Newcomers to the Dominican Republic sometimes get a bit lost when it comes to moving around.
We started looking at this intriguing traffic system in Cabarete, where the traffic never stops. We’ve put together a short overview of all the different forms of transport in Cabarete so you can go from A to B like you want to. It is quite similar around the island.
Cabarete is pretty small and you can easily go from one side of the bay to the other on foot. Just don’t go via the street, which is noisy and at times dangerous because of crazy traffic. Instead walk along the beach, get your feet in the sand and enjoy being in a small piece of paradise!
Also at night, if you want to go back to your place after dinner or partying you can easily walk back via the beach and street. Walk until Pomodoro / Villa Taina on the beach and from there on on the street sidewalk.
The Motoconcho is a bit of an institution in the Dominican Republic. Basically these are privately owned motorbikes whose drivers will give you a ride on the back of their bikes. The minute you come onto a public road a motoconcho will whistle, honk or shout at you asking whether you want a ride.
Locals and tourists alike will take a motoconcho for short distances. No helmets are provided and taking up to two and sometimes three passengers is normal. The cost of a motoconcho inside Cabarete is 25 Pesos per person, if you need to go to or from the outskirts count on paying 25 Pesos per person. At night double fares are normal. Try to have the correct amount of Pesos for payment, as they are unlikely to have change.
Caro publicos are public taxis (small model cars in various states of disrepair) that usually have signs (similar to taxi signs) on the roof of the car, indicating their particular route along a main road. Like a normal bus, they have fixed routes, mostly on main roads between cities, towns and villages, stopping wherever passengers want to get in or out.
If you stand at the side of the road they will honk as they drive towards you, and if you wave at them they will stop to pick you up, as long as they have room. Normal capacity is three in the front and four in the back. If they are full they will drive by without stopping despite your frantic waving.
Once inside, pay the driver, preferably with exact change. When you arrive at your destination and you want to get out just tell the driver to stop; if you don’t he will just continue. There are no timetables for these vehicles so depending on the time of day or night, it can take anywhere from two to thirty minutes before you see one.
Anywhere on the main road from Cabarete to Sosua the cost of a caro publico is RD$30 (RD$40-50 after sunset). If you are going on to Puerto Plata, you'll have to change caro publico in Sosua. From Sosua to Puerto Plata it is another RD$35-50.
Guaguas (unmarked minivans acting as the local bus service)
Guaguas are privately owned minivans that act as the local bus service between cities, towns and villages. Guaguas are easily recognizable as someone (the driver’s assistant or cobrador) usually hangs out of the sliding door shouting and waving at people to see if they want a ride. Also watch out for a little oval sticker in the front, that certifies that it is an official Guagua.
These mini-vans normally have a holding capacity of 12 people but Dominicans have no qualms about transporting up to 20 people, including luggage (usually tied to the roof or front bars) and possibly a chicken or two.
Just like with the caros publicos, the guagua has no timetable or official places where they stop so again it can take anything from a couple of minutes to half an hour before one shows up. Guaguas rarely travel after early evening. At the end of one guagua's route there are generally other guaguas to carry people on from that point, to the end of their route, and so on. Take your time for the experience. This is traveling at its slowest.
The fare anywhere on the main road from Cabarete to Sosua is RD$25, and to Puerto Plata is RD$50 to 60. Try to have the correct amount of Pesos as the cobradores are unlikely to have change.
On the North Coast there are two bus companies that have coach buses driving between bigger cities. Neither of them comes to Cabarete, but both do have a stop in Sosua. Buses will typically go to the capital, Santiago, Puerto Plata and many other cities for a democratic price.
Look on the websites of Caribe Tours or Metro Tours for more information on bus schedules and prices. Caribe Tours has more routes but tends to be less on time than Metro Tours. Both will crank up the air-conditioning to sometimes uncomfortable temperatures so be sure to bring a sweater for the ride.
Taxis are definitely one of the most comfortable and quickest ways to get from A to B in the Dominican Republic. Consider this option if you have to go to the airport and need to catch your flight. The trip will cost a lot more than the public transport alternative but at least the chances of getting there on time are much higher than with other alternatives. To get an idea of the price, a one way ride from Cabarete to Puerto Plata airport costs 35 USD. Book your taxi at the reception of your hotel or apartment complex as they will have trusted drivers that have a good driving track record.