The Dominican Republic is the heart of the Caribbean, and the most visited country by travellers to the region. It is the sixth most popular tourist destination for Italian travellers, and the most recent travel statistics show that more than half a million Italians travel to the island each year.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic’s capital city, is the most populous metropolis in the Caribbean. The historic hub was home to the first European settlement in the New World, and remains an excellent place to see Spanish and French colonial architecture. In addition to wandering some of the oldest academic and religious sites in the Caribbean, travellers can enjoy one of the city’s many museums and performing arts centres.
The Dominican Republic is also home to some of the Caribbean’s best beaches and resorts. Whether it’s a stretch bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the north, or the Caribbean Sea in the south (or Punta Cana which offers the best of both worlds), travellers are guaranteed to experience some quality seaside fun and relaxation.
What Vaccines Do I Need For The Dominican Republic?
Travellers should ensure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling to the Dominican Republic:
- Hepatitis A– This virus can be contracted by consuming contaminated food and water. This vaccination is strongly recommended for those who may eat at off-resort locations.
- Hepatitis B– In the Dominican Republic, this liver disease is most commonly spread through unprotected sex and the exchange of other bodily fluids. Condoms are always recommended, as is avoiding contact with piercing tools and needles.
- Rabies– An infection caused by a lick or scratch from an animal that is carrying the disease. In 2012 a Italian man who spent four months in the Dominican Republic returned home with a case of rabies.
- Cholera– This disease has been an endemic in the Dominican Republic since 2010. Though the number of cases are less than in neighbouring Haiti, food and water precautions should be taken to ensure your travels aren’t hindered by this intestinal infection. Dukoral is an oral vaccination that can be taken to prevent up to 85% of cholera cases and a quarter of instances of travellers’ diarrhea.
Exact health recommendations will vary based on an individual’s itinerary and their length of stay. A Passport Health travel specialist will be able to help you identify which vaccinations are right for you. Schedule your appointment today either online or by phone at +39 392 0056499.
Are There Other Health Concerns In The Dominican Republic?
Chikungunya and Zika viruses have come to the Dominican Republic over the last few years leading to many organizations like the Public Health Agency to recommend travelers to extra precautions to avoid mosquito-borne diseases.
There is a malaria risk in the Dominican Republic depending on your location and time of travel. The only exceptions are Santo Domingo and Santiago.
The PHA and Centers for Disease Control recommend travelers to the Dominican Republic consult with a travel health specialist like at us before visiting the country. To schedule your appointment call +39 392 0056499 or use our online scheduler.
What Are Sand Fleas?
Sand fleas can be a pesky annoyance while in the Dominican Republic. The fleas come out at sunrise and sunset and can cause incredibly itchy and occasionally painful bites. Bug spray with a high DEET content may deter the fleas, as will wearing light-coloured clothing, and regular movement. Past travellers to the island also recommend rinsing your ankles and feet before leaving the beach to ensure you’re not carrying any fleas back to the hotel. Give your beach towel and beachwear a good shaking out, and store everything in the bathroom, not close to your bed and other luggage.
What Is the Climate Like in the Dominican Republic?
While travellers to the Dominican Republic can experience a tropical climate year-round, there are certain weather variations to be aware of. Here are the conditions in a few popular tourist destinations:
Santo Domingo: The capital city has little variation in temperature, and conditions range from the mid to late 20’s. Trade winds and the proximity to mountains helps minimize humidity.
Punta Cana: This popular tourist destination has very stable temperatures throughout the year, with the average daily temperature reaching 30° Celsius. Punta Cana’s flat landscape means the area receives little rainfall.
Puerto Plata: The northern city is wet and humid throughout the year, though especially during the months of November and December. Temperatures can reach a low of 17° Celsius in the winter months and up to 39° Celsius between the summer months of July and September.
Hurricane season in the Dominican Republic runs from June until the end of November.
How Safe Is The Dominican Republic?
In terms of safety and security, the Dominican Republic is much more stable than its island co-habitator, Haiti.
Still, foreigners are often targets of petty crime and occasional violent acts, too. Tourists should be wary of pickpockets, especially in busy urban centres. While cities are generally safe to wander at night, extra caution should be exercised. Driving at night should be avoided due to poor lighting, and the Dominican Republic’s roads can also be very hazardous during the day. In fact, the country has one of the world’s highest road accident rates.
You should also be cautious even if you plan to spend your entire trip at a resort. Hotel rooms and safes don’t offer 100% protection for your valuables, and you should ensure you find a secure spot for your important documents. Should your passport be stolen, you must bring a police report to the nearest Italian Embassy in Panama. Overall, it is recommended that you leave any unnecessary valuables at home. Solo female travellers should also be careful, especially around new strangers and even resort staff. Sexual assault and aggression has been reported by Italian travellers.
Travellers should also be careful at airports, where items can be stolen out of bags during security checks or other times. Don’t put anything of value in your checked luggage.
What Should I Pack For The Dominican Republic?
In addition to your beach gear, sunscreen, and passport, here are a few important items you should consider bringing to the Dominican Republic:
- Rain poncho: Nothing threatens a lovely day at the beach like a fierce tropical storm. Packing a few disposable rain ponchos will mean you have a lightweight option to carry with you at all times, and will help you avoid paying tourist costs if you’re caught in a rainy pinch.
- Clothing that is tight-fitting at the ankles and socks: Sand fleas are most likely to bite around sunrise and sunset. Wearing pants that are tighter at the ankles or putting on a pair of socks can help prevent bites.
- Hydrocortisone cream: If you have been bit by pesky sand fleas, a tube of hydrocortisone cream will help soothe some of the itchy spots.
- Sturdy shoes: Sandals may be ideal for walking along the beach, but you will want to ensure your feet are covered if you’re visiting any of the Dominican Republic’s cities. Dirt, glass, and potentially contaminated water are all things you’ll want to keep away from your feet.
- Diarrhea medication: Travellers’ diarrhea is a real risk, especially if you plan to eat at locations outside of a resort. Bringing medication to serve as a preventative measure ‒ as well as medication and rehydration salts if needed ‒ is suggested.
Italian Embassy and Consular Offices in the Dominican Republic
The Italian Embassy in the Dominican Republic is currently closed and the nearest Italian Embassy can be found in Panama. All Italians visiting the Dominican Republic should register with the Embassy of Italy to Panama before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
The Embassy of Italy to Panama
Visit the Embassy of Italy to Panama prior to your departure to confirm correct contact details in the Dominican Republic.
Entry and Exit Requirements for The Dominican Republic
A tourist visa is not required for Italian travellers to the Dominican Republic, though all visitors must purchase a $10 USD tourist card that is valid for a 30 day stay. The tourist card can be bought at the airport on arrival and Italians must have a passport that is valid for the entire length of their intended stay. Travellers should also have an outward ticket from the Dominican Republic.
Travellers can stay longer than 30 days, though will have to apply for an extension with the Department of Immigration in Santo Domingo at an additional cost.
There is also a departure tax when you leave the Dominican Republic. The cost is $20 USD and you should check to see if it is already included in the price of your international airfare ticket.
If you have any questions about travelling to the Dominican Republic or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your local International Health Passport Specialist today or call +39 392 0056499.