Living in the Dominican Republic?
Dominican Republic: Transport and Schools
Exploring the Dominican Republic by Car
Do you plan on seeing a lot of your new home? Exploring the country by car is probably the best choice for most expats, as it offers the highest degree of flexibility. If you prefer not to buy a car, you can always rent one. Be sure to inquire about the insurance policy: which damages it covers exactly and how high the deductible (i.e. the sum you pay out of your own pocket) is. These questions are important because the road conditions are, in fact, not always great. A flat tire is one of the most common types of car trouble. Should this happen to you, try to get your vehicle to a gomera, a tire repair and retail shop.
Finally, a word or two should be said about the Dominican driving style! In Santo Domingo especially, but also when driving in other parts of the country, you should always pay careful attention to the traffic. Do not, under any circumstances, rely on other drivers to obey the traffic rules. Instead, when driving in the city, be prepared for some serious anarchy In fact, the Dominican Republic is the country with the second-highest rate of road deaths worldwide, proportionally to the population. Some embassies — for example, the French one —discourage expats from driving at night and advise them to avoid highways because of other drivers’ speeding habits.
Travelling by Air
Santo Domingo’s Aeropuerto Internacional Las Américas is not only the biggest but also the most modern airport in the entire country. Aeropuerto Internacional Punta Cana, however, handles many more passengers, around five million per year. All in all, with Puerta Plata’s Aeropuerto Internacional Gregorio Luperón and Santiago’s Aeropuerto Internacional Cibao, there are four big airports that handle international flights and are serviced by big airlines. The flag carrier of the country is PAWA Dominicana; however, it does not operate domestic flights, but only handles flights to other Caribbean countries.
In addition, there are several smaller airports for domestic flights. But, before you hop on that plane to travel to neighboring islands, you should be aware that some of these airports only have propeller planes or so-called air-taxis (an aspect you should take into consideration if you are afraid of flying). Most domestic flights leave from Aeropuerto Internacional Arroyo Barril, El Portillo, or La Isabela. Aeropuerto Internacional María Montez, located five kilometers from Barahona, does not offer commercial passenger services, but you might still be able to charter a plane there. Another important thing to remember: those domestic flights are all privately chartered flights, and therefore they are quite expensive. In fact round trips cost at least 200 USD —around 9105 DOP — and rarely take more than 45 minutes.
Travelling by Bus
If you don’t mind the longer travel times or have a closer destination in mind, buses are an alternative to flying or driving. There are a variety of long-distance bus companies offering connections to various locations around the island on a daily basis. Capital Coach Line, Caribe Tours, and Terra Bus are but a few. A trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for example, costs about USD 40 and takes between six and nine hours on a comfortable, air-conditioned coach.
Aside from those mentioned, Expreso Santo Domingo Bávaro and Metro also offer domestic connections at reasonable prices. If you are on a backpacker’s budget, don’t mind a lack of luxury, or simply want a really authentic Dominican experience, you may want to give the Guaguas a try. These privately-owned vehicles vary in size (from minivans to midsize buses), usually do not have air-condition or toilets on board, and are a popular form of transport with the locals. Guaguas are also a great choice if you want to visit a more remote area where the long-distance buses don’t go as they make stops all along the road and there’s usually another Guagua starting where the previous one’s route ends. Talk to the locals to find out which one to take (most of them do not carry signs) or just wave to be picked up.
Education for Expat Children
If you are planning on living in the Dominican Republic with your family, you’ll be happy to learn that there are plenty of educational opportunities for expat children. The many different multinational schools offer instruction in a variety of languages other than Spanish. However, even at these schools, the majority of the student body might be Dominican, which usually means the language spoken during breaks is Spanish.
Schools which have been accredited by the Dominican Ministry of Education might offer certificates and diplomas allowing your children to study at Dominican, US American, and European universities. However, we suggest that you gather more information about the type of diplomas that the different schools offer and perhaps lean towards one with an International Baccalaureate curriculum to ensure worldwide recognition of your child’s studies.
We have compiled a short list of international schools in the Dominican Republic for you. Please remember that this list is by no means exhaustive and that additional research is always encouraged:
- Carol Morgan School
- International School of Sosua
- Lycee Francais des Saint-Dominique
- Santiago Christian School
- St. George School
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.