If you’re writing off traveling to the Caribbean in the summer because of hurricane season–a very low probability by the way–you’re missing out. It’s the most fun, affordable, and culture-filled season to visit; a time when locals are also out and about mingling and taking their families on staycations.

And nowhere is that more true than in the Dominican Republic. From being the busiest festival time of year to tons of hotel discounts, and the most varied landscape and climate in the region, it’s the ultimate destination to get the most bang and summer fun for your buck.

1. Festivals Galore

Santo Domingo’s Jazz Festival is one of the most popular events in the summertime.

With the summer heat comes all the outdoor fun. This season is one of the busiest in terms of local music and food festivals. There’s Santo Domingo’s Jazz Festival through July, Expo Mango in Bani and the seafood festival in Sanchez in June, with many more upcoming weekly outdoor concerts. You won’t run out of things to do. It’s also the best way to get a feel for Dominican culture and immerse.

Part of the buffet at the Sanchez Seafood Festival in June.

2. You Can Escape The Heat (If You Want To)

Jarabacoa River Lodge has a gorgeous riverside location. – All images by Lebawit Girma

How lucky are we in the Dominican Republic? The beaches are sweet when you’re in the mood for sand and sun, but when the summer humidity and heat gets unbearable (like, right now), you can head straight up over 1,500 feet above sea level and cool off. Mountain towns like Jarabacoa and Constanza, and even the hills of Puerto Plata have cooler temperatures year-round, breezes, cool nights, refreshing and easily accessed clean rivers and waterfalls. It’s also more affordable for travelers to explore those zones, in addition to getting an authentic feel of the DR.

Wondering about accommodations? No worries there–pick from many excellent eco-lodges, hostels (not the bare bones kind either), and full service riverside resorts. One suggestion is Tubagua Eco-Lodge, and there are more recommendations in Moon Dominican Republic guidebook.

3. Discounts and Value

Like much of the Caribbean, summer is low tourist season in the DR. This translates into savings even at upscale resorts, fewer crowds–in reality the crowds are only in Punta Cana–and more attention from hotels, tours, and restaurants. Look out for value packages on the hotel or restaurant’s social media pages in particular–that’s often where all the good stuff is shared.

4. Because, Mango Season

At Expo Mango festival in Bani, southwest of Santo Domingo.

MANGO SEASON. That’s all the reason you need! Hundreds of varieties grow in the Dominican Republic. Each species bears a fun name: Tommy (in Belize that’s a deadly snake!), Gota de Oro, el Banilejo (the sweetest), Madam Frances, among others. Scour markets and supermarkets–they will be overflowing with them in the summer–and see if you can identify them. You can get them even cheaper and in bulk at the Expo Mango Festival in Bani next week.

5. The Sunsets

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year, but your average gorgeous Dominican sunset turns otherworldly. Whether you’re on the North Coast, over in Bavaro, or even southwest in Barahona, the reds are the most fiery I’ve seen. After all, what’s a vacation without a killer Instagrammable sunset?

6. So Many National Parks, So Little Time

Parque Nacional La Isabela, Puerto Plata, has stunning botanical gardens.
Taking a dip in Parque Nacional Monte Cristi.

The Dominican Republic sure has a gorgeous coastline and endless beaches–heck, I’ve visited over 100 of them myself over several years, and I’m not done. But the country is also blessed with numerous vast, lush national parks, even if you don’t hear about them often. They are ideal for hiking, birding, caving, and some for river swims, and lagoon dips.

Wherever you end up in the DR, look up your nearest park–you can easily find them highlighted in Moon Dominican Republic guidebook as well, by region, with maps and color photos included. My favorites include Parque Mirador del Norte in Santo Domingo (yes, even the capital has nature parks), Parque Nacional del Este in La Romana (and Bayahibe), the Montecristi National Park northwest, Jose Armando Bermudez National Park near Jarabacoa, and the Isabel de Torres National Park and botanical gardens in Puerto Plata, among many others.

It’s so hard to choose. I guess that’s why the DR’s tourism slogan rolls right off everyone’s lips here–lo tiene todo: the DR has it all.

Do you have any other DR reasons to visit in the summer? Feel free to share the post and chime in.

Lebawit Lily Girma

A former corporate attorney, Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning travel writer, photographer, and author of several Caribbean guidebooks for US-publisher Moon Travel Guides, including Moon Belize and Moon Dominican Republic. Originally from Ethiopia, Lily calls herself a “culture-holic”–fluent in four languages, she has lived in eight countries besides the U.S., including Belize, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Her articles and photography focusing on culture, adventure, and sustainable travel in the Caribbean region have been published in AFAR Magazine, CNN, BBC, Delta Sky, The Guardian, and others. She is the recipient of the 2016 Marcia Vickery Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

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