Earth > Americas > Caribbean > Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the eastern part of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
|Currency:||Dominican Peso (DOP)|
|Hitchability:||<rating country='do' />|
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|<map lat="18.818819131877" lng="-70.50479606405" zoom="6" view="0" float="right" />|
Hitchhiking in the Dominican Republic is - like in many countries in the Caribbean - farely common and especially in the evening if people finished work, you can see a lot of people waiting for a lift on the side of the road. They gather at bus stations. Sometimes they stick out their thumb, but usually they are just standing there as people know what they are waiting for anyway. As there are no bus schedules, a lot of (but not all) people also hitchhike as long as the next bus to their destination might comes by - and also stopps for them, as they often don't. Kinda everybody hitched once and enough people who have space pick up hitchhikers. As a white person you get lifts very fast, locals can wait longer, but the atmosphere is nice, that hitchhiking is a normal thing to do. Not so common like in Cuba, but easier as more people have their own, empty car... There are a lot of pickups.
The most important word to know is "una vola" which means a ride in dominican spanish and makes clear what you want, as many people want to help you finding a bus.
Because the best and commonly used hitching spots are actually bus stations. They are directly at the side of the road and often in the shadow of some palm trees or buildings. There are these kind of perfect spots all over the country. The buses who are passing by and shouting out their destination, tell you if you stand at the right road. And if you are unlucky hitchhiking, you can still take the next bus.
In the middle of the day, its possible to wait longer, as less people are driving long distance when it´s really hot, and as it´s also not too comfortable waiting in the sun (at least in the hot season), morning or evening hitches are recommendable.
People will tell you it's very dangerous, but fact is the Dominican Republic is a comparable safe country of Latin America.
Dominicans are very friendly and hospitable people and they´ll probably invite you by times.
There are a lot of private beaches and areas you can't enter next to the sea, so it's hard to find a nice spot to sleep/camp there, but possible. There are good places to find in the countryside, there are usually no problems with the police.
It seems hostels and guest houses are relatively expensive, in Punta Cana a girl recommended me a cheap hostel and it was 20 USD per night.
Couchsurfing works super well, also last-minute, you don't have to send too many requests (more than 5), as kinda everybody will invite you who sees the message in time. Dominicans are easy-going with that and they usually don't mind that you don't know your exact arrival time or date, you'll be welcome.
There are a lot of empty houses and apartments ("Se alquila" = for rent, "se vende" = for sale), also at the coast, at some places it's possible to just use them as a shelter for a few days. There is mostly a broken window to find somewhere around the house. Some of them though are already used by Dominicans as a sleeping place, mostly a wooden plate behind an empty window frame is the door.
In local restaurants, ask for "plato del dia" (plate of the day), and they'll give you a typical dominican meal for a cheap price, mostly 150 pesos. It's usually rice with beans and meat, and a lot. If you're on a tight budget or not too hungry, ask for a smaller portion, which is still a lot, and it's only 100 pesos.
If you smell the taste of food somewhere in smaller towns or the countryside, people eating together in the garden, you're lucky, as you can easily join (just ask for the way, etc.) without being supposed to pay, that's part of the culture and a reason why i wanted to visit this country. Although, it won't happen too often.
If you arrive at a place in the noon around 12 - be it with your lift in a town, with a person you met at a house, or at a friend's place - people will always invite you for lunch without asking.
Boats out of here
There are car ferries three times per week leaving from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. Once in Puerto Rice there are from the state subventioned ferries to Culebra and Vieques, also there are connections to the american virgin islands St. Thomas and St. John. Departure Santo Domingo Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m., arrival in Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) 8 a.m. the next day. Departure Mayaguez (Puerto Rico) Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8.p.m., arrival Santo Domingo 8 a.m. the next day. (www.ferriesdelcaribe.com, (809) 688 4400 for Dom. Rep.)
It's very expensive. 163 USD one-way, 391 USD roundtrip, 172-202 one-way with car. It's worth a try to see if it's hitchable.
It´s possible to hitchhike sailing boats to get around the Carribean. Two good ports for that are in La Romana and Boca Chica. From May till November nobody´s sailing cause of the winds. You can find the first boat out beginning of November. Recommendable is Boca Chica as it´s the bigger port, but if you don´t find any there, La Romana is very close.
The right port in La Romana is, if you go from the Jumbo Supermarket (kind of a cultural centre for this city..) across the river. If you stand on the end of the bridge, you can see the sailing ships already under and left of you, now you just have to find the way down there (it´s a bit longer than it seems).
Ask for "el puerto/la marina de veleros (=sailing boats)".