Costa Rica vs. the Dominican Republic: Choosing the Best Vacation Destination

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Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are both popular vacation destinations for a beach vacation. However, these two destinations — located in the Caribbean and Central America — have something unique to offer, meaning that tourists might prefer one destination over the other depending on their budget and travel preferences.

If you’re torn between visiting Costa Rica vs. the Dominican Republic, read through this guide comparing and contrasting the two countries to decide which is best for your vacation (and so you can learn why — in our humble opinion — Costa Rica is the better choice!).


Beach Experience

You’ll find that both destinations offer beautiful beaches when comparing Costa Rica vs. the Dominican Republic. However, the “beach experience” at each destination is different. So, which spot offers better beaches? Let’s find out!

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a true “vacation” destination that offers everything you need for a relaxing getaway. Many tourists enjoy staying in Punta Cana, where you’ll find miles and miles of beautiful white-sand beaches and all-inclusive resorts with swimming pools and beach access, like Paradisus Punta Cana Resort.

Four people in white shirts riding brown horses on a gold sand beach in the Dominican Republic
Horseback riding on the beach is a popular activity in both Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

If you’re into high-end resorts with tourist attractions nearby, like beach bars, great restaurants, and clubs — the Dominican Republic (specifically Punta Cana) might be a great spot for your next vacation. But, that’s not the only appeal of the Dominican Republic. It also has a host of natural wonders worth exploring.

Costa Rica

If you consider yourself more of an adventurer at heart, you’ll likely prefer the beaches in Costa Rica. Unlike the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica offers beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of terrains and beach activities depending on your interests, like deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, surfing, whale watching, and more!

A family (dad, mom, and daughter) running through the waves in Costa Rica on the beach.
The beaches in Costa Rica are perfect for families and offer tons of fun things to do, from scuba diving to fishing.

The popular beaches on the Pacific Coast, like Playa Flamingo and Playa Tamarindo, are filled with natural beauty and fun things to do, and the places to stay near these beaches are slightly cheaper than the resort and hotel prices in the Dominican Republic — making the Costa Rica beaches a real “win” in our book!



Both Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic offer their fair share of activities. However, you’ll quickly find that Costa Rica offers the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation, whereas the Dominican Republic is more of a classic beach “resort” destination.

Dominican Republic

The main attraction in the Dominican Republic is the ocean but every single city in the Dominican Republic has something to offer. If you want to go swimming, snorkeling, or sunbathing, you’ll likely love the convenience of lounging around the coastal areas in the Dominican Republic such as Playa Dorada, Sosua or Cofresi.

You can also head inland to explore the Caribbean’s highest peak, Peak Duarte, or the country’s hiking trails (though there are fewer to choose from than in Costa Rica). You can also see the Spanish landmarks or historical buildings in Santo Domingo — the country’s capital. Santo Domingo is home to the first cathedral, first hospital, and first fort built in the New World with buildings dating back to Christopher Columbus’s era.

A girl in a pink swimsuit laying on the lap of a shirtless guy. The couple is sitting and lounging on a yellow towel by a pool with the beach in the background.
The Dominican Republic is a great spot to visit if you want to lounge by the pool at an all-inclusive resort.

Costa Rica

When you visit Costa Rica, you will be amazed by the sheer amount of adventurous activities you can experience within this small Central American country! The terrain and diverse landscape of Costa Rica are much more varied than the Dominican Republic, making it an excellent destination for wildlife spotting and other fun activities, like horseback riding, scuba diving, coffee tours, golf courses, canopy tours, hiking, zip-lining, white-water rafting, and more!

A sloth sitting in a tree in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has way more activities to offer than the Dominican Republic, including wildlife spotting.

When it comes to exciting activities when comparing Costa Rica vs. Dominican Republic — Costa Rica will win out every time! You will never be bored exploring the beautiful beaches, dense rainforests, national parks, biological gardens, and unique cloud forests in Costa Rica.


Location & Weather

Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic offer a tropical climate and warm weather, with the “dry season,” marked by warm, sunny days, from mid-December to April, and the “rainy season,” marked by heavy rainfall, being from May to November. However, the best time to visit each destination varies — keep reading for the full scoop.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a country in the Caribbean Sea located on Hispaniola Island that it shares with Haiti with the Atlantic Ocean to the North. The Dominican Republic is generally hotter than Costa Rica, and it’s also a target in “Hurricane Alley” during hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, which typically lasts from June through November. Hurricanes and the rainy weather make the Dominican Republic cheaper to visit during the rainy season than peak months, like March and April.

A man in a red, black, and white shirt and a white hat walking through an area in the Dominican Republic that was struck by a hurricane.
Hurricanes can strike the Dominican Republic during the summer and early fall months, so it’s best not to travel to the island during this time.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America and has two coasts — the Caribbean and Pacific sides. Because of its location, Costa Rica is in the perfect location and does not experience hurricanes or tropical storms, which makes it safe to visit year-round, unlike other countries in the Caribbean, like the Dominican Republic. However, the most beautiful weather can be enjoyed when visiting Costa Rica during the dry season!

A beach in Costa Rica with blue ocean water, green trees, and a piece of wood from a tree sitting on the beach.
Costa Rica does not experience hurricanes, so aside from a few months during the rainy season, you can expect calm weather conditions.


Culture & Cuisine

Both the Domincan Republic and Costa Rica have a vibrant (and unique) culture you can experience when you visit each country.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican culture blends Latin, Spanish, and African influences and offers a chilled-out island vibe. Popular meals in the Dominican Republic are sancocho, a meaty stew, and arroz blanco, a dish served with white rice, stewed beans, and braised chicken or beef. Locals in the Dominican Republic love to hit the dance floor, making the Dominican Republic a better location for nightlife overall than Costa Rica.

A soup served in the Dominican Republic with meat, corn, plantains, and other hearty foods sitting on a blue mosaic table.
Don’t miss the chance to try local cuisine, like this meaty stew, during your time in the Dominican Republic.

Costa Rica

Costa Rican culture embraces the “pura vida” (pure life) lifestyle — a slow-paced and intentional way of living. Though you can experience plenty of the local culture in San Jose — the capital city — the best way to experience Costa Rica’s culture is to get out of the big cities and into the smaller beach towns and local communities.

Compared to the Dominican Republic, you’ll find Costa Rica safe and free of violent crimes, and your taste buds will be delighted with local meals, like gallo pinto, a rice and beans dish, and casado, another popular meal with meat, rice, beans, and a tortilla.

Gallo pinto, a rice and beans dish that is popular in Costa Rica, sitting on a plate on a wooden table.
You’ll definitely want to try gallo pinto, a popular dish made with rice and beans, while you’re in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica vs. the Dominican Republic: Let Us Help You Make the Right Decision

Now that you know the main differences between Costa Rica vs. the Dominican Republic, only you can decide which country is best for your vacation!

However, with the sheer number of beautiful beaches and adventurous activities to enjoy in Costa Rica, along with a vibrant culture and fabulous weather — it’s hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to choose the tropical paradise of Costa Rica for their vacation!

A person walking across a green hanging bridge in the rainforest in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is filled with fun activities and adventure, which is why we would choose Costa Rica as a vacation destination over the Dominican Republic!

If you’re ready to start planning your trip to Costa Rica, let us help you find the perfect place to stay from our collection of vacation homes, beachfront villas, and quaint condos with Special Places of Costa Rica!

One Response

  1. Hi Brittany,
    Thank you for writing about my country, Dominicsn Republic.
    However, I need to do some corrections.
    Dominican Republic is bordered by the Caribbean Sea thru the East, Punta Cana, abd by the Atlantic Icean by the North, especificaly, Perto Plata, where you find Playa Dorada, Sosua and Cofresi among others.
    And DR is not only beaches. It you go to Sant Domingo, the capital, you will find an extensive area if history, buildings and museuns dating back to Christopher Columbus era. Among them, the first cathedral , first hospital, first fort build in the new world, as Columbus used to called. Every single city in Dominican Republic has something to offer, even the cities with no beaches around. Pico Duarte (Peak Duarte) is the tallest peak in all the caribbean.
    I recognice that Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a lot to offer. And I dare to say that is safer than Dominican Republic. But, Domincan Republic has it all.

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