©2009 Fundación Mahatma Gandhi.  Todos los derechos reservados.
Transportation Into Las Terrenas

Your needs may vary depending on your point of origin and your routing, but
feel free to write us at
correo@fundacionmahatmagandhi.com if you have any
questions or if you need assistance.  You may also call 809.386.3086.

Looking for maps?  Go here.

International Flights
[Information about airlines servicing the D.R. appears here]
The country has a number of international airports (go here for more):  Santo
Domingo (SDQ
is 2.5 hrs away on the new highway linking the capital to
Samaná.  
Santiago (STI) is 3.5 hrs. away; Puerto Plata (POP) is 3.5 hrs. away,
and the newly inaugurated
Samaná El Catey international airport (AZS) is 45
minutes away but does not have regularly scheduled flights.  There's a local
airport in El Portillo, 5 minutes away from Las Terrenas, serviced by a number of
commuter airlines flying mainly from Santo Domingo and Punta Cana airports.  
Check
here for current arrival/departure away from Las Terrenas.  

The new highway from Santo Domingo to Samana Province is now in service,
so from the airport in Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas is 2-2:30 hrs., but add an
hour for public transport.

If you drive from Santo Domingo, Santiago and Puerto Plata, the trip will take you
through the heartland made of cacao, coffee and rice fields as well as cattle.  
Santiago is the second largest city in the country and Puerto Plata is the largest
tourist destination on the north coast.  From any direction you will go through
many, many small towns.  PLEASE avoid driving when is dark as there may be
animals on the road and vehicles (motorcycles and cars) without headlights or
tailights.

To find the most suitable and cheapest place to fly into depends on how quickly
you want to get here and what kind of experience you want to have.

Lost luggage
Tell the airline the address in Las Terrenas: Calle Salomé Ureña #7-B, Las
Terrenas, Provincia Samaná.  Doblar en la esquina del Banco León, tercera
casa después de la antena de Tricom, del lado izquierdo, malla ciclónica, antes
de la pared de piedra.  There's a sign on the fence that says "Casa Paz."  
Contact telephone, 809.371-0986 (Jose) or 809.496.0245 (Annette).
Ask them to make sure to call before leaving for Las Terrenas in case that
alternate plans are needed.

Taxi direct into Las Terrenas
This is your most expensive option.  There's SICHOLA, the taxi union at the
airport and they have a monopoly of service.  Depending on the time of day it
may cost you US$175-225 for the trip to Las Terrenas.  Our local tourist
transport service in Las Terrenas allows us to book a taxi pick-up for you at the
airport for only US$150, as a service to our volunteers.  These are air-
conditioned vans and they are dependable, safe and reliable.  You pay them
directly (FMG does not collect fees from what you pay).  If you want to go this
route write directly at
correo@fundacionmahatmagandhi.com and indicate your
arrival date, your airline, your flight number and the arrival time.  If your flight is
delayed it helps if you call us so that we can let the taxi driver know.  Extra
charges may apply for extensive delays, or for a return trip to pick you up another
day.  You must alert your airline of that fact if the delay is due to mechanical
problems.  At any rate, it helps to know the other options below so that you can
use "plan B" in case of a flight delay or an emergency.  You can try to reach us by
phone at either 809-371-0986 (Jose), 809-496-0245 (Annette) or at home at 809-
240-6596.

Buses from Santo Domingo
A major bus company travel from Santo Domingo to Sánchez in Samaná
Province.  Sánchez is a 20 min. drive to Las Terrenas crossing over the
mountain range. Caribe Tours has eight buses scheduled every day in each
direction:  Go to
http://www.caribetours.com.do/ for general information.  

Caribe Tours
Santo Domingo-Sánchez:  a) on the old highway, it takes 4-5 hours:  7 am, 9
am, 1 pm, 3 pm; b) on the new highway, it takes 2.5 hours only:  8 am, 10 am, 2
pm, 4 pm.   
Sánchez-Santo Domingo:  a) on the old highway, it takes 4- 5 hours:  7:30 am, 9:
30 am, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm; b) on the new highway, it takes 2.5 hours only:  8:
30 am, 10:30 am, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm.  

If you arrive at the international airport in Santo Domingo (SDQ) it takes at least 2
hours from the moment of arrival to go through customs and take the taxi ride
into the terminal.  This means that if you arrive at 2 pm you may not make it on
time to catch the last Caribe Bus into Las Terrenas, it would be best to spend
the night in Santo Domingo then catch it the following day.  

The fare is RD$280 or approximately US$9 one way which you buy at the ticket
booth.  Their buses are air-conditioned, have toilet facilities and hold 50
passengers with ample room for luggage down below.

From Sánchez to Las Terrenas
Once you arrive in Sánchez you'll find moto-conchos next to the bus stop.  A
moto-concho is a motorcycle used as a taxi.  If you are carrying too much
luggage pay a moto-concho RD$50-100 to go find a pick-up truck to take you to
the van/pick-up stop for Las Terrenas.  The fare should be $50-60 pesos.  
PEOPLE MAY APPROACH YOU OFFERING TO TAKE YOU--DISCUSS FARE  
BEFORE you board them, otherwise they may stop half-way and drop you off if
you don't give them RD$500 or more.  Others may offer to take you to Las
Terrenas for RD$1000.  Both are excessive charges and, yes, some of our
volunteers did not read this and got overcharged.  Once at the stop for Las
Terrenas (past the town of Sanchez, next to the Texaco gas station) you'll find 15-
passenger vans or pick-up trucks, you grab one of those (rain or shine) and
cross over the mountain (about 8 miles of beautiful mountain scenery
and curvy
roads) to get to Las Terrenas.  You shouldn't pay more than $50-60 pesos for
the ride (as of July 2008).  After sunset or starting at about 6 pm transport from
Sánchez to Las Terrenas is not dependable and may be non-existing, having
then to depend on a ride from someone.  If you have to come late because of
flight connections call in advance or let us know your schedule to arrange for a
pick-up.  A taxi may cost about US$20-25 from Sanchez to Las Terrenas.

If you're coming to the volunteer house, ask them to drop you off in front of Banco
León on Calle Principal, the house is about 150 yards away.  It's marked as #7-
B, or Salomé Ureña # 7-B.  If you're going elsewhere the van or pick-up may
drop you off there for an extra fare.  They all stop at the end of Calle Principal, in
front of the cemetery, at the very heart of town and less than a block from the
beach.  The area in front of the cemetery is also the place to catch pick-up trucks
going to El Limón, and the buses leaving morning and afternoon for Santo
Domingo and Santiago.

Direct Bus Service Santo Domingo-Las Terrenas
A very convenient service is offered by 25-passenger buses that travel directly
from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas and viceversa.  The fare is $230 and
depending on your arrival time at the airport or If you arrive late at night you may
need to spend the night in the capital.  If you do, you may catch a taxi the
following morning (Apolo Taxi, 809-537-0000) to the Samana Bus service on
Calle Barahona behind Plaza Lama.  

The taxi ride from the Colonial City to the Samana Bus Stop is about $120-150
pesos.  If you arrive early enough, you may ask the taxi service at the airport to
take you directly to the Samana Bus stop on Barahona Street.  The bus stop
telephone service is (809) 687-1470.

Santo Domingo-Las Terrenas:  8 am, 9:30 am, 11 am, 1:40 pm and 3 pm.  All
buses are air-conditioned.  If you don't want to much sun try to seat on the left
side of the bus in the morning and on the right side in the afternoons (the buses
head north and that should place the sun opposite to your sitting).
Las Terrenas-Santo Domingo:  5 am, 7 am, 12 noon, 2 pm and 3 pm, in front of
the cemetery.

Please notice the following:
a) buses may depart early if they're already full.  Try to be at the bus stop at least
45 minutes before departure if you don't want to miss it.  Be there at least 1 hr
prior to the last departure of the day (3 pm from Santo Domingo);
b) if you carry much luggage you may need to pay for an extra seat, but don't
secure an extra one until the last moment in case that your bus is not totally full.  
You can assertively state that you will pay for the extra seat only if the bus is full,
which would be fair to all involved.
c) these are 25-passenger buses with no extra luggage compartment and they
ride on the new highway.  The ride to Las Terrenas takes about 3 hrs depending
on the time of day and rush hour traffic.  There are no toilets on the road and no
suitable facilities along the way.
d) if you need to reserve a seat you may call the Bus office at 809.687.1470 and
ask to speak with the driver of the bus going to Las Terrenas if available.  Most
likely he would want you to arrive early enough to guarantee occupancy.  
e) Every half hour buses depart from the Samana bus stop on Calle Barahona
in Santo Domingo to Samana City.  Samana city is 45 minutes away from Las
Terrenas.  That's also an option for you, though it takes longer because they
make many stopsp along the way.  Make sure to tell the driver that you want to
get off in Sanchez at the crossroads to Las Terrenas, and from three you would
then catch the local transport into Las Terrenas (see "from Sanchez to Las
Terrenas" above).

Transport To/From Santiago
There are three scheduled buses (12-16 passengers) going from/to Las
Terrenas to Santiago and it takes about 3 hrs. as well.  The taxi drivers at
Santiago International Airport would take you (for about RD$500-600) to the
Samana Bus Stop on Calle Pedro Francisco Bonó #69.  The phone number for
the Samana Bus Stop in Santiago is 829.582.4949.
Santiago-Las Terrenas:  6:30 am, 11:30 am and 3 pm, departing from the
Samana Bus stop on Calle Pedro Francisco Bonó #69..
Las Terrenas-Santiago:  6:30 am, 8 am and 12 pm.  Departing in front of the
cemetery.
Sunday transport is often undependable, buses may depart earlier than
schedule, particularly if a long holiday.  It's wise to be at least an hour ahead of
schedule as these are 12-18 passenger buses that fill up quickly.  There's no
additional luggage room in these ones.  The cost is RD$230 but may be higher
depending on gas prices.

Buses also depart from Santiago to Samana City, they cost the same and you
may take these but need to get off in Sanchez at the Las Terrenas crossroads,
and from there take the local transport crossing over the mountain.  Their
departure times Santiago-Samana City are:  8 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 1:15 pm,
2:30 pm, 3:45 pm, 4:30 pm.  Please notice, the trip takes 3 hours and you want
to get to the crossroads before 6 pm.

There is now a new service once daily Las Terrenas-Puerto Plata-Las
Terrenas.  If you think it can be useful for you please write us and we'll send you
the information.

Commuter Airlines
Service from international airports and into either El Portillo, Samana, airport
(EPS) which is 5 minutes from town, or El Catey Samana International Airport
(AZS) which is 40 minutes away are offered by two airlines, Aerodomca (see
http:
//www.aerodomca.com/) and Take Off / SAP (see http:///www.flysamana.com).  
Consult their Webpages for available times, destinations and shuttle services.
The main thing to keep in mind when considering using the commuter airlines
is that their luggage limitation is 20 kg or 50 pounds total, compared to two bags
of 50 pounds each in all major airlines.  If you're carrying two pieces of luggage
of about 20 kilos each you may have to pay US$25-30 on top of your fare.  If
travelling by bus there is no luggage limitation.

Lodging in Santo Domingo
If your flight into Santo Domingo arrives too late for any of the buses available we
then recommend that you stay in Santo Domingo for the night.  Guest House
Las Mercedes, a bed and breakfast  in the Colonial City is a medium price, nice
and accessible location, on Calle Luperón, see more at
http:
//guestlasmercedes.com/Home.html.  The cost is US$40-45 including
breakfast.  Volunteers have also stayed at Bettye's Guest House, a hostel at the
heart of the colonial city.  You can book directly at
bettyemarshall@hotmail.com,
or calling 809.688.7649.  Bettye's is located on Calle Isabel La Catolica #162, at
the corner with Luperon Street.  It's one block from Colombus' house and to the
Cathedral.  Bettye's also have an airport taxi service for only RD$1000, or
RD$500 cheaper than the regular SICHALA airport taxi service.  You need a 24
hrs prior notice.  A night at Bettye's costs US$22-25 and it includes breakfast.  
Next to Bettye's is Hotel Freeman,
hotelfreeman@yahoo.com, 809.688.4263 or
cel phone 809.519.4865.  In the past volunteers have also stayed there.  
http:
//hostalfreeman.com.

Lodging in Las Terrenas.  Depending on availability and if you’re coming to
volunteer you may stay in our new
Volunteer House, Casa Paz.  Otherwise there
are multiple locations in all price ranges in Las Terrenas.  Go to
http://www.
samana.net/accommodations_lasterrenas-en.html for a listing.

On Driving in the Dominican Republic
Not for the faint-hearted.  Most roads have many pot-holes, often people and
animals are too close for your comfort and when night falls is best to stay put
and not do long-distance travel.  That's what I hear most foreigners say.  I've
driven at night, have had my close calls, including a very real encounter with 15
cows at 1:30 am, two of them destroyed the front of my pick-up!  But you'll find
locals and tourists driving in all kinds of possible ways and it must be fun
because they keep on doing it.  You must choose your comfort level.  And, yes,
there are many accidents on moto-conchos but often enough it is the only mode
of transportation available.  Just tell the driver to go "al paso," or slow.  If you feel
unsafe, touch his shoulder and tell him again "al paso, por favor."  That might
help.

Related information about this and other topics can be found
here.

Things to keep in mind  

About luggage:  if you come into any airport and you plan to catch a bus there
will not be extra expense implications.  If catching Caribe Tours their luggage
compartment is huge, but if travelling on one of the 25-passenger vans the room
is limited to your lap, unless you decide to pay for an extra seat to place your
luggage.  Taxis do not charge extra for luggage, particularly if you're carrying the
standard two pieces and carry on.  If you're considering taking one of the
commuter airlines, however, their allowed weight is 20 kilos, or about 50
pounds.  If you're carrying two suitcases and a carry-on you may end up paying
up to US$50 for extra luggage.

Taxi costs:  if arriving at the main international airport in Santo Domingo the
authorized taxi transport into the city is called SICHOLA.  There will be drivers at
the exit with a small sign carrying said letters.  They charge higher when going
to a hotel than going to a home (approx. US$40 to hotels while the standard
home fare is usually RD$1,100 or about US$35).  The trip to the Caribe Tours
bus stop (they are all familiar with the stop) may cost between US$35-40).  
Traffic is terrible in Santo Domingo, if arriving during rush hour (12-1 pm, 4:30-7
pm) the ride into the city/bus stop may take 30-40 minutes.  Caribe Tours
departs on time and you have to buy the ticket before hand.  One way to save on
the taxi is to share the taxi with someone going into the city or going to the bus
stop, which means making friends with people on the plane and finding out.  
Interestingly enough the cost of a local taxi ride to the airport using one of the
companies in the city is no more than $600 or half the rate at the airport.  Tough
luck!

Flashing money:  a big no no.  There are ATM machines in the arrival area at the
Las Americas airport.  As you exit the first security door and start going down the
ramp you'll see them on your extreme right.  There are 5-6 of them.  Use your
ATM card to withdraw money in pesos or plan to cash dollars or travellers
cheques from inside the immigration area at one of the bank booths.  ATM
machines are also available at all other airports.

At the Caribe Tours bus stop:  there are usually places that sell sandwiches,
fruit juices, soda pop and bottled water, among many other things.  When going
from Santo Domingo to Sánchez on the old highway on Caribe Tours the bus
makes a 15-min. stop in San Francisco and there's a large cafeteria offering all
kinds of dominican fare as well as bagged or processed foods and drinks.  The
bus makes no stops when travelling on the new highway (shorter route)

Managing these things is part of the fun but a little bit of knowledge can't hurt.  
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions or are confused about
transport.  We'd gladly assist you.
Fundación Mahatma Gandhi
Visión Global, Desarrollo Local
"Sé el cambio
que deseas ver
en el mundo."
Mahatma Gandhi
A mototaxi (motoconcho) is a
motorcycle used for public
transport.  
a) do NOT board on the right
side (to avoid getting burned
with the muffler.  A burn in
the ankle is the trademark of
dumb tourists in the D.R. :-)
b) hold on tight.
c) ASK the driver FIRMLY
that you want him to go
slowly.  "AL PASO POR
FAVOR."
d) if you don't feel secure tell
the driver BEFORE you're
about to fall.
e) if you think the driver is
acting crazy he probably is,
skipping cars is not desirable
however common it may
seem.
f) accidents in mototaxi are
the #1 cause of vehicular  
injuries in the country.  Don't
fool yourself, it could happen
to you, play it safe
.