For many places across the US, Canada, and Europe, the cold, winter season has lost its sheen come February. That’s what makes the DR so appealing this time of year. The enormous coastline offers endless stretches of soft, white sand and steady sunshine contrasting against vibrant shades of blue and turquoise sea. February is also the dry season. There may be an occasional burst of tropical rain, but for the most part, visitors can expect less humidity and moisture—and fewer mosquitos—than in the summer months. February is also out of reach from the hurricane season which lasts between June and November.
Temperatures are delightful across the island with highs hovering around the 84°F (29°C) range. In the evening, the temperature can drop to 68°F (20°C); bring a light layer or two for open-air dinners. You’ll also want to think about proper footwear and layers for any inland adventures on the itinerary, especially those taking place in higher elevations where the thermostat can dip at a moment's notice. The DR's diverse topography and geology range from arid desert to subtropical pine and rain forests, so pack accordingly.
Crowds & Costs
February's enviable weather means peak prices for flights, hotels, car rentals, and excursions compared to other times of the year, though they won't be quite as high (or as busy) as December. Make bookings early in order to secure the best rates.
The first half of February offers a peaceful atmosphere tucked between the busy Christmas holidays and the arrival of spring break—this period is the best bet for travelers looking for fewer crowds and a more chill environment. Later in the month, younger crowds begin to trickle in, especially during the United Kingdom's half-term break (an earlier spring break than North America). February is also a busy month for popular festivals like Carnaval, so expect some fun-loving crowds in the towns and cities, especially leading up to the country's independence holiday of February 27.
Where to Go
The DR makes up the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola (shared with Haiti) and is an expansive country with varied inland terrain and nine distinct ecological areas. Most visitors will come and go through the busiest airport in the country, Punta Cana, on the eastern side of the island, which is also home to a wide range of all-inclusive resorts for all budgets and taste levels. You’re a little far removed from the rest of the country here, so those content with having a relaxing beach vacation with few excursions should fly in and out of here.
If wanting to explore, you may want to consider flying in or out of Santo Domingo airport along the south coast with quick access to the Caribbean coast, as well the inland gems. One place to highlight is the resort town of Jarabacoa for access to the Cordillera Central, the island’s biggest mountain range (and Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean) for a range of outdoor adventures. Keep heading north and you’ll have access to Puerto Plata and spectacular beaches along the Atlantic coast, some which are known for active watersports. The north coast is also a popular breeding spot for humpback whales this time of year.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
With 800 miles (1287 km) of coastline, it won’t take long to find an inviting beach dotted with palm trees. Many all-inclusive resorts cater to beachgoers with free non-motorized watersports offering snorkel equipment, kayaks, sunfish, and small catamarans, which is why many travelers are content close to the property.
For more water sports, scuba divers can hunt down several PADI dive centers that head to deep wrecks and coral formations around the island. The north shore, particularly around Cabarete, is a world-class mecca for wind and kite surfers thanks to steady trade winds. February is also prime whale-watching season when humpback whales give birth to their calves. A good place to see this phenomenon is the Samaná Peninsula—an eco-friendly area that also offers hidden beaches, waterfalls, and rainforest hikes.
Inland, there are countless options for hiking, bird watching, and river rafting, especially in one of the country’s 29 protected national parks. The DR is also home to four out of five of the highest peaks in the Caribbean with options for day-hikes and multi-day treks.
If flying in or out of Santo Domingo, dedicate some time to exploring the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. The capital offers historic forts, museums, and colonial architecture dating back to the 1500s. February is also Carnaval season when cities and towns across the DR offer festive parades and dancing in the cities.
Events in February
Master of the Ocean, near Cabarete. This watersports competition on the north shore draws top athletes in surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing each February.
Carnaval Vegano, La Vega. This is the biggest and most lively among the nation’s carnivals with exotic devil masks and vejigas (rope whips).
Carnaval, Santo Domingo. The capital's major Carnaval event takes place a few days before February 27, when the city comes alive with floats, street dancing, and flamboyant costumes.
Independence Day, Santo Domingo. Each year on February 27, the capital hosts lively street celebrations and even a military parade to celebrate when the Dominican Republic regained its independence from Haiti.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic in February? Consider these itineraries
Ultimate Dominican Republic: Samaná, Cabarete, Jarabacoa & Santo Domingo. This exotic itinerary includes hiking to waterfalls on the Samaná Peninsula, taking your pick of world-class watersports in Cabarete, then heading to the mountains to discover the rushing rivers and rugged canyons of Jarabacoa. Finish with time to explore cultural opportunities in the historic capital.
Dominican Republic Adventure: Santo Domingo to Punta Cana. This unforgettable journey takes you to the underwater worlds in Sosúa and the pristine Samaná Peninsula for waterfalls, hidden beaches, and the spectacular Los Haitises National Park. End your trip in the tropical haven of Punta Cana, where you'll unwind at the beach in between adventurous excursions.