Your dream vacation is a distant island, a warm sea and a beach surrounded by palm trees. Two tropical countries in the Caribbean are ideal. But here’s the question–Dominica or Cuba, which should you choose? They are in the same geographic region, the same climatic zone, and the national cultures are similar in many ways. But before planning a vacation, let’s compare everything that is important to tourists – hotels, food, entertainment and prices.
Cuba and the Dominican Republic on the world map
The neighboring countries are 1387 km apart. Cuba owns a group of islands, the main of which is considered the largest in the Caribbean Sea. The country’s coastline is washed by the waters of three water bodies at once – the Gulf of Mexico in the west, the Caribbean Sea in the south and the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast.
To find out where the Dominican Republic is on the map, look just below Cuba. Here is another of the Greater Antilles, Haiti. Its east is occupied by the Dominican Republic. The state also owns several small islands and coral reefs in the coastal waters. The northeast coast of the country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, in the south – by the Caribbean Sea.
Beach Holiday: Cuba or Dominican Republic
Exotic islands lure you to swim and sunbathe all year round. You can fly here in the middle of winter to experience the atmosphere of the tropics. But the choice of resort is always complicated by a question – the Dominican Republic or Cuba, where the best beaches?
Beaches of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican coast is more suitable for lovers of romance and spectacular photographs. It is distinguished by the incredible beauty of nature, snow-white beaches and the clearest sea. More than 20 beaches in the Dominican Republic have been awarded the Blue Flag for the purity of the water.
Caribbean resorts in the Dominican Republic are quieter and more comfortable. Cozy bays are protected from winds by coral reefs. It is convenient for families with children. You can sunbathe on small islands – Saona and Catalina. There are no hotels, but the beaches are great.
Deep and fairly rough waters of the Atlantic attract more young people and people fond of water sports. Atlantic beaches can be covered with white sand or golden, consisting of small particles of amber.
The disadvantage of Dominican beaches (especially in the Punta Cana area) are considered sargassum algae. They are brought here by trade winds from the Atlantic. Accumulating near the shores, the sargassum decompose and fill the air with an unpleasant odor. But the algae season does not last long, and hotels try to quickly clear the beaches of vegetation.
Cuba’s beaches also stretch all along the country’s coast. The most popular resort is the area of the seaside town of Varadero, on the Atlantic coast. White coral sand and transparent to the bottom of the sea is not inferior to the Dominican Republic. But Cuban nature is rather monotonous, so the photos will be less impressive.
Thinking about what to choose in Cuba, you need to focus on your interests. Resorts on the Atlantic coast (Varadero, Santa Lucia, Holguin) are more suitable for couples with children. There is a gentle entrance to the sea, sun loungers, umbrellas, changing rooms, a variety of water attractions and animation. On small islands (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Ensenachos) lovers of diving, fishing and a secluded vacation on bounty-style beaches will love it. But in the summer, the Atlantic resorts often have seaweed and high waves.
Caribbean beaches in Cuba have cleaner water. But tourist services are poorly developed. There are few all-inclusive hotels, and inexpensive guest houses prevail. Therefore divers and independent travelers prefer the Caribbean coast.
Cuba’s west coast is suitable for lovers of “wild” beaches. There are practically no hotels. Tourists who choose the west coast rent private houses and get to the sea by car. The reward for them is a completely deserted and clean beaches. With one “but” – there are often poisonous jellyfish and dangerous fish.
Climate and weather
A tourist who has not visited the West Indies before is bound to ask: “What Would be better for a vacation: the Dominican Republic or Cuba?” The answer depends on the traveler’s ability to tolerate the local climate. Both island nations are part of the tropics, where it is always warm and sunny, and in general the climate is very similar. There is no clear boundary between the seasons. Moving sea winds passages determine the change of the two seasons – dry and wet.
Climate in the Dominican Republic
Dominica takes a more favorable position – further from North America, closer to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream. Summer temperatures are the same as in Cuba – from +28 to +32ᵒ C. But in winter it is 3-5 degrees warmer, and the sea breeze feels like a gentle breeze (in January – February, the wind can be stronger). The Dominican Republic from November to April is a good choice for families with children and people with poor health.
In late spring, the wet season begins with sudden thunderstorms and tropical downpours. Like Cuba, the Dominican Republic has a high humidity of up to 98% in the summer. This, combined with the heat, creates a “steamy bath” effect. In July and September stormy winds often blow in from the western Caribbean Sea. Because of the difficult natural conditions Dominica is cheaper in summer.
Cuba’s climate is more irregular, with hot summers and fairly cool winters for a tropical zone. The weather is affected by cold trade winds blowing from the mainland. They cause noticeable temperature variations from +27 during the day to +18ᵒ C at night. The inconstancy of the weather lasts from January to February. Suddenly there may be a sharp wind and high waves. At this time it is recommended to vacation in Cuba for people who cannot stand the heat. By March, the weather is more stable, allowing you to fully enjoy your holiday – both on the beach and on excursions.
Late spring and summer in Cuba is a period of tropical thunderstorms, storms, and rain. It peaks in June, when nighttime humidity reaches 87%. From there, rainfall gradually decreases, but storm winds intensify. The water and air temperature stays at +29-30ᵒ C, which is quite comfortable for a beach holiday.
The best period for Cuba is November-December. There is little rain, the sun is mild, and the temperature is no higher than +28ᵒ C. The weather suits any activity – sea bathing, excursions, sports.
In both the Dominican Republic and Cuba you can swim and sunbathe all year round. But in addition to good beaches, each country has opportunities for active and fun activities.
Entertainment in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the best place for a relaxed, all-inclusive vacation. But there are activities for all tastes: from golf courses, yacht clubs, helicopter trips to the usual and commonplace:
Excursions to local attractions will help diversify your vacation. Dominican Republic on the map – a whole network of nature reserves and national parks. They tourists get acquainted with the plants and animals of the tropics, enjoy waterfalls, descend into caves, ride horses, quad bikes and cable cars.
History and culture buffs will also find much to enjoy. Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, is famous for its ancient quarters that are protected by UNESCO. Tourists can see famous buildings built in the colonial style – the National Palace, the Columbus Palace, the Cathedral and the fortress of the 16th century.
It is important to remember that the Dominican Republic has preserved many features of the bourgeois-colonial way of life. Tourist attractions cater to people of all lifestyles and incomes, from students to millionaires.
Entertainment in Cuba
Cuba is still under the influence of socialism, so the service is much weaker. There is only one golf course, no luxury yacht clubs and private villas. But the Cuban resorts have excellent conditions for diving, snorkeling and windsurfing.
History lovers must visit the old district of Havana, which is included in the list of sites protected by UNESCO (in Havana, it is better to go for a few days). You can go on a tour to other Cuban cities, which are considered museums in the open air – Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos.
Sea fishing, jeep safaris, visits to tobacco plantations and catamaran cruises – this is what Cuba offers lovers of interesting experiences. There are also exciting excursions to national parks, deserted islands and a sea turtle nursery.
Cuba and the Dominican Republic – the country of incendiary Latin music. The local discos are filled with fiery rhythms all night long. More expensive nightclubs, where the stars of the world stage, are in the Dominican Republic. Cuban nightlife is simpler and cheaper.
Both countries have plenty of shops with tourist souvenirs, cigars, rum and coffee. But shopaholics will be bored in Cuba – there is little trade there. Dominican cities have many shopping centers with famous brands.
Which country – Cuba or the Dominican Republic – is better in terms of entertainment, it depends on your interests. Choose what appeals to you – sports, nature, history, and then plan your trip.
Information about the national dishes will help you determine what is better – Cuba or the Dominican Republic. Both countries belong to the same region, so the culinary traditions are similar. They are a mix of Spanish, French and African motifs. But differences do exist.
Dominican cuisine is simple, hearty, with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Rice and beans are the mainstay of hot dishes. Of the meats, Dominicans prefer pork and chicken and often serve them broiled. Fish is seldom cooked, but fine fried mackerel and crab puddings can be found in expensive restaurants.
Every meal includes bananas – ripe and green, fried and mashed. For dessert, very sweet floury dishes are served with fruit – papaya, oranges, pineapple, mango.
In the competition of where the best restaurants are, the Dominican Republic will be the winner. You can find establishments for all tastes in the resorts, from cheap street cafes to luxury restaurants.
Cuban cuisine is simpler, especially outside the hotels. Local restaurants more often serve chicken, lamb, and seafood. Roast pork is considered a favorite holiday delicacy. Meat of different varieties is often combined into a single dish, from chicken to squid.
Cuban soups and stews are based on rice, beans, yams and cassava roots, and vegetable bananas. There are few spices, as Cubans prefer a sour lime juice dressing.
Choose where it’s best according to your tastes. You can eat cheaper in both the Dominican Republic and Cuba – if you get away from the tourist spots.
Service in hotels
The level of tourist business depends on the country’s economy. So in the duel of “Cuba or Dominican Republic, what is better?
The Dominican Republic offers different types of hotels – luxury villas, all-inclusive accommodation, spa resorts and family resorts. Regardless of the price, service is excellent – comfortable atmosphere, cleanliness, friendly staff.
Good hotels in the Dominican Republic:
▪ Riu Naiboa 4. ▪ Occidental Caribe 4
▪ Iberostar Punta Cana 5*
▪ Impressive Resort & Spa 5*
▪ Majestic Elegance Punta Cana 5*
▪ Lopesan Costa Bavaro 5*
▪ Occidental Punta Cana 5*
▪ Riu Republica 5*
▪ Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro 5*
▪ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 5*
Cuba is what tourists without high demands should choose. Even Cuban luxury resorts are inferior to Dominican. The hotels are more modest and the entertainment and food is simpler.
By the way, Cuba has internet! Wi-fi in hotels (often for a fee) and even 3G (Tele2, Yota and local operator Cubacel).
Here are some good hotels in Cuba, according to tour operators working in this area:
Good hotels in Cuba:
▪ Starfish Varadero 3*
▪ Iberostar Tainos 4*
▪ Royalton Hicacos 5*
▪ Iberostar Bella Vista 5*
▪ Melia Las Americas 5*
▪ Iberostar Varadero 5*
▪ Playa Paraiso 4*
▪ Pullman Cayo Coco 5*
Where to vacation best depends largely on the traveler himself. If you are used to high-class service, choose the Dominican Republic. But you will have to pay 10-30% more for the tour.
Cuba or Dominican Republic, which is cheaper?
Hotels in the Dominican resorts are owned by private owners. They set their own prices – from $100 per night. A trip to the restaurant will cost $40 to $60 for dinner for two. Excursions and activities cost tourists between $25 and $150. In general, tours in the Dominican Republic are more expensive, but in this case it will be tours with meals included – everyone’s favorite all-inclusive. Prices usually start from 120 thousand for two – check on your dates with all tour operators:
Cuban tourism is controlled by the government. Prices are kept much lower than in other Caribbean countries. A room in a 3-4* hotel can be rented for $30-50 per night. Meals at restaurants are also inexpensive – from $15 for lunch. Excursions are offered for $20-70. Tours are cheaper, but the most budget options involve accommodation with breakfasts.
When it comes to five-star hotels, it’s hard to choose which is cheaper. The cost will be the same, although the service and animation is better in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic or Cuba, which is better – conclusions
What to choose from two sunny tropical countries? Let’s look again at the main criteria:
- Beaches and climate. They are about the same, although the nature and coastal areas of the Dominican Republic is more picturesque.
- Entertainment. The Dominican Republic will suit romantic couples, parents with children, enthusiastic athletes. Cuba is a good option for young people, lovers of partying, dancing and local colors.
- Hotels. If you like to rest in luxury and comfort – choose Dominican Republic. Ready for a modest atmosphere, unpretentious service and simple food – go to Cuba.
- Prices. Those who are not limited in money, enjoy luxury Dominican resorts. Cuba will please tourists who want to save a little money.
- Families with young children are recommended a quieter holiday in the Dominican Republic. Kids over the age of 10 may like the fun and friendly atmosphere of Cuba.
Have you been to the Dominican Republic or Cuba? Share your impressions and ask questions in the comments 😉