How to get from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata (and vice versa) – all the options you can consider
Even though heading on a Puerto Plata vacation, some people book their airfare to Punta Cana, as the flight connections are significantly better than to Puerto Plata. But how can you get from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata? That’s exactly what this article is about. Most people think it is a quick drive from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana as the Dominican Republic is a small country. But that’s not the case. Still, there are a couple of options when getting from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata, which I am explaining in the following sections. The same options are also applying for your way from Punta Cana to Sosua or from Punta Cana to Cabarete.
This article is about transfers between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. If you’d like to know which destination is better when booking your vacation, you can check out the comparison Punta Cana vs. Puerto Plata.
Furthermore, check out this article if you are looking for airport transfers from Punta Cana to any destination in the Dominican Republic.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a flight
The first idea of most travelers is to fly from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana or vice versa with a domestic flight. There is just one problem: there are no scheduled domestic flights in the Dominican Republic. Hence you can discard this idea and check out the following options on how to get from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a private transfer
The most common way for international travelers when moving between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata is a private transfer. Even though they are not cheap, they are reasonably priced considering you are covering a distance of 250 miles, several toll stations and a duration of around 6 hours (+ the car is usually driving back empty, hence 500 miles and 14 hours including waiting time have to be paid).
For a private airport transfer from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata (the same transfer options usually apply if you are traveling from a Punta Cana all-inclusive resort to any hotel in the Puerto Plata area, including Sosua and Cabarete) the following options can be booked. You can check the prices and availability by clicking on the following buttons:
Usually, those transfers from Punta Cana serve all the hotels in Puerto Plata and surrounding, including the following all-inclusive resorts:
- Be Live Collection Marien (from Punta Cana)
- Playabachata Resort (from Punta Cana)
- Senator Puerto Plata (from Punta Cana)
- Viva Wyndham Tangerine (from Punta Cana)
- Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort (from Punta Cana)
- Emotions Puerto Plata (from Punta Cana)
- Sunscape Puerto Plata (from Punta Cana)
- Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa (from Punta Cana)
- Presidential Suites by Lifestyle Puerto Plata (from Punta Cana)
- Iberostar Costa Dorada (from Punta Cana)
- Casa Marina Beach & Reef (from Punta Cana)
- VH – Gran Ventana Beach Resort (from Punta Cana)
- BlueBay Villas Doradas (from Punta Cana)
The Punta Cana transfers to Puerto Plata* are easy to book and straightforward. You can expect a 6-hour drive in an air-conditioned vehicle. The roads are pretty smooth, hence no wild curves (except for the last hour maybe, depending on the route the driver is taking) or narrow mountain roads.
There are no real disadvantages of this way getting from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana or vice versa. Maybe the price seems a bit steep at the first glance, but if you consider the fuel prices, the tolls, the distance and the time involved, it is actually a reasonable price. Usually, they are between 300 and 400 USD per way per group.
There is also a separate article on Punta Cana Travel Blog about if it’s better to travel to Punta Cana or Puerto Plata.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a shared transfer
However, if you are looking for a cheaper option to get from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata, Sosua or Cabarete, you might be lucky and book a shared transfer. Shared airport shuttles from Punta Cana are a great option to combine the commodity of an air-conditioned vehicle and direct services with a very affordable price, as the transfer is shared by travelers arriving in the same timeframe and going in the same direction.
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It is essential to book those airport transfers in advance as the tour operators need to know how many people they can group together. Usually, the price varies between 40 and 80 USD per way per person. There are no airport shuttles available to book on the spot, neither at Punta Cana Airport nor at Puerto Plata Airport.
Unfortunately, there are currently no offers for shared shuttles from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana and also not from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata. However, this can change frequently and without further notice, hence it always pays off to check if anything is available for your travel dates.
My top 3 resources for checking for shared airport shuttles in the Dominican Republic, including those between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, are the following:
– Viator* (simply enter “shuttle Punta Cana Puerto Plata” in the search box and check the results)
– Holidaytaxis* (enter your departure airport Punta Cana Airport and Puerto Plata as a destination (or vice versa) and see if there are airport shuttles available – if not, you get shown the best prices for private transfers)
– Suntransfers* (enter your departure airport Punta Cana Airport and Puerto Plata as a destination (or vice versa) and see if there are airport shuttles available – if not, you get shown the best prices for private transfers)
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with the public bus
Even cheaper than private transfers or airport shuttles is to get from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana or from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata by public bus. There is no direct bus, you have to switch busses in Santo Domingo and take a local taxi from terminal to terminal in Santo Domingo. The whole trip will take around 9-10 hours minimum, hence only opt for this option if you are arriving super earlier in Punta Cana (on your way to Puerto Plata) or if you can reach your destination very late in the evening. The costs for this trip from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana by bus are very low and shouldn’t exceed 20-25 USD per person – if you add the transfer from and to the bus station, maybe 30-35 USD.
If you’d like to try this option, below is a quick summary of how you can do it. Please note that it is in general not possible to prebook public busses in the Dominican Republic, hence you have to buy the tickets on spot. For further information about the busses between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, you can also check this article.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata by bus
1) Take a taxi or a private transfer from the airport or from your Punta Cana resort to the bus station in Bavaro (Friusa) or Verón (Cruce de Verón).
2) Take the Bavaro Express bus to Santo Domingo (450 RD$). The latest bus which will make you arrive in Puerto Plata on the same day leaves at 1 pm (you can try the 3 pm bus, but it will leave you most likely stranded in Santo Domingo). For more details about the Bavaro Express schedules, continue reading here. The journey is around 3 hours.
3) Get out at the Josefa Brea / 27 de Febrero station (after the Sabana Larga stop). They will announce Caribe Tours as well on the bus when calling the stations.
4) Take a taxi or an Uber from Josefa Brea (be prepared, very busy area) to Caribe Tours bus terminal, which is a 10-15 minutes ride (depending on traffic). The taxi should not be more than 200 RD$, max. 250 RD$.
5) Take the Caribe Tours bus from Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata, which is roughly leaving every half an hour until 7 pm (500-550 RD$). The journey is between 3.5 and 4.5 hours. If necessary, you can take public transport or a taxi to your final destination from the Caribe Tours bus terminal in Puerto Plata.
In total, this sets you back at 1150-1250 RD$ per person, which is around 20-22 USD.
Congratulations, you made your trip by public transport from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata.
In case you want to overnight close to the bus station to start your journey from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata early, you can find recommendable accommodations close to the bus station here*.
If you want to get from Punta Cana to Sosua, you can follow the same instructions as above, just get out in Sosua instead of Puerto Plata. Sosua is the last stop of the Caribe Tours bus line.
For your journey from Punta Cana to Cabarete by bus, you can also follow the instructions above. Buy your Caribe Tours bus ticket until Sosua. From there, you can continue the remaining half an hour to Cabarete with a shared taxi (“Carro Publico”), minivan (“Guagua”) or taxi.
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From Puerto Plata to Punta Cana by bus
1) Take a taxi or a private transfer from the airport or from your Puerto Plata resort to the Caribe Tours bus station in either Puerto Plata or Sosua (from Cabarete, pick Sosua)
2) Take a Caribe tours bus to Santo Domingo (500-550 RD$; approx. 3.5-4.5 hours). The first one leaves at 5:30 am in the morning. The last bus you shall take to make the journey from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana on the same day is at 11:00 or 11:30. If leaving later, you might get stuck in Santo Domingo. Busses from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo leave every half an hour.
3) Get out at the last bus station, the Caribe Tours bus terminal in Santo Domingo.
4) Take a taxi or an Uber from the Caribe Tours bus terminal to the Bavaro Express bus terminal at Parque Enriquillo. The taxi should not be more than 200 RD$, max. 250 RD$.
5) Take the Bavaro Express bus from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana. The last bus leaves around 4 pm-4.30 pm, the journey time is approximately 3 hours.
6) Get out at the desired station in Punta Cana. If you want to go to Punta Cana International Airport, you can get out right at the airport. If you are going to a Punta Cana all-inclusive resort, check here which hotels are directly served by the bus.
In total, this sets you back at 1150-1250 RD$ per person, which is around 20-22 USD.
Congratulations, you made your trip by public transport from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana.
You can find more information about public transport in Punta Cana here.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a rental car
Another option of getting from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana is by car. However, this only makes sense if you are planning on keeping the car rental throughout your vacation to explore the Dominican Republic road-trip style. If you are just considering renting a car in Punta Cana and dropping it off in Puerto Plata the same day, forget about this idea. The drop-off fees (+ insurance + car hire + tolls + fuel) will be higher than booking one of the private transfer options mentioned above for your way from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata.
However, if you decide to get a car rental in Punta Cana and drive to Puerto Plata, Sosua or Cabarete to explore the North Coast of the Dominican Republic on your own, you will have a great time. Just take into consideration that it takes around 6 hours to drive between Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, hence if you arrive late at either of the airports, consider spending a night before heading on this trip. The drive is pretty easy and mostly on well-maintained highways and since 2020, when the Santo Domingo bypass was finished, you also don’t have to go through the (traffic-wise) chaotic capital anymore
There is a separate article about finding the best rental car in the Dominican Republic. There you’ll find all the information you need to prepare for your road trip. Especially the area between Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete is extremely rich of many natural and cultural attractions. The article also replies to the question if it is recommendable to rent a car in the Dominican Republic.
Furthermore, especially when getting from Punta Cana Airport to Puerto Plata by car, you have great options of activities and unique things to do once in Puerto Plata. Check out the ultimate Dominican Republic itinerary for ideas on what to see once you are there.
In case you are heading from Cabarete, Sosua or Puerto Plata to Punta Cana and are looking for things to do in Punta Cana with your rental car, check out the best day trips from Punta Cana.
The price for car rentals in the Dominican Republic usually starts around 50 to 60 USD per day including full insurance. This is also one of the most important pieces of advice, as booking a rent-a-car with full insurance at one of the recommended car rental companies in Punta Cana or Puerto Plata avoids any stress or hassle.
If you want to know which area is better to explore by rental car, you can also check the direct comparison of Punta Cana vs. Puerto Plata – where to go.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with Uber
You might think if private transfers from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana are too expensive, that Uber would be a good idea? Well, theoretically you can order an Uber from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata, the app quotes around 225 USD if I would currently do so. But I can guarantee you 100% that no Uber driver will take you between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, Sosua or Cabarete for this price, particularly considering the 35-40% they have to pay to Uber as part of the commission. 225 USD minus 40% equals 135 USD, which is absolutely not sustainable for any driver, considering the distance, time and fuel involved.
This definitely won’t work. The Uber driver will decline your request, either in the app or in person. You can save your time and any stress and prebook one of the transfers from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata or from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana. This also avoids any security issues with any unregistered Uber journey and guarantees that you don’t have to haggle with the driver.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a taxi
If you don’t want to prebook your transfer from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana, you can also order an ordinary taxi once you are there and at the time you need. In the Punta Cana Airport Transportation guide, I have extensively outlined what to take care of when taking taxis in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic, which is valid for Puerto Plata as well. Even though taxis are safe to use, they are simply not as reliable as a prebooked airport transfer.
Furthermore, an ordinary taxi won’t give you any financial advantage. Taxi prices are pretty high in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata (which is why private airport transfers prebooked through the internet are so successful). A trip from Cabarete, Sosua or Puerto Plata to Punta Cana or vice versa will cost you at least 400 USD per way and possibly more if your group exceeds 4 persons.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a helicopter (or a private plane)
The last option of getting between both cities is to fly from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana in a helicopter. This is actually the only option to significantly reduce the travel time of at least 6 hours to around 1 hour. However, it is also the most expensive one. Rates for a helicopter transfer from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana start at over 3000 USD for a group of up to 5 people in an R66 helicopter. You can request the detailed pricing here*.
Alternatively, you can also fly from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata and vice versa with a private airplane. A 3-seater Cessna 182 should cost around 1200 USD one-way, a 5-seater Piper Seneca around 2000 USD. Please note that these are approximate figures, the prices can vary for your travel dates and baggage restrictions may apply. You can request these private flights between Punta Cana and Puerto Plata here*.
From Punta Cana to Puerto Plata: with a boat
Theoretically, it is possible to travel from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata by boat, but it isn’t handy nor cheap or quick. It would be the most time-consuming and also the most expensive way of traveling between Puerto Plata and Punta Cana.
Those are all the options and methods of transport between Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. Do you have any questions? I am happy to provide any additional information in the comments.
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Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad
Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.