Las Terrenas is one of the best places you can pick to visit in the Dominican Republic, but many travelers wonder how to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas. Numerous travelers who will vacation in Las Terrenas will end up arriving at the Santo Domingo Airport and then must figure out how to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas. We will explain both the pros and cons of the 4 most popular ways of how to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas. We will also estimate all prices as I don’t think anyone will make a travel plan based on a $5 or $10 USD swing in prices.
This article has been written by an American who visited here 5 times before moving here and has been living in the Dominican Republic for the last 5 years. I do own a private taxi transportation company, but I have tried my best to write this objectively.
How to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas by Bus
There are no buses that can take you from the Santo Domingo Airport to Las Terrenes, but you can take a taxi to the bus station and then head to Las Terrenas on the bus. There are two main bus companies that you can choose from, either Caribe Tours or Espresso Samana. The buses are safe, clean and have air-conditioning, but they are a little more cramped then American buses.
Time (approx.): The time will vary with the buses because the locals use the buses as a primary means of transportation to and from various cities. Because of this the bus can and will make stops whenever someone wants to get off regardless if it is a scheduled stop or not. By the time they collect luggage from beneath the bus it can take 5 to 10 minutes for each stop. You will also have to consider the time to transfer from the airport to the bus station (30 minutes), waiting for the next bus to depart once you make it to the bus station (1/2 hr. to 1 hr.), the actual transit time (3+ hours), and then the final transfer from the bus station to your hotel (30 minutes). Approximate total transfer time is 4 ½ to 5 hrs. For those late-night transfers or really early in the morning this won’t be an option unless you want to wait till the 8 am.
Cost (approx.): $40 USD for the taxi from the airport to the bus station, $10 USD per person for bus tickets, $40 USD for a taxi from bus station to your hotel/resort/villa. Approximate total for 2 travels is $100 USD (one-way).
Safe, Secure, Comfortable & English-Speaking Transfers
How to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas by shuttle
There are shuttle services from the Santo Domingo Airport to Las Terrenas that will take you to your hotel in Las Terrenas. These are typically clean and safe vehicles that have good air-conditioning as well. The typical vehicle used is a Toyota Haice or similar. Some things that you need to be prepared for when using a shuttle service is that most of the companies can wait up to 2+ hours at the airport for the shuttle to fill up with passengers. Then you will have to go from hotel to hotel until you have arrived at your hotel. Now if you are the last one the shuttle waits for at the airport and then the first hotel they drop off at in Las Terrenas this can be good solution, but I would plan on waiting a little while at the airport and then plan on being one of the middle hotels for drop off. Hopefully you aren’t the first person at the airport and must wait the full 2+ hours for the shuttle to fill up and then also the last hotel the shuttle goes to. Shuttles have been known to cancel their transfers at the last minute if there are not enough people to fill the bus. This happens a lot with their late afternoon or early morning transfers. For those late-night transfers or really early in the morning this won’t be an option.
Time (approx.): +/- 1 hour of waiting at the airport, 2 ½ hrs. of drive time to Las Terrenas, 30 minutes of going from hotel to hotel. Total (approx.) 4 hours.
Cost (approx.): $60 USD per person.
How to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas by Rental Car
There are several rental car counters at the Santo Domingo Airport and you will be able to rent a car there without much trouble. Renting a car is straight forward, but you will want to make sure you are prepared for driving in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has been rated the 2nd worst country in the world for driving. If you rent a car, we suggest you pay for the maximum insurance policy because the possibility of being involved in a traffic accident is dramatically increased here. Also, Dominican laws allows for both parties in an accident to be held until an investigation can be completed. If it is longer than a short-time as determined by the investigator, you will be transferred to the local police station while things are being investigated. While you are not arrested, you are still not free to go until the investigation is completed and you are found innocent. This can put a real damper on your vacation. The other worry you may have is dealing with a corrupt police officer and, unfortunately, we have a few here. They may blame you for the accident even if it is not your fault until you pay them. This is not wide spread, yet happens enough that travelers should take note it is a possibility.
As far as exploring the Las Terrenas -Samana peninsula with your rental car, most areas that you will want to go and visit will require a 4-wheel drive SUV to get to their locations. It is better to use a local excursion company unless you want to drive your rental car around the downtown Las Terrenas, which is only about a $5 USD taxi ride from most hotels/resorts.
Time (approx.) 30 minutes at the rental car office, 2 ½ hrs. drive time to Las Terrenas. Total (approx.) 3 ½ hours.
Cost: Car Rental: $29 USD per day (compact car), Insurance: $15+ USD per day, Mandatory road tolls to Las Terrenas: $35 USD (one-way) $70 USD (round-trip), Gas: 283 km / 175 miles (round-trip) $60 USD. Total for a 4-day vacation (approx.) $310 USD.
Safe, Secure, Comfortable & English-Speaking Transfers
How to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas by Private Taxi
This is the simplest, probably the most relaxing and comfortable transportation, but it comes at a cost. It is also probably the most expensive means of transportation. You will be picked up by your driver the minute you clear customs and taken directly to your hotel in a private taxi. A few of the companies will have English speaking drivers for those who don’t speak Spanish.
Time (approx.) 2 hours
Cost: Anywhere from $150 USD to $165 (one-way) depending on where your hotel is.
Comparing the options that you have to get to Las Terrenas from Santo Domingo
I have created a simple chart that shows the cost, the difficulty, and the time involved to transfer from the Santo Domingo Airport to Las Terrenas. Again, I have not completed test after test and called every company for their exact pricing, but I have used all forms of these transportation as a tourist and as someone who has lived here for the past 5 years.
Time: 4 1/2 to 5 hrs.
Time: 4 hrs.
Passengers: 1 to 4
Time: 3 1/2 hrs.
Passengers: 1 to 6
Time: 2 hrs.
To Wrap Things Up
My opinion and why our company doesn’t offer shuttle service, etc. is because of the service you will receive from a company like ours. For those who don’t speak Spanish they will have an English-speaking driver, 99% of the hassle factor is eliminated and of course the time savings. For my vacations, I don’t want to save a few dollars or in this case maybe $50 USD, but add a lot of headache onto the trip. My vacations are meant to relax. Also because of the fact there are so many fender benders, etc. on the road, if God forbid you are involved in one and you are using a taxi, the driver will simply call another taxi for you and you will wait only a short period by the side or the road. Again, in my opinion, this beats the possibility of being tied up for hours with an investigation into who was at fault.
You now have the information you need to know on how to get from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas and now only must decide if the money savings is worth it or if paying a little more for a much simpler, faster and enjoyable process is worth it.