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Dominican Republic Transportation & Navigation Advice

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Pablo B
14 min read

Welcome to your no-nonsense guide to getting around the Dominican Republic! I’ve been living here long enough to know the shortcuts, the longcuts, and the “you’re-lost-aren’t-you?” cuts.

I’m here to spill the beans on how to move around without a hitch and have a blast while you’re at it!

Whether you’re a travel junkie or a first-timer in the Caribbean, you’re in for some real talk and a few laughs along the way.

So, slap on those sunglasses, and let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of Dominican Republic transportation!

Getting Around in Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a beautiful Caribbean island that offers a variety of attractions and activities for travelers. Whether you want to enjoy the stunning beaches, explore the rich culture and history, or experience adventure and nature, you will find something to suit your taste and budget.

Now, to squeeze every drop of fun out of your trip, let’s talk about getting around. Navigating the Dominican Republic can be a bit of a puzzle with its mix of transport options. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back!

In this guide, I will walk you through the ins and outs of moving around the island. We’ll explore all the transport choices, and I’ll share some cool tips to travel safely and without a hitch. Plus, I’ll help you find your way to all the cool spots and compare getting around here to other hot Caribbean destinations.

So, buckle up, and let’s dive into the vibrant and exciting world of Dominican transport!

Using Taxis in Dominican Republic

A taxi sign. One of the easiest and most convenient ways to get around the Dominican Republic is by using taxis. Taxis are widely available in most urban areas, especially in tourist destinations like Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and La Romana. You can hail a taxi on the street, call one by phone, or book one online or through an app.

The starting fare is 200 DOP, and then it’s 170 DOP for each kilometer you travel. And if you’re having such a blast at a spot and need the taxi to wait, it’s 300 DOP per hour. Getting around by taxi is pretty straightforward and helps you plan your spending on rides as you hop from one cool place to another.

Here’s a glimpse at some typical taxi fares within the Dominican Republic:

  • From Punta Cana to Bayahibe: 7,588 DOP
  • From Higüey to Punta Cana: 8,211 DOP
  • From Santo Domingo to Punta Cana: 32,368 DOP
  • From Punta Cana to Higüey: 5,224 DOP
  • From Santo Domingo to Bayahibe: 23,375 DOP
  • From Bayahibe to Santo Domingo: 23,494 DOP
  • From Punta Cana to Santo Domingo: 21,096 DOP
  • From Punta Cana to Amber Cove: 44,478 DOP
  • From Saona Island to Punta Cana: 11,271 DOP

When using taxis in the Dominican Republic, you should also be aware of some safety tips and precautions. For example:

  • Avoid taking taxis that are not in good condition or that have tinted windows.
  • Carry small bills and change to pay for your taxi ride.
  • Keep your valuables and belongings close to you and do not leave them in the trunk or on the seat.
  • If possible, travel with a companion or group, especially at night or in unfamiliar areas.
  • If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe with a taxi driver, ask him to stop and get out.

Some reputable taxi services that you can use in the Dominican Republic are:

  • Apolo Taxi: A reliable and professional taxi company that operates 24/7 in Santo Domingo and other major cities. You can book a taxi by phone (809-537-0000) or through their app.
  • Taxi Aero: A specialized taxi service that offers transfers from and to the airports in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santiago, and La Romana. You can book a taxi by phone (809-597-7777).
  • Uber: A popular ride-sharing service that operates in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana, Punta Cana, and other areas. You can book a ride through their app and pay with cash or credit card.

Renting a Car in Dominican Republic

Another option for getting around the Dominican Republic is renting a car. Renting a car gives you more freedom and flexibility to explore the island at your own pace and schedule. You can also access more remote and scenic places that are not easily reachable by public transportation or taxis.

To rent a car in the Dominican Republic, you need to have a valid driver’s license from your home country or an international driving permit (IDP), as well as a credit card for deposit and payment. You also need to be at least 21 years old (or 25 years old for some rental companies) and have at least one year of driving experience. The average cost of renting a car in the Dominican Republic is around $40 USD per day (or $280 USD per week), depending on the type of car, insurance coverage, mileage limit, and additional services.

Here are some tips on driving safely and navigating Dominican roads:

  • Drive on the right side of the road and follow the traffic signs and rules.
  • Be alert and cautious, as Dominican drivers can be aggressive and unpredictable. Expect to encounter speeding, overtaking, honking, tailgating, and running red lights.
  • Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, animals, and potholes on the road. Give way to emergency vehicles and public buses.
  • Avoid driving at night or in bad weather conditions, as the roads can be poorly lit and maintained.
  • Use a GPS device or a map app to find your way around the island. You can also ask locals for directions or landmarks.
  • Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up when driving. Do not leave your car unattended or park in isolated or dark areas.

Some reputable car rental companies that you can use in the Dominican Republic are:

  • Budget: A well-known and trusted car rental company that offers a wide range of vehicles, from economy to luxury, as well as optional services like GPS, child seats, roadside assistance, and insurance. You can book a car online, by phone, or at their locations in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santiago, La Romana, and other areas.
  • Europcar: A leading international car rental company that offers quality and affordable vehicles, as well as flexible options like one-way rentals, long-term rentals, and prepaid rates. You can book a car online, by phone, or at their locations in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santiago, La Romana, and other areas.
  • Nelly Rent a Car: A local car rental company that offers competitive prices and excellent service. You can choose from a variety of vehicles, from compact to SUVs, as well as extras like GPS, Wi-Fi, insurance, and airport transfers. You can book a car online, by phone, or at their locations in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santiago, La Romana, and other areas.

Parking Facilities and Fuel Availability

Parking facilities are available in most urban areas and tourist destinations. However, parking spaces can be limited and expensive. You may also have to tip a parking attendant or a security guard to watch your car. Alternatively, you can park your car at your hotel or a nearby shopping mall.

Fuel is widely available in the Dominican Republic. There are gas stations along the main roads and highways. The average price of gasoline is around 278 pesos (about $4.8 USD) per gallon. You can pay with cash or credit card. However, some gas stations may not accept foreign cards or may charge an extra fee. You may also have to tip the attendant who fills your tank.

Exploring Dominican Republic on Foot

A man walks down an empty road in Dominican Republic. If you prefer a more active and immersive way of getting around the Dominican Republic, you can also explore the island on foot. Walking is a great way to experience the local culture and lifestyle, as well as discover hidden gems and attractions that you may miss by driving or taking public transportation.

The best areas for walking and exploring in the Dominican Republic are:

Santo Domingo

The capital city of the Dominican Republic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts a rich history and architecture. You can walk along the cobblestone streets of the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial), where you will find historical landmarks like the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor (the oldest cathedral in the Americas), the Alcazar de Colon (the former residence of Christopher Columbus’ son), and the Fortaleza Ozama (the oldest fortress in the Americas). You can also visit museums, art galleries, shops, cafes, and restaurants that showcase the Dominican culture and cuisine.

Punta Cana

The most popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic is famous for its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. You can walk along the coast and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. You can also visit ecological parks like Manati Park (where you can see animals like dolphins, sea lions, horses, and birds) and Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park (where you can explore nature trails and lagoons).

Puerto Plata

The north coast city of Puerto Plata is known for its natural beauty and adventure activities. You can walk along the Malecon (the seaside promenade) and admire the views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Isabel de Torres Mountain. You can also visit historical sites like the San Felipe Fortress (a 16th-century Spanish fort) and the Amber Museum (where you can see fossils and amber specimens). You can also take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

La Romana

The southeast coast city of La Romana is home to some of the most luxurious resorts and golf courses in the Caribbean. You can walk around Casa de Campo (a 7,000-acre resort that features a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village called Altos de Chavon), where you can see art studios, museums, churches, and amphitheaters. You can also visit Catalina Island (a small island that offers snorkeling, diving, and beach activities) and Bayahibe (a fishing village that has a national park and a shipwreck museum).

Staying Safe

When exploring the Dominican Republic on foot, you should also follow some safety tips for pedestrians. For example:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and bring a water bottle.
  • Avoid walking alone or in unfamiliar areas, especially at night or in isolated places.
  • Stay on sidewalks or designated paths, and cross streets at marked crossings or intersections.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions like headphones or cell phones.
  • Respect the local customs and culture, and ask for permission before taking photos or entering private property.

Must-visit Spots Accessible On Foot

Plaza de la Cultura: A cultural complex in Santo Domingo that houses several museums, theaters, libraries, and monuments. You can learn about the Dominican history, art, music, literature, and science. Bavaro Beach: A stunning beach in Punta Cana that stretches for 10 kilometers along the coast. You can relax on the soft sand, swim in the clear water, or enjoy water sports like kayaking, parasailing, or windsurfing. Ocean World Adventure Park: A marine park in Puerto Plata that offers interactive shows and encounters with dolphins, sea lions, sharks, stingrays, and birds. You can also enjoy a casino, a nightclub, a restaurant, and a marina. Saona Island: A natural reserve in La Romana that is part of the East National Park. You can take a boat ride to this island and enjoy its pristine beaches, mangroves, coral reefs, and wildlife.

Getting from the Dominican Republic to Your Tours & Activities

Group swimming in Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic offers many tours and activities for travelers who want to experience more than just beaches and resorts. Whether looking for adventure, culture, nature, or relaxation, you will find something to suit your interests and budget.

However, to get from your accommodation to your tours and activities, you must plan and choose the best transportation option for your convenience and comfort.

The distance and transportation options for popular tours and activities vary depending on location and destination. Here are some general guidelines and recommendations for timely and convenient transportation to reach your tours:

Book your tours in advance and confirm the details with your tour operator or guide. Ask about the meeting point, pick-up time, drop-off time, and transportation mode. You can also ask for recommendations on what to wear, bring, and expect from the tour.

Choose a tour that is close to your accommodation or that offers a pick-up service from your hotel or a nearby location. This will save you time, money, and the hassle of finding your own transportation. You can also avoid traffic jams, parking issues, and getting lost.

If you need to arrange your own transportation to your tour, consider using a taxi, a rental car, or a public bus.

Allow enough time for travel and possible delays. Check the traffic conditions, weather forecasts, and road closures before you leave. Arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your tour. Have your confirmation number, voucher, or ticket ready.

Dominican Republic Navigation Tips for Cruisers

A cruise ship docked in Dominican port. The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. It has several ports and docking areas that welcome cruise ships from different lines and itineraries. Some of the main ports are:

Amber Cove

A new port in Puerto Plata that opened in 2015. It has a modern terminal with shops, restaurants, bars, pools, cabanas, zip lines, and water slides. It also offers easy access to nearby attractions like Ocean World Adventure Park, San Felipe Fortress, Amber Museum, and cable car ride.

La Romana

A port in La Romana that has been operating since 2002. It has a terminal with shops, cafes, art galleries, and a casino. It also offers easy access to nearby attractions like Casa de Campo, Altos de Chavon, Catalina Island, and Bayahibe.

Santo Domingo

The oldest port in the Dominican Republic that dates back to the 16th century. It has a terminal with shops, restaurants, and a museum. It also offers easy access to nearby attractions like the Colonial Zone, the National Palace, the Columbus Lighthouse, and the Botanical Garden.

Samana

A port in Samana that is known for its natural beauty and wildlife. It has a terminal with shops, restaurants, and a craft market. It also offers easy access to nearby attractions like Cayo Levantado, El Limon Waterfall, Los Haitises National Park, and whale watching.

To make the most of your cruise stop in the Dominican Republic, you need to follow some tips and recommendations on navigating from the port to the main attractions and activities. Here are some general guidelines and recommendations for cruisers on maximizing their time on the island:

Research your port of call and plan your itinerary ahead of time. Check the cruise line’s website or brochure for information on the port facilities, shore excursions, transportation options, and local currency. You can also use online platforms like Cruise Critic or Cruise Hive to find reviews, tips, and photos from other cruisers who have visited the same port.

Choose a shore excursion that matches your interest, budget, and time limit. You can book a shore excursion through your cruise line or through an independent tour operator. You can also explore on your own or hire a local guide. However, make sure that you book a reputable and reliable service that guarantees your return to the ship on time.

Pack a day bag with essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, water bottle, camera, cash, credit card, passport copy, and cruise card. You may also want to bring a change of clothes, swimsuit, towel, insect repellent, and snacks.

Be aware of the local customs and culture, and respect them. Learn some basic words and phrases in Spanish (the official language of the Dominican Republic), such as hello (hola), thank you (gracias), please (por favor), and how much (¿Cuánto cuesta?). Dress appropriately and modestly when visiting religious or historical sites. Tip generously for good service (10% to 15% is customary).

Enjoy yourself and have fun! The Dominican Republic is a friendly and welcoming country that has a lot to offer to cruisers. You can experience its rich history and culture, its stunning nature and wildlife, its delicious cuisine and music, and it's warm hospitality.

A Caribbean cruise port. The Dominican Republic is not the only Caribbean island that attracts cruise ships and travelers. Many other popular Caribbean ports offer different transportation and navigation options for visitors. Here is a comparative analysis of transportation and navigation in the Dominican Republic vs. other Caribbean ports:

Jamaica

Jamaica is another island nation with several ports of call for cruise ships. Some of the main ports are Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Falmouth, and Kingston. Jamaica has a similar transportation system to the Dominican Republic, with taxis, rental cars, public buses, and walking as the main options. However, Jamaica has some differences and challenges that visitors should know. For example:

  • Jamaica drives on the left side of the road, which can be confusing and dangerous for visitors who are used to driving on the right side.
  • It can be difficult to find safe and reliable transportation options in urban areas and at night, so visitors should travel in groups and stay vigilant.
  • Jamaica has a more developed and regulated taxi industry than the Dominican Republic, with different types of taxis (red plate, yellow plate, route taxi, etc.) and fares (metered, zoned, negotiated, etc.). Visitors should know how to identify and use the right type of taxi for their needs.

Bahamas

The Bahamas is a group of islands with several ports of call for cruise ships. Some of the main ports are Nassau, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and Coco Cay. The Bahamas has a different transportation system than the Dominican Republic, with water taxis, ferries, scooters, bicycles, and walking as the main options. However, the Bahamas has some advantages and disadvantages that visitors should consider. For example:

  • The Bahamas has a more convenient and scenic way of getting around by water taxis or ferries, which can take visitors from one island to another quickly and with a beautiful view.
  • The Bahamas has a more fun and eco-friendly way of getting around by scooters or bicycles, which can be rented at affordable prices and allow visitors to explore the islands at their own pace and style.
  • The Bahamas has a more limited and expensive way of getting around by taxis or rental cars, which are not widely available or reliable on some islands. Visitors may have to wait long or pay high for a taxi or a rental car.

St. Maarten/St. Martin

St. Maarten/St. Martin is a unique island divided into the Dutch side (St. Maarten) and the French side (St. Martin). It has one port of call for cruise ships: Philipsburg (on the Dutch side). St. Maarten/St. Martin has a similar transportation system to the Dominican Republic, with taxis, rental cars, public buses, and walking as the main options. However, St. Maarten/St. Martin has some features and benefits that visitors should enjoy. For example:

  • St. Maarten/St. Martin has a more diverse and multicultural way of getting around by crossing the border between the two sides of the island, which have different languages (Dutch and French), currencies (guilder and euro), laws (Dutch and French), and cultures (Caribbean and European).
  • St. Maarten/St. Martin has a more adventurous and exciting way of getting around by taking a plane ride from the Princess Juliana International Airport (on the Dutch side), famous for its low-altitude landing over Maho Beach, where visitors can see and feel the planes fly over their heads.
  • St. Maarten/St. Martin has a more relaxing and enjoyable way of getting around by taking a boat ride from Marigot Bay (on the French side), a picturesque harbor with shops, cafes, restaurants, and markets.

Explore Dominican Republic

We trust this guide has enlightened and enriched your knowledge about navigating the vibrant Dominican Republic! May it spark your curiosity and fuel your excitement to explore every nook and cranny of this breathtaking island. Here’s to discovering new and thrilling aspects of transportation and embarking on unforgettable adventures in this Caribbean paradise! Safe travels and endless fun await you!

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Pablo B
Local Writer
Pablo Belliard is a writer and graphic designer from Dominican Republic. He is currently launching a new publication focused on Dominican Republic culture & tourism. His writing on Dominican cuisine has been featured on ChefsPencil.com, and he has done journalism and communications work for a Dominican Republic-based non-profit, The Bienvenido Project, as well as the creative team at Monarchy Media.