It's no surprise that the most popular time to visit the DR falls in step with the dry season when spectacular beaches beckon with consistent tropical warmth and sunshine. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any rain—there could be an occasional shower this time of year, especially on the north coast—but you’ll typically find less moisture and humidity than in the summer months. Also important to know: hurricane season runs from June to November.
The country’s capital of Santo Domingo on the south coast and the popular resort area of Punta Cana, on the east coast, both offer daytime highs of 84°F (29°C). Puerto Plata on the north coast offers slightly cooler temps with highs of 82°F (28°C). Temperatures will drop in the evening so bring some light layers for dinner. You’ll want to pack a few layers if you plan on visiting higher elevations in the highlands and national parks with a range of adventure activities. For instance, Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the DR (and the Caribbean) at 10,417 feet (3,175 m) can get much cooler.
Crowds & Costs
All this fabulous beach weather equates to a spike in tourists and prices for hotel rates and car rentals. On the plus side, the country is open and in full swing so you’ll have your choice of resorts—especially the mega all-inclusive options in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata—and activities, as long as you book early, which will also help you snag the best deals. Flights are frequent this time of year so if you’re flexible on dates in January, you might be able to find a good price.
Where to Go
This being prime weather and tourist season, the country's nine distinct ecological regions are there for the taking. It will be well worth your time to get off the hotel or resort property in order to truly take in the Dominican experience.
Culture hounds can spend some time in one of the cities like the capital of Santo Domingo, which has a cobbled historic core buzzing with colonial charm. You can also experience the diverse inland landscapes with mountains, rivers, and canyons, especially around Jarabacoa, for a unique alternative to the coastline. As for escaping the crowds at the beach, head to lesser-visited areas like the Samaná Peninsula and fishing villages for more peace and quiet and activities that aren't part of the usual resort experience.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Let’s be honest. Most visitors wouldn’t mind a few days of kicking back and enjoying some relaxation under the swaying palm trees, broken up with occasional dips in the bright, turquoise ocean. The DR has plenty of outstanding beaches along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts for everyone to spread out—even in the all-inclusive hub of Punta Cana. When you're ready to stretch your legs even further, though, you’ll have a multitude of options.
For one, January is prime whale-watching season when humpback whales give birth to their calves, especially in and around the eco-friendly Samaná Peninsula—an area that also offers waterfalls and rainforest hikes. Perhaps you'll want some higher-altitude trails and there are many to choose from considering that the DR is home to four of the five highest peaks in the Caribbean. Inland adventures also include whitewater rafting, rope bridges, and even a Cistercian monastery.
Watersport enthusiasts can head for the town of Cabarete, particularly at Kite Beach, which is a world-class mecca for wind and kite surfers. The DR also has some impressive deep wrecks and lengthy coral formations for snorkelers and scuba divers. Beginners can enjoy calmer seas on the south coast, while advanced divers can head north, especially around Puerto Plata and nearby Sosúa.
Imbibers can cap off the day by sampling some of the world's highest quality rums distilled in the DR.
Events in January
Guloya Festival, San Pedro de Macorís. New Year's Day kicks off this carnival-like parade celebrating the cultural influence of the Cuban immigrants who founded San Pedro de Macorís when fleeing the War of Independence in the 19th century. Come to see crowds donning colorful Junkanoo-style costumes dancing to flutes and drums through the streets of the Miramar neighborhood.
Pilgrimage of Virgen de Altagracia, Higüey. On January 21, thousands of religious tourists from around the world make a pilgrimage to the Higüey Basilica to pay tribute to the nation's patron saint and protector of Dominicans: Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia.
Día de Juan Pablo Duarte, nationwide. January 26 is known as a special day for Dominicans called Duarte Day when the country celebrates the birth of one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic: Juan Pablo Duarte. Look for vibrant parades of all ages and public fiestas in major towns.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic in January? Consider these itineraries
Dominican Republic Self-Drive Adventure. This easygoing 12-day road trip checks off the best of the country's historic cities, idyllic beaches, and stunning national parks. Cycle through colonial history in Santo Domingo, explore breathtaking dive sites in Sosúa, discover the pristine beaches of the Samaná Peninsula, and kayak through the mangroves and islands of Los Haitises National Park.
Santo Domingo & Samaná. If you are looking for an adventurous trip to the Dominican Republic, this 10-day itinerary is for you! Visit Santo Domingo on a bike tour and explore Santiago de los Caballeros. Finish your trip in Las Terrenas with its enchanting white sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters.