Tipping and Haggling: A Guide to Money in Cabarete
No one wants to be ripped off on vacation. Here’s a handy guide on how to handle your money in Cabarete. Read up before your trip, so you can focus on enjoying your adventure when you get here. It pays to be prepared!
Cash, or ‘efectivo’ in Spanish, is the norm pretty much everywhere in Cabarete and the nearby area. I’ve only ever been to one restaurant that took credit card in Las Galeras, down the coast. Suffice it to say, there were some extra charges. It’s best to pay with cash.
When I say cash, I mean Dominican pesos. Almost everywhere will take USD, but beware of bad exchange rates. Stick to banks, exchanges and supermarkets to buy your pesos, anywhere else will likely not give you a very good rate.
(I’m talking to you, guy in the photo.)
If you’re coming from Europe, don’t bother to buy dollars before you leave home. You can bring cash in euros or pounds and exchange it here just as easily.
There are a good few banks around town, all with ATMs. They all charge steep withdrawal fees, so plan a little in advance according to what you need.
Stick to Dominican pesos (DOP) and always pay in cash.
Around town, you’ll see prices written as ‘150RD’ or ‘RD$200’. Don’t be thrown, this is pesos ‘Republica Dominicana’.
Carry a mixture of notes. Keep remembering to break your 1000RD bills at supermarkets and dinners to avoid paying a 30RD moto trip with a 1000RD bill! Coins are useful for small tips and street vendors, as well.
Know yo’ stuff
Take some time to learn what prices to expect for common things. Breakfasts, taxis, sun loungers, fruit – that kind of thing. It’s good to at least know a ball-park figure.
You’ll quickly find in local places that prices are not fixed. They depend on how polite you are, whether you make an effort to speak Spanish, and how savvy you seem. So, take the time to be friendly! Who knows, you might stop for an interesting chat with a Dominican.
Here’s a few basics to get you started:
- Moto across town: 50RD per person. Sometimes more by night.
- 1.5 L bottled water: 30RD
- Black coffee: 45-100RD
- Milky coffee: 75-130RD
- Presidente beer (small): 85-135RD
- Presidente beer (large): 135-160RD
- Cuba libre: 100-135RD
- Pina colada: 120-200RD
- Bunch of limoncillos (green little ball fruit): 20-40RD
- Sun lounger for the day: 35-100RD – they will also watch your stuff while you swim
Day trips and excursions (caving, waterfall jumping, ziplining, boat trip) cost $40-100 USD per person. This is pretty pricey, but usually includes food and drink and transport, as well as a guide.
If you want to be more independent in your exploring, we can help you find a cheaper option. At eXtreme, our friendly concierge staff will take care of arranging your trip for you. They know how to find the best price! Just let the team know where you want to go, and they’ll make the calls.
Prices in cafes and comedors vary quite a lot. In a more Western-style spot, you can pay 250-500RD for breakfast, and 400-700RD for dinner. In a comedor, it’s more like 75-150RD for a lunch plate of chicken, rice and beans. I’d recommend exploring local and more ‘Westernised’ options in Cabarete, but take care that you have around the right bills to hand over.
Be aware that everything costs a lot more on the beach. That ocean view will cost you!
Also, imported goods are way more expensive than local products. It is an island, after all.
Once you know the rough prices to expect, you can haggle to your heart’s content!
Haggling is part of the culture in the DR. Apart from supermarkets and banks, pretty much every price is up for negotiation.
Look out for flattery and classic lines like ‘This item costs $25, but for you I’ll do $17’. It’s all part of the game. Be wary of anyone trying to rush you into buying something right now.
Some cheeky taxi drivers like to open the car door and try to rush you into the vehicle, as if traffic is building up by the second. It’s not. Don’t fall for it. Negotiate a fair price with the driver before you get in!
Start by offering about half of the seller’s first price, then barter up to meet him somewhere in the middle. If they won’t play ball, you can always try walking away to look somewhere else. You’ll often hear the seller shouting lower and lower offers at your back as you leave!
Above all, have fun and be good-humoured.
Sales tax in DR is 18%, and many hotels and restaurants will add an additional 10% service charge to the bill. These taxes are required by law, which is why you’ll often see them labelled on the bill as ‘Ley’, Spanish for law. If you’re North American, this probably won’t alarm you. Everyone else, be warned that the price you imagine could well increase by nearly 30% when the bill comes around.
You might have read that you should always tip above the 10% service charge because this money is split between the employees, so your server would lose out. This is misleading. Remember that your server will get a cut of the charge from all the tables they didn’t serve that night, as well.
Also, surely the chefs and bartenders deserve part of the tip for preparing your meal? Of course, it’s up to you to use your own judgement.
If no extra charge is added onto the bill, tip 10-20%, depending on the quality of the food and service.
Taxi drivers are a bit different because they tend to own their business. Just negotiate a price for the journey before you get in, and pay that amount when you leave, with a smile.
Those little things
Don’t be surprised if someone does you a favour and then asks for a tip after. It could be watching your parked moto in a car park, helping you with your kit, or giving you directions.
They might ask directly for a ‘propina’, Spanish for tip, or rub their fingers together in the universal gesture for money.
It’s a good idea to keep a handful of coins with you for these small favours, and give a coin or two to express your thanks.
If you’re not into it, just say a polite ‘no, gracias’ when you’re offered help.
One great thing about Cabarete is that you can have a great time on any budget. Shoestring or unlimited, you’ll have an awesome vacation by the ocean.
Finally, remember that a dollar is worth far more to a Dominican than to you. Support the locals with your money – be savvy, but generous!