The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate with hot, wet summers and warm, dry winters. The northern coastal and lowland regions have a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af). The south-central region has a tropical monsoon (Köppen Am) climate, while the south is a tropical savanna (Köppen Aw). A few areas in the west have an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles of the West Indies. Haiti shares the remaining one-third in the west, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands lie to the north and northwest, and Puerto Rico is in the west. The tropical latitudes, trade winds, and the vast waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea chiefly influence the climate.
The Dominican Republic has a diverse topography with four important mountain ranges. The Cordillera Central is the highest mountain range in the West Indies. The fertile Cibao Valley lies between the northern and central mountain ranges. The semi-arid San Juan Valley lies south of the Cordillera range. Much of the area near the Enriquillo Basin has a hot and arid climate (Köppen BSh). The Caribbean Coastal Plain is the most extensive plain in the country and stretches in the north and east of Santo Domingo. The Yaque del Norte, Yuna, San Juan, and Artibonito are the four major rivers in the country. Lakes, lagoons, mangroves, and cays are essential parts of the island's ecosystem. Pico Duarte is the highest peak in the Caribbean at 3098 meters. Lake Enriquillo, a saltwater lake at 45 meters below sea level, is the lowest elevation in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic has two distinct seasons. The wet season lasts from May to November, and the dry season is from December to April. Summers are hot and humid and fall under the wet season. August is the hottest month, with average high temperatures above 32.2°C (90°F). Many days register above 37.8°C (100°F), and extreme temperatures occur occasionally. Winters are sunny and relatively dry, with average low temperatures below 17.8°C (64°F) during the coldest month of January. The annual average temperatures range from 17.8°C (64°F) at high elevations to 28.3°C (82.9°F) at sea level. Temperatures drop to 0°C (32°F) in the mountains on rare occasions and rise to 40°C (104°F) in the inland valleys. The northeast trade winds provide pleasant conditions from November to March in the dry conditions than the rest of the year. Pico Duarte receives occasional snow on its summit in the winter as do other mountains at altitudes above 3000 meters. Hurricanes have the highest frequency between September and October. Heavy rainfall and tropical storms are frequent in the wet season.
The annual average precipitation in the Dominican Republic registers an ample 1498.6mm (59"). The wet season accounts for eighty% of the rainfall annually. The northwestern coasts receive more rain in the winter, and the precipitation increases from west to east. A few sections in the west are semi-arid with less than 355.6mm (14") of rainfall, while the Cordillera Oriental averages 2717.8mm (107"). The island receives ample annual sunshine of 2700 hours in the north to 3000 hours in the south. The seawater temperatures are in the warm range of 25.6°C (78.1°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) and suitable for swimming year-round. The diverse topography is the reason for different microclimates over short distances in the country.
Mao recorded the highest-ever temperature of 43°C (109.4°F) on August 31, 1954, in the Dominican Republic. The record for the lowest temperature is -7°C (19.4°F), set on January 17, 1983, in Valle Nuevo, Constanza.
The best time to visit Dominican Republic
The best time to visit the Dominican Republic is in the dry season from December to April. The inland areas, as well as the southern coasts, including Santo Domingo, begin to experience comfortable weather from December. The northern coasts are at their best during February and March, the driest months of the year. The temperatures are moderate, and the conditions are sunny, even in the winter. Wind speeds remain below 32.2km/h (20mph) after the end of the hurricane season in November. The probability of clear, blue skies is high during the dry season, and the sea waters are calm. Tropical storms are rare during the winter months.
The worst time to visit Dominican Republic
The worst time to visit the Dominican Republic is during the hot and humid summer from June to August. The sun's peak ultraviolet index of 12 makes the heat unbearable for people unfamiliar with tropical weather. The wet season is prone to heavy rainfall, stifling heat, tropical storms, and hurricanes. The average temperatures cross 32.2°C (90°F) at the peak of summer in most parts of the country. Scuba diving enthusiasts find the wet season unfavorable for exploring the magical underwater realm. The northwestern and southwestern coasts receive relatively less rainfall, with bearable weather during June and July when the likelihood of hurricanes is low.
The Dominican Republic is prone to tropical cyclones, hurricanes, thunderstorms, droughts, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. June to October is the peak of the hurricane season, which experiences several storms. The southern coast on the Caribbean Sea accounts for two-thirds of the tropical storms every year. Hurricane Georges, a category 4 storm, struck the Dominican Republic in 1998, with damaging winds up to 193.1km/h (120mph). The hurricane brought 10-hours of heavy rainfall, which resulted in mudslides, floods, power outages, crop damages, death of 120 people, and damages of $1.2 billion. Weighty rainfall damaged crops across an area of 4,70,000 acres after a severe drought in 1997. The location near the Caribbean Fault is a source of frequent seismic events, including the largest earthquake of magnitude 8.1 in 1946 off the northeast coast.
Weather in January
January has pleasant weather in the Dominican Republic, with the lowest temperatures of the year. Santo Domingo, the capital on the southern coast, registers comfortable temperatures in the zone of 20°C (68°F) to 28.9°C (84°F). The average seawater temperatures below 27.2°C (81°F) are warm for swimming. Punta Cana, on the easternmost tip, is warm and pleasant between 22.2°C (72°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), with lovely sunshine of 8 hours every day. The Amber Coast, as well as many areas in the north, receives more than 127mm (5") of rainfall in January. Expect light showers at least once in 3 to 4 days in the month, and more frequently in the north. The mid-January period has the clearest skies and lowest humidity levels. Tourists who plan a visit to the mountain areas above altitudes of 1000 meters face the prospect of warm days but cold nights below 8.9°C (48°F). A jacket and sweater are a must at high altitudes. January is a popular time to visit the Dominican Republic when the conditions are frigid in most of the Northern Hemisphere.
Weather in February
February is the driest month of the year in the Dominican Republic, with the average precipitation between 25.4mm (1") and 76.2mm (3"). The southern coasts receive 8 to 9 hours, while the northern get at least 7 hours of sunlight every day. Tourists, who wish to visit the Samana Peninsula, find February as the best month, with relatively less rainfall of 104.1mm (4.1"). The average temperatures in Puerto Plata are in the comfortable zone of 17.2°C (63°F) to 30°C (86°F). The southern and western regions are a few degrees warmer than the northern and eastern parts of the country. February is the perfect time to go on long sea excursions, with clear blue skies for more than 80% of the time. The daylight increases gradually with each passing day to register 11 hours and 45 minutes by the end of the month. Wind speeds are essentially constant below 20.9km/h (13mph), and predominantly from the east. February offers lovely weather for a vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in March
March sees mostly clear skies in the Dominican Republic, with humidity levels in the range of 65 to 75%. The average precipitation is in the range of 25.4mm (1") to 76.2mm (3"), except for the north, which sees more rain. The average temperatures are in the comfortable 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F) zone, with sunnier conditions in the south. Days above 32.2°C (90°F) are few, while nights are cool and pleasant in many places. Low temperatures in the mountains and arid areas in the west, however, drop to 10°C (50°F). The calm seawaters at 26.1°C (79°F) in Santo Domingo are favorable for swimming, scuba diving, sailing, and many other activities. Waterfront dinners are exciting, with wind speeds in the moderate 19.3km/h (12mph) to 20.9km/h (13mph) range. Expect humidity levels to be above 70% most of the time. T-shirts and sweatshirts are best to wear during the day. March has perfect days and nights of 12 hours each in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in April
April is the last month of the dry season in the Dominican Republic that sees a rapid rise in the heat index amid an increase in cloud cover. The average rainfall is in the range of 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3"), except for 101.6mm (4") to 127mm (5") of precipitation in the northwest region. Temperatures are usually in the 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F) zone, with the northern regions a couple of degrees cooler than the southern ones. Punta Cana, on the eastern coast, has sunny days and warm nights with temperatures above 22.2°C (72°F). The daylight increases substantially above 12.5 hours in April, with 8 to 9 hours of bright sunshine. There is ample opportunity to witness blue skies, explore the turquoise waters, and spend quality time on the beaches, with the sun setting past 6.55 p.m. The days gradually become muggy, which brings sweatshirts and shorts into the equation. April evenings welcome breezes from the east, mostly below 19.3km/h (12mph) in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in May
May is the beginning of the wet season in the Dominican Republic, which registers average precipitation of 127mm (5") in 12 to 15 wet days. Tourists to Sabana de la Mar in the wet Samana Peninsula should pack rain gear for protection from the massive 254mm (10") of precipitation. Santo Domingo receives its highest monthly rainfall of 190.5mm (7.5") in May, yet the average daily sunshine lasts for 8 hours. The average daily high temperatures are between 30°C (86°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), while the average daily low temperatures are in the range of 20°C (68°F) to 22.2°C (72°F). Humidity levels register between 67 to 95%, and the conditions are muggy much of the time. Sunscreen is necessary as the ultraviolet index level is at the peak of 12 on the coasts. Sea temperatures below 27.8°C (82°F) are comfortable for swimming or cooling in the water. Wind speeds remain below 19.3km/h (12mph), with light to moderate breezes in the evening. May weather brings plenty of discounts to budget travelers in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in June
June is hot and humid in the summer season in the Dominican Republic. The southern coast receives 127mm (5") to 152.4mm (6") of rain, which is usually in the form of heavy showers for brief periods. Puerto Plata on the Amber Coast sees the driest monthly precipitation of 50.8mm (2"), but the average high temperatures scale the hot zone of 31.1°C (88°F) to 32.2°C (90°F). The temperatures approach scorching levels as the skies begin to clear by the second half of the month. The longest days of the year are between June 20 and June 30, with more than 13 hours of daylight. Humidity levels remain in the 70 to 95% range, with average wind speeds between 17.7km/h (11mph) and 19.3km/h (12mph). The seawaters, between 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), are comfortable for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling, among other activities. Expect at least 10 to 12 wet days in the month with a significant rainfall. June sees thunderstorms and hurricane activity in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in July
July sees soaring temperatures in the Dominican Republic, with average high temperatures remaining above 31.1°C (88°F). Nights are warm in the range of 21.1°C (70°F) to 23.9°C (75°F). The temperatures are in the cool 12.8°C (55°F) to warm 26.1°C (79°F) in the mountainous area of Constanza, 1200 meters above sea level. The seawater temperatures in Santo Domingo are in the warm range of 27.8°C (82°F) to 28.9°C (84°F). July sees a dip in precipitation during the wet season, with average rainfall between 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3"). Barahona, on the southern coast, receives its lowest monthly rainfall of 40.6mm (1.6") in July. The cloud cover is constant, with a 65% chance of overcast skies during the month. The humidity levels induce much sweat, which makes sweatshirts, t-shirts, and shorts, the best clothing during the summer. The 13-hour daylight gives plenty of opportunities to dip in the ocean waters, go on cruises, and lie on the beaches under pleasant breezes. July offers a gap in the wet season and fewer crowds during a visit to the Dominican Republic.
Weather in August
August is usually the hottest month in the Dominican Republic, as temperatures rise steadily. Day temperatures remain above 29.4°C (84.9°F) and occasionally cross 32.8°C (91°F). Nights are warm and register in the 21.1°C (70°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) zone. The precipitation begins to pick up and averages between 76.2mm (3") to 127mm (5") in most parts of the country. The increase in cloud cover means the first week of August has the best weather in the month. The probability of tropical storms and thunderstorms increases with each passing day. The daylight recedes from 13 hours to 12.5 hours by the end of the month. However, the sunshine lasts a steady 8 to 9 hours every day. Much rainfall occurs during late afternoons and early evenings, which leaves many sunny hours to relax on the beach during the day, and even late evenings. Late August is generally a time to avoid the Dominican Republic. However, budget travelers can take advantage of discounts and bearable weather in the early days of August.
Weather in September
September is a wet month in the Dominican Republic, with 76.2mm (3") to 177.8mm (7") of rainfall in many areas. The mountains and the Samana Peninsula receive more rain between 203.2mm (8") to 254mm (10"). The average temperatures are in the range of 21.1°C (70°F) to 32.8°C (91°F), with more heat in the north coast and western parts of the country. Santo Domingo is hot between 22.8°C (73°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), even though it receives 180.3mm (7.1") of precipitation in September. The daily sunshine registers for 7 hours, even in the wet season. Tourists can utilize the dry hours during the day to enjoy the seawaters, which are usually between 27.2°C (81°F) to 28.3°C (82.9°F). The skies are under constant cloud cover, and the high relative humidity makes the conditions uncomfortable. Make sure to check the weather forecast before planning a vacation. September is the peak of the hurricane season and susceptible to tropical storms and cyclones that scourge the Caribbean. Avoid September as far as possible to visit the Dominican Republic.
Weather in October
October is the wettest month of the year in the southern half of the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo receives 185.4mm (7.3"), while Punta Cana registers 149.9mm (5.9"), and Barahona sees 185.4mm (7.3") in 10 to 12 wet days in the month. Night temperatures drop slightly to register between 20°C (68°F) and 23.9°C (75°F). Days are still hot, with high temperatures that touch 32.2°C (90°F) in many places. The cloud cover decreases with each passing day, with a 40% chance of clear skies by the end of the month. Most of the country sees sunset between 6 to 6.30 p.m. as the daylight drops to 11.5 hours. The possibility of storms does not instill confidence in visitors who wish to enjoy snorkeling, sailing, and other water activities. The days remain muggy despite light breezes in the evenings with average wind speeds at 16.1km/h (10mph). The high humidity and resulting heat index make October an unfavorable time to visit the Dominican Republic.
Weather in November
November sees ample rainfall in the northern coastal regions of the Dominican Republic, and moderate in the south. The Amber Coast registers 231.1mm (9.1"), and Sabana de la Mar receives 269.2mm (10.6"), their highest monthly precipitation of the year. Santo Domingo in the south sees an almost 50% reduction at 99.1mm (3.9"). The average temperatures register in the 18.9°C (66°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), with the nights in the northern regions significantly colder than the south. The sunshine lasts for 7 hours everywhere, with a rapid decrease in cloud cover. The daylight gradually declines to 11 hours by the end of the month, which is still way more than that in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The muggy conditions subside gradually, with humidity levels between 65 to 85%. Expect crowds to return to the tropics with the approaching dry season and comfortable weather. The chances of storms diminish, and wet conditions decrease with each passing day in November in the Dominican Republic.
Weather in December
December begins the dry season in the Dominican Republic, with the average rainfall between 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3"). The southern coast is less rainy than the northern ones. Punta Cana and Santa Domingo receive 50.8mm (2") to 76.2mm (3") of rain within 11 wet days in the month. Puerto Plata is rainy at 231.1mm (9.1"), with 15 wet days in December. The average temperatures drop in the zone of 17.8°C (64°F) to 28.9°C (84°F), which are exceptionally pleasant for tourists from cold countries. Hot chocolate is enjoyable as the heat index lowers down to comfortable levels. The skies remain clear for eighty% of the time and create a pleasant atmosphere for various activities on the beach and inland. December 22 is the shortest day of the year, with sunrise at 7 a.m. and sunset at 6 p.m. Wind speeds are in the average range of 12.1km/h (7.5mph) to 20.9km/h (13mph), so pack a sweater for the evenings. December sees a surge in tourist numbers with fair weather in the Dominican Republic.