I was there for a week (Santa Domingo area) a couple of years ago for a wedding. The resorts are really nice, the beaches are nice, and the weather is generally good.
I looked into the antimalaria shots and all of that with a travel doctor in my area. After speaking with him about where I was traveling he said I didn’t need to get any shots or take any meds beforehand. He explained that the CDC precautions are more for people that are going out into the jungle or into isolated areas. HOWEVER, I still advise anyone traveling to this part of the world to check with a doctor to be sure you are up to date on your vaccines and determine your own personal health risks.
I would also advise anyone, no matter where they are traveling outside of the States, to register with the American Embassy, letting them know where you’re going, how long you’re going to be there, and how they can reach you while you’re there. This is smart because if you are in the Dominican Republic and there is some sort of issue (hurricanes, riots, a war breaks out), the Embassy will know how to find you to advise you on what to do/where to go. Iin certain situations, they will actually come and collect you in person for your own safety. But they can only do this if they know where you are!
Also – DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!! Do NOT use ICE CUBES!! Even at the upscale resorts, a bunch of people in the wedding party got horrible stomach viruses and spent the majority of their time laying in bed wishing they were dead. 🙁
Also, if you do venture outside of the tourist areas, do not expect anyone to speak a lick of English. Also, beware of your personal belongings at all times. My boyfriend was pickpocketed – they stole his wallet right out of his back pocket and he never even felt it. –
There are no traditional driving laws the way there are in America. Drinking and driving is allowed. Driving on sidewalks is allowed. Driving on a motorbike with a kid strapped to your back is allowed. Driving the wrong way in traffic is allowed and no one pays attention to the few traffic lights that exist. They just ignore them.
The Dominican Republic was a beautiful country, but venturing outside the designated tourist areas wasn’t as fun for me. The country is kind of run down and there were a lot of beggars. It made me feel terrible for being a rich, white American sitting in an airconditioned bus while kids on the sidewalk were begging for food. It definitely spoiled the mood of wanting to relax and have fun. 🙁