Caribe Tours bus
That's one of the big bus companies that travel between SD and PP. The buses are comfortable, with reclinable seats, music and/or a movie (with Spanish audio) onboard and they're very punctual. They don't have direct buses but they stop at the big cities. A single ticket to PP costs 270 pesos (around 8US) and they have hourly departures between 6am and 7pm.
To see the schedules from SD or from the many places they travel to, access the link below and click on "Horarios" and then choose either "Horarios desde Santo Domingo" or "Horarios desde el interior" to see the schedules they have. "En la mañana" means in the morning and "En la tarde" means in the afternoon.
Address in Puerto Plata: c/Camino Real esq. José E. Kunhardt.
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Gregorio Luperon Airport
Aeropuerto Internacional Gregorio Luperon is located close to the town of Puerto Plata and the many tourist hotel resorts at Playa Dorada on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
The airport is around a 15 minute drive from Playa Dorada and 20 minutes from the centre of Puerto Plata.
We flew in and out of this airport during our visit in November 2012.
As we began our descent into the airport when arriving, our pilot warned us that it might be a bumpy landing as the runway isn't the smoothest! The incoming flight path is a scenic one, passing over the beaches and hotels of the northern coast, and the landing was absolutely fine in spite of the supposed condition of the runway.
Upon arrival, we found the airport to be pretty efficient. The process of obtaining Tourist Cards and clearing immigration was quick and hassle free. The only discomforts were the heat and the mosquitoes flying around as we queued to be stamped into the country, but overall it was a fairly smooth arrival.
Our luggage arrived within 5 or 10 minutes of us arriving at the carousel (not bad at all!) and we cleared customs (by handing over a completed declaration form) in seconds.
There was the usual collection of taxi drivers outside the arrivals hall, but as we already had a transfer included in our holiday package, we passed them by and made our way to our designated coach. We avoided the attentions of the luggage porters who wanted to carry our suitcases for a fee.
At the end of our stay, we found the check in process to be quite lengthy. The queues were long when we arrived at the airport, but there were several desks open, so we weren't too concerned. The problem was this: the check-in staff (perhaps at the airline's request?) were being VERY strict with regards to baggage allowances. Any suitcase that was even 1kg over the allowance was being charged for. We were stuck in a queue where several people had exceeded their allowance and were either arguing over the fees or sorting out payment. This made for a slow process. The charges were incredibly steep too. People seemed to be paying $US 25 for each kilogram that they had gone over their allowance. We saw a party paying $US 150 for 6 excess kilograms of baggage. Be warned!!!
When we eventually reached the front of the queue, we held our breath and were relieved that our baggage came in right on the allowance. With no excess baggage fees to pay, we proceeded quickly through the check in process.
There were a few shops to browse land side, but we saved our shopping until we'd passed through security. Airside, there is a well stocked duty free shop where we were able to pay in £ (as well as $US, RD$, € etc.) and a comfortable departure lounge with cafes, fast food outlets and a few souvenir shops. As with most airports, the goods on offer were considerably more expensive than they had been in the shops in Puerto Plata. There is an exchange desk in the departure lounge if you have any Pesos left to change.
The process for paying our $US 20 Departure Tax was straightforward and quick. We simply queued at the desk at departure gate number 7, handed over our cash and had our boarding passes stamped to prove that we had paid the tax.
One thing to beware of, it seems that travellers have encountered various problems with regards to items carried in their hand luggage at Puerto Plata airport. I read stories of people having loose batteries confiscated upon arrival in the country, so packed all mine in the suitcase instead. On our way home, our travel rep told us of various items that were banned from hand luggage (including hair straighteners and umbrellas) and confirmed that there have been various problems in the past. To paraphrase her, she said "they've banned most items at some point!". Although we didn't encounter any problems, you might want to bear this information in mind when deciding what to put in your hand luggage.
Playa Dorada taxi prices
We never used taxis during our visit to Puerto Plata in November 2012, but I provide the following details for information purposes:
A list of taxi prices was provided beside the road outside our hotel, VH Gran Ventana, in Playa Dorada. These included:
Tours (prices per person)
Puerto Plata City Tour ($US 40)
Puerto Plata City Tour with Teleferico ($US 50)
Journeys (prices per vehicle with up to 5 passengers)
Puerto Plata - one way ($US 17) / return ($US 30)
Costambar - one way ($US 30) / return ($US 50)
Cofresi - one way ($US 30) / return ($US 50)
Puerto Plata Airport - one way ($US 35) / return ($US 50)
Sosua - one way ($US 35) / return ($US 60)
Cabarete - one way ($US 40) / return ($US 70)
Santiago - return ($US 120)
Punta Rucia - return ($US 150)
Samana - return ($US 200)
Santo Domingo - return ($US 230)
Jarabacoa - return ($US 160)
Punta Cana - return ($US 450)
Business wasn't very busy at the time of our visit and the taxi drivers around Playa Dorada were attempting to drum up business. As with many prices in Dominican Republic, I suspect that the displayed fares are pretty flexible at quiet times. Negotiate a price before you get into a taxi.
I certainly wouldn't have been prepared to pay the displayed fares to Puerto Plata or to the airport (unless I was in a full taxi and the fare was split 5 ways). Puerto Plata is only a 5-10 minute drive away and can be reached in a gua gua (public minibus) for a small fraction of the taxi fare. Simply walk to the exit of the Playa Dorada complex and flag down a gua gua on the main road into Puerto Plata.
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