Index


Introduction



The Dominican Republic, the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, has a tropical climate, hot all year round, with a dry season in winter, and a rainy season that goes from late April to October along the eastern and southern coasts, while the northern coast, exposed to the trade winds, is rainy throughout the year, although the north-western coast experiences a decrease in rainfall from June to September.
Temperatures in the Dominican Republic are high throughout the year, at least in the plains, however, during the summer season, from May to October, the heat is sweltering, while it is more pleasant, but still a bit humid, in winter.
Because of the north-east trade winds, which blow from November to March, the north facing slopes are usually wetter than those exposed to the south. The presence of mountain ranges add to the effects of the trade winds, so that some areas have a very humid climate and a lush vegetation, while others are nearly barren.
For example in Azua, on the coast of the Ocoa Bay, only 640 millimetres (25 inches) of rain per year fall, and even less at Lake Enriquillo, closed between the two Sierras; the south-west coast of the Pedernales province is quite arid as well. On the contrary, in the capital, Santo Domingo, which lies on the southern coast but it's not protected by mountains, rainfall amounts to about 1,450 mm (57 in) per year.
In the Dominican Republic, as generally happens in the Caribbean, the rains occur mainly as brief showers and thunderstorms, sometimes intense, which therefore do not reduce the sunshine hours by much; moreover they are often concentrated in certain periods, so it may not rain for an entire week even in the rainy season.
Every now and then, from December to March, the country can be affected by the passage of some frontal systems from the United States, which can bring some clouds and rains, and also a cool wind, which can lower the temperature by a few degrees, although in a less noticeable way than in Cuba and Yucatan (Mexico), which are closer to the American continent; however, in these cases the temperature can drop below 10 °C (50 °F) in the inland hilly areas, and around freezing in the mountains.

North coast



As mentioned, in the north coast, exposed to the north-east trade winds, it rains in winter as well.
In the north-western part of the coast (see San Fernando de Monte Cristi, Luperón, and the Amber Coast), the rains follow a particular pattern, opposite to that typical of the Caribbean, in fact the least rainy season is summer, from June to September (although this does not happen every year), while the winter period, in which the north-east trade winds blow, is rainy.

Puerto Plata

Here are the average temperatures of Puerto Plata, in the so-called Amber Coast.
Puerto Plata - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)181718202020212121201918
Max (°C)293029293132333333323129
Min (°F)646364686868707070686664
Max (°F)848684848890919191908884

In Puerto Plata, the wettest months are even November and December, ie the first months in which the trade winds blow, while from June to September the rains are not abundant.
Puerto Plata - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)175140130115130507070651102302301515
Prec.(in)6.95.55.14.55.122.82.82.64.39.19.159.6
Days129810116777101415116

In Puerto Plata, the sunshine amount is good for most of the year, however it is slightly lower than in the southern coast, especially in the months when the trade winds blow.
Puerto Plata - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours677778887766

Further to the east, in the Samaná peninsula (see Sánchez, Samaná), the summer becomes rainy as well, so, since there is no dry season, here we can speak of equatorial climate.
Here is the average rainfall at Sabana de la Mar, located in the same area, south of the peninsula.
Sabana de la Mar - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1351051251602552001852301952202701852260
Prec.(in)5.34.14.96.3107.97.39.17.78.710.67.389
Days13101091514161616161615164

South coast



On the southern coast, the rainy season tends to go from May to October, but there are areas where rainfall decreases in July and August, going under 100 mm (4 in) per month, and in the south-west there are also semi-arid zones, in which rainfall drops below 1,000 mm (40 in) per year, and sometimes it reaches even 500 mm (20 in).
For example, in Barahona, where 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain per year fall, between the two wettest periods (May-June and September-October), in July and August there is a clear decrease, and the rainfall drops to 40 mm (1.5 in) in July. Here is the average rainfall in Barahona.
Barahona - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)30304565170130406514518575451015
Prec.(in)1.21.21.82.66.75.11.62.65.77.331.840
Days4346118459115271

Santo Domingo

The capital Santo Domingo is located in the central part of the south coast. Here are the average temperatures.
Santo Domingo - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)202020212223232323222120
Max (°C)292930303031313231313130
Min (°F)686868707273737373727068
Max (°F)848486868688889088888886

In Santo Domingo the wettest period is the hottest one, from May to October, as normally happens in the Caribbean. Here is the average precipitation.
Santo Domingo - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)65555570190140145175180185100851445
Prec.(in)2.62.22.22.87.55.55.76.97.17.33.93.356.9
Days866711101112121399115

In Santo Domingo, the amount of sunshine is good all year round, as can be seen in the following table.
Santo Domingo - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours788888787777

Punta Cana

On the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic we find Punta Cana. Here the temperatures are fairly uniform, but here too there is a cooler period from December to March, and a hot and muggy one from May to October. Here are the average temperatures.
Punta Cana - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)222222222324252524242322
Max (°C)282828293030303131302928
Min (°F)727272727375777775757372
Max (°F)828282848686868888868482

In Punta Cana, precipitation amounts to 1,100 mm (43 in) per year, therefore the rains are not very abundant. The rains from May to December are fairly constant and not very abundant. Here is the average precipitation.
Punta Cana - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)6555557012510580105100150115801100
Prec.(in)2.62.22.22.84.94.13.14.13.95.94.53.143.3
Days1077710991010111211113

In Punta Cana too, the amount of sunshine is good all year round.
Punta Cana - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours899989998888

Sea temperature



For swimming, in the Dominican Republic the sea is warm throughout the year: the sea temperature goes from 26 °C (79 °F) in February and March, to 29 °C (84 °F) between August and October, as can be seen from the sea temperature at Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)272626272728282929292827
Temp (°F)817979818182828484848281

Santo Domingo

Hills and mountains



In the mountainous areas, of course the temperature decreases with altitude.

Constanza

In Constanza, at 1,200 metres (4,000 feet) above sea level, winter nights are cool, in fact the average low temperature in January is 9 °C (48 °F), and sometimes they can get cold and approach freezing (0 °C or 32 °F), but during the days the weather is pleasantly warm, around 23 °C (73 °F), while in summer the temperatures are slightly higher. Here are the average temperatures.
Constanza - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)91011121313131313131211
Max (°C)232425252526262626262423
Min (°F)485052545555555555555452
Max (°F)737577777779797979797573

If you want to climb the Cordillera Central, maybe up to Pico Duarte, which exceeds 3,000 metres (10,000 ft), remember that the temperature decreases by an average of about 6 degrees Celsius for every 1,000 metres (3.3 °F for every 1,000 feet).

Hurricanes



From June to November, the Dominican Republic can be affected by hurricanes, the tropical cyclones of the Atlantic and the Caribbean, which, however, are most likely between August and October. The destructive hurricanes of category 4 or 5 are very rare, but when they directly hit a particular area, they can cause considerable damage. Tropical storms, less intense than cyclones, are more frequent and on average hit the country once every two years.
The country was hit hard by the "Dominican Republic hurricane" of September 1930, by hurricane David on August 31, 1979, and by hurricane Georges on September 1998.
However, not very intense tropical storms can also produce heavy rains in inland mountainous areas, which can cause landslides and floods.

When to go



In the inland valleys and along the south coast (see Santo Domingo, Punta Cana), the best period goes from December to mid-April.
On the northern coast, especially in the areas in which there is no real dry season (province of Samaná, Sabana de la Mar), you can choose February and March, which are the least rainy months.
The summer is sultry and has the danger of hurricanes. However, if you want to go in summer, there are several areas where it does not rain a lot, in particular the north-western coast, from the border with Haiti to the Amber Coast (where the least rainy season is the period from June to September), the south-west coast, and the part of the south coast to the east of Santo Domingo (up to Punta Cana). In June and July, the likelihood of hurricanes is lower than in August.

What to pack



From November to April: light clothes, sun hat, sunscreen, a sweatshirt for the evening; for the mountains, jacket, sweater and hiking boots.
From May to October, lightweight clothing, possibly a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for thunderstorms; jacket, sweatshirt and hiking boots for the mountains.

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