Dry season (December through April) is still in full swing in March, and the transition from winter to spring is a perfect time to visit the DR in terms of weather. Days are consistently bright and sunny with low humidity and few mosquitos. If you’re planning on staying near the beach, expect plenty of daylight hours for lazing on white-sand beaches and frolicking in the warm tropical sea. Save for the occasional burst of rain, you won't have to worry about hurricane season which lasts between June and November.
Temperatures along the DR's extensive coastline are very pleasant with highs that hover around 84°F (29°C) and lows around 70°F (21°C). If you’re planning on experiencing inland adventures, keep in mind that the temperature will drop with higher elevations—DR has some of the Caribbean’s highest peaks, after all—so pack layers accordingly.
Crowds & Costs
Given that the Dominican Republic is the most popular destination in the Caribbean, attracting over six million international travelers per year, you can expect some crowds in March, especially during the spring break season when families and college students arrive en masse. Enormous all-inclusive beach resorts surrounding the busiest airport in the country, Punta Cana, are in full swing and there's an air of frivolity as sun-starved vacationers let loose. Finding peace and quiet and your own stretch of sand can be harder to come by, but there are accommodations for all types of travelers, and lesser-visited hidden beaches and adventures.
March’s prime weather also means that prices for flights, hotels, car rentals, and excursions will be higher compared to other times of year. Make your bookings early in order to secure availability and the best rates. Early March is probably the best bet to avoid the potential Easter crowds that could arrive at the end of the month depending on when the holiday falls.
Where to Go
First-timers may be surprised to realize how large the island of Hispaniola is on a map. Shared with Haiti, the DR is a big country with more than 800 miles (1287 km) of gorgeous coastline along both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, as well as a range of topographies and distinct ecological areas. Spring is a great time to get out and explore, especially for those who want to skip the crowds that tend to proliferate in Punta Cana all the way east. Of course, those content on having a relaxing beach vacation on one of the most famous beaches in the world—like 30-mile long (48 km) Bavaro Beach—should fly in and out of Punta Cana and stay put (no judgment!), while more adventurous types will want to plan some excursions and potentially overnight stops in more remote areas.
Flying in and out of Santo Domingo (the second busiest airport) allows for easier access to lesser-visited beaches, like those west of the capital on the south coast, and west of Puerto Plata on the north coast. East of Puerto Plata are splendid beaches that cater to wind and kitesurfers, while the Samaná Peninsula gives you a chance to experience watching humpback whales during calving season.
For inland activities, consider stopping for a few days in the town of Jarabacoa for access to the Cordillera Central, the island’s biggest mountain range and a prime location for treks, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and mountain biking.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Beyond the free non-motorized water sports offered at the all-inclusive resorts, you may want to drive to more remote beaches for more activities. Sosúa on the north coast, for instance, offers several impressive snorkel and scuba diving sites with shipwrecks and colorful coral reefs. Near here are the adrenaline-fueled beaches of Cabarete that attract wind and kite surfers, as well as surfers, thanks to trade winds off the Atlantic. This is also the tail end of whale watching season in Samaná Peninsula. While here, take advantage of lush trails in the rainforest that meander to places like the El Limón Waterfall, which can be accessed on foot or horseback. Cap off the hike with a refreshing swim on the peninsula's world-famous Playa Rincon.
Inland, there are countless options for hiking, bird watching, and river rafting, especially in one of the country’s 29 protected national parks. One in particular, Los Haitises National Park, offers boat tours through the stunning rock formations that rise out of the water. The DR is also home to four out of five of the highest peaks in the Caribbean, the highest being Pico Duarte, with options for day-hikes and multi-day treks.
Add a city to the itinerary for a dose of culture and local life. The capital of Santo Domingo is an easy choice if flying in or out of the airport but the colonial sights will likely be busy with tourists during spring break season. A lesser-visited option is Santiago—the DR's second city, founded in 1504—with museums and an impressive cultural center.
Semana Santa parades, Santo Domingo (March or April). If you're visiting the capital during Holy Week, look for Solemn Easter Week processions that wind through the capital's Zona Colonial, typically ending with a special evening mass at the Cathedral on Saturday. Semana Santa is a celebrated time for Christians around the country, and many locals choose to head to the beach and let loose.
Cimarrón Festival, Cabral (March or April). Also during Easter week is this unique procession in Cabral that merges religion and Afro-Dominican culture. Look for colorful devils donning horned masks and whips, impersonating colonial masters and abused slaves.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic in March? Consider these itineraries.
Dominican Republic Adventure: Santo Domingo to Punta Cana. This 15-day journey through the Dominican Republic starts in the oldest colonial city in the Americas at Santo Domingo. From here, you'll explore underwater worlds in Sosúa, and head to the pristine Samaná Peninsula to discover towering 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.
Dominican Republic Self-Drive Adventure. This 12-day adventure hits Dominican Republic'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.