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Semana Santa – Dominican Republic’s Favorite Holiday!

a large clock tower with a mountain in the background

While Christmas time is loved by everyone in the Dominican Republic, being the height of the high season, it’s an extremely busy time for workers in tourism. Semana Santa is a time for Dominicans to really let their hair down after a busy season! Locals flock to the islands gorgeous beaches to spend time with friends and family, and use the time to reflect and recharge.

Here we take a look at some of the ways this special holiday is celebrated in the Dominican Republic:

Good Friday

From 12 am Friday to 12am Saturday alcohol sales are restricted. Bars and restaurants are usually closed, although some stay open to serve food and soft drinks. In the supermarkets you’ll see the alcohol aisles blocked by tape. Noise is kept to a minimum, no loud music is allowed. If you’re staying at a resort, you probably won’t notice any changes, however activities may be a little more relaxed than usual. The day is spent with family at church and also preparing for the weekend.

Beach Time

Easter weekend is beach time for Dominicans! Those that live in the cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago will book hotels and vacation rentals if they don’t have a beach property of their own. Be sure to book your accommodation in advance as reservations are often made even a year in advance! The beaches will have an incredible vibe on Saturday and Easter Sunday as groups of locals set up their towels, rum, Presidente and music speakers on the beach! Expect to hear plenty of bachata, and see a lot of dancing! You’ll see people happily bobbing in the waves with their foam cups as children play together! It’s a really fun atmosphere, you can expect to be invited over to share a drink and a dance!

Food

Dominicans usually avoid meat during holy week. Expect to see a lot of fish, lobster and shrimp which is amazing to eat freshly prepared on the beach! Dominican potato salad is also very popular! One of the most anticipated dishes is Habichuelas con Dulce. It is similar to rice pudding but instead made with beans, and topped with cookies or chocolate. Easter eggs are hard to find on the island, if you’re lucky you’ll find one usually in an Italian market. However, there are plenty of other delicious tropical fruits and sweets to enjoy!

Processions and Church Services

The whole week has a packed schedule of church services and processions. If you would like to participate, then one of the most impressive places to visit is the Basilica Our Lady of Altagracia in Higuey. The heart of this cathedral featured a painted image of the Virgin Mary, which is believed to be sacred. Pope Jon Paul II actually visited the cathedral in 1992. It is definitely a must visit as the atmosphere is incredibly humbling as soon as you enter.

You’re sure to have an amazing time if you’re visiting Punta Cana during Easter. Many visitors schedule their vacation especially for this important holiday, simply because Dominicans celebrate it the best!

Going to Punta Cana and want to celebrate Easter Weekend in style? We recommend a catamaran tour, where you can enjoy drinks and snacks while watching the action on the shore! Find out more here!

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