Renting a car is a great way to see the country without wasting time waiting for buses. Prices range from US$40 to US$100 per day. Motorcycles can also be rented, but only experienced drivers should do so because of poor road conditions. If you bust a tire – the most common car trouble here – a gomera is a tire repair and retail shop.
You must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 25 years old to rent a car. You will be required to show a major credit card or leave your passport as a deposit. Be sure to ask about the ‘deductible’ (the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in) and whether the insurance covers damage to your tires or windows.
First-class buses are comfortable, have air-con, and often also have TVs and a movie. Fares are low – the most expensive is less than US$10. Reservations aren’t usually necessary.
The following companies have 1st-class services:
Caribe Tours (in Santo Domingo 809-221-4422; cnr Avs 27 de Febrero & Leopoldo Navarro) The most extensive bus line, with service everywhere but the south east.
El Canario (809-291-5594) Not exactly 1st-class vehicles, but the only daily direct service between Puerto Plata and Samaná (US$7, 3½ to 4 hours, with stops in Nagua and Sánchez.
Metro (in Santo Domingo 809-566-7126; Calle Francisco Prats Ramírez) Located behind Plaza Central Mall in Santo Domingo, Metro serves nine cities, mostly along the Santo Domingo–Puerto Plata corridor.
Gua-guas vary in size, from minivans to midsize buses with room for around 30 passengers. They don’t have toilet facilities and only occasionally have air-con. Unlike regular buses, gua-guas stop all along the route to pick up and drop off passengers. Wherever long-distance buses don’t go, you can be sure a gua-gua does. Gua-guas rarely have signs, so ask a local if you’re unsure which one to take. Most pass every 15 to 30 minutes and cost US$1 to US$2. Simply wave to be picked up.
The following airports handle domestic flights:
Aeropuerto Internacional Arroyo Barril (ABA; 809-248-2718) West of Samaná. Used mostly during whale-watching season (January to March) and handles only propeller aircraft. Serves Santiago and the interior.
Aeropuerto Internacional El Portillo (EPS) Airstrip only a few kilometers from Las Terrenas, used mostly for domestic flights and gets busiest during whale-watching season.
Aeropuerto Internacional La Isabela (JBQ, Dr Joaquin Balaguer; 809-567-3900) Located 16km north of Santo Domingo in Higuero, this airport services domestic airlines.
Aeropuerto Internacional María Montez (BRX; 809-524-4144) Five kilometers from Barahona; does not have a regular commercial passenger service.
The main domestic carriers and air taxi companies:
Take Off (809-552-1333; www.takeoffweb.com) Offers the widest selection of scheduled flights, including Santo Domingo to El Portillo ($80). There’s a small, efficient office with English speakers in the Plaza Brisas in Bávaro.
The DR’s under-maintained highways are not well suited for cycling, though mountain biking on back roads can be rewarding. There are a number of recommended tours available from Jarabacoa and Cabarete.