With bright blue sky, turquoise water, and palm trees that softly sway in the breeze, the Dominican Republic is one of the most quintessentially beautiful Caribbean islands to explore. A country where tourism is a huge pillar of the local economy, the Dominican Republic suffered a major loss by closing its borders in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, three months later, the nation is up and running, and excited to welcome tourists again with ramped up safety measures.
The Dominican Republic is arguably one of the best places to plan a Caribbean vacation post-COVID. While the capital, Santo Domingo, is densely populated, the rest of the country is as rural as it gets. You can bask in the sunshine of Samana’s tropical beaches to the northeast or discover Jarabacoa’s hidden waterfalls and luscious vegetation further north.
If you’re dreaming of an island escape, here’s everything you need to know about planning a safe, responsible, and undeniably one-of-a-kind trip to the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2020.
What to know before booking your flight
The Dominican Republic officially opened for international tourism on July 1. The country has two major international airports at Punta Cana (PUJ) and Santo Domingo (SDQ), both of which offer frequent flights from the United States typically operated by Spirit Airlines and JetBlue.
Visitors will not need to present or take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and will not need to be quarantined. There are, however, additional safety measures put in place. All incoming travelers will have their temperature checked at the airport upon disembarking the plane. If a passenger shows a body temperature higher than 100.6F or presents any other symptoms, they will be instructed to take a rapid COVID-19 test on the spot and may be asked to go into isolation. Check here for the latest updates regarding the country’s health regulations.
The airport terminals have also established distancing guidelines to ensure that travelers keep a safe distance from one another. The use of face masks for passengers and airport staff is mandatory. Travelers will be asked to sign a Health Affidavit, stating that they have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the 72 hours prior to arrival in the Dominican Republic and provide contact information for the next 30 days.
How bars and restaurants are upping their hygiene protocols
Bars and hotels have been instructed to increase the level of sanitation and test all employees on a bi-weekly basis. Capacity for customers is limited to 35 percent, and all patrons need to wear masks. Bars are providing antibacterial dispensers readily available to customers, and restaurants require that you sit at least six feet away from one another. Employees will diligently be cleaning surfaces between customers to ensure maximum sanitation. Some restaurants will be providing digital or disposable printed menus to ensure as little physical contact as possible between guests.
Hotels will be taking the temperature of all incoming travelers and will have them sign a health form at check-in stating that they haven’t been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, hotels will provide free face masks and will ensure a safe distance between guests in all common areas. All luggage will be disinfected and the self-serve food and beverage buffet will be eliminated altogether.
Consider remote villages and small towns for your base
If you’re in need of a tropical vacation away from it all, head to the northeast and explore the Samana Peninsula. Remote villages and small towns welcome you with ample nature, ensuring plenty of space to properly observe physical distancing. El Valle is one such destination that has only recently reached a level of prominence with travelers.
Focused on wellness and community, El Valle village is home to the Dominican Treehouse Village — a luxury treehouse resort that allows you to fully integrate into nature. Each treehouse has its own entrance and is separated from the neighboring property by at least 30 feet. A quarter-mile up the road, the Unique Exotic Eco Hotel is another great option. The trendy and stylish space attracts a diverse crowd of artists and bohemians. Its rooms are sufficiently distanced from one another as well, and there are a few different communal areas so you don’t have to be within close proximity to other guests.
Just next door, the Ganesh Hostel is the ideal alternative for those who want to meet new people and enjoy paradise for a fraction of the cost. Its outdoor pool and front porch invites you to relax with your travel partner or group without any crowding. If you are looking for a wellness element to your vacation, El Valle Lodge prides itself on its wellbeing and farm-to-table cuisine. Personally run by a family from Argentina, the lodge is committed to offering a nourishing vacation experience through yoga, meditation, and homemade meals.
What these resorts have in common is that they are all privately owned and are pillars of the local community, employing more than half of its residents. When you stay in El Valle, you can rest assured that your dollar goes toward strengthening a close-knit community.