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Learn about the issues facing bateyes, marginalized Haitian-Dominican communities, on this service intensive program. Work on a variety of service projects in these communities such as running a day camp for local children, building homes, or creating a community garden. Get to know the locals as you live amongst them and learn about their life stories. Take a break from service and enjoy the beaches of Bayahibe and Miches where you’ll get to swim, zip-line, and kayak.

Program Profile

Dominican Republic
Community Service Component
Community Service Focus
Get to Know
The People
Travel Component
Stationary Program

2015 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 16 July 1 Very Limited
June 30 July 15 Sold Out
July 14 July 29 Very Limited
July 28 August 12 Limited

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Travel Day

    Depart the United States for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Your Rustic Pathways staff will greet you upon arrival and take you to the nearby hotel for the night to get some sleep before the real adventure begins.

  • Day 2

    Welcome to the Bateyes

    After breakfast at the hotel, head to your new home just outside of San Pedro de Macorís. Get familiarized with your surroundings and the history of the bateyes. These communities are home to sugarcane workers and their families, who have some of the lowest standards of living in the region. Sugar is one of the Dominican Republic’s main exports, and the country depends on its production to keep its economy healthy. Many of the field workers come from neighboring Haiti, and conditions are typically poor. Workers may be in the fields for up to 14 hours daily in the tropical heat. Some migrate for work; others stay in the Dominican Republic year-round or were even born here. Many lack citizenship and therefore quality education for their children. We have been working for years directly with a few small communities who open their arms to Rustic Pathways students like you to come work and help out where you can.

  • Day 3

    Many Communities, Many Projects

    Wake up to your first full day in the bateyes – the area itself is completely surrounded by sugar cane fields, and home to the communities you will be working with. Receive a formal introduction to the project and people you will be serving. After a delicious Dominican lunch head over to start your service projects in one of the batey communities. Service initiatives vary based on local needs, so you may help with construction or agricultural projects, English lessons, educational workshops, or designing activities for local children. Again all projects are designed around the immediate needs of the community and will vary week to week.

  • Day 4 - 5

    Service in the Bateyes

    The next two days will be spent continuing work on service projects in the bateyes. You will work and live with your fellow travelers at The Base, which is also home to a local NGO that serves the surrounding bateyes. After service, enjoy a game of pick-up baseball with the local kids before returning to The Base for dinner. On Saturday, visit a sugar cane field and learn how the cane is planted and cut, and taste some raw sugar cane! The evenings will be spent relaxing, planning service activities, and discussing the day’s work.

  • Day 6

    Beach Time!

    After three days of invigorating service work, look forward to enjoying unwinding with a well-deserved day of fun! Go to the beach to spend the morning swimming in the serene Caribbean waters and soaking in the sun. After a lunch on the beach, enjoy kayaking and zip lining outside the beach town of Bayahibe. Have a relaxing dinner back at The Base after your fun-filled day.

  • Day 7 - 8

    Summer Camp

    Monday and Tuesday are Summer Camp! Run an educational summer camp for local children from some of the bateyes we work in. Get them out and running around, playing educational games and having fun with your group and other kids in the community. In the evenings, plan your camp activities and discuss the day’s work. Play sports, particularly baseball, which has a huge presence in the bateyes and across San Pedro de Macoris. Take a trip to town for ice cream and spend the evenings relaxing in the cool night breeze by the Base.

  • Day 9


    After two long days of camp, unwind with another day of fun at the beach! Spend your morning soaking in the sun and have lunch at the beach. In the evening, head back to the base and prepare for service the next day.

  • Day 10 - 11

    Service Days

    Thursday and Friday are service-filled days. Start to see all the progress you’ve made and complete the projects you started last week, spending more time with families you are serving and getting a better understanding of the infrastructure and Haitian-Dominican nature of these communities. Unwind after service by playing a game of baseball with kids. Spend the evenings having more in-depth group discussions, watching a movie and enjoying the beautiful Dominican sunsets.

  • Day 12

    ¡Adios, bateyes!

    This morning, put the finishing touches on your service project and get ready to say goodbye to the communities you’ve called home for the last 11 days. Say your final farewells to your new friends and community and start packing for your last beach trip of the program.

  • Day 13 - 14

    Reflection and Relaxation

    Say farewell to the bateyes on Sunday morning before you head out to the beach town of Miches bright and early for some time of reflection on the experiences you had in the communities. Relax on the beach, swim through the blue water, and explore the freshwater lagoons of the area. Experience the contrast between the Dominican Republic’s stunning attractions and the lesser-seen bateyes where you have been working for the past two weeks.

  • Day 15

    Head back to the capital for a tour of 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. Take a tour of the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. After touring the Colonial Zone, head over to a special dinner and dance show at a typical Dominican restaurant.

  • Day 16

    Homeward Bound or Off to New Adventures

    If you are heading home, you must say your last goodbyes to your new friends and head off to the airport bright and early in the morning. If you are heading off to another Rustic Pathways program in Latin America, get ready for more adventure!

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

For more information, email dominican@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • Students will depart from Punta Cana for Santo Domingo on Tuesday afternoon. They will spend that night in Santo Domingo at a hotel near the airport. Students transferring to other program in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica or Peru on Tuesday evening. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will join their new trip on Wednesday morning.

  • Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 30-day tourist visa upon entry into the Dominican Republic, for the cost of $10. STUDENTS MUST HAVE $10 UPON ENTRY TO PAY FOR THE TOURIST CARD.

  • Yes. All flights between the USA and the Dominican Republic will have a flight leader starting in New York. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as New York. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica and Peru will not be escorted.

  • The direct flight from New York to Santo Domingo takes approximately 3-4 hours.

  • Yes.

  • During this trip, students will visit the provinces of Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris La Romana, and La Altagracia.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, and/or Life Guards.


  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways uses purified bottled water on all Dominican Republic Programs. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • None.

  • This program takes place in a few locations in Santo Domingo and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic. Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers.

  • During their time in the Dominican Republic, students will stay in a few different places. In Santo Domingo, we will stay at a hotel near the airport. In San Pedro de Macoris we will be using a facility used to house volunteers. It has dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, bathrooms, a communal kitchen/dining area that we will use for meals and a balcony space used for evening activities. In Punta Cana, students will stay in a hotel.

  • Students will be eating traditional Dominican food prepared by a local chef in San Pedro. Breakfast may include plantains or toast with eggs, fruits and cereal. Lunch and dinner will be typical Dominican dishes, which consists of rice, beans, salad and a meat/seafood dish or veggie dishes.

  • The bathrooms located at the volunteer facilities are shared with other Rustic Pathways students of the same gender, and have running water and American style toilets. Showers are rustic and hot water is not always available. Bathrooms shared with one or two other students in the hotels do have hot water.

  • Students will have limited to no access to internet during the program. We will facilitate at least one call a week to parents.

  • Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through the program. Laundry may be available at some of the hotels, at an extra cost.

  • There are typically more girls than boys, however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

  • No flushing toilet paper down the toilet. Students cannot drink tap water.

  • There is minimal travel on this program. The longest bus ride students will experience is between 2 and 3 hours.

  • Students travel between sites and locations via small private buses.

  • While there is an inherent risk in travel, we control that risk very well. All of our programs are run in locations that we feel comfortable traveling to with students. Students will be supervised by our staff from the moment of the arrival in the Dominican Republic Airport. Kids are never left alone in any place and the communities we are working with are very responsible.

    All staff have at least first aid and CPR certifications, and some are also Wilderness First Responders. We also employ local staff that know the areas that we visit well.

    We also have risk management plans in place for all of our programs, and close relations with local communities. We hire local staff that know the lay of the land, and can spot risky situations. We monitor weather, crime, and government notices, and also have a partnership with International SOS. We keep our hand on the pulse of what’s going in the country.

    Parents should consult the CDC website and International SOS for information on Malaria and Dengue, which are both present in the Dominican Republic.

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

  • International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to SOS’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.

  • From our facilities in the bateyes, the nearest clinic is about 20 minutes away, and the nearest hospital about 40 minutes away. In Punta Cana, the nearest clinic is 10 minutes away, and the nearest hospital is about 20 minutes away.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning, as this is not a diet commonly encountered in the Dominican Republic. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact dominican@rusticpathways.com with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

  • Students should expect to encounter moderate mosquitoes, as the DR can be buggy at times, particularly in the evening and at night. Students should bring repellent with DEET and may wish to wear light long sleeved shirts and pants.

  • Personal gifts, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • Sea Kayaking will be offered as an optional activity for USD $50. Zip lining will also be offered for USD $90.

    The following activities are INCLUDED in the program cost:

    Tour of Colonial Zone.
    Visits to local beaches.

    Occasionally, Rustic Pathways staff identify new opportunities throughout the summer that we feel will enhance the students’ overall experience and we will offer students the opportunity to participate at an additional cost. Optional or included activities may also be canceled at the staff’s discretion. Some optional activities offered on this trip may include kayaking, surfing, or zip lining.

  • The majority of costs associated with the program are included with the exception of optional activities which students should bring cash for. Students should also have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs or purchase additional snacks from the local grocery store.

  • Yes.

  • Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.

  • Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. We are partnering with batey communities on the improvement of homes, construction of latrines, and improvement of community gardens and facilities.

  • Rain Jacket.

  • No.

  • This program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with people from the communities as well as with our local staff. Local children in the Bateyes are especially eager to help Rustic Pathways students with their conversational Spanish.

  • A batey (pronounced buh-tay) is a community that is located in the sugar cane fields where migrant sugar cane workers live. Traditionally these migrant workers are Haitians, and many bateyes have become permanent residences for sugar cane workers.

    On this program, students will explore themes of immigration, poverty, human rights, and socioeconomic disparities within the country.

  • In the bateyes, Spanish and Haitian Creole are spoken. Most people speak little, if any English. Students typically do not have a problem with the language barrier, as locals are happy to practice English and teach students Spanish. Our program leaders are also bilingual and help translate for students.


A school backpack is ideal as it can be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Two photocopies of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Socks (15)
  • Underwear (15)
  • Pants/capris (2)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long shorts (2-3)
  • Long skirt
  • T-shirts (8-12)
  • Long sleeved shirt (1-2, lightweight)
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Rain jacket
  • Light jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for sun)
  • Work gloves
  • Headlamp/flashlight


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Important Reminders

  • Shorts should be knee length—think Bermuda or basketball shorts—to be respectful to the local culture and traditions.
  • Please bring $10 USD to pay for your tourist card upon arrival.