Join us on an extraordinary two week program that explores the captivating landscapes of the Dominican Republic. Immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry of the Caribbean as you explore historic cities, engage with local communities, and partake in enriching experiences.
Venture into Santo Domingo's colonial zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before delving into community service projects in batey settlements. Experience the wonders of Los Haitises National Park, journey to the serene Samana Peninsula, and embrace the vibrant culture of Jarabacoa. Deepen your cultural immersion through music, local cuisine and history. Participate in water access projects, forge connections and gain a profound appreciation of local life.
This program crafts a diverse and transformative experience that blends cultural exploration, community engagement, and personal growth.
✓ Experience a new culture but stay close to home
✓ Make a positive difference to marginalised communities
✓ Snorkel in crystal-clear waters, spotting vibrant marine life and coral reefs
✓ Explore the mountains, hike, and immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of the Cordillera Central
✓ Improve your Spanish language skills
Our Program Quiz can help you find your perfect Program match! Or get the full Program run-down in our catalogue. This catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions and testimonials!
As our plane descends over the stunning landscape of the Dominican Republic, we can't help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. Our journey in the Caribbean begins in Santo Domingo, the vibrant capital city of this tropical paradise. The Dominican Republic is renowned for its lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich cultural heritage, and we're about to embark on an adventure to discover it all with our newfound friends.
Our first day is all about forming connections and immersing ourselves in the local culture and history. Throughout our adventure, we'll be guided by two experienced instructors who will help us get acquainted with the Dominican Republic's unique culture and history. They'll facilitate orientation sessions in the days to come, ensuring we have a deeper understanding of the places we visit.
Once we’re settled into Jarabacoa, we’ll gather for an orientation discussion about the week ahead, expectations for your adventure, and an introduction to the local culture. Get ready to be captivated by the beauty and charm of the Dominican Republic as we begin our incredible journey in this enchanting Caribbean destination.
Begin your service today by heading deeper into the mountains to help build aqueducts for communities without running water. We’ll work on the next steps of an ongoing project that includes prepping, digging, fitting, and finishing plumbing from a dammed river upstream to the nearby homes. Projects may also include parallel elements to protect the runoff water from polluting downstream, such as working on bio-treatment systems.
In the afternoons, we’ll share a coffee with the neighbors and get to know the local community, explore the mountains, eat delicious Dominican food, and learn about local music and history. We’ll have plenty of time to reflect on our service-learning experience, and discuss topics like responsible tourism and water access, making connections between the local ecological and community resources and how they're interconnected.
Time to head southeast, we’ll make sure to stop along the way to enjoy lunch and a swim in the ocean in the beach town of Juan Dolio. Afterwards, we’ll continue our journey to the province of San Pedro de Macoris, which is one of the island’s main regions of sugarcane production. There, we’ll get settled and learn about this new environment - a very different ecosystem and economy than the mountains we just left. After a local dinner, your Program Leaders will lead a discussion about this new community and upcoming projects.
For the next two days, we’ll contribute to ongoing community development projects for sugar cane workers and their families. We’ll work on projects in the Batey community including infrastructure rehabilitation, health initiatives, or education projects with local children. We’ll spend our evenings getting to know the community and enjoying the local music, cuisine, and history.
We’ll wake up early and board the bus to Bayahibe; a beautiful coastal town with white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Then take a catamaran tour of Isla Saona, stopping along the way to snorkel and enjoy various beaches.
After a day of rest and relaxation, we will return to the community development project for another two days to work on projects in the Batey community. Here we work with sugar cane workers and their families who are marginalized in substandard housing and lack necessary resources.
Drive north for a two-hour ride down a bumpy road towards the bayside town of Sabana de la Mar, and finally down a long wooded stretch to Los Haitises National Park. Nestled just outside of the park is Paraiso Caño Hondo is a stunning eco-lodge built into the hillside with river-fed pools, trails, and a magnificent view of nearby Samana Bay.
After lunch at the lodge, we will tour the bay by speedboat, visiting caves that contain Taino pictographs that are over a thousand years old and stopping for a swim in remote beaches before navigating the mangroves back towards Caño Hondo. Back at the base, enjoy the pools and relax in the quiet of the canyon.
Keep an eye out for dolphins or manatees as we cross Samana Bay by ferry en route to the country’s largest peninsula on the northern coast of the island. You will arrive at your eco-hotel by mid-afternoon, so take some time to enjoy the beach and relax in this new ecosystem and beachside accommodation.
Pick your adventure today! Choose between a hike to a waterfall, a horseback ride to a hidden beach, or simply relax by the oceanside hotel. Samana is known for its coconut-scented dishes and laid-back culture, so enjoy this corner of the island and the natural resources that make it a national treasure.
Time to head back to the capital, to the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the first university, cathedral, and hospital in the Americas. We’ll take a tour of the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a special dinner and dance show at a typical Dominican restaurant.
The time has come to say goodbye to your new friends and to the beautiful Dominican Republic.
*Each week there will be some designated free time so that you can catch up on email, laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.
**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the locations, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.
✓ All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
✓ All accommodation
✓ All meals
✓ All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects and entry fees as described in the itinerary
✓ Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
✓ Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
✓ Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves
✓ Certificate of Program Completion
Medium Activity Level: Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this mini semester! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the volunteer projects on the program.
No Camping: You will spend most of your time in comfortable hostels, lodges and homestays.
Medium Service Learning Level: You will be able to make a difference to the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.
Our accommodation will be a mix of apartment style rooms comfortable hostels, lodges and homestays. Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available some days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Specified breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks and meals not specified are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $12 per meal per day and a total of $12 for the snacks per day.
Meals are a mixture of eating out at restaurants or with local families at each location and also food preparation shared by students. An average day on program would consist of the following:
To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.
They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.
Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.
We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!
We have been running successful international programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2021. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look.
Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.