Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic: Best Areas

Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic: Best Areas

Where to stay in the Dominican Republic? Planning a trip to the Dominican Republic but unsure where to stay? Getting it right can make or break your trip. Here’s your guide to the Dominican Republic best areas.

Of all the Caribbean destinations to visit, the Dominican Republic has been one of the most talked about in recent years.

There are several reasons why you should stay in the Dominican Republic when planning a trip to the Caribbean; first of all, the government of this island nation has made it a national priority to support the national tourism industry as a major driver of the economy. 

There was a time when the island was mostly a secondary destination for visitors; this trend has definitely changed, and now more tourists stay in the Dominican Republic as their first choice when traveling to the Caribbean.

While it is true that DR is mostly known for its paradisiacal beaches with white sands and turquoise waters, the reality of the island is that it has a lot more to offer. 

When you stay in the Dominican Republic, you will come to realize that this is a place that packs a lot of diversity in terms of tourism activities and regional ambiance.

With all the above in mind, the following is a brief rundown of the best places to stay in the Dominican Republic.

Best areas to stay in the Dominican Republic

1. Santo Domingo, best place to stay in the Dominican Republic for sightseeing

Best areas to stay in the Dominican Republic

This capital city has an important historical distinction: It was the first formal settlement established by the Spanish Crown in 1498, just a few years after the first voyage of discovery made by Christopher Columbus.

It is important to note that La Isabela was the first hasty encampment in Hispaniola, but it was a failed undertaking. Santo Domingo is the undisputed first European colonial city of the Americas, and this can be clearly appreciated by those who choose this capital a their their place to stay in the Dominican Republic.

Santo Domingo and its colonial architecture were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990, and this designation has been crucial for attracting tourists to the island. If you are interested in historic building structures such as churches, palaces, castles, country homes, and monasteries, this is a perfect place to visit. 

This is a strategic spot to stay in the Dominican Republic because it is very close to the main international airport; plus, there are a couple of beaches to visit along with cultural activities and a vibrant nightlife scene.

In the mid-20th century, Santo Domingo competed against Havana as the glitziest capital of the Caribbean. Whereas Havana has not been able to recover its former glory, things are looking good for the capital of DR. 

If you are into all-inclusive beach resorts, you will find them at Boca Chica, but seasoned travelers will tell you that the El Malecon and the Old Quarter, also known as Zona Colonial, will often provide a better experience in terms of luxury lodging, and you will still be close to the beach. 

The Old Quarter is also home to Calle El Conde, a long pedestrian boulevard filled with shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries, cafes, markets, and other tourist attractions.

Calle El Conde is almost at the center of Zona Colonial, and this is where you can also find boutique hotels at very affordable prices

The few hostels in Santo Domingo are also in this area, but they are not the best places to stay in the Dominican Republic; for this reason, you are better off paying just a few more dollars or euros to stay in a boutique hotel. 

Finally, El Malecon and its surrounding districts is where you will find many exciting nightlife spots, but please check with the hotel staff so that you do not end up going to a dangerous place.


2. Punta Cana, all inclusive resort area with amazing beaches

Punta Cana is a bona fide resort town built especially for tourists in Dominican Republic

The resurgence of the DR as a popular vacation destination owes a lot to the development of Punta Cana. Many tourist associate this coastal region as the most ideal when they stay in the Dominican Republic.

Some of the most popular tour packages sold in Europe are designed for visitors land at the Punta Cana international airport and be whisked away to beachfront all-inclusive resorts.

Punta Cana is a bona fide resort town built especially for tourists. Staying here will make you feel as if the city was designed for you because it was. There are 11 beaches to enjoy, two of them surfing spots with popular schools. 

All the sun and sand activities you can think of are offered here: snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, golf, aquatic parks for children, and much more.

You will not get to see any colonial architecture in Punta Cana. This is brand-new and very modern resort city. Lodging options begin with beach hostels, which are fancier and pricier than you would expect elsewhere in DR, but are definitely worth staying in. 

The all-inclusive resorts are the main draw, and pricing is fiercely competitive. The most impressive beach resorts are impressively priced, but you may find more reasonable accommodations right next door. 

There are also nice guest houses and long-term rentals at fair prices, but the all-inclusive resorts have so much to offer that they tend to attract most of the tourists.


3. Bayahibe, where to stay in Dominican Republic for diving

Bayahibe is where you should stay in the Dominican Republic

If you are into diving, oceanic activities, and underwater exploration, Bayahibe is where you should stay in the Dominican Republic.

The diversity of marine ecosystems and species in Bayahibe will rival that of Costa Rica, and the beaches feature more wilderness than Punta Cana. 

To make scuba diving and snorkeling more attractive, pieces of historical wrecks have been sunk just off the coast, so you better book a trip here soon before they completely transform into coral reef.

As for lodging options, they range from a couple of all-inclusive resorts to small beach hotels at extremely reasonable prices. If you only stay in Bayahibe while you visit the DR, you will not be disappointed because it is a gorgeous place.


4. La Romana, very upscale area

Stay in la Romana Dominican Republic

Chances are that you have heard about major celebrities such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Marc Anthony booking extended vacations to DR; now you know where they stay. Historically, La Romana has always attracted wealthy visitors

During colonial days, you would not have caught Spanish soldiers staying here; only high-ranking officers and nobles kept fancy quarters. Every single hotel in La Romana is wonderful and stylish

This is not the kind of destination where backpackers will find budget accommodations, but it is still worth the day trip. The port and marina facilities are very upscale, and the same goes for dining and lifestyle. 

La Romana is also home to an important archaeological site where you can learn about the Taino people who likely arrived aboard vessels they made in Venezuela centuries before Columbus discovered Hispaniola.


5. Juan Dolio, affordable family-friendly beach area

Stay in Dominican Republic: Juan Dolio

Before Punta Cana became a primary center for family-friendly tourism, Juan Dolio had already been transformed from a fishing village into a coastal resort. 

If a family with younger children stays in Santo Domingo, for example, a good idea is to take the 40-minute drive to Juan Dolio, where you can find amusement parks, fishing trips, and agricultural tourism. 

If you are a rum connoisseur, you will want to visit the Barcelo Center on a distillery tasting tour; we are talking about premium rums made from special sugar cane strains. 

Juan Dolio offers more affordable accommodations compared to Punta Cana. The range of lodging options starts with all-inclusive resorts all the way to small beach hotels complete with swimming pools and tiki bars that can be booked at very affordable rates.


See also: Best places to stay in La Havana, best places to stay in Jamaica, best places to stay in Costa Rica, best places to stay in Panama City, best places to stay in Aruba, best places to stay in The Bahamas

6. Santiago de los Caballeros, colonial architecture and ecotourism

Santiago, a region where agriculture has always been a way of life.

While the noble Spanish settlers mostly chose La Romana as their favorite place to stay in the Dominican Republic, those who sought a more bourgeois life settled in Santiago, a region where agriculture has always been a way of life. 

Life is simpler, more affordable, and friendlier in Santiago; this is a place where you will find backpackers staying at local hostels despite the lack of a bohemian district. 

Some will argue that Santiago offers more culture than Santo Domingo, and this is reflected by the restored colonial architecture and a few museums in the center of town. 

There are more modest than luxurious hotels in Santiago, but all of them feature very attractive pricing. Santiago is also a good city for long-term vacation rentals, and it also offers various ecotourism options as well as guided tour to the beaches.


7. Las Terrenas, great place to stay in the Dominican Republic for couples

Where to stay in Dominican Republic: Las Terrenas

There are many reasons to stay in the Dominican Republic, but if you have idyllic visions of what a Caribbean vacation should be, Las Terrenas is strongly recommended. 

This is a very nice coastal town that smart travelers have been discovering in recent years, particularly couples looking for romantic vacations

There are seven beaches to enjoy here, and one of the best is Las Ballenas, where you can sometimes see whales breaching near the coastline. The incredible ecotourism options include boat trips that cut through mangrove canals

Las Terrenas also offers some hidden coves with virgin beaches that you can see and photograph from a distance, but they are not open for swimming or sunbathing. 

All the hotels are brand-new here; they range from bed & breakfast arrangements to stylish beach lodges where you can expect to pay more than Punta Cana but less than La Romana.


8. Cabarete, windsurf and kitesurf paradise

Cabarete is a bohemian beach town in Dominican Republic for younger and fun-loving tourists

True to its name, Cabarete is a bohemian beach town that attracts younger and fun-loving tourists. Some backpackers skip the rest of the island and settle here for their entire stay in DR. 

Surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kite surfing, windsurfing, and snorkeling are popular daytime activities. At night, guests crowd the beach bars and dance clubs in the nearby small town. 

This beach community has the highest concentration of hostels and surf lodges in DR, but you can also find a few upscale beach hotels.

This is not a family-friendly vacation spot; depending on the hotel where you choose to stay, you may find it to be a little loud at night.


9. San Felipe de Puerto Plata, mountains and golden sandy beaches

San Felipe Pureto de Plata: Stay in Dominican Republic

Some of the highest points of Hispaniola are located on a mountain range that cuts the island across from Haiti all the way to DR; this is where you will find the mountainous community of San Felipe.

If you are staying in the Puerto Plata area, your choices boil down to Cabarete and San Felipe, and we strongly recommend the latter if you are traveling in a family group.

Bring your camera when you take a teleferico (cable car) tour of San Felipe Not only are the views breathtaking but there is also a replica Christ the Redeemer, the famous sculpture in Rio de Janeiro, at the highest point.

Alternating from the mountains to the golden sandy beaches is something that all tourists enjoy in San Felipe, but the center of this charming town, which is blessed with very pleasant climate the entire year, is also worth visiting because of its regional cuisine. Don´t miss a visit to Fort San Felipe.

Backpackers will find couple of hostels and shared furnished apartments in the small downtown district for very affordable prices, but these accommodations tend to be very spartan; you are better off in some of the beach hotels

A few all-inclusive hotels and adults-only resort round out the lodging options, which are very reasonable.


10. Santa Cruz de Barahona, solitude in a botanical paradise

Santa Cruz de Barahona: tropical and Caribbean feel to stay in Dominican Republic

All of the vacation spots we have reviewed thus far are located on the east and northern coasts of DR. Santa Cruz de Barahona is on the southern coast, and it has a more tropical and Caribbean feel. 

Santa Cruz is the kind of place where you can enjoy solitude in a botanical paradise; this is the only spot in DR where you can find a cloud forest preserve, and the jungle orchid species that you can see here do not grow anywhere else in the world.

There are a few beaches here, but the most accessible is San Rafael. Aside from ecotourism and the beach, there is not much to do here, although a couple of seafood restaurants are worth checking out. 

Most of the hotels are beach lodges, but you can also find a couple of vacation rentals. Prices are lower compared to Santo Domingo.


11. Constanza, great for nature lovers

Birdwatchers and culinary tourists often recommend Constanza to stay in Dominican Republic

Located in the province of La Vega, Constanza is somewhat of an unusual spot. The crew of one of Columbus’ first voyages set up camp here, and you have to wonder why they made such as difficult trek through mountainous jungles

They were surely looking for gold, but what they found was a valley with a micro-climate that is considerably cooler than in the rest of the island. Be sure to pack a sweater if you arrive here after November.

Constanza is far from the beach, but if you are into hiking, you will find plenty of terrain to cover. 

Birdwatchers and culinary tourists often recommend Constanza to travelers in DR; there are dozens of unusual native species that do not fly far from the mountains, and the abundance of fresh produce makes this town a nice gastronomy spot. 

Country lodges and boutique mountain hotels are the only accommodations in Constanza, and they are all offered at fair rates.


12. Las Galeras, amazing beach area with less tourists

One of the best places to stay in Dominican Republic

Located on the northeastern tip of the island, Las Galeras is a coastal town that is just starting to be discovered by tourists. If you travel there now, you will find that it is a miniature version of Punta Cana in some districts and a traditional fishing village in others. 

The beaches here have not been overrun with all-inclusive hotels; in fact, most of the lodging options will require you to walk about 10 minutes to get to the sand.

The prices are a little higher than at Punta Cana, and this is because most of the hotels are new, which means that investors are trying to recover their investments. 

What you will not find is Las Galeras are crowded beaches. This vacation spot is still being discussed in hushed tones by European travelers even though you will find that many of them have already settled here. 

A nice gastronomy scene is emerging in Las Galeras thanks to European chefs who have opened restaurants in recent years. The active fishing and local farms make this town perfect for fine cuisine.

If you want to visit hidden beaches, Las Galeras is a great starting point because the local tour operators will be happy to take your there.

Backpackers will find budget hotels in the town. Luxury long-term vacation rentals are closer to the beach, and some of them offer spectacular views.


Fotos: Shutterstock

52 thoughts on “Where to Stay in the Dominican Republic: Best Areas”

  1. We have reservations in Puerto Plata for January/February of 2024, and we think this is what we are looking for. We are retired Canadians looking for some warm weather and a bit of good sight seeing, is this the right place. Can you tell me if there are travel packages from the airport to our accomodations, we have a house rented. We can rent a car later , once we get settled if nessesary.

    • Hi Jack. If you plan to stay two months, I would book in Puerto Plata for a week and then decide to stay longer if you like the place. The best would be to explore the island for a couple of weeks and then decide where to stay for the rest of your time. You can get to Puerto Plata from the airport by bus or private transfer (shared van is quite popular; you can book online).

  2. Great article and really appreciate all of your personal recommendations in comments!

    I’m looking for somewhere for my husband and I and son (10). We’d like beach/all-inclusive but prefer somewhere where we can easily get out to experience some “real” DR. Close to Santo Domingo maybe?

    What do you think?

    • Hi Kim. I would spend one night in Santo Domingo to visit the city and the rest of your stay in one of the main resorts such as Punta Cana. From there you can book tours if you wish so.

  3. Love this blog!! Thank you so much for all the detailed info, and I read through all the comments too, you’ve given so much time to strangers on the internet, it’s so kind of you!

    I’m going to DR in less than 3 weeks and I’m looking for the quietest beaches possible. I want to shoot a lot of beach and underwater videos, so the smaller and quieter the better. Also looking for picturesque waterfalls. I saw you mentioned 2 in the comments, but in case you know of really gorgeous ones, I’d appreciate some tips, please.

    Any help would be massively appreciated, thank you!

    • Hi. You could check Barahona area, less touristy than other popular destinations. Some of the best waterfalls in DR are Salto del Limon, salto de la Jalda, salto el Berro, salto de Elena and Hongo Magico, Cascada la Taina, Salto Socoa or Salto Alto.

  4. Hi trying to work out where to stay, we are a retired couple, we like some history, nice restaurants, interesting architecture, pleasant gardens and walks. Don’t want to be too near any nightlife! Been there done that! Want to be able to relax and chill and search out interesting places or sights etc. Suggestions please

    • Hi Heather. For sights try to visit Santo Domingo for a couple of days. For your beach time I would suggest to stay in Puerto Plata. It offers a mix of what you are looking for and from there you can do some tours (e.g. Santiago de los Caballeros)

  5. I’m a solo female traveller, I enjoy visiting interesting historical sites as well as the poolside or beach…. Are there certain areas that are good for this please?

    • Hi Kerry. The most interesting historical sites are in Santo Domingo. Puerto Plata is a good place to combine historical sights and beach holidays.

  6. I’ve been to Santo Domingo and Punta Cana already. As a solo female traveler looking to stay SAFE with affordability and celebrate my Dominican girlfriend’s birthday next month, where would someone recommend? What are the top 3 safest all inclusive destinations in the DR? How is Puerto plata?

    • Hi Lala. The most popular destinations in DR are Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. I personally like a lot Samana area.

  7. We went to Samana 20 years ago. We did NOT like our trip. We are willing to give the Country another try. it would be myself and husband (46) and 15 year old son and Brother in law (46) We love doing things like UTV tours and Kayaking. We are not big night life people. We do like a casino. We would like all inclusive and not crazy far from the airport. (that was the issue with Samana)

    • Hi Melissa. If you did not like Samana then try Punta Cana and from there organize your tours and activities. Punta Cana is a great destination for all inclusive resorts.

  8. Do you have a lot of travelers that are handicap visiting how do they get around do u have any type of transportation for them?

  9. Hi, thanks for all the info. Looking for a good mix of eco tourism (hiking etc), amazing beaches, and low key environment (more adult less families), maybe with a nice resort. Any tips?

  10. Hi,

    Just read your article great advice. Where would you recommend for a family (kids ages 13,11) for next year in July as a beach resort/village to stay that isn’t heavily built up. We want to be able to walk into a town that looks pretty and is quite traditional with shops, bars, restaurants that’s safe to explore. Also needs to be in a good location to do trips from eg jungle exploring (with a guide) , snorkelling, boat trips or adventure trips.

  11. Hi, me and my partner are looking to go to DR during end of November, i’ve seen a range if different opinions on what the weather is like. What is the weather like during this time. Also as a couple of two, we generally like a balance of activity & chill. We’ve been eyeing up the Punta Cana region however which area would you recommend? For beautiful relaxing beaches & range of restaurants (Which is also important since we’re both keen Foodies!)

    • Hi Suraj. November is a transition month, is the end of the hurricane season. Will you have good weather? Every year is different, but most probably you will still get some short downpours and good weather after them. Punta Cana area is great, but my favourite areas in the Dominican Republic are Las Terrenas/Las Galeras and Cabarete.

  12. Hi
    Wanting to travel to DR in Mid to late September. What’s the weather generally like. It says rainfall 134mm
    Is this just at night that it rains.
    What about mosquitoes ? They generally like to bite me no matter what I use to defend myself. Any tips would be appreciated.

    • Hi Pat. Usually you will get several heavy downpours (30 minutes to 1 hour) during the day. Mosquitoes can be annoying evenings/nights if repellent is not enough for you.

  13. Traveling with wife son and sister-in-law January/February 2023 for 2 weeks. We enjoy snorkeling like crazy from shore, my son and I would love to scuba also. My son (34) likes a busier style while the rest of us are more sedate. All of us would love to see/swim with whales. What would be your best area to stay?

  14. Hi NomadAdvisor, great websites and advice, much appreciated, well done. We will be moving to DR on May 20 for two to four months, as our 22yo daughter will come to visit from the US from end of May till end of July. We know it’s hurricane season but have no other options. My daughter wants nice beaches (white sandy ideally but flexible) and things to do, with a summer holiday feel, so we thought of Punta Cana all inclusive but seems expensive over one month (how much should we expect?) as we are also looking at the best value in terms of quality VS budget (maybe just a weekend in an all inclusive setting?any to recommend?) and easy access to supermarkets. Any places to recommend? Any advice or local websites that could be better than airbnb for mid-term rentals? Many thanks!

    • Hi Jainil. Indeed, all inclusive options for two months are very expensive. I would rent an apartment or villa for a couple of weeks in areas such as Samana, Las Galeras or Las Terrenas, and once there look for a longer rental. You may compare prices in sites such as indominicana.com or encuentra24.com. Good luck!!!

  15. Ok, looking at having a family vacation down there, with my partner and myself, both of our parents, my brother and his family (one 9 year old) and my partners brother and his family (11,13 and 18). Looking for a bit of excitement but wondering if Punta Cana would be too busy for us. We stayed at Bahia San Juan about 5 years ago and it was near perfect, but is closed down now. Mostly stay on site, but we did do a couple excursions though. Oh yeah, and my partner want to have a quicky wedding down there

    • Hi Bob. Punta Cana is the perfect destination for a big family with kids. Beaches are amazing, entertainment is the best, the destination is family-friendly, and hotels are amazing. In terms of excursions do not miss Isla Saona.

  16. Hello, Just wondering if it is safe/easy to self drive from either Santo Domingo or Punta Cana, all the way to Puerto Plata? I have three children. Or is it better to organise a transfer?

    • Hi Christine. The Dominican Republic is not the safest country in the Caribbean. Having said that if you use the basic precautions such as: avoid driving in dangerous neighbourhoods in Santo Domingo, avoid driving at night, be conscious of corrupt policemen (have a very small amount of money in your wallet in case you are asked to pay something)… you should be fine driving by yourself.

  17. Hi, I’m looking for a tropical Caribbean feel. With waterfalls and snorkeling and a lot of fun things to do. Soemthing for a group of friends. Can you give me 2 recommendations!

    • Hi Olivia. My favourite area in the Dominican Republic is Samana and Las Terrenas. From there visit Cascada Limon and El Salto de la Jalda. Other great areas as camp base for what you are looking for is La Romana or even Punta Cana. From both places visit the Parque Nacional Cotubanama and Isla Saona.

  18. I am looking for a place to retire. Is Punta Cuna a nice and reasonable place to purchase a house or condo

    • Hi Cleopatra. The Dominican Republic is a great place for holidays but not a place to retire for everyone. Punta Cana is an hyper touristic place with nice condos for sale (not cheap). You should go there and spend a few weeks before making that decision.

    • Hi Scarlett. I am not aware of the mindfulness scene in the Dominican Republic. For a solo trip I would recommend Samana o Las Terrenas.

  19. Hello I have been to Dominican several times,Peurto Plata twice and Punta Cana 3 times.I have also been to La Romana as well,can you recommend a area with nice hotels,and beautiful beach

    • the best beach I’ve seen in DR is by far Bayahibe. several really nice resorts (Dreams, Iberostar, Catalonia).

  20. Helloo.
    My mother and I are planning to have a holiday In the Dominican Republic. She has already been in Samana, Juan Dolio, and somewhere near La Romana Airport, while for me, it would be the first time. When is the best and cheapest time to travel there? What would be the best destination for us? It is so hard to choose as all places are beautiful. Many thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

    • Hi Noemi. The best time to visit the Dominican Republic is between December and March. April and May (just before the rain/hurricane season) are also good months and much cheaper.

      Regarding destinations I would give a try to Las Terrenas (nor far from Samana) or Puerto Plata/Cabarete area. Punta Cana is always a good choice if you are looking for amazing resorts and great beaches.

  21. Is cabarete the best location to be closest to an international airport? ( puerto plata is only 20 min away )
    Don’t want to go to Santo Domingo for vacation .

    • Hi Pam. The largest international airport (by passangers traffic) is the one in Punta Cana, the main touristic destination in the Dominican Republic. Cabarete is also a great location for a beach vacation.


Leave a comment