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Dominican RepublicBeaches, Bachata, & Community Building

Explore the Dominican Republic, a Spanish-speaking Caribbean country known for its vibrant culture, gorgeous beaches, and complex colonial past. Begin in Santo Domingo, then head southwest to your host community to work alongside community members on service projects. Take overnight trips to the mountains of the Cordillera Central, the northern coast, and the Samaná Peninsula.


June 29–July 20, 2023July 2–July 23, 2023
22 days
$ 5,790 + airfare
Departs from Miami
12–14 students, 2 leaders
Service40-60 hours


  • Work with locals on small-scale construction projects 
  • Learn to cook traditional empanadas with a local chef 
  • Play a game of baseball with Dominican friends 
  • Camp under the stars on a pristine white-sand beach

Meet featured leaders


This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

  • Departure
  • Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one or more of your leaders in Miami, and fly together to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

  • Santo Domingo
  • 2 days

Spend your first two days in the country’s vibrant capital city and learn about Dominican history and culture. Get to know each other through a group orientation and prepare for your stay in the host community.

  • Host Community
  • 12 days

Travel by private bus to your host community. Located in the undeveloped southwestern region of the Dominican Republic, this small community is your home for the next two weeks. Work together with warm and welcoming community members to complete meaningful projects identified by the town council. Rotate through several different projects, such as light construction work, planting an organic garden or seedlings, and teaching English to local children and adults. In the late afternoons, practice your Spanish and play baseball with friends from town.

  • Beach Excursion
  • 1 day

Camp overnight under the stars on a beautiful, remote beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Swim in the turquoise waters, enjoy a meal together, and play guitar around a beach bonfire with new Dominican friends.

  • Jarabacoa
  • 2 days

Say a bittersweet goodbye to your host community and set off on five days of adventure travel. Relax at an ecolodge tucked high into the rugged Cordillera Central Mountains, home to the highest peaks in the West Indies. Raft down the whitewater of the Rio Yaque del Norte with professional guides. Hike to a gorgeous waterfall or ride horseback through the countryside.

  • Samaná Peninsula
  • 3 days

Cap your adventure with a stay on the picturesque Samaná Peninsula. Snorkel along white-sand beaches, explore mangrove forests, and hike to a gorgeous waterfall. Learn about a local permaculture project run by a Dominican family and enjoy delicious, homegrown food at our ecolodge.

  • Santo Domingo
  • 1 day

Spend the final night of your trip together as a group in Santo Domingo. Enjoy a celebratory meal and reminisce about your shared adventure.

  • Return
  • Travel Day

Fly from Santo Domingo to Miami with your group and a leader, and then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here

"What an amazing experience! Keep doing what you are doing. We chose Putney because of the trip content and for the care you take putting the groups together so there aren’t a lot of kids who know each other. Lizzie says it was the best trip. She loved it!"

— Jennifer & Andy Lucas, Chicago, IL

A Day in the Life: Host Community

  • Due to the traveling nature of this student program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in your host community.
  • Enjoy breakfast together as a group
  • Work on projects that benefit the local community, such as light construction
  • Break for lunch and rest in the shade
  • Teach English to local children and learn about the sugarcane harvest
  • Join in a pick-up game of baseball
  • Prepare dinner with local cooks and enjoy a family-style meal
  • Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

View Photo Gallery

What to Expect

  • Service

During your travels in the Dominican Republic, you can expect to work on several different volunteer projects—construction projects where you learn to mix cement or paint a community building, environmental projects such as planting seedlings or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as teaching English to local children. The focus of this travel program in the Dominican Republic is learning about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared community service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open-mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. Everyone participates in all of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. To learn more about our summer Service programs abroad, click here.

  • Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—design and paint a mural at the local school, organize a baseball tournament, or learn to dance bachata.

  • Language Practice

Proficiency in Spanish is not required; however, students who study Spanish in school will have opportunities to practice while communicating with local people. Students who do not speak Spanish will have the opportunity to learn some basic language skills.

  • Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer travel program. In addition to construction and service work, you can expect to play baseball, swim, raft, ride horseback, and hike. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

  • Accommodations

Living accommodations in the project community are very simple. The group lives together in a local school and students sleep in sleeping bags on camping pads with access to simple bathrooms. On overnight excursions, we camp in tents for a night at the beach, stay in a mountain lodge in Jarabacoa, and stay at a small hotel in Santo Domingo. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

  • Meals

In the host community, we eat delicious home-cooked meals prepared by local cooks. Each day several students from the group form cooking crews and help prepare our meals. During excursions, the group eats in restaurants and occasionally goes to local markets to shop for a picnic lunch.

Explore the Destination

"Just by listening to the children in the village my Spanish has improved tremendously, so now I know how to say basic phrases to introduce myself."

— Anjali G., GEMS World Academy, Singapore

Next Steps

This program is directed by Andrew Manzella. If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

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