What to Wear in Punta Cana: Packing List for the Dominican Republic

Stacey Ebert

The Dominican Republic is an island paradise. Pack for sand, sun, and adventure. Leave your laptop at home.

It was my husband’s first Caribbean island and our first beach holiday together. In 2007 we spent one week in the Punta Cana sunshine enjoying blue water, palm trees and the island vibe. Together, we had our first parasailing experience, our first time on a jet ski, and our first time at an all-inclusive resort. We chatted to the regulars on the beach, shopped at the local markets, and ate our weight in local delicacies. Complete with friendly attitudes, beautiful beaches, postcard-perfect palm trees, island fun and weather that was better than we could have imagined, the Dominican Republic kept our beach hearts happy.

Like any other Caribbean destination, you can choose to stick to the resorts or adventure further afield. If you’re cruising into the Dominican Republic consider heading away from the ports and delving further to find the true island life. If traveling by air and staying at a mega or local resort, be sure to allow for some wandering time moving past tourist boundaries to see how the locals live. Chat to those who know, ditch the ‘by the guide book’ suggestions, and hit the road to find even more beautiful beaches and far more genuine eats.

Dominican Republic Packing List

Located in the sunny Caribbean, on the eastern portion of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is a popular vacation spot for global travelers. Whether you’re up for those chill days at the beach, gathering your girlfriends for a night at the clubs or exploring natural elements to your heart’s content – DR’s got you covered.

Here’s your Dominican Republic packing list:

  • 3-5 pairs of socks
  • 4-7 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras/1 sports bra
  • 3-5 tops for layering
  • 1-2 pair casual pants/shorts/capris/skirts,
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 nice outfit for going out or cruise ship dinners
  • 1 pair flip-flops
  • 1 pair comfortable walking/hiking shoes,
  • 1 pair flats or nicer shoes for evenings out
  • 1 pair of pajamas
  • 1 set fitness clothing
  • 1 cardigan or sweatshirt for chilly evenings and air-conditioned spots
  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 1 beach cover-up

Toiletries to Pack for the Dominican Republic

When planning your Caribbean holiday, you’ve got sunshine, sand, watersports and nightlife on your mind. Keep the toiletries you pack to a minimum and remember that you can buy virtually everything you need in the Dominican Republic.

Pack the things you’re brand specific about in 3 oz travel sized bottles. Scale down as much as you can and pack less. Definitely bring sunscreen, but make sure it’s reef friendly!

  • Tissues or baby wipes
  • Soap bars are better than bottles
  • Shampoo and conditioner (have you traveled with dry bars?)
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Shaving supplies
  • Contact lens supplies if necessary
  • Sanitary products of choice
  • Makeup
  • Hair products & accessories
  • Travel towel
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Baby Powder for sand removal when leaving the beach
  • Deodorant or Antiperspirant

Extras to Pack for the Dominican Republic

If you have room, pack a few extra items to take your outfits from day to night and beach to bar. A friend of mine continues to return to the same resort in Punta Cana year after year – she’s figured out what she needs and what works to add that bit of glitz to her every outfit. Those glam shades, a festive sunhat, or that necklace you bought that feels special are all tiny additions to your packing list that can make all the difference in how you feel!

  • Hats: wide-brimmed ones to protect your face from the sun and something to keep you dry on rainy days
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket, poncho or travel size umbrella (especially if visiting during rainy/hurricane season)
  • Daypack (Choose the Outbreaker for waterproof adventures)
  • Accessories to make your outfits pop
  • Travel journal and writing implements
  • Money belt or small travel wallet
  • Filtering water bottle
  • Fitness trackers/chargers

Travel Health Kit for the Dominican Republic

One of our main goals is to remain as healthy as we travel. Whatever wellness regimen you’ve got going on at home, do your best to maintain that through your travels.

Stay hydrated (that means bottled water in the DR), get your share of vitamin D (but don’t forget to reapply sunscreen often), and be sure to give your body the rest it deserves. Bring prescription meds and a basic first aid kit and you’ll be prepared for minor emergencies.

  • Prescription medications (and copies of the prescriptions)
  • Epi pen if necessary
  • Basic travel meds: Imodium, ibuprofen, tums/antacid tablets, Benadryl
  • Allergy meds or inhalers
  • Hand sanitizer (wipes or lotion)
  • Electrolyte tablets/oral rehydration sachets
  • Aloe Vera
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Bandaids
  • Mints to aid digestion and upset stomach
  • Essential oils/travel diffuser for wellness regimen

Travel Tech for the Dominican Republic

No matter how hard we try, there’s always some part of our digital life that comes with us wherever we go. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’re likely to be traveling with some of your devices. But do you really need your laptop for a beach vacation? Do your best to disconnect, travel lighter, and leave the big stuff at home.

  • E-reader or book/chargers
  • Smartphone, headphones, chargers 
  • Camera, memory cards, connecting cables, chargers
  • Portable charger
  • If necessary: laptop computer/tablet, chargers
  • Portable flash drive (maybe to back up pictures?)
  • Bluetooth speakers

Packing & Travel Tips for the Dominican Republic

If you’re looking to cave, hike, surf and shop – you can do it all in the Dominican Republic. If rest and relaxation are the key to your happiness, you’ll find that too! Here are some tips to pack more efficiently and make your trip more fun.

  • Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate small bag for easy access and limited tangles
  • Use travel size containers for jewelry, toiletries and personal items
  • Dryer sheets packed in your bag keep things fresh smelling
  • Roll your clothes and use packing cubes
  • Use every bit of accessible space (socks in sneakers, hair ties in makeup bag, moisturizer in contact lens cases)
  • Throw in a travel sewing kit for any clothing or gear emergencies
  • Check with the CDC guidelines, consider a filtering water bottle as well as diarrhea medication
  • Pack bug spray

With recent safety concerns and an uptick in reported incidents, be sure to keep your wits about you and pay attention to your instincts. Tell a travel buddy where you’re headed, enroll in the Smart Traveler Program, give a copy of your passport to a trusted friend/family member at home, find out what security measures are in place where you’re staying. Prevention is always best.

When to Visit the Dominican Republic

Timing your trip to the Dominican Republic is a delicate balance. Costs might drop more during the summer season but the risk of hurricanes rise. Although there may be less rain and fewer crowds during winter peak season, that time of year can hike up your ticket prices. Consider the shoulder seasons, in late spring and early fall, if you’re looking for the sweet spot of affordable prices and good weather.

When to go:

  • The Dominican Republic has both a dry and rainy season
  • Dry season: mid-December through mid-April
    • Busy months: December – February
    • Still consider packing rain gear – you never know when a pop up shower might occur
    • Best Punta Cana visiting time: March – May (peak season fizzles)
  • Rainy season: June through November
    • Lower prices, limited crowds
    • Often rainiest month: October
    • Hurricane season: 1 June – 30 November
    • June, early July and late November has better weather
    • At this time of year, do not show up without rain gear!
    • Always book with travel insurance if you’re going during hurricane season

Dominican Republic: Places to Visit & Explore

As with any new destination, there are so many places to go, things to do and sites to experience. Since the Dominican Republic is an island, much of the excitement revolves around the water but there natural adventures to be had beyond the beach. Split your itinerary between the beach and cities to find heritage sites galore and get your fix of Caribbean culture.

Foods to Eat in the Dominican Republic

  • Pasteles en hoja (Dominican tamales)
  • Mofongo (a deep fried plantain dish with other ingredients added)
  • Mangu (Dominican breakfast dish)
  • Asopao (strong rice soup)

TL;DR

For many visitors, the Dominican Republic offers a respite from the stresses of daily life. Whether you’re going for the local history, natural scenery, epic beaches, or nightlife aplenty – you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. Pack the basics, travel light, and enjoy the DR!

  • Pack light
  • Beach and pool attire is a must (that means sun protection, too)
  • If visiting during peak season, book accommodations ahead of time
  • If your journey is between June and November, bring rain gear 
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and be sure to book travel insurance
 

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