The Dominican Republic has been on my travel list ever since my 9th grade Spanish teacher told the class about her time there as a college student. I visited the summer after college for a few days, and got to see Santo Domingo and some sleepy little beach towns on the northern coast by bus. Here is my guide for using buses to travel within la República Dominicana!
transport options in the Dominican Republic
Before I jump into my bus guide, I wanted to lay out all the options. If you’re shooting for a luxury vacation with an all-inclusive resort, then they should include airport and excursion transfer in your package. If they don’t then there is a very high chance they offer this for an extra fee.
You can also rent a car if you would rather have the freedom it brings. Both of these options are more expensive, but there is also the option of taxi and Uber.
I used Uber myself for traveling within Santo Domingo and Santiago, and took a shared taxi from the airport. There’s even an option to take a motoconcho (where basically your driver has a motor scooter instead of a car) on Uber. This is a super cheap option for travel within one city.
However, the most affordable options for long-distance travel are using bus companies or public transportation. I opted for buses operated by local companies.
bus companies: Metro and Caribe
The two main bus companies servicing the Dominican Republic are Metro and Caribe. They offer very similar prices, with Metro costing a little bit more. These two are the main ones offering trips to the northern coast of the D.R. and Haiti.
Metro offers trips to Port-au-Prince from Santo Domingo, and Caribe offers both the capital option or another from Cap-Haitiens to Santiago. Both have air conditioning, restrooms, and luggage storage with checked tags. Both also operate on a regular schedule, and offer many departures each day. There are adjusted schedules for Sundays and holidays.
I picked Metro bus. First, I got an Uber from my hostel to one of the Metro bus stations in Santo Domingo, and bought my ticket at the counter to Sosúa for 450 RD, or $8.88. I arrived 30-40 minutes before departure, which was plenty of time to get a ticket, lounge in their waiting area, and board even though it was a Saturday in the summer. If you’re hungry, there’s a food stand inside the station selling traditional Dominican food. There are also wall outlets to charge your phone, and outside seating near the bus parking spots. My bus did leave on time, so don’t count on them running late!
My time on the Metro bus was comfortable, but I will say that the bathroom could use some cleaning. I chose Metro over Caribe for my trip because I read in all the forums I could find that Caribe buses have the A/C cranked up so high that you freeze on the way to your destination. Most stated that Metro offered passengers control over their air vents, so that was the one for me. I definitely prefer to not have extremes in heat and cold air! This isn’t a huge deal, but I found it just made more sense to pay a little more and have better comfort.
options outside of Metro and Caribe
If you’re interested in going from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana, an Expreso Bávaro bus is an option. While I can’t vouch for their quality since I didn’t visit this part of the country or use their service, it is nice to have a more affordable option available for reaching Punta Cana when you’re traveling the whole country.
reflections on my experience
My first trip to the Dominican Republic was much too short. I stayed in Santo Domingo for a night at Island Life Backpackers Hostel and walked the winding cobblestone streets. The next day, I took a bus up the the country to the northern coast, where I stayed in Cabarete. I visited Kite Beach, and tried some awesome veggie restaurants I found on HappyCow. Next, I headed down to Santiago, where I flew back to the U.S.
For my next trip to the Dominican Republic, I would love to start in Haiti and take the Caribe bus across the border, making my way from Santiago to Cabarete, Las Terrenas, then down to Santo Domingo, east to La Romana, and end in Punta Cana. And of course, these travels will all be done using buses! What other way is there to travel and see a more local way of life?
I hope this guide from my experience was helpful for you. I remember feeling so stressed while trying to piece together all the info on bus travel in the Dominican Republic from outdated forums across the internet. Please feel free to contact me or comment down below if you have any questions!