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By No owner — last modified Aug 13, 2018 01:36 PM

 Dominican Republic - Profile


  • The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, one of the Greater Antilles; the other third of the island is Haiti, culturally very different from the Dominican Republic.
  • Unlike in the past, foreign yachts are welcome in most places and facilities are steadily improving. Entry formalities are now completed quickly in most ports of entry when all the paperwork is in order. But be prepared for being boarded and inspected at almost every stop you make, including while at anchor on passage.
  • There are two routes east to the Lesser Antilles. Some cruisers take the route along the north coast of the DR and some go along the south coast. There are pros and cons to each route which should be reviewed, studied and understood before a trip is made to the eastern Caribbean. See publications.
  • One paricularly attractive stop is at Samana Bay, on the east coast. This is an area to which humpback whales migrate for the breeding season.
  • Because of the prevailing NE winds, the south coast offers more protected anchorages and attractive harbours, ranging from Punta Beata in the west to Isla Saona at the far eastern end of the island.
  • The best facilities are to the east of the capital, Santo Domingo, at Boca Chica and further east at Casa de Campo. West of the capital, Las Salinas is probably the best stop. Outside of the large industrial centres, repair facilities for yachts are virtually non-existent although minor repairs can be dealt with by ordinary workshops.
  • The average cost for day workers doing cosmetic work is between US$50-100 per day, depending on whether the worker is Dominican or Haitian. Whilst this price appears very attractive, cruisers should be aware that the standard of workmanship tends to match the price and many are not entirely satisfied with the results.
  • Luperon, on the north coast, has a well sheltered harbour and is popular with many. Luperon Officials however have in the past charged 'illegally high fees'. The long-term cruising community here are working hard to change this.
  • There are some relatively new large resorts which have marinas within their complexes at Punta Cana, Casa de Campo and Cofresi (Ocean World Marina) - 3NM W of Puerto Plata.


Based on reports to Noonsite from cruisers, petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. Thieves are getting bolder and swimming out to yachts on moorings or at anchor, even boarding boats inside guarded marinas.

Reports in 2018 seem to be coming from Luperon. A popular haven for cruisers, Luperon did have a reputation for theft in the harbour in the past. Efforts were made to reduce theft from yachts here, however there appears to have been several incidents of late so cruisers should be cautious here. See the Luperon port page for more details.

Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night and whilst asleep (i.e. secure the boat). If leaving your boat for any length of time, research carefully and only appoint a recommended caretaker for your boat. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight. Lock it or lose it.

Be prepared not to expect Western standards when it comes to crime and officialdom.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net ([email protected]) provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.

Also be sure to check the Noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages

Last updated:  December 2018


The Dominican Republic lies in the outer tropical zone, so there is little temperature variation between summer and winter. The varied relief of the large island means a diverse climate, from warm and tropical to arid and more temperate.

Oficina Nacional de Meteorologia de Republica Dominicana

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Cruising vessels are advised to clear into the DR at either Barahona, Boca Chica, Casa de Campo, Cofresi, Luperon, Punta Cana or Samana. These ports are set up with all the official agencies and are more familiar with dealing with cruising boats.

Other clearance ports that are "habilitado" (i.e. have a Coast Guard station), will clear vessels that are cruising the country for a local despacho, but cannot be relied upon to do international clearance.

Although San Pedro de Macoris, on the south coast of the DR, is a port of entry, it is a commercial industrial port which does not cater to cruising sailors, therefore yachts should avoid it. The same applies to Santo Domingo.

Holly Redmond
Holly Redmond says:
Apr 21, 2018 02:50 PM

We arrived in Luperon in March 2018 and have spent nearly a month and a half here. The people are some of the friendliest that we have ever encountered. No issues with theft or safety whatsoever. The pricing is a welcome break after coming from the Bahamas. We pay $2 a day for a mooring, $1 per 5 gallons of water and luch at Las Velas is $3. We have also used one of the local canvas shops for a $300 dinghy chaps. Patulas Restaurant has become one of our favorites along with Wendy's Bar and Las Velas at Puerto Blanco. Kat, the owner of Patula's has been very helpful in recommending and even organizing some of the trips throughout the Island. The waterfalls are only a short ride away from the harbor and is a must do. One of the best beaches we have ever seen is also a relatively short, yet beautiful ride to Cambioso. La Islabella is another short ride with a fun beach. Santo Domingo, although on the south side of the island is about a days trip on what are surprisingly modern busses. We have done so much here in the Dominican Republic and all the while safely moored in Luperon Harbor. Don't just stop at Georgetown in the Bahamas, come down to Luperon!

Cornelis says:
Feb 11, 2018 10:21 PM

Anybody? A USA produced boat, 18 years old to import in DR taxfree possible based on CAFTA or NAFTA ? Should be possible but what then with sales tax. Is there still a sales tax after 18 years...? If nobody has the answer : Wich tax lawyer to contact? bst grts

EvenKeel says:
Feb 04, 2017 05:40 PM

I was not suggesting the extortion was part of the hold up. I was just writing these facts as a result of our detention.
My point is only, if you go to DR be careful, you won´t sail the way you want. That's it.
I'm sailing for nearly 30 years all over the world, so I'm quite aware of what should happen or not.
Anyway, thank you for justifying the DR point of view as you did, but I'm quite sure there are more reports of robbery and attacks than disasters at sea.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 03, 2017 02:04 PM

Posted on behalf of Frank Virgintino - author of the DR Free Cruising Guide:

The real issue is one of safety and you will find it throughout the Greater Antilles and for good reason. Heading east from Cuba, Hispaniola or Puerto Rico, strong NE winds, E winds and SE winds can cause difficult conditions especially near capes and highlands - such is the case between Salinas and Barahona/Punta Beata. I once spent 7 days "locked up" in San Juan due to strong NE winds, because the Coast Guard would not let us depart.

The Coasts Guard of the Greater Antilles is very aware of vessels moving in high winds and large seas. Frequently motors quit on boats due to sludge in the tanks clogging filters and many times boats are lost and crew injured or worse. In the case of the Dominican Republic, when winds become strong, the Coast Guard in Santo Domingo review wind and sea conditions and make a "small craft" decision for the entire island. Sometimes it is extended to include commercial craft as well.

The writer of this report suggests that the hold up was related to extorting an extra tip. There is no question that tips are a way of life in these countries, but in the case they describe, the orders did not come from Salinas, they came from Coast Guard Central in Santo Domingo. Once the Coast Guard there decides that "small craft warnings go up", it is no different than in the States; boats are advised to stay in harbour. In the DR, because of the need for a despacho, truly one cannot leave. This can lead to upset and frustration, but it comes out of a commitment of the Coast Guard doing their job.

Let's take the reverse. High winds and large seas are the conditions and the Coast Guard allows boats to depart. Someone loses their boat and/or gets hurt and then asks "why was I allowed to depart in those conditions?"

When we are cruising, all manner and sorts of things happen and not always to our satisfaction. However, to cruise happy (and safe), as we visit different countries, we must realise that we subject ourselves to their jurisdiction and judgement. While we may be captains and masters of our little ships, we are subject to local laws and customs.

EvenKeel says:
Jan 28, 2017 01:59 AM

There is a new administrative disposition in the DR. It is supposed to protect the sailors and the fishermen from bad weather risks.
The Armada is still giving the «despacho» but now, under the order of a «weather coordinator». Colonel Perratas Mieres is the official in charge for the time being, and believe me, he will protect you more than any «mother hen» could ever think of.
For example, when 25 knots of wind is forecast at Puerto Plata and Samana (Atlantic coast), he will hold all despachos for the Caribbean Coast too, even if it´s forecast 5 to 8 knots gusting 12! The result is you cannot leave the place you’re in! It´s like if someone, in your birth land, says: «Fresh wind forecast in the Great Lakes - California Coast is closed.»
This is why we had to stay 4 supplementary days in Salinas.
To get an international despacho, we had to go to Barahona, an easy 30 miles step from Salinas.
There, same story. 7 days and 30US$ for prolongation of the stay! Winds between 5 to 15 knots, seas 1 to 2 feet. And it lasted 7 days.
We tried to explain the «boat is built to cross oceans» and we have «weather knowledge and facilities to get forecasts», but the commandantes of the Armada are totally afraid of Mieres, and would only check the SMS sent by the colonel, answering us: «Mañana... maybe».
Colonel Mieres sees no difference between a light fishing boat and a 40 foot long-range cruiser. I really believe he sees no difference between 10 knots and 35 knots of wind either.
At least, when the wind started to blow a little, Mieres decided everything will be delivered soon.
It took 1 more day to get everything in order -40 US$ of mandatory propina included (but not due), to be freed from our chains, and I mean it, because you really feel like in prison in your boat.
Thank you to Sarayu for their support all along this unsupportable episode. This is an experience I’ll hope to never experience again.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 16, 2016 12:32 PM

There is a chandlery contact in Luperon on the north coast.
On the south shore in Boca Chica near the yacht club is a marine store.
Also in the south in Santo Domingo is a marine dealer called Automarine. They have full chandlery as well.
Our thanks to Frank Virgintino for this prompt summary.

wmcc says:
Nov 14, 2016 01:33 PM

Hi everyone, I am looking for somewhere to buy some basic emergency flares in the DR, preferably in Samana or along the North coast. We are on a charity kayak expedition and unfortunately were robbed of our flares and a number of other items. Also looking for somewhere to make some basic fibreglass repairs (or at least buy the supplies for).

Ogrot says:
Mar 18, 2016 01:02 AM

From March 2016:
1.8 USD per foot for a berth in Boca Chica Marina (Zarpar).
Officials are friendly, but they all tell you to talk to the agent at the marina (who will charge you 250 USD). So when checking out I would strongly advise to start the process early. There is no need to pay the agent anything. Total cost for me ended up being the 75 + 15 + 15 USD (i.e. the boat + two persons - all paid to the Immigration office at the port on entry) plus 20 USD to the coast guard after the boat had been searched and we were clear to leave.
It took 2 hours arguing before I could leave though, but better that then paying 250 USD to the agent.
I'm on a budget, knowing what I know now, I would have skipped the DR and gone straight to Isle La Vache in Haiti. Free anchorage, and no hassle.
The Capitan of the Marina Zarpar is a good man! But the agent there is willing to say a lot of rubbish to have you pay him.
Olav Grottveit
SY Rainmaker

Miki says:
Feb 28, 2016 08:48 PM

Engine failed and sailed into pretty bay in the South near El Soco, Romana. Moored in front of top end hotel. Within half an hour friendly policeman arrived in hotel dive boat. Told us we had to leave and I explained engine kaput. Gave him $20.00 and he said we could stay only behind the little island in centre of the bay. So he towed us there and we sailed off in the morning. Anchored off Isla Catalina, no problem, likewise Isla Saona. Engine broke off Boca de Yuma and anchored 50 yards up river in 2 meters, delightful place. Again policeman arrived with fisherman gave him $30.00 and coffee, Very helpful guy and called a mechanic for us. Left 2 days later. Anchored in Miches and early morning taken off to Police station. Usual transaction all very nice and dropped back to boat after checking despacho and stuff. Anchored in Sosua North end of the beach. Fair swell. No official visitors here. It is a shame they have this unusual policy about no anchoring in the DR, but great officials. Recommend smiling and being friendly!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 26, 2015 08:47 PM

Posted on behalf of 4Tux:
March entry to Puerto Plata: $12.50 per person for tourist visa document (immigration) for 30 days. That has recently been extended officially to a 60 day tourist visa. Other fees for entry were $75. A grande total of $100 for two persons and a vessel. Luperon is charging about double that amount for entry plus harbor entry fees, anchoring fees, landing fees.

Cade Johnson
Cade Johnson says:
Jan 11, 2015 12:44 PM

I arrived in Luperon in 2009 by sea, and have swallowed the anchor and moved inland. So I cannot provide a first-hand account of check-in and check-out as currently practiced, but several Luperon expatriate residents have recently reported that very few boats are visiting Luperon. Some that have reported being charged undocumented fees by the current port captain. For example, one recent boater reported being charged for only staying a few days and "not spending enough money in town". Naturally such rumors are difficult to substantiate. Port captains change every six months or thereabout and some are honest - but since the traffic rate is now so reduced it will be relatively difficult to obtain current information.
On the bright side, the Puerto Blanco marina has had a facelift and is under new and invigorating management (NW corner of the bay).

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