Know exactly what to wear in the Dominican Republic with this handy packing list and guide. See also the best cruise packing hacks here.
Girls, you can’t go wrong with a summer dress for travel in the Dominican Republic
What to Wear in the Dominican Republic
If you’re wondering what to wear in the Dominican Republic, then the likelihood is that you’re heading to this fascinating Caribbean nation soon. Congratulations! You’re going to have an amazing time.
We loved the Dominican Republic for its glorious beaches, yes, but also for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Santo Domingo, its tropical mountain landscapes, the punchy mamajuana drink and catchy merengue dance.
Most visitors find themselves in the resorts around Punta Cana and, to some extent, La Romana. There, and particularly within the resorts themselves, dress codes are relaxed and forgiving. Almost anything goes, although some hotels will not allow swimwear and flip flops in restaurants.
You don’t have to dress to match the plants like I did…
What to wear in the Dominican Republic Beyond the resorts
Outside the resorts, however, you’ll notice that most Dominican clothing looks a little smarter than, say, hot pants and bikini tops.
Guys, you will have more options if you pack some cooler, long trousers or pants. Ladies, the Dominican Republic is the place to make the most of dresses! You can find a selection of dresses for women here and some sandals to go with them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it step by step to make sure you know exactly what to wear in the Dominican Republic. There’s even a Dominican Republic packing list for you here.
Where to stay in the Dominican Republic
You’ll find a wealth of all-inclusive hotel resorts in the east. We tried and tested and would recommend:
Kids love water parks! The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana
Towards Punta Cana
The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana offers high end dining as well as casual beach fare. It has easy access to a long white sand beach.
Instagram spot at the Hilton La Romana
Towards La Romana
Hilton La Romana not only has great all-inclusive facilities but also sits within beachside walking distance of the atmospheric village of Bayahibe.
In capital city Santo Domingo
In Santo Domingo, we loved our stay at the cool green Hotel Gran Europa but also heard great things about Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando as well.
Disclosure – we travelled to the Dominican Republic with some assistance from Go Dominican Republic and the hotels listed. As ever, as always, we kept the right to write what we like. Otherwise, there’s just no point! Plus, if you book or buy through any of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So, cheers for that!
The Dominican Republic is the home of Merengue dance and people enjoy being seen!
Dominican Dress Codes and Fashion
Beachwear: bring board shorts for water sports
Let’s face it, on some days, you need nothing but swimwear and a smile as you venture to the beach and back in a matter of steps.
However, if you’re planning on taking part in any water sports, then it’s enormously useful to travel with a pair of board shorts, a rash vest and a sun hat that stays on.
Those grippy waterproof shoes are also a genius idea on rocky coves and for clambering on and off boats for snorkelling, diving and swimming in cenotes.
What to wear in the Dominican Republic at the Beach
Board Shorts – Women
These great board shorts for women have a pocket and you can adjust the fit with the tie. Perfect for feeling comfortable clambering in and out of boats and on and off water sports equipment.
Rash Vest – Women
This rash vest comes in a huge range of colours and the short sleeves means you won’t get too hot. You will avoid sunburn, though. And, you don’t need to worry about your boobs popping up as you do after a dive into the water…
Swimwear – Women
You can really go to town with swimwear these days, with bikinis, tanktinis, figure support and sportswear. Or, swim shorts for guys.
For a touch of timeless elegance, try this pictured swimsuit in black and white.
I’ve picked out a few favourites for you but in these online days, one idea is to try out Amazon’s Try Before You Buy scheme. You can have clothes delivered to your house, try them all on, and then only pay for the items you keep. Find out more about Try Before You Buy here.
You can always go for the instagram hat, above. Or, for the practical outdoors sun hat below…
Jungle Trekking: hiking boots and safari colours
As gorgeous as the beaches are in the Dominican Republic, it’s worth tearing yourself away from the white sand to explore more of the island.
We took a jungle trek with Seavis in Bayahibe, which combined jungle trekking (as the name suggests) with a relaxing river cruise to the sound of merengue music.
You will enjoy an activity like this a whole load more if you have the right gear. This is not the time to be worrying about cute outfit ideas for the Dominican Republic. Leave that for the resorts.
Instead, opt for neutral beige or military green long shirts and trousers, ideally quick dry. Pack plenty of insect repellent or bug spray and hiking boots to protect your ankles on the slippery rocks.
While the jungle in the Dominican Republic is not as treacherous as the Amazon, check out the video below to learn what to wear in the jungle.
Gear for Jungle Trekking and Swimming in Cenotes
Waterproof Swim Shoes
Swimming in cenotes, those water pools in nature, is one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic. But the paths to them can be rough, rocky and treacherous. I’ve always prized having shoes like this for days like that, plus you get more grip on surf boards and paddle boards too. I need all the help I can get!
Dress for comfort but also add a little style
Most visitors make their way to Santo Domingo at least once. As the capital of the Dominican Republic, it packs a punch in terms of history and beautiful architecture. All within a small central space.
For this was the first city of Christopher Columbus, and therefore the Europeans, in the so-called New World.
Santo Domingo is walkable – and classy – so pack comfortable walking shoes and make a bit of an effort not to look like a tourist.
That said, avoid expensive jewellery and watches and try to carry some street smarts with you. Certain parts of the city have a high crime rate and you need to have your wits about you.
It’s also in Santo Domingo that you’re likely to see the most flamboyant and stylish Dominican Fashion.
City Sightseeing Outfits
I simply LOVE these dresses from Ouges. They are perfect for travel. They don’t crease, they dry quickly… they have pockets!
You can find them in a huge range of sizes and designs. They’re great for beach cover ups (because they dry quickly) and for more glamorous city sightseeing.
Check out the Ouges travel dresses here.
Merengue just started up on our jungle river trip…
The Dominican Republic is the birthplace of Merengue dancing, a recognised Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, according to UNESCO. And it’s a sociable dance. If at all possible, you should try to join in! Luckily, you don’t need special shoes or sequinned costumes. Just wear whatever you happen to be wearing and go with the flow! Enjoy!
Bystanders join in with professional dancers in Santo Domingo
Me, wishing I hadn’t worn white trousers on a travel day…
Travel days and transfers
When it comes to long transfers by car and any long haul flight, I’d always recommend you wear some long, loose, stretchy (!) trousers and a similar top.
I find I often get skin rashes, otherwise, as my skin sticks to the seat for too long and starts to complain.
It’s also not a good idea to wear white, light or otherwise big blocks of colours. Food and drink are more likely to get spilled on a plane, by passers by if not by you, and so I find that patterned clothes work better on these occasions.
Finally, you don’t need to worry about topping up sunscreen this way, which gets complicated when you factor in all the airport fluid restriction rules. Simpler to just cover up with clothing and leave it at that.
What people wear to beach bars in Bayajibe
Your Packing List for the Dominican Republic
A bullet point list of things to take to the Dominican Republic for a one week trip:
- 1-2 pairs of lightweight long trousers
- 1-2 lightweight, long sleeved tops
- 1-2 pairs of shorts
- Women: 2-3 sun dresses and a cover up
- Men: 2-3 more shirts or smart T shirts
- Swimwear plus board shorts, rash vest & waterproof shoes
- Lightweight evening jacket
- 1-2 Smart sweater/pullover
- 1 sports fleece for travel days
- Hiking boots & socks
- Underwear – one set per day of your trip, plus 3-4 spares
- Sports kit for the gym if you have the discipline & energy!
- One rain jacket
- Sun hat
- Daypack for sightseeing
- Beach bag – for sunscreen, book/kindle
- Waterproof case for phone
- Power bank and travel adapter
- Reusable water bottle
- Travel insurance
- Travel umbrella
Don’t forget toiletries, medication, reading material and more. Take a look at our ultimate holiday packing checklist here. There’s also a free printable checklist for you to download.
Short sleeves and shorts or skirts go a long way…
Dominican Republic Travel Tips
- The Dominican Republic has a dry season and a wet season rather than summer and winter. The weather is typically warm and humid, with occasional heavy rain.
- Packing cubes can really keep your packing organised, however unlikely that sounds. Check out more packing tips and advice here.
- Hurricane season officially spans from July to November, but August and September are the most high risk months.
- Avoid the tap water and stick to bottled water or that provided by top restaurants and hotels.
More About Travel in the Caribbean
- Why you should explore the Dominican Republic with kids.
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- Bring Barbados home with these Bajan Recipes
- The Truth About Slavery in Barbados
- How to beat the crowds and find the hidden gems in Nassau, Bahamas
- An Unforgettable Steel Band in the Grenadines
- Inside a Bri-Bri Village in Costa Rica
- Where to go in the Caribbean if you’re travelling alone
- What to eat in the Dominican Republic