Driving From Santo Domingo To Samana

GregHarris

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Feb 25, 2005
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My wife and I are driving from Santo Domingo to Samana in March. We arrive at 2:00 PM (I hope that is not to late to start the drive as I have read that it is a terrible drive at night). I checked your message board and saw a message posted that indicated the best route is Santo Domingo-Villa Altagracia-Bonao-San Fransisco de Marcoris-Nagua-Sanchez-Samana. Is that still the best route? Will there be a good place to get some food on the way? Will it still take around 3 1/2 hours? Thank you so much. Your message board is fantastic and we are so excited to make our first trip to the Domincan Republic.

Greg
 

Ken

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Jan 1, 2002
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Greg,

Days are getting longer so you should be in Samana before it is pitch black, assuming you are in the car and on the road shortly after 2. There are shorter routes, but the one you mention is probably the easiest to find for somebody making the trip by car for the first time. You will pass a lot of places to eat during your trip. If coming from the airport, figure a good 4 hours on the route you have outlined.
 

sweetdbt

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Sep 17, 2004
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It shouldn't be too bad, even if it is getting dark toward the end, since the last leg of your trip (Nagua-Samana) will be on a stretch of the North Coast highway which is in decent shape for the most part, and is a well-traveled road. You may run into some road work near Sanchez.
 

Andy B

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5 Hours or More

If you arrive at 2pm, by the time you get through customs and immigration and then pick up your car, it will take an hour. Then as Santo Domingo is 30 minutes from the airport you will pass through SD during early rush hour, about 3:30pm. That will delay you some. Then it's 4 1/2 hours to Samana via the route you have described (this is the best way, the shortcut is in terrible condition). Figure on arriving in Samana around 8pm (or Las Terrenas about the same time if you cut off at Sanchez). Las Galeras is 30 minutes further.
 

GregHarris

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Feb 25, 2005
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Ken said:
Greg,

Days are getting longer so you should be in Samana before it is pitch black, assuming you are in the car and on the road shortly after 2. There are shorter routes, but the one you mention is probably the easiest to find for somebody making the trip by car for the first time. You will pass a lot of places to eat during your trip. If coming from the airport, figure a good 4 hours on the route you have outlined.
Ken,

Thank you very much for your advice. We're going to be in Samana for a few days. Besides whale watching, are there any "do not miss" things to do?

Greg
 

badpiece33

Well-known member
GregHarris said:
My wife and I are driving from Santo Domingo to Samana in March. We arrive at 2:00 PM (I hope that is not to late to start the drive as I have read that it is a terrible drive at night). I checked your message board and saw a message posted that indicated the best route is Santo Domingo-Villa Altagracia-Bonao-San Fransisco de Marcoris-Nagua-Sanchez-Samana. Is that still the best route? Will there be a good place to get some food on the way? Will it still take around 3 1/2 hours? Thank you so much. Your message board is fantastic and we are so excited to make our first trip to the Domincan Republic.

Greg
This is your 1st trip to DR and your going to try to do that drive yourself???? Do you speak fluent spanish and are you ready to drive with some of the worst drivers you have ever seen??? Especially doing the last bit of that trip in darkness, You have no idea of what you are getting into :( If you really want to do the trip yourself I would suggest getting a hotel for the 1st night in Boca Chica or in Santo Domingo then getting an early start the next day. I have also attached a detailed map of DR. Good luck and be careful.
Badpiece



http://www1.tip.nl/~t794614/mapdr.htm
 

mountainfrog

On Vacation!
Dec 8, 2003
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Tranquilo

@Greg
Why rush?
Enjoy your trip to Saman? as part of your vacation.
As you won't make it to Saman? in daylight I do recommend to stay on the South Coast overnight and set out early the next morning.
The last part of your journey is very scenic and it would be a shame to drive at night, dangerous , too.
Take care.
M'frog
ww.samanave.com
 

Andy B

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Driving is OK

Badpiece,
I can understand a word of two of caution, but I think you are being a little strong in your reply.
MANY of our hotel's guests have made this drive while not speaking Spanish,...and they survived. And I have driven it many times myself and not had problems, even eight years ago when I made the drive for the first time speaking absolutely no Spanish except for cerveza and bano! And at that time we ran the Castillo, Pimentel, Cotui and Maimon shortcut with absolutely no directional signs whatsoever. Sure we made a wrong turn or two, but that was always in these little cities as we were navigating through them. And they're still the same,...unless you know where to turn you'll find yourself on a backstreet.
The route Greg is planning to take is pretty straightforward with the only problems being getting across Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Macoris.
 

badpiece33

Well-known member
Andy B said:
Badpiece,
I can understand a word of two of caution, but I think you are being a little strong in your reply.
MANY of our hotel's guests have made this drive while not speaking Spanish,...and they survived. And I have driven it many times myself and not had problems, even eight years ago when I made the drive for the first time speaking absolutely no Spanish except for cerveza and bano! And at that time we ran the Castillo, Pimentel, Cotui and Maimon shortcut with absolutely no directional signs whatsoever. Sure we made a wrong turn or two, but that was always in these little cities as we were navigating through them. And they're still the same,...unless you know where to turn you'll find yourself on a backstreet.
The route Greg is planning to take is pretty straightforward with the only problems being getting across Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Macoris.
Maybe I was a little strong on the message but he wants to make it to Samana in daylight and as such will be pushing it if he knew the roads well which he does not, He will definately get lost a few times going up in late afternoon and into the night so I believe why get stressed on vacation,spend a night in Santo Domingo and enjoy the trip in the sunshine the next day or take a taxi into capital and jump on Caribe tours 4pm bus to Samana and sit back and relax.

Badpiece
 

Andy B

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Dusk

As sweetdbt posted earlier in this thread, he will be getting into Samana just as it's getting dark, about 7:30-8pm. The road from Nagua to Sanchez to Samana is straightforward with no turn-offs etc., so navigating that stretch in waning daylight (or even after dark) will be a piece of cake.

And just as in any unfamiliar driving condition, if unfavorable conditions arise such as darkness, bad weather, people or animals in the road, etc,...slow down and take it easy.
 
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Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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I just posted this in the whale-watching thread but thought I'd copy&paste it here for info:

Just got back from Samana: we drove from SD to Samana via SFM and returned via Cotui. There are no problems on either route: the bridge before Nagua has been repaired. Part of the Samana-Las Galeras stretch is much improved, and on the return leg: the worst bit, between Pimentel and Cotui is slightly better these days. Some of the potholed stretches between Cotui and Maimon have been asphalted recently, by the look of it.
 

GregHarris

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Feb 25, 2005
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Chirimoya said:
I just posted this in the whale-watching thread but thought I'd copy&paste it here for info:

Just got back from Samana: we drove from SD to Samana via SFM and returned via Cotui. There are no problems on either route: the bridge before Nagua has been repaired. Part of the Samana-Las Galeras stretch is much improved, and on the return leg: the worst bit, between Pimentel and Cotui is slightly better these days. Some of the potholed stretches between Cotui and Maimon have been asphalted recently, by the look of it.
Chirimoya. Thank you for your response. Is there anything that you can tell me about the SFM route from SD to Samana that may help us not get lost?

Greg
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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I PMed you, but here is my reply for general consumption.

Going through the city of San Francisco Macoris itself can be a bit confusing. The signposting is not that clear or consistent, so if in doubt, ask for the road to Nagua/Sanchez/Samana. Apart from that it should be plain sailing.
Buen viaje!
 

Musicqueen

Miami Nice!
Jan 31, 2002
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I have not posted...

A trip report on my last 2 visits yet, but here' what happened to us on this last trip...

We rented a car in Santo Domingo, insurance and all...and around 3:00 p.m. started the drive up to Nagua...on a saturday afternoon...

We stopped on the way at this place called Turey...to get 'bolitas de queso', crackers and something to drink...and we got to Nagua around 8:00 p.m.

There was no electricity at the apartment where we stayed when we arrived, so we went to the colmado to get candles...but when we went back to the apt. the lights were already on...

On Sunday, we took off early to go to the Carnaval de La Vega, beautiful experience...more on that on my report...(when I have time to write it!, are you guys in for a surprise!!!)

Left La Vega around 6:00 p.m., and by the time we got close to Nagua again it was already dark...on the way, we encountered a 'protesta'...on the route (i think I heard someone say 'la 3'...whatever that means...)

They had started a fire on the road...blocking the way...some of the drivers waited a few minutes, but then they started to get impatient and drove right through it...We waited some more, but there was nothing we could do...we had to keep driving...and were stoned when we got close to the fire...My companion told me to lay low on the car, just in case they started shooting or something...but we made it through with only a dent on the driver's side of the car from one of the stones...

Drove directly to the police station that night in Nagua, together with some of the other drivers that had gone through the same thing...but of course the policemen on watch at that time, it must have been close to 9 pm, were 'too busy' or not in the mood to work, and told us to come back the next morning...

Monday morning we went back, and after talking, checking our driver licenses, and more talking, they finally gave us a certified police report to bring to our car rental agency...It was so funny, the way the cops wanted to know so many details, that had nothing to do with what had happened to us, my friend had to say we were married, that I lived with him in Santo Domingo, that I was his wife, because they kept wanting to know how much we paid for the rental car, where I lived, etc.

The cop in charge of 'Traffic', said he was 'giving' us as a gift the stamps we needed, so we would not have to go buy them, and that the total cost would be $50RD, but of course he let us know that he expected something more because after all, that Monday was a 'holy day' in Nagua...My friend ended up giving him $500 RD, 'cause he had no change at the time...But at least we got the report, and were there only for about an hour...

What an experience...I'll write more about it in my trip report later...

But I just wanted to let the poster know that IT IS a little dangerous to drive at night, especially if it's the first time driving there...

Although the scenery is BEAUTIFUL...I have pictures to prove it...will be posted along with my report...

Take care and have fun!!!
 

jonb

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Apr 25, 2006
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Driving from Santo Domingo to Samana / Las Galleras

Just returned from a quick trip to Las Galleras. Some thoughts on our drive from Santo Domingo:

We rented a car at Las Americanas Airport. From the time the plane landed until we were in the car (rented through Thrifty) it took exactly 30 minutes (inlcuding immigration, customs, rental counter, restroom, and car inspection). We started the drive at 2pm, and it took another 30-45 mintues to make our way through Santo Domingo to the Duarte.

We took the "shortcut" through Cotui outbound. The roads weren't terrible - most of the potholes had been recently repaired, but the road from Maimon to Cotui was not in as good shape - many unfilled potholes. We had a little trouble navigating through some of the towns - took a wrong turn (or, rather, missed a poorly marked one) in Maimon that took us 20 minutes out of our way. Quickly developed three rules of thumb for the rest of the trip:

1. If you think you might be lost, you are.
2. Always follow the road signs and ignore whatever bad map you are following. The road signs are always more accurate (with one caveat, covered later).
3. Ask, ask, ask. When driving through the towns, we would stop every block or two to make sure we were still headed in the right direction. Everyone was terribly sweet and helpful; one pick-up truck in Pimintel even told us to follow him through the town to Rt. 132.

Main problem with our timing was that we arrived in Samana just as it got dark, and it made the rest of the trip to Las Galleras hard - it seemed to get dark just as all the locals were taking to the streets by either foot or moped, so there was an awful lot of activity competing for very little (and from Samana on, relatively poorly kept) roadway. We made it to our hotel at 8pm, giving us exactly 6 hours from airport to hotel (with the 30 minute or so diversion thrown in when we got lost). The darkness at the end of the trip probably added about 15 minutes, so we could have done the whole route in 5 hours.

On the return leg, we had to drive through a POURING rain, and decided to go with the better marked trail through San Francisco de Macoris. Overall, this was a MUCH easier route. The roadways were in much better condition, and since they were generally straight highway, we drove faster. Also, all of the major checkpoints on the route (SF, the Duarte) were marked at 1km intervals by roadsigns - - - no getting lost. [And a note about the road sign rule of thumb - just short of SF, we saw a "Santo Domingo" sign pointing left; we were suckers and went down that road for a minute or two before realizing it was a route through Cotui; if you head back to Santo Domingo through SF, remember that you have to first go through SF before following signs to the Duarte (which are all rather well-marked)]. Total travel time was about 4.5 hours.

Comparing the two routes: The trip through Cotui was a little longer and a little more stressful; it was also lots harder on our rental car (bumps, frequent braking, etc). The SF route was lots easier and quicker. On the other hand, driving through all the towns on the "shortcut" gave us a better feel for the country and took us through some neat areas we wouldn't have seen otherwise. If you don't have a 4wd rental car, the shortcut might be a little difficult to navigate - not enough clearance to get through some stretches of the road.
 

talo01

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Sep 7, 2006
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I can recommend taxi company Servicios Turisticos Rafael Silva in Santo Domingo.
A very reliable company during my stay in the DR in february 2007.
I have booked them on the internet. And they were waiting for us (our airplane was 1 hour late !)

Friends of us became sick and have to cancelled their taxi trip. They already payed the amount, But they got the full amount in return.

Silva Travel Services, Travel Services in Dominican Republic
 

Dejna

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Jul 25, 2009
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Update on road from Santo Domingo to Samana?

Hi all,

I'm looking to do this drive in a rental car next month. Never been to DR, don't speak Spanish well, so will only do it if the road is good and reliable!

I know they opened the completed road last year. Can anyone tell me what it's like now?

Thanks in advance!
Dana
 

william webster

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2009
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Toll Road

Hi all,

I'm looking to do this drive in a rental car next month. Never been to DR, don't speak Spanish well, so will only do it if the road is good and reliable!

I know they opened the completed road last year. Can anyone tell me what it's like now?

Thanks in advance!
Dana
Yes, the road is finished and very nice - very little traffic.

Out of the airport you need to get off the main highway quckly and then follow the service road parallel to the main highway.

The sign is small but reads "Samana" (just pass the underpass) on the right

Make sure you have pesos in small denominations - you'll need about 500DRPesos in total.

Its a straight drive to the end and you go right at Hwy#5 following the signs to Samana

Very, very easy. The highway itself is about 100kms long - 1 hour of travel.
 

snoozer

Member
Jan 22, 2004
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I drove this highway about a month ago and was very impressed. There are three tolls totalling about 400 pesos.