The Dominican Republic is a small country that borders Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. Its gorgeous waters, soft-sand beaches, popular golf courses, and rugged terrain draw beach bums and adventure-seekers alike. Year-round temperatures stay warm, with average lows hitting the mid-70s and highs reaching around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While you can wear your swimsuit during any month, the rainy hurricane season might prevent you from hitting the beach every day. Those willing to take a chance on the rainy off-season will be rewarded with lower rates, less crowds, and good river conditions, though you’ll miss out on the D.R.’s best snorkeling, diving, whale watching, and other perks that come with visiting in the peak season.
Keep in mind that this is a destination where most travelers tend to stick to their all-inclusive resorts. If you want to make sure your visit has a positive impact on the locals and their economy, plan an excursion beyond the resort areas, use local vendors when appropriate, and tip your resort staff. No matter when you decide to go, you’ll be met with beautiful surroundings and a welcoming vibe, but just in case you’ve got your eye on a specific experience, we’ve broken down what you can expect in each month.
December, January, and February in the Dominican Republic
The drop in temps up north mean many folks flock to the Dominican Republic over winter months, making December through February one of the busiest times for the country. Wintertime travelers will catch balmy temps that hover in the high 70s to mid-80s, while also avoiding hurricane season, which ends on November 30. December is also the start of whale-watching season, and every year, over 2,000 humpback whales are drawn to the warm waters at the Samana Peninsula. Samana Bay’s Sanctuary of the Humpback Whales is a top spot for catching a glimpse of breaching adults and newborns swimming against their mothers. The winter months also draw divers and snorkelers looking to combine warm weather and high odds for spotting whales. February is also a popular pick thanks to the first of two annual Carnival celebrations. The busiest times to visit are around Christmas and New Year’s, when the resorts are at full capacity and premium-priced rooms get snatched up months in advance.
March in the Dominican Republic
March marks your last chance for whale watching, and the beginning of the seasonal lobster ban (which means no delicious Caribbean lobster on menus for a few months). You’ll find fewer crowds than over the winter months, noticeably less children, and slightly lower hotel rates. Lower occupancy levels also mean you don’t have to plan months in advance, like in the winter. The weather in March is comfortable, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the upper 60s. Since March is a relatively dry month in the D.R., it’s a great time to go hiking or try your hand at rappelling and canyoning in the mountains.
April in the Dominican Republic
April still has great weather and a few spring break stragglers, but by mid-month, hotel rates really start to drop as the low season starts to creep in. Great weather, low rates, and fewer people make April an ideal time to visit, especially if you’re hoping to avoid both crowds and hurricane season. However, local businesses also take advantage of the off-season, meaning you’ll likely run into a lot places that are closed for renovations. It’s always good to call and ask hotels if there will be construction on-site or nearby, especially if you’re planning to stay over the slow season.
May in the Dominican Republic
May is one of the D.R.’s rainiest months, particularly in Punta Cana, so those willing to brave the showers will be rewarded with lower rates and less people. If you’re interested in learning how to catch a wave, May’s showers provide decent, but not overwhelming, waves that are perfect for beginners or intermediate surfers. These milder waves last up until September, when larger swells take over. Unfortunately, May is not the best month for underwater activities, since storms can disrupt the sand and cloud visibility. It also makes for bumpy boat rides, and can easily rain out scheduled golf games or planned beach days.
June in the Dominican Republic
June is one of the D.R.’s hottest months, but only by a few degrees, with temperatures capping out around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, June 1 does mark the beginning of hurricane season. Since the D.R. is smack in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane belt, it can be a real threat. Even with the risk of hurricanes, June typically tends to have less rain than May or even October. Like with other tropical destinations, rainy season here means you might find heavy showers lasting a few hours each or every other day (particularly in Punta Cana), or short, intermittent showers throughout the day. One upside to hurricane season is that it brings in more wind, an essential element that helps to kick off the D.R.’s kiteboarding season, which lasts through August.
July and August in the Dominican Republic
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the D.R.’s busiest seasons is summer, when the kids are out of school. The country’s second annual Carnival festival takes place in mid-August, so if you’re looking to join in the celebration, be sure to time your trip right. July and August are also the best months to bump along the Yaque del Norte River on a white water rafting adventure. This is the longest river in the Caribbean, and the only spot to experience real white water rafting in the region. Water levels during the summer are high enough for good Class II and Class III thrills, while rapids and surges can get hectic further into the rainy season. Lobster lovers, take note: July 1 marks the end of the seasonal lobster ban, so visitors who visit from now until the end of February will find succulent, fresh-caught lobsters on the menu.
September and October in the Dominican Republic
September and October present the highest threat for hurricanes, and as a result, bring the some of the cheapest hotel rates all year. October can be drenched with rain, washing out those idyllic beach days and pretty golf courses. Lots of rain means big swells for surfers, and the northern Cabarete area near Puerto Plata becomes a hot spot for advanced riders seeking big waves. The weather during September and October is pleasant, but has the most variation, with highs around 90 degrees and lows in the mid-70s. Festivals tend to drop off in these months, though Dominican Republic’s Fashion Week lands in October.
November in the Dominican Republic
November is the final month of hurricane season in the Dominican Republic, and the first big month of surf season for pros. Western storm systems are in full swing, pushing large, consistent waves this way. These waves aren’t recommended for beginners or low-level intermediates. Even though winter is approaching, the temperature stays warm, with average temperatures hanging in the 80s. Since it’s the tail-end of hurricane season, rain is still a possibility, though it’s unlikely to cancel out a day’s plans. Those who do visit during this shoulder month can find good deals, few people, and unpredictable weather.