Maye, my sister Luisa and I went to Santo Domingo from Macao Beach in the Punta Cana area by public transportation. It was a fun and smooth adventure that we decided to take some notes about. Also, we took a short video with our phones in order to share with visitors to the DR some useful information about the route. As we run a Hostel in the Punta Cana area all the time we are getting updates and impressions about the routes that our guests, backpackers most of the times, give us about them as well as information provided by locals that use public transportation in a regular basis.
So, these are the 3 steps to get Santo Domingo from Macao.
Step 1. Find the bus stop in front of the Colmado.
As I assume you are already in Macao you can ask any local: Dónde está la parada de la gua gua? which translates: Where the bus stop is? Gua gua is the way in which locals call buses. Another word you should be familiar with is Colmado that is how local mini-markets are called. Colmados are in many cases a reference point in the Dominican Republic when asking for directions by the way. The bus stop is in front of Colmado Tavarez where a gua gua comes every 30 minutes approximately from 6 AM to 8PM in direction to Higuey (you can pronounce it like e-way and is going to be understood), the biggest city in the province of La Altagracia which is where Punta Cana, Bavaro and Macao are located too. You pay for the gua gua once you are on board, the price January 2018 is $100 DOP. That’s something around $2 USD.
Step 2. Get to the bus stop in Higuey.
Wait to be dropped off at the last stop once the gua gua arrives to Higuey. You will see the bus stop to Santo Domingo crossing the street with a silver sign that says APTRA. Cross the street and let know any employee you are going to Santo Domingo so they give you instructions about where to wait for the bus and where to pay. We were charged once we were on board but I am not sure if it always works like that because some of our guests have said to us that they pay at the office in the bus stop before going on board. The cost for this one is $300 DOP or $7 USD aprox.
Step 3. Meet the Dominican Capital and largest City, Santo Domingo.
From Higuey to Santo Domingo it takes almost 2 hours. The last stop is at the Parque Henriquillo, only 5 minutes by walk to the Colonial zone that is probably one of your aims in this historic Caribbean city. However, keep in mind that if your final destination is not the Colonial Zone or close to it you should let a bus crew member where you are going to so they can tell you what stop works better for you.
In total it takes 2.5 hours approximately and $8 to $9 USD or $400 DOP. From our experience in our hostel we know that most people is advised to take the route that goes through Bavaro on the Bavaro Express but, that way takes longer and is more expensive even though the distance is shorter. In case you want to do this route the other way from Santo Domingo to Macao you can follow the steps of this post from 3 to 1 keeping in mind some of the bus stops in the other way are not in the same location. Therefore I would advise to ask drivers about stops locations and distances.