Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are both amazing places to spend your next vacation, but choosing between the two can be challenging. Both destinations are known for their gorgeous scenery, beautiful weather, and local culture and cuisine, making the choice between them anything but easy.
These countries are often compared because they both offer breathtaking beaches that make for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. So it’s no wonder it’s hard to decide which location to choose and spend your limited vacation time at.
Before making your decision, there are some similarities and differences that you should consider which can help you make the right decision.
As we know both destinations well, here we show you want makes each different. Below we look at which one has the best beaches, activities, food, which is the most affordable and more!
- How Do the Beaches Compare
- Which Has Better Activities
- Which Has the Better Location
- Where to Stay Depending on Your Budget
- Which is More Affordable
- What About the Weather
- Which Has the Better Food
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Which Has Better Beaches?
Both Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic offer access to beautiful Caribbean beaches. But choosing the type of beach environment comes down to what you are hoping to get out of your vacation.
The Dominican Republic tends to provides everything you need to relax and unwind. You’ll find resorts that offer top-tier beach and pool access, perfect for someone interested in staying in, unplugging, and unwinding. Make sure to make time to visit the tourist favorite area of Punta Cana which has access to thirty miles of Caribbean white-sand beaches, lots of beach bars and clubs, and the full beach vacation experience.
Costa Rica is perfect for the adventurer, with access to kayaking and surfing on their gorgeous beaches. The Costa Rican landscape lends itself to exploring, being outdoors, and even seeing some wildlife. Costa Rican beaches tend to be more spread out and more rural, meaning you will have to travel more to get to them.
Costa Rica has gorgeous beaches, but they won’t be quite as accessible as those in the Dominican Republic. For Caribbean beach access in Costa Rica, visit the area of Punta Uva, which offers crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and a lovely small town featuring great restaurants and boutique hotels. (Recommended: Sharks in Costa Rica).
Winner: The Dominican Republic for ease of access and more amenities.
Recommended Stay in the Dominican Republic:
Radisson Blu Punta Cana: This exceptional all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana just steps away from the “Coconut Coast”, an area of white sand, great activities and nightlife. The resort has a stunning lagoon-style pool, six exclusive restaurants, a fitness center, spa and more. Find out more by clicking here.
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Which Has Better Activities?
Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have much in common in terms of activities. They both offer five-star hotels and accommodation, world-renowned beaches, and access to surfing, kayaking, and other water activities.
However what sets the two apart is access to adventurous activities. Costa Rica provides visitors with waterfall sightings, hiking, biking, ziplining, suspension bridges, and unparalleled wildlife encounters. For some of the most adventurous activities, make sure to visit Monteverde, a small, rural, rainforest town.
Monteverde offers great activities like coffee tours (we recommend the family-owned Cafe Monteverde), and the adventure park of Selvatura where you can zip line and walk above the rainforest on high suspension bridges. While Costa Rica offers five-star hotels and accommodation, it also offers visitors access to a more rural and wild side of a vacation. (Related: Hiking in Costa Rica).
The Dominican Republic is the perfect location for someone looking to relax and recharge. While there are a variety of activities to enjoy, the options don’t compare to those offered in Costa Rica.
In the Dominican Republic, visitors can expect to find day trips to beautiful beaches. Tourists love the Isla Catalina, a small, uninhabited, tropical island located a mile and a half from the main island. Many hotels in the area can help you arrange a day trip to the island, where you can snorkel or just lay in the sun and relax. For a truly unplugged experience, book your stay at Bahia Principe, the only hotel on the tiny, idyllic island of Cayo Levantado. Nicknamed “Bacardi Island”, Cayo Levantado’s beautiful scenery is often featured in the liquor manufacturer’s advertisements.
Winner: Costa Rica, you just can’t beat the variety of activities available.
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Which Has the Better Location?
Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are both located in North America, and both have access to the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic is located on the island Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti.
The terrain includes beaches, highlands, and rainforests, and the nation offers access to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Dominican Republic has access to world-class resorts and relaxing beaches, perfect for a relaxing getaway.
Costa Rica is located in Central America, with access to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, if you are interested in visiting multiple locations, Costa Rica offers a greater variety than the Dominican Republic.
Costa Rica also has beautiful beaches and some of the most diverse rainforests in the world. If it’s wildlife you’re after, Costa Rica provides unmatched access to a huge variety of biodiversity and wildlife. It’s unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. (Related: The Beautiful Birds of Costa Rica and Where to Find Them).
Winner: Draw. It depends on what you want your experience to be like.
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Where to Stay Depending on Your Budget
Shoestring: This hotel is excellent value, and while it’s in a rural location, it does sit right on the beach in the Tortuguero National Park – a place famous for its wildlife and turtles. To get a beachside spot at this price, with outdoor pool and hammocks included, is a steal.
Budget: The four-star Eco Boutique Hotel Vista Las Islas Reserva Natural complete with infinity pool, pool bar, and spectacular ocean views over the Gulf of Nicoya is an affordable choice which looks worth more than their current nightly rates. Dreamy is the best way to describe it.
Luxury: With its own private beach, swimming pools, tropical gardens, and every facility imaginable (even a nightclub!), Resort Dreams Las Mareas All Inclusive is one of those places we all want to visit once in our lifetime.
Shoestring: Why stay in a hostel, when you can have the memories of glamping in the DR! That’s what you get when staying in one of the luxury tents, complete with hotel style fittings, at Glamping Los Hicacos Blanco. You’ll be waking up to the sound of birds in a tropical garden and enjoying your own private patio with mountain views. Bliss.
Budget: For something a little different from the usual beachside accommodation, El Beaterio Casa Museo is a gorgeous, highly affordable 16th-century converted convent located in the historic Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. It’s still just a ten-minute walk from the beach, there’s panoramic views from the terrace, and the decor and design are just spectacular. If you want to stay somewhere extra special, this is the place.
Luxury: For a taste of luxury in Punta Cana, it’s hard to beat the all-inclusive adults-only resort of Live Aqua Beach. This beachside hotel is the perfect place to relax, has its own private beach area, swimming pools, and rooms with unbelievable seaside views. Plus all of that is set in a great location to enjoy everything Punta Cana has to offer.
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Which is More Affordable?
In general, the cost of living is more expensive in Costa Rica. Food and rent are more expensive compared to that of the Dominican Republic. While the cost of your trip is very dependent on your travel preferences, we’ve done our best to give you an idea of expected costs.
Hostels in Costa Rica can be as low as $25 a day for the most budget-conscious traveler, but most people will be more comfortable spending about $50-$150 a day for accommodation. Eating can be economical as well, and meals can be eaten for anywhere from $8-$15 a meal. In Costa Rica, you can expect to spend a bit more on transportation, which you may need more of as the area is more rural and activities and excursions tend to be more spread out.
Similarly, in the Dominican Republic, the average hotel cost for two is closer to $140 a night, making it only slightly cheaper than Costa Rica. However, an entire day of meals in the Dominican Republic can be around $30, which is cheaper than it is in Costa Rica. Traveling around the Dominican Republic may be less extensive because most travelers stick to the area they stay in. If you do choose to travel around, expect to spend about $5 on a taxi for short trips.
Winner: Dominican Republic.
Costa Rica vs Dominican Republic: Which Has Better Weather?
April and May tend to be the best time to visit the Dominican Republic. This time frame falls right after the tourist season so you can avoid the crowds, but also before hurricane season.
In general, the Dominican Republic is very warm, warmer than Costa Rica, particularly in the coastal areas where tourists flock to the beautiful beaches. The Dominican Republic experiences two wet seasons, from May to June and again from August to November. December through April tend to be very busy as the weather is dry and warm. If you are looking for a winter escape from the cold, the Dominican Republic would be a great option.
Costa Rica also experiences relatively dry and warm weather along the coast, with cooler and wetter temperatures in the interior rainforest areas. The weather is best between December and April when the weather is warm and rainstorms are few. Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic offer similar weather temperatures at similar times of the year, so there’s no clear winner here.
Winner: Draw, both are great options for enjoying warmer weather.
Costa Rica vs the Dominican Republic: Which Has Better Food?
Local cuisine helps to make any trip unique and delicious. Luckily, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica each offer delicious staples that you can easily pick up during your visit.
In Costa Rica, Gallo Pinto, the traditional dish of rice and beans is available on any menu, any time of day. Don’t forget a side of patacones, which no meal is complete without. Patacones are made of green plantains that are mashed and fried. Served alongside frijol these crispy and chewy bites will become your favorite snack while visiting Costa Rica. For a restaurant that can provide both, locals recommend visitors check out Nuestra Tierra in downtown San Jose.
Visitors to the Dominican Republic can enjoy sancocho, which is a stew made of meat and vegetables. Sancocho takes quite a bit of time to make, so it is typically served on special occasions. But no visit to the Dominican Republic would be complete without it. For an unforgettable dining experience, visit La Yola Restaurant. La Yola is a waterfront restaurant that offers diners unforgettable food that combines traditional Dominican Republic food with a modern twist.
Winner: Draw, both locations offer delicious local dishes and a great selection of restaurants.
Costa Rica vs the Dominican Republic: Which is the Better Choice?
Choosing between Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic is an exciting choice to make, but ultimately choosing between the two depends on what type of vacation you are hoping to have.
Both destinations provide beautiful scenery, amazing food, and affordable travel options. If you want more adventure and wildlife then Costa Rica cod be the better choice, but if you’re looking for more of a classic beach vacation then the Dominican Republic will be perfect. Either way, remember to bring curiosity as you visit either of these two beautiful and vibrant countries.