The month of May in the DR acts like a shoulder season bridging together elements of spring and summer. Heat and humidity are on the slight rise across the country—hence why afternoon showers are common—but most days are blessed with ample sunshine for enjoying the country's many gorgeous beaches. Also good to know: hurricane season begins in June but the peak months are August through October. Travelers worried about major storms disrupting their plans in May are safer than the summer months.
Daily temperatures are getting hot in May, perfect for those keen on spending lots of time swimming. Coastal highs hover around 88°F (31°C), while lows are around 74°F (23°C). If you’re planning on experiencing inland adventures, temperatures will drop in higher elevations, which might be a good thing for those looking to escape the heat. The trails shouldn’t be too muddy this time of year and excursions are not likely to be scrapped due to inclement weather. Either way, you’ll want to pack proper gear, including a light rain jacket and bug spray, depending on the activity.
Crowds & Costs
Don’t let the secret out: May is actually one of the very best months to visit the DR when it comes to escaping the crowds and getting the best deals. With kids planted back in school and the lack of major holidays in May, visitors searching for elbow room will find it now—especially at the resorts accessible to the busiest airports in the country: Punta Cana and Santo Domingo. Overall, this is an excellent time to look for great deals on flights and upscale lodging, as well as rental cars and excursions as prices come down following the peak season.
Where to Go
Many travelers start or end their trip in Punta Cana, a popular resort hub that is home to a 30-mile (48 km) stretch of postcard-worthy beach called Bavaro. It’s easy to get stuck in this dreamy setting with all the onsite watersports and conveniences but there are many beaches and activities to discover—and May is a great time to check them out with fewer crowds to contend with.
The Atlantic Coast between Puerto Plata and the Samaná Peninsula offers a dizzying array of options that appeal to beginner surfers. You can also chill out at beaches like Playa Grande, which provides long, leisurely walks along the shore. Beyond Samaná's beaches, the peninsula offers easy access to rainforest hikes and boat tours through rising rock formations in nearby Los Haitises National Park.
The beaches on the southern Caribbean side, for their part, provide calm, turquoise seas for snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding. A good one to consider is Playa Bayahibe, near the popular resort area of La Romana, while the UNESCO-listed Jaragua National Park is known for marine life preservation.
Spring is a good time to catch the blooming cacti in the southwest desert. Outdoor adventurists will want to dedicate a few days to the highest mountain range in the Caribbean, called the Cordillera Central, boasting spectacular peaks, canyons, and rivers. Base yourself in the town of Jarabacoa and take your pick between active adventures, or just sit back and enjoy the views with a cup of local brew.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
With rising temperatures in May, it's a good time to get in the water. Scuba divers can head to the north shore around Sosua for the country’s best dive sites with colorful coral, shipwrecks, and interesting sites like the Airport Wall providing a series of tunnels and walls. Not too far from here are the great beaches around Cabarete with trade winds for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Kite Beach, in particular, is known as being a mecca for adventure watersports and there are many options for instruction. You can also watch the action from the sand.
The mountainous interior stays cool with options for day-hiking, multi-day treks, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking so take your pick. You can also learn about local coffee processing thanks to an eco-friendly initiative called La Ruta Del Cafe, which operates in Salcedo and Bonao.
If you catch a rainy day on the north side, head to Puerta Plata and wander around the historic UNESCO-listed streets. On the south side, head to Santo Domingo and walk through the capital’s historic forts and colonial architecture dating back to the 15th century. While here, make sure to check out the limestone caves of Los Tres Ojos National Park, a short drive from the city center.
The Espiritu Santo Festival, Villa Mella. Listen for locals paying homage to African roots with drums and music in May throughout the country, especially in the rural areas. The biggest celebration takes place outside of Santo Domingo in Villa Mella with upbeat conga drumming.
Traveling to the Dominican Republic in May? Consider these itineraries.
Dominican Republic Adventure: Santo Domingo to Punta Cana. This two-week itinerary starts in the oldest colonial city in the Americas at Santo Domingo. From here, explore underwater worlds in Sosúa, and then head to the pristine Samaná Peninsula to discover towering waterfalls, hidden beaches, and the rock formations of Los Haitises National Park. End your trip in Punta Cana for some beach time between adventurous excursions.
Ultimate Dominican Republic: Samaná, Cabarete, Jarabacoa & Santo Domingo. For a shorter itinerary, this whirlwind 10-day tour begins with waterfalls on the Samaná Peninsula and watersports in Cabarete. Then, head inland to discover the rushing rivers and rugged canyons of Jarabacoa. Your journey ends in the historic capital of Santo Domingo and ancient caverns of Los Tres Ojos.
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