My husband decided on a trip to the Dominican Republic for his 30th birthday. It was time to go back to the DR and go All-Inclusive!
I had visited this Caribbean country in the past, but it had been years. I last went to Punta Cana and that was in 2008 which is many, many years ago. This would be his first trip so to make it new for both of us, I planned for us to reach the north coast at Puerto Plata!
Planning this trip did not take long. Actually, I researched a few hotels for a few hours to check out if there was any diving up there first and was surprised to find few options. Much of the beaches and resorts I read about were great for kite surfing or water sports. In the end, once Adam officially decided our dates, I ended up waking up one morning at 5am and Googling the crap out of resorts! I picked one within 2 hours and booked it.
We were taking Delta down from JFK, which surprisingly does NOT fly into Puerto Plata. Our choice was to fly into Santiago, DR and get to Puerto Plata from there. I had read some forums where travelers are scared of driving, it can be dangerous if you get pulled over by fake cops, and it was a toss between driving or taking a shuttle bus. In the end, we opted for going for the adventure and driving.
Renting the Car and Costs
Our car turned out to cost $56 initially but with insurance (you always need that God forbid some idiot or animal runs into your car), it totaled about $230 for 4 days. A shuttle bus would have cost more (over $120 per person) and it would have taken much longer. We actually saw the buses on the road and man, they drive slow and never would have gotten in front of trucks! We got from Santiago to Sosua in under 2 hours on the way there, with hitting rush hour traffic. On the reverse when headed back to the airport, we made it in 1 hour and 20 minutes.
We were warned before hand of robbers, keeping the doors closed, not pulling over for cops, video taping them if we did, and definitely staying off the mountain road on the way up north. Nothing happened to us but a few times we were close to having a bad encounter.
On the way from the airport, a group of horses sat in the middle of the highway (yes – the Circumvulacion) and if we were not paying attention we’d run right into them. Then in downtown Puerto Plata, a huge sponge fell onto our windshield. It actually looked like a chocolate chip cookie to me. A small kid ran over and started cleaning our car. We kept our windows up and doors locked, yelling No! and Stop! We drove away but when the freaking sponge fell, we almost ran into motorcyclists.
Speaking of, so many of the Dominican people ride motorcycles. They are everywhere and it can be anxiety provoking. They stick out on the highway trying to cross, they ride the wrong way, or they flat out are too close to the cars.
Lastly, we ran a “yellow light” and what looked like a security guard came into the street waving us down. We did not stop – too scary to deal with what would have happened next and there were tons of cars in front of us.
If I were to return, I would opt for the shuttle bus to be honest. This trip included too many things that almost went wrong and supposedly in DR if you are in a car accident, you go to jail until they figure out whose fault it is. Even though nothing happened, it was an adventure and a beautiful drive!
We almost lost the car rental keys too…
So it is up to you whether you drive or not. But do be very careful and keep your eyes open on your surroundings the entire time!
Have you driven in Dominican Republic?
Stay tuned to hear more about my trip!