The private Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) serves most passengers who are flying into the southeast region. It recently expanded with a second terminal, the second largest in the Caribbean, receiving over 2 million passengers a year on direct flights from at least 96 cities. Check with your hotel on whether they offer a free shuttle transfer. Otherwise, taxi costs vary according to the area of Punta Cana you’re headed to, with Üvero Alto, north of Bávaro, being the farthest out at around 45-minutes’ drive. You can also contact Dominican Plus (tel. 809/481-0707, www.dominicanplus.com)—they offer reasonably priced transfers door-to-door nonstop for US$32 one-way to Bávaro area hotels; you can book online.
The Expreso Bávaro (Calle Juan Sánchez Ramírez, corner of Av. Máximo Gómez, Gazcue, tel. 809/682-9670, www.expresobavaro.com, departures every two hours from 7am, last bus at 4pm, US$9; in Bávaro, Cruce de Friusa. tel. 809/552-1678) takes you from Santo Domingo to the major resorts in Bávaro–and from there, you’d have to take another private taxi to your Punta Cana resort. This option would be for those who started their journey elsewhere on the island–such as the capital city–but then it might make more economical sense to hire a driver from Santo Domingo and split the fee with your traveling group.
Inaugurated in 2012, the relatively new, smooth Coral Highway linking Santo Domingo to Punta Cana has cut down a four-hour journey into just under three hours by private car. The road bypasses Higüey, cutting travel time. There are three toll roads along the way, at DOP$100 each. The drive is easy and pleasant, past sugar cane fields, grazing cows and open fields. This same highway will take you to La Romana in just 45 minutes.
Taxis are a lot more expensive in Punta Cana. You’ll notice when you start paying US$10 each way no matter how close the ride is. Most resorts post prices to sample destinations; consult the list and agree before entering a taxi. Alternatively, befriend a local driver and negotiate a price for taking you around during your stay. Try the friendly and responsible Juan from Lillian Tours and Transfers (tel. 829/265-4621 or 829/570-4810); tell him Lily the travel journalist sent you.
Car rental rates are better when booked online—they start around US$35—than once at Punta Cana airport, often pricier. You must be over 25 and have a valid driver’s license. Try Budget Rental Car (PUJ airport, tel. 809/480-8153, www.budget.com.do, 7am-9pm daily), Avis (PUJ airport, tel. 809/959-0534, www.avis.com.do, 8am-9pm daily), or Europcar (PUJ Airport, tel. 809/686-2861, www.europcar.com.do, 8am-10pm).
Note that there is no public transportation traveling up and down the Punta Cana resort area–the section south of the Punta Cana airport. Public guaguas or local buses (small minivans shared with other passengers) only travel up and down the main road in the Bávaro area.
Charter flights take you from Punta Cana to other remote parts of the island such as Samaná and Puerto Plata; it makes sense when traveling in a group.,Contact Dominican Plus (tel. 809/481-0707, from US$539 one-way for 1-3 to Samaná, or US$879 to Puerto Plata). Another option is Dominican Shuttles (tel. 809/931-4073, www.dominicanshuttles.com, from US$660 to Samaná).
Getting to La Romana
If you’re driving up to La Romana from Santo Domingo, you’ll hop on Highway 3 from Las Americas International Airport all the way to La Romana. Highway 3 will turn into Avenida Padre Abreu once you enter the city limits. Turn right onto Santa Rosa Street, which will lead you to the Central Park and in the immediate area, close to restaurants, banks and services. If you need to continue on to Bayahibe, once you arrive into La Romana, follow the signs for Casa de Campo, which will take you onto Avenida Libertad, which turns into Carretera La Romana-Higüey and from there follow along the signs to Bayahibe, all just 15 minutes away.
Aeropuerto La Romana (tel. 809/813-9000, www.romanaairport.com) is just under a twenty-minute drive from the center of La Romana’s city, as well as Casa de Campo, or Bayahibe and Dominicus resorts. Flights come in daily, including American Airlines, American Eagle, JetBlue, Air Canada, and a host of charter flights from Europe. Taxi rates from the airport to area resorts, including Casa de Campo, begin at US$35, and of course depend on your final destination, which could be Bayahibe or Dominicus resorts. Prices are set and listed once you get past customs; double check the rate with the driver before you depart.
From Santo Domingo, you can catch a local guagua bus (about US$5) from Parque Enriquillo, headed to Higüey but stopping in La Romana—ask around to make sure you hop on the right one. There’s also an express to La Romana, if you’re lucky to get to it, it leaves every half hour until 5pm. You will likely get dropped off at the Central Park, where you can catch a taxi or a bike taxi. If you’re a group, it may be better value to pay a taxi to drive you to La Romana; rates are usually around US$135 for up to four passengers—contact Apollo Taxi (tel. 809/537-0000, www.apolotaxi.com) and get an instant quote and ride.
If you’re coming south from Punta Cana airport or area, note that there aren’t any direct public buses and you’ll have to take a taxi; contact IBK Servicios (tel. 829/926-0707, http://ibkservicios.com, US$105 one-way, 1-4 ppl.) for a private transfer.
Getting from La Romana to Bayahibe
To go from La Romana to Bayahibe by public transportation, find the bus central gathering spot on Avenida Libertad, across from the public jail. And if you’re heading to Santo Domingo, there’s a SICHOEM bus terminal—you can also ask for “la salida de La Romana”—on Avenida Abreu, which leads into Autopista del Este, next to Shell gas station (US$3.40 express or DOP$150), where you catch an air-conditioned bus to the capital and reach in an hour and a half. You can also just head to the Parque Central, in front of the church, and catch a free bus ride to the SICHOEM terminal, from where you can head out to Santo Domingo.
Excerpt from Moon Dominican Republic (Moon Travel Guides, 2016 edition).