People often ask me where it is better to go on vacation – Zanzibar or Dominican Republic. This question became especially popular after the coronavirus, when Zanzibar opened for tourism. So it turned out that I lived in Zanzibar for 2 years, and now I have been living in the Dominican Republic for some time. And I can tell you the whole truth without embellishment as it really is. And draw your own conclusion.

Table of Contents:

Zanzibar or Dominican Republic: common things

Let’s start with the points that you expect to see in one or the other country. And I will say that they both have:

  • The ocean
    • On Zanzibar, it is the Indian Ocean
    • In the Dominican Republic, it is the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean sea
Zanzibar or the Dominican Republic the color of the ocean
This is the beach of the Dominican Republic – Bavaro
  • Endless beaches with white sand like flour.
    • In Zanzibar, it’s just as much as you want, there’s any kind of beach here
    • In the Dominican Republic a little less, but if you take the resorts of Bavaro and Punta Cana, then one in one like in Zanzibar
  • A million palm trees and the color of water like Bounty.
    • Both there and there. But if in Zanzibar the pictures are like from Bounty ads, then in the Dominican Republic they filmed Bounty ads. And you will find out where they filmed by following the link from the article: Saona Island is a Dominican paradise.
Zanzibar or Dominicana beaches
And this is Zanzibar – Nungwi Beach.
  • All year round summer. The average temperature throughout the year in both places does not drop below +25. Both have a rainy season of approximately the same intensity, but at different times.
  • Warm water in the ocean.
    • All year round, the water off the coast of both the Dominican Republic and Zanzibar is from +27 to +31 degrees. Like hot milk.

It’s useful to know:

If your vacation goal is a hotel, a beach, white sand, palm trees and a hot ocean, then there is complete equality. I don’t even know what to choose. But read on, there will be much more interesting.

Zanzibar or Dominicana: the main differences for tourists

Next, I will write about the differences. Some will be in favor of one country, and some in favor of the other. Your task is to choose the ones that are critically important or outweigh the others. And those differences that are not important to you – just skip them.

  • In the Dominican Republic, in addition to the ocean, there is also the Caribbean Sea, and on one trip you can visit both the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
  • Zanzibar is located almost on the equator, in the southern hemisphere, while the Dominican Republic is in the tropics and much further north. What does this mean for travelers:
    • Fly to Zanzibar – you will cross the equator. If you have never done this before, here is a great opportunity.
    • On Zanzibar, the ultraviolet index is more dangerous and it is much easier to get sunburns. In the Dominican Republic, the sun will be softer and less active. An important point for people who burn instantly.
The Dominicana is better
Zanzibar – Jambiani Beach. 8 in the morning and you can already burn in the sun.

Advantages in favor of the Dominican Republic

An important point for tourists who like to travel around the country, not just sit in one place:

  • Zanzibar, a fairly small island. There are countless attractions here. If you rent a car, you can drive around the entire island in 3 days. This is considering that you can visit every corner of island. And if you want, you can do the same in 2 days.
  • But the Dominican Republic is a completely different story. The list of attractions and the size of the country is such that you cannot see everything in 2-3 weeks. Here there is not only the ocean, but also real mountains, and 100-meter waterfalls and karst lakes. Below is a list of the coolest attractions in the Dominican Republic.
  • And every year, the real humpback whales come to the shores of the Dominican Republic. There are not many places in the world where, for a reasonable 50-60$, you can meet real whales near the shore.
  • The infrastructure is much better developed in the Dominican Republic. Zanzibar only encountered mass tourism in 2021 and is still developing.

So if you are looking for a developed hotel industry, then the Dominican Republic is a more suitable option. But if you are looking for a place where you can feel the real African atmosphere, then Zanzibar is a better choice.

where is it better to relax in the Dominican Republic or zanzibar
Fronton Beach in the Dominican Republic. There are no such mountains in Zanzibar

A significant advantage of Zanzibar

Flying to both countries from Europe is very long. The direct flight will be almost 10 hours. However, flying from the US to the Dominican Republic is much closer than to Zanzibar. From Miami you can fly there in just 2 hours. For more details how long it takes to fly to the Dominican Republic from various cities around the world, read the article at the link.

But there is one serious point. Europe has almost no difference in time zones with Zanzibar. But the US has a difference in time zones with the Dominican Republic.

For tourists with children, those who fly from Europe, it is better to fly to Zanzibar. But for those who travel from the US, it is better to go to the Dominican Republic. That way, children will not have jetlag.

It is important to know:

Jetlag is a disease of travelers related to frequent time zone changes. With very long flights and rapid time zone changes, the majority of people’s bodies experience stress. Body temperature may rise, weakness, insomnia, nausea may occur.
Zanzibar or Dominican Republic
Traveling by car in the Dominican Republic, you meet such views of the Atlantic.

Travel tips

The above are the main similarities and differences of these two places. If you want, I can write other minor points, for example:

  • In both countries, you can almost always pay in US dollars
  • Ocean fishing is beautiful in both the Dominican Republic and Zanzibar
  • The package prices are also the same. And prices for the entire vacation are comparable to each other
  • A visa is not required for the Dominican Republic for EU and US citizens, but for Zanzibar you can get one upon arrival, but it costs $50 per person
  • Zanzibar has malaria and sleeping sickness, and the Dominican Republic has dengue fever and Zika virus. But in both places, these diseases are easily diagnosed and not difficult to treat. There is a article about the dangers of the Dominican Republic.
Fishing in Zanzibar is better than the Dominican Republic
I have never caught such a marlin in the Dominican Republic. And there was a case in Zanzibar. Me and my friend Jafa on the beach of Zanzibar – Nungwi. I’m on the right.

Here is the main advice for all travelers: if you need a beach vacation with minimal body movement, then the paradise of Zanzibar is better. If you love excursions, trips to a new country, and in addition to the beach dreamed of meeting real whales or swimming in the jungle in a waterfall, and in general staying at one place is not your option – then, definitely, the Dominican Republic.

With a child from Europe I would fly to Zanzibar, and from the US and Canada to the Dominican Republic.

In conclusion: it does not matter what you choose, Zanzibar or Dominican Republic. These are two pieces of paradise on earth. I recommend visiting both. On the one hand, they are very similar, but on the other, they are completely different. Africa cannot be forgotten, it is a completely different culture. But the Caribbean pool also leaves indelible impressions in memory.

Travel to different places. The world is so great that it is not allowed to go to the same place twice!

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – a largest international resource
  • Hotels and apartments:
    • Hotellook – compares hotel prices among dozens of booking platforms and offer you the best price.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Dominican Republic.
  • Vacation packages:
    • Expedia – best deals from Europe.
    • CheapOair – cheap packages from all US cities.
  • Tours, excursions and extreme activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 800+ tours and water activities.
    • Viator – 3500+ tours and excursions in Dominican.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo – eSIM with internet package.
    • Drimsim – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel