Best Road Trips in the Dominican Republic

An old blue rover is parked on a beach near the water in Las Terranes, Dominican Republic.

The appeal of the Dominican Republic and the promise of sun-filled days spent drinking tropical concoctions at the swim-up bar of an all-inclusive resort consistently draw visitors. And to be fair, the resorts cater to the needs of every traveler – so there’s really no need to leave a property with a seemingly endless stream of food, drink and activities at your fingertips.

But those who choose to step outside the all-inclusive bubble and take to the open road will be rewarded with a diverse island panorama that can look something like a series of sandy shorelines dotted with palms, to mountainous vistas shrouded by lush vegetation. .

Here are some of the best road trips to help you get the most out of your visit to the Dominican Republic.

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What is driving like in the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic has a fairly reliable highway system that keeps its commuter-oriented population moving. A robust network of roads links 871 miles of coastline, connecting towns and villages.

Take advantage and go on an adventure in a rental car. You need a valid driver’s license from your own country or an international driver’s license.

If you are navigating the Dominican Republic, you should drive on the right side of the road and travel during the day, as some streets outside major cities are often poorly lit. Go slow and watch out for potholes, pedestrians and animals, all appearing on the roads.

The best time to visit the Dominican Republic

Take the main road on Route 41

Best road trip for mountainous climates and exciting curves

Jarabacoa de Ocoa-Constanza; 31 miles (50 km)

The trail from Jarabacoa to Constanza is not for the faint of heart, but thrill seekers will enjoy the winding roads. You will reach an altitude of about 2,500 meters (it is the highest road on the island) while enjoying breathtaking views of the Dominican Republic’s central mountain range and acres of pristine vegetation and land.

Along the way, meander past the “Colossal Pyramid” in the Valle Nuevo Reserve and stretch your legs on one of the park’s short walks.

You’ll also want to take your time on the road – for safety, yes – but to stop for fresh coconuts and coffee at roadside stalls along the way. Near Constanza there are many strawberry fields; it’s a great chance to pick up a few boxes to snack on. Or grab a “batido” (milkshake) for a sweet road trip treat.

Always make time for a beach stop on a Dominican Republic road trip © Todd Aaron Sanchez / Shutterstock

Enjoy the tropical scenery on the Boulevard del Atlantico

Best road trip for families

Las Terrenas—Santo Domingo; 77 miles (124 km)

Connecting the cosmopolitan resort of Las Terrenas to bustling Santo Domingo, Boulevard del Atlantico is a private highway that will take you from one coast of the island to the other.

Since it’s a private road, be prepared to pay several tolls along the way (about $20 USD in total, one of the highest rates in the country) – but the price is well worth the resulting view.

Expect a sharp contrast between rocky landscapes and the heady turquoise waves of the Atlantic Ocean along your route.

And because the road was built fairly recently, you can expect a fairly smooth ride to your destination with very few potholes and bumps, making it an ideal ride for families with children in tow.

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Breathe in the sea air on the Barahona Enriquillo Coastal Highway

Best road trip for rustic beach view

Barahona-Pedernales; 77 miles (124 km)

The southwestern part of the island, one of the least developed regions of the Dominican Republic, offers plenty of opportunity to explore the enchanting, leafy cliffs and expansive cliffs that flow into the cerulean Caribbean Sea.

The Barahona Enriquillo Coastal Highway takes you past a series of fascinating natural attractions that most tourists don’t visit, including Lago Enriquillo, a large saltwater lake with over 200 crocodiles and various species of iguanas, and Laguna Oviedo, the largest lagoon in the Dominican Republic with a saltwater lake and excellent bird watching territory.

En route to Pedernales, you’ll pass remote fishing villages and “balnearios” (coastal/river towns) – such as San Rafael and Los Patos – which are great places to refuel with a plate of fresh fish and a cold beer.

Platones are fried bananas, a specialty of food from the Dominican Republic
Savor traditional dishes such as plantains in the Dominican Republic along La Ruta Panoramica © Stefano Ember/Shutterstock

Shop and eat along La Ruta Panoramica

Great road trip for exploring rural Dominican life

Puerto Plata—Santiago; 18 miles (30 km)

La Ruta Panoramica winds through the coffee and cocoa plantations, waterfalls and gorges of the Dominican Republic’s northern mountain range (Cordillera Septentrional) and takes you 800 meters above sea level.

Take it easy – the roads can be bumpy and hilly. But you also don’t want to miss the scenes that unfold before you: rural farmlands on rolling hills, small villages and green mountain landscapes.

Along the way, stop at one of the many fruit stands for a quick bite and pop into a few shops along the way for locally made souvenirs. Or take a detour to Yasica for some ziplining; La Cumbre to explore amber mines, or the Camu River in Montellano for off roading and horse riding.

Introducing the Dominican Republic

Explore lagoons and waterfalls from Las Terrenas to Rio San Juan

Best road trip for water adventures

Las Terrenas-Rio San Juan; 65 miles (104 km)

Going from Las Terrenas to Rio San Juan will feel like you’ve hit the beaten track compared to Boulevard del Atlantico – don’t expect a well-developed highway system to take you from one point to another.

Nevertheless, the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic has a real road trip vibe: the kind that invite you to roll down the windows, turn on the music and let the breezy palms and salty beach air soften your mood.

The best beaches in the Dominican Republic

Along the way, drive up the miles of Playa Grande beach or take a dip in the crystal clear waters at Laguna Dudu, where you can zip 30 feet into the air before dropping into the lagoon below.

You can also make a pit stop at El Saltadero waterfall near Cabrera for a swim and explore the cavernous caves. Local kids can often be found climbing the rocky cliffs of El Saltadero and jumping into the water with acrobatic precision for tips from visiting tourists.