Since the Dominican Republic is quite a large island, many travelers find that getting around by car is the most convenient method of travel while on vacation.
Driving also gives vacationers the freedom to experience the island at their own pace. The driving conditions in the Dominican Republic are quite an experience and sometimes an adventure for those not accustomed to navigating the roads there.
The only requirement for driving while on vacation in the Dominican Republic is a valid driver's license from your home country, which is valid for up to 90 days on the island. As in North America, most driving is done on the right side of the road, but that is where most of the similarities end.
Driving on the island is somewhat of a free-for-all. The majority of Dominican drivers are reckless, and most vehicles are in bad overall condition, missing headlights and taillights.
Until recently, the roads on the island were covered with potholes, and some still are, but most of the main roads are in good condition. The road from Santo Domingo to Santiago is now a four-lane divided highway, and the road between Santiago and Puerto Plata is smooth blacktop. The roads from the capital are usually toll roads.
Taking country roads and driving during the night are not recommended activities. Mountain roads tend to be extremely narrow, and most are unlit. If traveling during the dark hours, use caution and watch out for pedestrians, motorbikes, and sometimes even livestock.
Get directions and invest in a reliable map before setting out in your car on the Dominican Republic. Also, fill up with gas, and keep an eye on the gas gauge, especially in rural areas where gas stations are spread far apart. Remember to bring the proper child safety seat along with you if you are traveling with a young child.
Driving in another country can be intimidating. If you feel that it is not for you, there are plenty of other transportation options. Getting a good price in a cab may take some negotiating, but will get you from place to place the fastest. If you're staying in one of the island's larger cities, you can plan to take advantage of the public bus system, and there are even metro buses that travel between cities.
The driving conditions in the Dominican Republic are likely different than what you are used to experiencing back home, but don't let that deter you from renting a vehicle to make your island travels more convenient to you.
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