Cuba and the Dominican Republic are neighbors in the Caribbean. Both countries have beautiful beaches, warm seas, lush tropical nature and the world’s best rum and cigars. But at the same time, each of them has its own character and peculiarities.
Flight: where to get there easier
There are no direct regular flights from Kyiv to Cuba, a flight with Turkish Airlines with one stopover will cost about 20 thousand UAH. During the high season, charter flights are organized to other Cuban resorts. Prices on the page are as of February 2023.
You can get to the Dominican Republic on a direct flight from Kyiv only during the tourist season: a flight with Lufthansa with two stops will cost about 28 thousand UAH. Charter flights to resorts, such as Puerto Plata, are much cheaper.
Money: which currency is more profitable
Dollars in the Dominican Republic are on a par with local pesos (DOP). You just need to stock up on small bills and not count on the change from large ones. Foreign currency in Cuba should be exchanged for so-called “convertible pesos” for tourists (CUC). When exchanging dollars, a predatory commission of up to 20% is charged, so it is better to go to the island with euros, for which there is no commission.
Hotels: what’s the difference?
The Dominican Republic is known for its excellent resort hotels with good restaurants, spas, and a high level of service. The cost of accommodation in a 4/5* all-inclusive hotel starts from 110/145 USD per night for a double room.
Cuban “five-star” hotels are practically no different from Dominican ones in terms of service and price – from 150 USD per day on an all-inclusive basis. The trouble is that there are very few of them. The bulk of the resort hotels are 3-4* and are significantly inferior to their Dominican counterparts, but the cost of rooms is lower, starting at 78-92 USD.
Tourists with a limited budget can stay in private villas and apartments on the beach. This is the most numerous category of housing at a price of 17-55 USD per day in the Dominican Republic and 15-55 USD per day in Cuba.
Cuba’s Varadero beach, stretching for 22 km, is considered the best in the entire Caribbean. However, beaches with fine white sand, clear water and a gentle slope into the sea are good in both countries. But some people prefer the narrower beaches of the Dominican Republic, as palm trees grow close to the water.
Diving and fishing
Each country has a rich underwater world and dozens of sunken ships. However, if you have to pay 485 USD for 6 dives off the coast of the Dominican Republic, then in Cuba it will cost only 220 USD, which is half the price. The Padi Open Water Diver course, which gives you the right to dive independently, costs 416 USD in the Dominican Republic and 300 USD in Cuba, which is 30% cheaper.
The same applies to sea fishing. Renting a boat with a crew and the necessary equipment for 4-5 hours costs 495 USD in the Dominican Republic and 300-350 USD in Cuba, which is 1.5 times cheaper.
The main theme of Dominican excursions is nature reserves with tropical forests, caves, lakes, and waterfalls. Especially many people want to watch whales in Samanu Bay (98 USD).
The most interesting things to do in Cuba are themed tours of Havana, which has preserved the surroundings, vintage cars, and atmosphere of the 60s. A Russian-speaking guide will lead you through the shabby streets of the Old Town, introduce you to the sights of the Cuban capital, popular nightclubs, and the restaurant where Hemingway liked to visit. Tours from Varadero cost 45-64 USD.
Nightclubs and discos in Havana and Varadero are imbued with the incendiary rhythms of rumba, mamba, salsa and an atmosphere of endless celebration.
A must-see in the Cuban capital is the Tropicana cabaret, a real extravaganza of bright outfits, dancing and sophisticated eroticism. Ticket price starts from 75USD.
Compared to Cuba, the Dominican Republic is more restrained and romantic, although there is plenty of music and fun here too. In addition to this, it is many times superior to Cuba in terms of the number of golf courses, which are so appreciated by the respectable and rich.
Rum and cigars
It is believed that the best rum is made in the Dominican Republic. A bottle of 5-year aged rum costs 9.9 USD, while the elite Barcelo Imperial and Bermudez Don Armando 10-year aged rum costs 25 USD. Cuban rum (Legendario, Havana Club, etc.) is almost as good as Dominican rum, but with the same aging it is 20-25% cheaper.
Cuban cigars (Montecristo, Cohiba, etc.) are considered to be the benchmark of quality, have medium/high strength and traditional flavor. Dominican cigars have a specific taste and aroma. Popular brands include Arturo Fuente and Courvoisier, whose cigars are aged in cognac barrels for a year.
In order not to become the owner of a twist made of dried banana leaves and low-quality tobacco, buy cigars in specialized stores. And remember that a real handmade cigar cannot cost less than 8 USD in Cuba and 10 USD in the Dominican Republic.
The undoubted advantage of Cuba is its excellent healthcare system, which allows you to combine a vacation on the island with effective and inexpensive treatment of a long list of diseases – from cardiovascular to vitiligo. The cost of a medical consultation is 120-180 USD.
Where is it safer?
Tourist areas in both countries are equally safe. But outside of them, you shouldn’t let your guard down, especially in the Dominican Republic.