Public transport in Punta Cana – the ultimate guide

Public transport in Punta Cana might be tricky – but it is fun if you know how it works (and up for some adventure). Therefore, if you are interested to save a considerable amount of money while being on vacation in Punta Cana, continue reading. With more than 5 years of experience in living in Punta Cana and riding public buses, reckless moto-taxis and overcrowded guaguas, I have summarized all my knowledge and put together this ultimate guide on public transport in Punta Cana. And do not worry, there are also comfortable buses, air-condition (sometimes) and some set rules – as soon as you know them, you can have a smooth ride in Bavaro and Punta Cana.

 

What types of (public) transport you can expect in Punta Cana?

Guaguas

 “Guagua” is the Dominican word for a bus, a maxi van, a route taxi or for everything which fits in between 10 and 50 passengers – usually with less amount of seats, as buses tend to be cramped. Sometimes, the word guagua is also used for buses bigger than 50 seats, but usually, those are called “autobus” or at least “guagua grande”. Traveling in a guagua to get around in Punta Cana is perfectly safe, but be prepared for close contact with the local people (so better try this option after the COVID-pandemic is over) and no space for luggage, legs or any other things you would like to take with you. Guaguas in Bavaro and Punta Cana ply different routes and am explaining below how they are working. 

Buses

 95% of all public transport options in the Dominican Republic are guaguas, but you might also find some proper buses in the area. In Punta Cana, this particularly applies to the main route from Higuey via Verón to Bavaro. Those buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, spacious and are similar or sometimes even better (some of them are recently imported from Asia) than what you are used to in your home country. Same as guaguas, buses in Punta Cana are cheap as well and absolutely safe – the perfect way to get around by public transport in Bavaro.

Motoconchos

 If you just want a quick ride or if your destination is not covered by one of the public buses, motoconchos are the best choice to get around in Punta Cana – in a cheap way as well. A motoconcho is nothing else than a motorcycle-taxi that fits 1 or 2 passengers. This kind of taxis are waiting around every corner in Bavaro and Punta Cana and rides usually just cost 1-2 US-Dollar depending on the distance. As the traffic in the Dominican Republic is (literally) hit-and-miss, I would not recommend too long rides as the safety of motoconchos is questionable, to say the least. However, if you get a careful driver, you can ride this kind of “special taxis” without a problem. I have already been on dozens or even hundreds of motoconchos and nothing has happened so far.

Taxis

 If you are on vacation in Punta Cana and you don’t want to deal with this adventure and these special rules while navigating in Bavaro, just take a taxi. They are available at every hotel, the airport and other main access points (such as malls, supermarkets or frequented restaurants) and perfectly safe, as long as they are part of a taxi association. Fortunately, taxi crime like in many other Latin American countries is not existing in the Dominican Republic. Obviously, taxi prices in Punta Cana are considerably more expensive (usually 20 USD and up, see below for more information) than any of the public transport options but it is just the most convenient way to get around.

Shuttles

 Shared shuttles are a combination between a taxi and a guagua. On the one hand, you share the shuttle with other passengers you might not know, on the other hand, it goes straight from A to B without too many other stops. Furthermore, they are predetermined for big loads of luggage, so they are a perfect compromise if you are looking to travel cheaply but with your full number of travel bags. Shuttles are also used to international tourists, so there is usually no problem to speak English.

 Unfortunately, shuttles only run between the all-inclusive resorts and the Punta Cana International Airport, hence they are especially convenient for your way from and to the airport. You can check out some prices here* or have a look at my separate article on how to get to and from the airport in Punta Cana.

Guaguas and Buses – public transport in Punta Cana

Routes

 Guaguas and buses ply different routes of public transport in Punta Cana. To give you a comprehensive overview, I am covering the whole Province of La Altagracia here, which is the region where all hotels and resorts of Punta Cana and beyond (Cap Cana, Cabeza de Toro, Bavaro, Macao, Uvero Alto) are located.

 In total, there are around 10 routes, but please note that they are not numbered (so the numbers are just for orientation here in this article). Usually, they have a sign in the front shield showing their destination.

Public transport Routes within Bavaro and Punta Cana

1) Cap Cana – Punta Cana Airport – Cruce de Verón (yellow line in the map below)
2) Cruce de Verón – Downtown Bavaro – Palma Real Mall (pink line in the map below)
3) (coming from Higuey – same as number 7 below) Cruce de Verón – Downtown Bavaro – Palma Real Mall – Los Corales – El Cortecito – Friusa (continuing to Machiplan on request) (red line in the map below)
4) Friusa – El Cortecito – Los Corales – Downtown Bavaro – Friusa (purple line in the map below)

Public transport routes between Bavaro/Punta Cana and Higuey (the province of the capital)

5) Higuey – La Otrabanda – Cruce de Verón – Punta Cana Airport (blue line in the map below)
6) Higuey – La Otrabanda – Cruce de Verón – Veron – Cabeza de Toro (dark green line in the map below)
7) Higuey – La Otrabanda – Cruce de Verón – Downtown Bavaro – Palma Real Mall – Los Corales – El Cortecito – Friusa (sometimes continuing to Machiplan) (red line in the map below)
8) Higuey – La Otrabanda – La Ceiba – Hard Rock Punta Cana – Machiplan/Arena Gorda (grey line in the map below)
9) Higuey – La Otrabanda – La Ceiba – Macao – Uvero Alto (light green line in the map below)
10) Higuey – La Otrabanda – La Vacama – Las Lisas – Miches (black line in the map below)

Map of public transport in Punta Cana and Bavaro

 Even the whole public transport in Bavaro is organized by associations and syndicates, there is no official (nor an unofficial 😉 ) map for the public transport system in Punta Cana. Hence if you would like to know how to get around in the area, you should know the routes, buses, etc.

 That’s why I have created a map with all the guagua and bus routes (note that the only line where proper big buses are running is the one from Higuey via Verón to Bavaro, Friusa (numbered “3” and “7” above). 

Map of the public transport system in Bavaro and Punta Cana
(c) cartographic raw data: Open Street Map (c) map creation and public transport display: Punta Cana Travel Blog
Map of the public transport system in Bavaro and Punta Cana
(c) cartographic raw data: Open Street Map (c) map creation and public transport display: Punta Cana Travel Blog

 As some of the connections go all the way to Higuey, the capital of the province La Altagracia, I have included those on the map as well. 

How does the public transport system in Punta Cana and Bavaro works?

 First of all, there are a few important rules to know in the Dominican Republic when getting around by public transport which differ from the typical system we are used to in Europe and North America.

 First of all, there are no bus stops. You can flag down buses everywhere and can tell the driver to get out at any place you want. There is an exception in some express services between Higuey and Bavaro/Friusa which are called “expresos” and just have around a dozen predetermined stops.

 Second, you need to recognize the buses. Most of them are typical Dominican guaguas which is kind of a maxi van with usually around 30 seats. They are recognizable by their sign in the front shield showing the destination and by the logo and wording of their association on the side of the vehicle. Usually, these associations are called Sitrabapu, Sitrahimi, Sitrahima or Asovebapu. Those are all abbreviations, for example, Sitrabapu stands for “Sindicato de transporte de Bavaro y Punta Cana”.

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 The third thing is that you pay directly on the bus, the conductor / cobrador (the assistant of the driver) will approach you during the ride and collect the money. There are no bus tickets. 

 This is valid for all the buses mentioned above. The only exception is the Punta Cana – Santo Domingo bus, where you buy tickets at the bus station.

Prices for public buses in Punta Cana

 Talking about tickets brings us right to the next point, the prices – which are, generally spoken, pretty cheap, especially for Western standards. An internal ride within Bavaro and Punta Cana usually cost between 40 and 60 DOP (around 1 USD), all the routes from Higuey to the Punta Cana area are around 110 to 130 DOP (approx. 2 USD). If you want to know it exactly, here are the prices for the individual routes including the year when I last took them.

 For routes within Punta Cana and Bavaro:

– Bavaro (Friusa, Los Corales, El Cortecito) – Verón: 50 DOP (2018)
– Bavaro (Friusa, Downtown, Los Corales, El Cortecito) – Bavaro (Friusa, Downtown, Los Corales, El Cortecito): 40 DOP (2020)
– Bavaro (Downtown) – Bavaro (Machiplan): 60 DOP (2020)
– Punta Cana Airport – Verón: 50 DOP (2019)

 For routes between the area of Higuey and the area of Punta Cana / Bavaro:

– Higuey – Bavaro (Friusa, Downtown, Los Corales, El Cortecito etc.): 130 DOP (2020)
– Higuey – Bavaro (Arena Gorda/Machiplan): 120 DOP (2018)
– Higuey – Junction to Macao: 90 DOP (2018)
– Higuey – Punta Cana Airport: 130 DOP (2018)
– Higuey – Uvero Alto: 120 DOP (2018)
– Higuey – Verón: 90 DOP (2018)
– Junction 104/105 (close to La Otrabanda) – Bavaro (Arena Gorda/Machiplan): 100 DOP (2016)
– Junction 104/105 (close to La Otrabanda) – Montaña Redonda: 125 DOP (2016)

Frequencies of Punta Cana public buses

 Most of the Punta Cana bus routes mentioned here are running every thirty minutes. Depending on the section, there might be a bus running up to every 10 minutes if there are various routes in one section. For example, the section between Los Corales and Downtown Bavaro / Cruce de Coco Loco is served by three different routes, so you have buses running more or less every 10 minutes. Of course, this is a bit erratic as it depends on the traffic, the number of stops and the departure times of the buses.

 Even you might not expect a bus schedule in a country like the Dominican Republic, there are indeed fixed departure times for each bus. For example, most of the buses mentioned in this post leave every 30 minutes, usually either on the hour and on the half-hour or every quarter past and every quarter shy of the hour.
Depending on the route, services start around 5-6am and run until 8-10pm at night.

 However, these departure times are only valid for their first stop (respectively the starting point) because afterwards, it depends a lot on traffic, the number of people riding, the number of stops, etc. 

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Resorts in Punta Cana served by public transport buses and guaguas

 If you’re coming to Punta Cana for your holiday, you might wonder if you can venture out from your resort to explore the area by public transport. Yes, you usually can (in most cases)!

 Most of the resorts are served by public buses respectively guaguas, so you can go and easily catch a bus. Depending on the all-inclusive resort you are staying at, frequencies might be limited, but if you ask the local staff they usually can tell you when the bus is (more or less) supposed to arrive and where exactly you can catch it.

Resorts in Cap Cana served by public transport

 None!

 The bus from Verón just heads towards the entrance of Cap Cana. From here you would have to get a taxi or a shuttle from your hotel to reach your accommodation or walk, depending on your physical fitness. The closest resorts from the entrance of Cap Cana are Ancora Cap Cana at about a mile and TRS Cap Cana a few feet more.

 For all other resorts in Cap Cana (among them Eden Roc Cap Cana, Secrets Cap Cana, Hyatt Ziva, Sanctuary Cap Cana, Del Mar by joy Resorts, etc.) you definitely need a hotel shuttle or a taxi to reach public transport options.

Resorts in Cabeza del Toro served by public transport

 All of them!

 There is a guagua running the route Cabeza de Toro – Cruce de Verón – Higuey that serves all hotels and resorts located in Cabeza de Toro:

– Catalonia Bavaro Beach
– Catalonia Royal
– Serenade Punta Cana Resort
– Blue Beach Punta Cana
– Be Live Hotels Punta Cana
– Dreams Palm Beach
– Natura Park Beach Eco-Resort

 If you would like to go from Cabeza de Toro to Bavaro, you take the Cabeza de Toro guagua until Cruce de Verón and change there for a Bavaro-bound bus. The same goes for your way from and to the airport (hand luggage only if you really want to try it!).

Resorts in Bavaro served by public transport

 All of them!

 As several routes are running along the Bavaro area, all resorts along the beaches Playa Bavaro, Playa Los Corales and Playa El Cortecito do have access to the public bus system of Bavaro and Punta Cana. You can catch direct buses to all parts of Bavaro, Verón and Higuey. As you can see in the map above, the purple and red lines (internal colors only, they are not publicly used) are plying this route. 

 The following resorts here are served by public transport:

– Barcelo Resort (Palace, Deluxe, Punta Cana, etc.)
– Lopesan Costa Bavaro
– Melía and Paradisus Resort (Tropical, Caribe, Beach, The Level, Palma Real, The Reserve; except Paradisus Punta Cana) 
– Now Larimar
– Secrets Royal Beach
– Impressive Resorts
– Vista Sol Punta Cana
– Presidential Suites Punta Cana
– Palladium Resorts (incl. TRS Turquesa)

 From all those resorts you also can easily go to Friusa and Verón, where you can catch the direct bus to Santo Domingo.

 The following resorts are a little bit apart from the main road running through Bavaro. You would need to walk to the junction of Avenida Francia and Avenida España (at Delicias the Bavaro / Drink Point) when catching a bus. This is walkable from some resorts (Occidental Punta Cana, Bavaro Princess), but is a little further away from others (especially Ocean Blue, VIK Hotel Arena Blanca) which would require a motoconcho to reach the bus stop.

 For the following resorts you would have to walk to the junction of Avenida Francia and Avenida España to get access to local public transport:

– Occidental Punta Cana
– Bavaro Princess
– Paradisus Punta Cana Resort
– Caribe Princess Resort
– Tropical Princess Resort
– Punta Cana Princess Resort
– VIK Hotel Arena Blanca
– Ocean Blue & Sand Resort

Resorts in Arena Gorda served by public transport

 All of them!

 The area of Arena Gorda is only served by the guagua which runs from Higuey through La Otrabanda to Arena Gorda/Machiplan. Therefore, there is no direct access from Arena Gorda to the region further south, including the main area of Bavaro and Punta Cana. On the other hand, you have access to Macao and Uvero Alto by changing buses in La Ceiba.

 The following resorts are served by the public bus route running between Arena Gorda and Higuey:

– all RIU Hotels (Naiboa, Bambu, Palace Bavaro, Palace Macao, Palace Punta Cana)
– all Bahía Hotels (Turquesa, Bavaro, Punta Cana, Aquamarine, Esmeralda, Ambar, Fantasia)
– all Majestic Hotels (Elegance, Mirage and Colonial)
– all Royalton Hotels (Bavaro, Splash and Punta Cana)
– Occidental Caribe
– RIU República
– Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana

Resorts in Macao served by public transport

 There is just one resort in Macao (Dreams Macao Beach) and you have to walk around 0.5 miles to the village of Macao to catch the public bus running between Higuey and Macao/Uvero Alto.

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Travel resources

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Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It
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Resorts in Uvero Alto served by public transport

 Uvero Alto is served by the bus running between Higuey and Macao/Uvero Alto, so you have direct access to the capital of the La Altagracia Province. Theoretically, you can also connect to Punta Cana via Higuey, even it is not effective. The following resorts are served by this bus route:

– Ocean El Faro
– CHIC by Royalton
– Nickelodeon Resort
– Dreams Punta Cana Resort
– Now Onyx
– breathless Resort
– Excellence El Carmen & Punta Cana
– Sirenis Punta Cana

 Please note that for all resorts mentioned in this whole article you have to walk until the main resort entrance. The public buses are not serving the lobby.

Navigating with Motoconchos through Bavaro

How do Motoconchos work in Punta Cana?

 At the beginning of the post, I was explaining that Motoconchos are also an option to get around in Punta Cana. As they tend to be around everywhere, they are way more flexible, but you must be a little bit careful not to pick a reckless driver. 

 If you would like to ride with a motoconcho, you probably do not have to do anything. Once the drivers see people walking on the street, they approach them automatically and ask if they need a ride. If you see a motorcycle coming to you once you leave the resort or your apartment, mention your destination and the driver will tell you the price. Usually, you must negotiate a bit, because the drivers try to make some extra money by setting the prices higher than the regular fare is. From the starting price, a discount of 30-50% is usually possible so please do not accept the first price. If you are two people, make sure you are talking about the price for the whole ride and not per person. Once agreed on the price, get on the motorcycle and enjoy the ride. At the end of the ride, you pay.

Prices for mototaxis in Punta Cana?

 Prices for a motor-taxi respectively a motoconcho in Punta Cana are starting at 50 DOP. This usually gets you to destinations located around 1-2 miles away. Most rides are 100 DOP and more. For example, if you go from Friusa (the town center of Bavaro) to the beaches of El Cortecito and Los Corales, this should cost you around 100 to 150 DOP. A moto concho from Downtown Mall in Bavaro to Cabeza de Toro is also around 100 DOP. 

 As mentioned, when using a motoconcho service in Punta Cana, it is important to negotiate.

Taxis in Punta Cana

 Taxis in Punta Cana are the most comfortable option to get around, but also the most expensive one. There are hardly any fares below 25 USD, short distances might be negotiated to around 20 USD. But usually, expect to pay 30 or 40 USD to get anywhere for a 15 to 30 minutes ride. If you are heading to Uvero Alto, prices easily can reach 60 to 80 USD, especially when coming from the Punta Cana Airport. Check out the complete list of airport taxi prices here.

 Unfortunately, there is no Uber in Punta Cana. That’s why there are only two reliable chances to get a taxi for the Bavaro area: either you call one through the official numbers of the taxi association or you get a licensed taxi, which is usually waiting at strategic points: nearly all hotel and resort lobbies, malls, the airport and important tourist attractions. 

Shuttles in Bavaro and Punta Cana

 Shuttles are a convenient option to travel and are the best compromise between time, privacy and price. However, unfortunately, shuttles are only available from and to the airport. There are no shuttles between resorts.

 Exceptions are the shopping malls, as some of them offer free shuttles. Plaza San Juan used to offer a free shuttle from all resorts, but their service got erratic over time. Especially after Covid-19, it is questionable if the shuttle returns to normal. If you are interested, call +1 809 466-6000 ext.3015 or WhatsApp to +1 829-957-6022 to enquire about the status quo.

 Blue Mall is a newer mall close to the Punta Cana airport. So far (to my knowledge), they only have occasional free shuttles from the resorts very close-by (for example Westin Punta Cana) but not a regular free shuttle from other resorts. Things might change in the future as Blue Mall is still quite new on the market.

 If you are interested in paid shuttles from the airport to your resort, please check out the following options.

Public transport from the airport

 As indicated above, shuttles and prebooked private transfers are the most convenient way to get from the Punta Cana International Airport to your all-inclusive resort or to any other place in the area. 

 If you would like to try to get to or from the airport by public transport, it is possible, but only if you are traveling with hand luggage only as there is no space for suitcases or other big items, especially in the small guaguas serving the Punta Cana Airport from Verón.

 Remember the maps with the bus routes above? 

 Check them again and you will see that you first have to take a bus from Punta Cana Airport to Cruce de Verón, where you can change to a Bavaro-bound bus. Please note, to catch the bus from the airport you have to walk outside the terminal to the little shelter next to the roundabout. Buses here are passing every 15 minutes more or less.

 Once in Cruce de Verón, you can change to any bus going in the direction of Bavaro and tell the “Cobrador” (the assistant of the driver) where you would like to get out. Check the resort list above to see which buses are serving your hotel.

For further information on the best ways to get from and to Punta Cana Airport, continue reading this article here at Punta Cana Travel Blog.

Public transport outside of Punta Cana

 We have covered everything within Punta Cana and the province of La Altagracia now. But how about public transport from Punta Cana to other parts of the Dominican Republic?

 If you would like to go to Santo Domingo, there is a direct bus from Punta Cana/Bavaro to Santo Domingo, which runs 6 times a day. The journey is very comfortable as the buses are new and modern. The journey costs around 7 USD (400 DOP) per way. This bus is one of the few occasions where you have to buy the ticket in advance. As the bus tends to get sold out, make sure to buy your ticket at the ticket offices in Friusa or Verón at least 30 minutes before departure. 

 Check out further information on how to get to the capital of the Dominican Republic in my post about the beautiful Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo.

 For all other destinations, it is best to take one of the connections via Higuey, as there are direct buses to La Romana, Bayahibe, San Pedro, El Seibo and Miches. Please refer to the bus routes above to see how you can reach Higuey, nearly every place and all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana is connected with Higuey and from Higuey there are direct buses to nearly all places in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. 

 There are sporadic direct buses from Verón to La Romana (around 3 to 4 times a day) and from Punta Cana/Bavaro to Miches (3 times a day) but due to the limited departure times, it might be difficult to plan with these routes.

 This was my ultimate guide about public transport in the whole Punta Cana area and the province of La Altagracia. I hope it serves you fur a beautiful and adventurous vacation in Punta Cana and beyond. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or get in touch with me via my travel coaching if you need local insights and customized itineraries for your trip to the Dominican Republic.

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The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris

CHRIS

Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

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