Transport In Punta Cana – Tips, Rates And Information From A Locals
What I can tell you about transportation in Punta Cana? Well let me start with this:
I am living here in Punta Cana now more than 12 years and coming from a foreign country like Germany I am used to an organized bus system with bus stops, a time table showing when the next one will be coming and you can count on it to be punctual.
In order to get around in Punta Cana I had to adapt and it was not easy. I want to share my experience with you and take you the fear of getting out of your 5 star resorts in Punta Cana and give you the confidence to explore of our beautiful island, the Dominican Republic a bit more.
The challenge is the uncertainty and you have to change your mind setting quick, since everybody is moving on Island time and nobody seems to be bothered coming late or not getting to the destination planned. With a smile and axel twitch you get to hear a lot, “ that’s just how it is”.
Accept the fact and you will see it is possible to go outside and it can even be a lot of fun.
I wouldn’t say the public transportation system in the Dominican Republic is unsafe, but it needs some adjustments from your side and a really open an calm mind if you want to travel around and explore the city and nearby towns.
You don’t have to rely exclusively on transportation organized by your tour operator, even though it gives you the peace of mind, knowing that their vehicles have passed health and safety inspections, have a valid insurance and the drivers know where they go in order to pick you up and drop you off.
You can organize private transfer from the Airport Punta Cana with almost all local tour agencies ahead of time or use local transport companies in Punta Cana that offer this service too
Prices vary, depending on the vehicle you choose and the extra service you want to have included like cold water and towels.
Then there are organized and guided tours to Santo Domingo, the capital of our island, you can visit the next bigger town and see more of the Basilica and the food market in Higuey offered by your representative in your hotel or you can join one of our countryside tours to learn more about the way of live in the small mountain villages of Anamuya.
But there are also other and really affordable ways of transportation available in Punta Cana, certainly convenient for experienced travelers that speak a bit Spanish and have a fearless heart and adventurous nature.
Let me tell you which ones you are available, the average cost and how to find and contact them.
Motoconcho – cheap and fast transportation on the go
You will find them at almost all corners of the streets in front of the hotels, plazas and beach areas. They offer a fast way of transportation for one or maximum two person.
This doesn’t mean they cannot take more, trust me they do!
There are some “pirates” and it is easy to identify the ones that work at least for an association and are registered somewhere, since they wear a neon west with a number on the back.
Take a quick look at the motor and the driver and use your common sense when selecting the one that you want to take for a ride with. If you don’t see foot rests and lights in front and overall the motorbike looks like its falling apart, the adventure would be for my taste a bit too much, but it’s up to you.
Cost: Definitely ask the driver before jumping on the big, how much it is, since you can slightly negotiate and don’t want to get ripped off at the end.
The price goes up if there are two person riding or you take a huge bag with you or even a suitcase, if you want to go at night or if you want him to wait until you finished and he brings you back.
But let’s say you stay in Punta Cana Princess and want to go to Palma Real shopping center, what is about 8-10 minutes’ drive, you will pay 100 peso ( around US $ 2.00) Another example would be Palladium Hotels going to Down Town Punta Cana for some shopping in Punta Cana you would pay 150 Dominican peso ( US $ 3.20)
Local Tip: Don’t use them at night and only for short rides. Really important: Have enough Dominican money or your dollars in one or two dollar bills with you.
They are notorious out of change and you will end up paying too much.
Don’t feel bad rejecting one driver that approaches you whistling while you are walking along the street, they try to get your attention and another service and a simple “ No gracias” ( no thank you) will do the job.
Note: it is not the safest way, but definitely cheap and fast and always available when you decide to get out of your all inclusive resort to explore a bit the town, bars and restaurants in Punta Cana or local shopping malls.
Guagua – transportation with public bus
Transportation by bus in Punta Cana – You need patience when you want to use this way of travelling around, but it is doable if you are already on island time and take it easy, without the hurry to be at a place at a certain time.
The best way to find out where the nearest stop is, ask one of the hotel staff, they most likely get to work in them every day and can be a big help in finding the right spot to be and look out for the next bus to hop on. On normal days you can expect one of the buses to pass by every 10-30 minutes, but on Sundays and Holidays this can even take up to 45 minutes.
There are several companies operating here in Punta Cana and they do have fixed routes, just no fix stops and basically you stand on the side of the road waving at them if you need a ride.
If they are full, they will right pass you and if you are lucky and they have space available, be prepared that does not mean necessarily a seat. Passengers get squeezed in to the maximum capacity of the vehicle and this means you could get way more intimate with the person sitting beside you, than you probably hoped for.
There are two persons in the bus you have to pay attention too. The driver, well he will stop anywhere you want him to do so. And then there is the guy that you have to pay called “Cobrador”. When getting in the bus you tell them your planned destination and they tell you if they go that way or if they turn close by and you need another ride.
Tell them clearly the name of the place you want to get out.
I would suggest you have at least a basic idea where you are going and what is nearby so you can look out for it and jell out loud when you want the bus to stop.
The guy that charged you between 30-40 Dominican pesos what equals 1 dollar more than less. for a round in Bavaro, is shouting out loud the next stops and if you need to get out, answer back loudly, heeeh!!! or “Let me get out here” (spanish “Dejame salir aqui”) Make sure he hears you, otherwise you take another spin.
Another thing: be prepared that some of the Guaguas look like they are falling apart… broken windows, doors, no seat belts, ripped up seats… but it all just adds to the adventure.
When you don’t know what you are doing, it can be quite stressful and overwhelming because it’s so loud and everyone is yelling and it all happens so quickly. It seems like the only people in the Dominican Republic that move with any sort of urgency are the one driving vehicles.
Local Tip: Have your currency already to Dominican pesos and take some smaller bills with you. They have fixed prices in the Guaguas and usually give out change fast, but not necessarily change for big bills.
There are no fixed times when the bus goes around and if there are a lot of people going off and hoping on, it takes quite a while to arrive, Use the time to make new friends and enjoy the ride around town.
Express Bus – transportation for long distance drives.
There is a bus station for long distance destinations like Higuey or Santo Domingo right in Bavaro, close to an area called Friusa, besides the local police station.
It is operated by a company called Sitrabapu and the buses leave here as early as 6am until the afternoon 4pm.
The buses leave as soon as they have enough passengers for them so the drive is worth it. You have to get there a bit early to purchase your ticket that will cost you 280 Dominican pesos ( US $ 6.00) one way.
You will be travelling in nice big air-conditioned bus, most of them with free Wi-Fi available and TV to ease the ride. It takes about 2 ½ hours to get to Santo Domingo. Once there you need to check for taxis or motoconchos to get to the Colonial zone in Santo Domingo and interesting areas of the big city, since this one is only driving to the big bus station. Don’t forget to ask from where the bus that goes back, leaves and make sure to take the last one at 3pm leaving from there to Punta Cana.
Local Tip: get a bit earlier to the bus station to assure they still have some spots left and you don’t have to wait for another bus to fill up, even though to rush hour times and on week days they leave every half an hour or so.
Taxi – safe transportation around town
A great and really safe way to go around town are the local taxis. Drivers are really easy to identify with their colorful uniform and identification card. You can either ask in the lobby of your hotel for assistance to call you one or just walk outside where you can find them parked and snoozing in the shade of the nearby trees.
Some of them speak a bit English, working in the tourist area for a long time and can give you tips on the best places to go drink and shop around, but don’t get to chatty with them as they will offer you to drive you, walk with you around and help you shopping and you end up with a huge bill. They do have little booklets with fixed prices for the most common places to go in Punta Cana.
For example a drive from Melia Caribe hotel to the airport for 1-4 person is US $ 35.00, additional person pay US $ 3.00
The vehicles are usually small Vans or SUVs with air-condition and due the fact that they are registered with certified companies they have to have insurance and the vehicles in really good shapes.
This is a great way to go out at night as a group and see the Coco Bongo disco in Punta Cana or imagine without the worry who is driving or how to get back to the hotel safe.
Tip: You can organize round trips with them and they are also available to drive you to further destinations if you want to, like San Rafael de Yuma, Miches or Higuey. You don’t have to worry of catching the last bus and gain back a little bit more independence on planning your trip to Santo Domingo.
Rental Car – book freedom of your own transportation
If you are an experienced Caribbean traveler and know the mentality and the way most Dominicans are driving and you still feel comfortable enough to drive on your own, you can certainly rent a car in one of the many international and local rental car companies in Punta Cana. We visited a few for you to get prices and more details:
Honda – Rent a Car : They are located, right besides San Juan in a small mall and offer pick up from your hotel to bring you for the paperwork and the handover of the vehicle to their office. You need a valid driver’s license and need to bring your passport and credit card for a deposit of US $330.00.
Rental fees include full insurance and start around US $ 50.00/day. You get the car handed over with full tank and have to make sure to refill when bringing it back.
How to make a reservation: call local office 809 779 8753 or 809 455 1686 or send him prior a short mail to honda.puntacana at hotmail.com
Avis/Payless/Budget: You can find there office between San Juan shopping center and Mi Amor rum factory, besides YAO restaurant.
International companies like Budget and AVIS have their agents waiting for you as well as guest service from Payless. Again bring your legal documents to proof you are allowed to drive and a credit card for the deposit of US $ 350.00. The most basic cars with full insurance start around US $ 75.00 and can go up if you decide to book a more luxurious vehicle.
Telephone number to call to get picked up and make reservations: 809 688 1354 and 809 480 8814, check out their web page for more details on vehicles available.
Europe Car: Europe Car main office is located close to the hotels Palladium Palace Punta Cana and Punta Cana Princess and in walking distance of 5 minutes.
Rental prices vary as they do have small compact cars, as well as SUV’s and Vans for up to 12 people and rates vary throughout the season, find more details at visit their web page:
Renting your own car is a great way of getting out of the all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana and exploring on your own the nearby villages and interesting places to go around Punta Cana. You don’t have to follow the schedule of a group and can decide to stay any time you want, meet up with locals and enjoy typical food in one of the many Dominican restaurants and food places.
I met a german couple will checking prices for you and they shared their fun adventures outside Punta Cana with me.
Here some basic traffic rules for the Dominican Republic:
Some general rules of the road you should know when driving in Dominican Republic:
You must wear your seat-belt at all times. If you don’t, you have to pay a fine of $1,000 Pesos (US $ 22.00)
The right of way is given to the vehicle that is on the bigger street.
Trucks have priority before cars.
Green light indicates that you can go, but still be cautious, it is possible that cars that are supposed to stop, don’t.
Red light indicates that you must stop.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs isn’t allowed.
About speed limits: You shouldn’t drive more than 120 kilometers per hour on highways and 80 kilometers per hour on other roads. Inside villages reduces to 40 kilometers per hour.
Don’t change directions too quickly: Show clearly and in time when changing directions, even if this means to roll down your window and stick out your hand, but don’t expect the Dominicans to do the same. Be more conscious than back home and don’t end up in a road rage attack.
If you want to make a left turn, it’s possible that motorcycles will still pass on the left hand side of your vehicle. Pay close attention before making your turn to avoid accidents.
Other than this go with the flow and enjoy an adventurous day out to explore what else Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic have to offer.
Rent a scooter or ATV – other fun ways of independent transportation around town:
You can find lots of local places like this one close to Los Corales in Bavaro that rent for a day scooter, motorbikes or even ATV’s.
The prices are very reasonable scooter rental starting at US 25.00/day, the mechanical ATV around US $ 70.00 and the full automatic one at US $ 100.00/day.
You should definitely rent one of this vehicles only if you are already and experienced driver and don’t start this adventure here in Punta Cana. Even through you get helmets and safety gear for the 4 wheels, the Dominican streets are full of wreak less and fast drivers.
If you do have experience than this is a great alternative to a car, you get fast from A to B, especially if you are planning to stay in one of the many rental apartments or hostels in Punta Cana and Bavaro. It gives you the independence to move around, eat outside and go shopping in local food stores and drive to the local beaches to have a great time with some friends.
Local Tip: make sure to wear helmets at all times ,even though you see locals without. It is for your own safety and don’t plan long distance trips and avoid driving on the busy highway.
Rent a Bike – the alternative transportation
You can find lots of local places like this one close to Los Corales in Bavaro that rent for a day scooter, motorbikes or even ATV’s.