington Avenue on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the upcoming year, and celebrate as fireworks are set off over the coastline at midnight.
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