The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited. Of course, I decided to visit this country during what was seemingly the worst and most controversial time: the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the curfews in place and increased restrictions, travel was still possible during this time. If you’re looking to meet a bunch of locals, don’t travel during COVID. But if you’re looking for opportunities to embrace the incredible nature and beach hop with less interaction with people, traveling during a pandemic might just work for you.
Why I Visited:
This was my first time traveling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic. I chose this country because it was one of the few countries open to US travelers. Travel isn’t impossible during a pandemic, it just looks very different. I waited for several months before booking my flight. I had to be flexible and have the expectation that my flight could be cancelled at the last minute if COVID cases would spike. Luckily they didn’t.
When I Visited:
Early February, 2021. This wasn’t a solo trip as I traveled (for the first time since 2012) with my father.
Top 3 Tips
1) Bonus points if you can ride a motorbike! Motorbikes give you way more freedom. You will have greater access to places that are off the beaten path. Lots of areas, especially in the north, are only accessible on small dirt roads. I already had some experience driving mopeds in Southeast Asia, but if you know how to drive a 250cc, that will definitely be helpful.
2) Learn some Spanish! Unlike countries in Southeast Asia (where I usually travel), the locals here assume you speak their language. I rarely met many locals who spoke English. Time to get your Duolingo streak on! You won’t regret it.
3) Go north. Some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life are in the northern part of the country. You can visit the beaches that were featured in Pirates of the Caribbean and Survivor! Crystal clear water and beautiful white sand beaches. 100% worth it.
National Language: Spanish
Currency: Dominican Peso; 1 USD = 57.94 DOP
ATM / Credit Cards: Cash is mostly used throughout the country. You can use credit cards in higher-end hotels and restaurants. But when you’re out in the local areas, stick with cash. Some areas also accept USD.
Getting Around: Transportation is fairly cheap and easy to find. We felt safe using Uber to / from the airport and around Santo Domingo / Boca Chica area. We took a local bus to go from Santo Domingo to Samana and Las Galeras. Then we rented a motorbike for the rest of the time.
Casa Misionera: I met with the founder of this organization while I was in Santo Domingo. This is a leadership program for select young adults in the Dominican Republic. They work with local pastors and educators to identify students who have the potential to become great Christian leaders in their community. There are opportunities to volunteer and support their work in the Dominican Republic.