Most visitors arrive in the Dominican Republic as part of a package deal that includes airfare. Travel agencies will inform you of the best deals, land-and-air packages that cut costs substantially. At slow periods of the year, this package deal is tantamount to a giveaway.
Most flights into the country are routed through Miami (flight time from Miami to Santo Domingo is 1 3/4 hr.). Flying time from New York is 4 hours, and only 30 minutes from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Most charter flights from Canada originate out of Toronto, taking 4 1/2 hours to reach the D.R. From many cities in western Europe, flying time to Santo Domingo ranges from 8 to 10 hours.
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) offers the most frequent service -- at least a dozen flights daily from cities throughout North America to either Santo Domingo or Puerto Plata. Flights from hubs like New York, Miami, or San Juan are usually nonstop. American also offers some good package deals.
If you're heading to one of the Dominican Republic's smaller airports, your best bet is to catch a connecting flight with American Eagle, American's local commuter carrier. Its small planes depart every day from San Juan for airports throughout the Dominican Republic, including Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, La Romana, and Punta Cana.
Continental Airlines (tel. 800/231-0856 in the U.S.; www.continental.com) has a daily flight between Newark and Santo Domingo.
US Airways (tel. 800/622-1015; www.usairways.com) flies daily from Philadelphia to Santo Domingo. The airline also offers flights from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Punta Cana on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
JetBlue Airlines (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) flies from New York City and Orlando to Santo Domingo.
US Airways (tel. 800/622-1015; www.usairways.com) also flies from New York to the island. In addition, Delta Airlines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) flies from both New York and Miami to the Dominican Republic.
Spirit Airlines (tel. 800/772-7117; www.spiritair.com) flies from New York's La Guardia to Santo Domingo and Punta Cana and also has flights from Atlanta, Atlantic City, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Providence (Rhode Island), Washington D.C., Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), Boston, Tampa, Orlando, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
Iberia (tel. 800/772-4642 in the U.S.; www.iberia.com) offers daily flights from Madrid to Santo Domingo, making a brief stop in San Juan.
Warning: Arriving at Santo Domingo's Las Américas International Airport is confusing and chaotic. Customs officials, who tend to be rude and overworked, may give you a very thorough check. Stolen luggage is not uncommon here; beware of "porters" who offer to help with your bags.
Traveler Beware: The Uneasy Border Between Haiti & the D.R.
The troubled land of Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Many residents of the D.R., mired in poverty, flee their homeland every year, risking dangerous sea voyages on rickety boats to the nearby U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Once there, they can eventually make their way to the mainland of the U.S. and perhaps a more prosperous life.
To Haitians, mired in even greater poverty, the D.R. can appear like the promised land. The poorly patrolled border between the D.R. and Haiti has long been a source of conflict and even attacks and counterattacks.
The most notorious blood bath occurred in 1937 when the dictator Gen. Rafael Trujillo ordered that the D.R. be "cleansed" of Haitians. Soldiers and citizens alike slaughtered at least 20,000 Haitians, most of them sugar workers. The aptly named Massacre River along the two countries literally flowed with blood.
Conflicts are still raging in the post-millennium era. As late as 2005, some Haitians were beheaded by machetes. Dominicans have been known to go on a rampage, burning dozens of shacks in Haitian ghettos on D.R. soil. After the earthquake in Haiti, D.R. border guards stepped up patrols to prevent hundreds of homeless Haitians from entering the D.R. But many fleeing refugees slip through anyway.
Since very few visitors ever cross from the D.R. into Haiti by overland route, these dangerous border flare-ups will rarely concern the average visitor. All of the major D.R. resorts are far removed from the dangerous border.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.