Dominican Republic VS Cuba

These countries are equally well for honeymoons, family trips, and fun adventures with friends. And for any kind of vacation, there are plenty of places to stay. The Dominican Republic is known for its breathtaking landscapes, warm people and turquoise sea. But Cuba is not inferior to it either. You can have a good rest in the DR as well as in Cuba, and the sea is the same, and nature seems to be similar. After all, they are very close!

But still, which is better – the Dominican Republic VS Cuba? What should you pay attention to? Which is better for a family vacation, and which is for a fun youth group? Let’s compare the weather, attractions, entertainment, beaches and prices in both countries in 2020.

1. Weather differences between Cuba and the DR

Both islands are located practically at the same latitude in relation to the equator, and both are washed by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. In theory, the climate should be similar, but there are still certain differences between Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Weather in the DR

Punta Cana, Bavaro, the DR

Punta Cana, Bavaro, the DR

Little seasonal variation in temperature during the year. In general, the climate is more comfortable and conducive to relaxation. There is no pronounced hurricane season. At the same time, the climate of the eastern coast of the island differs from the southern one. For example, Punta Cana is the extreme eastern point of the island, where the powerful underwater currents of the Atlantic are combined with frequent winds.

And for this reason, the weather forecast is absent as a concept – in one place it is raining all day, and after a couple of kilometers there may be wonderful weather, and vice versa. The sun is distinguished by increased activity – without exception, I recommend everyone to take protective equipment SPF 50 – anyone burns in the direct sunlight regardless of skin color. The beaches are often littered with algae.

Weather in Cuba

Varadero, Cuba

Varadero, Cuba

Located closer to the mainland (USA), cold cyclones often come unexpectedly from Florida when the air temperature decrease for several days. The climate is tropical; moderated by trade winds. A dry season (from November to April) and a rainy season (from May to October) stand out. The east coast is hit by hurricanes from August to November.

A softer and more affectionate sun than in the Dominican Republic. The heat is much easier to endure here. Awesomely beautiful ocean. However, nature itself is not very diverse, and the air and water are not perfectly clean – this is the result of the development of socialist industry.

2. Atmosphere and general economy level

Cuba and the Dominican Republic have a lot in common. Suffice it to say that both islands were discovered almost simultaneously – in 1492, by Christopher Columbus. But in the last century, a socialist revolution broke out in Cuba, which radically changed the history of the island. And the DR has remained the same colonial-respectable and capitalist.

The Dominican economy level

The Dominican Republic is the most visited island in the Caribbean. More than 5 million tourists come here annually. The strengthening of the US dollar during the Obama administration had a positive impact on the country’s economy. Thanks to the influx of tourists, including Americans, the country has developed successfully in recent years.

Unique atmosphere in Cuba

Unique atmosphere in Cuba

Unique atmosphere in Cuba

Unlike the Dominican Republic, Cuba could not trade with its wealthy neighbor due to the embargo. This significantly slowed down its development. As a result, Cuba is an island that is kind of stuck in a time capsule.

It’s hard to find luxury in Cuba, but everything has its own unique atmosphere. The old quarters, some of which strongly resemble ruins, live at their own leisurely pace. It is broken only by the fiery rhythms of mamba, salsa and rumba. The walls of the buildings are decorated with posters calling for freedom and equality.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and its capital, Havana, is the largest city in the region. Its centuries-old history has mixed different cultures and architectural styles. In this regard, vacation in Cuba will be very informative.

Cuba is a country for those who are looking for a colorful and atmospheric vacation, want to delve into the study of culture and history, dream of driving a Cadillac, taste Cuban cigars and rum.

3. Service and hospitality comparison

The differences in the services to tourists are quite significant. And this is very important, especially if you are on vacation with children. Although foreign tourists in Cuba are provided with very special conditions for recreation, the choice of upscale hotels in the Dominican Republic is wider.

Resort zones in Cuba are very different in terms of their level from the rest of the country. The hotels of the world’s leading chains are located here. Most of them work on an all-inclusive basis, as in the Dominican Republic. But still, Cuba hotels are inferior to the Dominican ones in terms of service level.

Capitalism exerts its influence in the Dominican Republic: there are many fashionable 4 and 5-star all-inclusive hotels, expensive restaurants, many SPA-salons… At the same time, the Dominican Republic is almost entirely a tourist zone, while in Cuba, having left the resort zone, you find yourself in a completely different world.

Spa Center «Flavio Acuña» in Bavaro, Punta Cana

Spa Center «Flavio Acuña» in Bavaro, Punta Cana

The level of service in the hotels of the Dominican Republic is much higher, and the choice of luxury high-comfort hotels is wider. The country is literally filled with expensive restaurants and SPAs. A weeklong 5-star all-inclusive holiday starts at around $900 per person, service is impeccable, hotels are clean and staff are friendly.

According to many reviews who have visited both Cuba and the Dominican Republic, we can conclude that the Dominican Republic has better service and the attitude of the local population towards tourists. In Cuba, some of the vacationers had to deal with the rudeness and inattention of the staff. In short, the service in Cuba is more “unobtrusive”, which many of us have encountered at home.

Food in hotels is about the same level everywhere – good.

So, if you want a luxury vacation that you will remember for a long time, and if you have the money to spend it properly, then a vacation in the Dominican Republic is undoubtedly an excellent choice. Depending on the amount of money, you will be offered a variety of choices – from first-class hotels to villas with a private pool. If you really need a luxury vacation and you can afford it, then in the Dominican Republic you will get it. But with all that, if you want a more economical option, you can choose an inexpensive family villa or a more modest hotel.

For the sake of fairness, it should be said that although the Dominican service is better than the Cuban one, it is still worse than in neighboring Mexico, and even more so in Europe.

On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, Cuba can be a great alternative as it offers more modest but more reasonable hotels. But if necessary, you can stay in a villa with a private pool overlooking the sea, and it will be somewhat cheaper than in the Dominican Republic.

In both countries, little travelers are excellently treated, and in the Dominican Republic, children can practice anything. Here they are welcome guests and practically divine beings.

4. Hotels: Dominican Republic VS Cuba

Beachfront condo in Punta Cana, the DR

Beachfront condo in Punta Cana, the DR

In the Dominican Republic there are mostly expensive 4* and 5* hotels, many of them operate on an “all inclusive” basis. The hotel beaches are well maintained, there are sun loungers and sun loungers. In general, the level of service is higher than in Cuba, but lower than in Europe or neighboring Mexico. The disadvantage of many tourists is the sluggishness of the staff. This is the mentality of the local population – they are never in a hurry.

There are many Spanish hotel chains in Cuba with quality services. Basically, these are 2* and 3* hotels, 4* and 5* so far a little. The hotel beaches are equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas. The all-inclusive system is widespread in Varadero hotels. Pros: inexpensive vacation, pleasant and friendly Cubans. Cons: hotel service is still developing and requires investment, and shopping in Cuba is almost completely absent as a concept.

Vacation with children

When planning a family vacation in the Dominican Republic, you should give preference to 4-5* hotels in Punta Cana. Many of them have rooms with children’s furniture, their own water parks, playgrounds, animators, mini-clubs and a children’s menu in restaurants.

The Cuban resorts of Varadero, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba also have hotels for families. The cost of living in them is lower than in the Dominican ones. However, there are more options to diversify children’s beach activities.

 5. Entertainment and excursions comparison

Cuba is considered to be a more hangout place. It is believed that there is more fun here: rest takes place in the fiery rhythms of Cuban music, the energy of Cubans charges with cheerfulness, and many festivals await tourists. Varadero and Havana are modern cities with a unique energy and vibrant nightlife. Cubans know how and love to have fun right, their vigorous dances until the morning charge all guests with excellent mood.

There is enough music and festivals in the Dominican Republic, especially in the capital of Santo Domingo, but here the rest is considered calmer, more romantic. It is easier to find a place in the “relax” style. Only one “Bounty beach” is worth something – and there are many similar places in the Dominican Republic.

If you refer to shopping as entertainment, then in Cuba it is practically absent. Keep this in mind.

One of the most popular excursion destinations in the Dominican Republic is Saona Island, a wonderful nature reserve. Basically, in the Dominican Republic, excursions are designed so that a tourist can see the animals that live here, see various fruits and other plants, get to know the local population, ride a hot air balloon, surf, dive and snorkel.

Saona Island, the Dominican Republic

Saona Island, the Dominican Republic

There are many beautiful natural places in the Dominican Republic: islands, mountains, caves. All excursions are associated with their visit. There are excellent diving places. According to vacationers, diving in the Caribbean is not worse than in the Maldives, but it costs a lot of money.

The Dominican Republic has historical sites such as the Columbus Museum, but they are few. There is little colonial architecture, from this point of view, only Santo Domingo is interesting.

Cuba, on the other hand, is fraught with a great history. The capital of Cuba, Havana, was built by the Spaniards from the 16th century to the 19th century. Cuba also has the best tobacco plantations, and cigar lovers will love this place. At the same time, in the circles of amateurs, disputes still do not subside: which cigars are better – Dominican or Cuban.

Excursions in Cuba are almost all dedicated to sightseeing.

6. Where are the best beaches – Dominican Republic VS Cuba?

Well, the beaches in Cuba and the Dominican Republic are magnificent! Snow-white, with clean soft sand, at the edge of the blue sea… In both countries, the most beautiful, covered with fine sand, beaches on the shores of the azure sea. Remember the “Bounty Beach”…

Beaches in the DR

Beaches in Punta Cana, the DR

Beaches in Punta Cana, the DR

Traditionally, it is believed that the best beaches in the Dominican Republic are located in the Punta Cana area. Although, in different resorts of the Dominican Republic, the beaches have their own characteristics. Therefore, everyone will find the best beach just for themselves. Someone will appreciate the beaches of Saona, someone – Boca Chica or La Romana.

It should also be borne in mind that in the Dominican Republic, public beaches are much worse cleaned than hotel ones. And with the conveniences (changing cabins) there is also “not very well”. It may happen that you will have to change your clothes in the beach toilet.

Beaches in Cuba

Beaches in Cuba

Beaches in Cuba

Cuba has more resort areas, so there are more beaches. They are as clean as in the Dominican Republic. It should be noted that in Cuba the beaches are a little cleaner, as the sea throws less algae on the shore. According to many tourists, the Cuban beaches in the Varadero area even surpass the Dominican ones. Palm trees are everywhere, water in every shade of blue you can imagine. It is shallow, without waves and the water is so transparent, it’s like going through liquid glass. There are no ebb and flow so there are almost no underwater currents. Even the sand on the beach is whiter. All in all, Cuban beaches will not disappoint you. Still, they are less “postcard” than the Dominican ones.

7. Attractions & Landmarks of Cuba and the DR

Cuba can offer several more historical landmarks, and a significant part of them are from the era of the revolution. Almost all the sights here are related to the history of the country, which determines its special flavor.

In the Dominican Republic, much more attention is paid to natural attractions such as the Bounty Island (Saona), the Samana Peninsula, whale watching, and visiting various romantic places. Well, the romance of Cuba is rather revolutionary. We are not saying that nature is worse or poorer here – just less attention is paid to it as a landmark.

Most of the excursions in the resorts of the Dominican Republic are focused on getting to know the local flora and fauna, as well as surfing and diving. There is a rich underwater world and exceptionally clear water, which makes the resorts of the Dominican Republic ideal for snorkeling as well.

The country has interesting historical sites, concentrated mainly in Santo Domingo, but there are not as many of them as in Cuba, which is fraught with a rich history.

In addition, in the Dominican Republic you will most likely be immediately warned that it will not always be safe to leave the hotel territory alone. Especially if the hotel is not in the city. Cuba is much safer in this regard.

What to visit with children

In Cuba, this is the Turtle Farm on the island of Cayo Largo, where your kids will be able to release barely hatched babies into the sea. The Baconao National Park in Santiago de Cuba has more than 200 life-size prehistoric lizards, which makes it look like the scenery for the movie Jurassic Park. The Havana City Aquarium hosts entertaining shows with the participation of fur seals, and the National Zoo on the outskirts of the Cuban capital is so vast that they ride on a special bus.

The DR surpasses Cuba in the number of water parks and amusement parks, the best of which are located in Punta Cana. The water park at Barcelo Palace Deluxe Resort is designed like a medieval castle and a pirate sailboat. In the neighboring “Manati Park” entertaining shows with parrots, horses and dolphins are held. And no one child would refuse to look into the Chocolate Museum in Santo Domingo with tasting and master classes on making sweets!

8. Is Cuba or Dominican Republic cheaper?

Vacation in the Dominican Republic is more expensive than in Cuba – the level of service is higher, so hotel accommodation, food and excursions are not cheap. So, accommodation in a 4-5-star hotel will cost from $150 per day or more, lunch at a restaurant $40, and excursions from $40 to $250 per person. Tourists note a good level of service and call the overall high cost a disadvantage.

In Cuba, the is a government regulation of prices for tourism services. Prices are average, entrance fees to museums and parks are from $3 to $10, excursions for the whole day are about $70. Accommodation in a good hotel will cost about $80-100, and you can rent a room in a guest house for $20. Lunch for two is $15, a bottle of water or a cup of coffee is $1, a bottle of rum is $10-12, and a mojito is $2.5. Despite a good selection of budget accommodation, the service in Cuba is somewhat inferior to the Dominican Republic, and people with high demands here may not like it.

10. Food in Cuba vs the Dominican Republic

Food in the Dominican Republic

Food in the Dominican Republic

The national cuisine of the Dominican Republic is represented by dishes of meat, beans, rice and fruits. Bananas, which are boiled, fried and stewed here, are an integral attribute. Fish and seafood are rare.

In Cuba, eating in restaurants is straightforward: Cubans prefer meat combined with a variety of vegetables and fruits. Bananas, avocados and oranges are used to make sauces for hot dishes.

11. Cuba and Dominican Republic similarities

Let’s start with the fact that these countries are adjacent to each other. Both islands are part of the Greater Antilles. Cuba is on the largest of them. Dominican Republic and Cuba on the world map are located very close to each other. This means that they really have a lot in common:

  • Mild tropical climate
  • Picturesque nature
  • White beaches with fine sand
  • Azure water of the Caribbean Sea
  • Christian faith (Catholicism)
  • Spanish
  • European holidays and traditions

Both Cuba and the Dominican Republic are agricultural countries and are famous for their excellent national products. Therefore, as souvenirs from both countries, they usually bring the same thing:

  • Local rum and drinks based on it
  • Famous handmade cigars
  • Real cane sugar
  • Excellent quality coffee and cocoa
  • Local crafts

The overall verdict will depend on your travel goals. If you want complete relaxation, day-long rest on the beach, discos and dancing until you drop, choose Cuba. Except for fun, cigars and rivers of alcohol, there is practically nothing there. Unless you will be interested in viewing the ancient architecture and monuments of the revolution.

If you like more active rest, are interested in the beauties of nature, adore fascinating excursions, do not particularly like night gatherings with a sea of ​​alcohol in bars, go on vacation as a romantic couple and together with a friend, then definitely choose the Dominican Republic. There is more drive, more interesting and in general it may even be cheaper.

Considering all this information, you can easily decide which country is better and which country is more suitable for you for a vacation – the Dominican Republic VS Cuba!

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