Driving in the D.R. can be a harrowing and expensive experience; we don't recommend that the typical vacationer rent a car. It's best if you don't drive outside the major cities at night. If you must, use extreme caution, especially on narrow, unlighted mountain roads.
Driving to the Samaná Peninsula from Las Americas Airport or Santo Domingo has been made significantly easier with the new toll road, which has the time down to about two hours. Once in the city of Samaná or particularly Las Galeras, driving is not too arduous and especially if you don't book into an all-inclusive, you might want a car for sightseeing and to drive to Las Terrenas. There the traffic and one-way streets make it more stressful, but if you're staying on Playa Coson, you may want a car to go into town for some meals. Taxis are expensive for that—as much as US$60 round-trip. Once anywhere on the Samaná Peninsula, it is most difficult to rent a car; if an agency has to bring one from Santo Domingo, they will insist on a two-week rental in season, not to mention the delivery cost.
The new Coral Highway (Autopista del Coral), which begins between Las Americas Airport and the city, has shortened the drive time to La Romana to less than an hour. On the other end, it begins at Punta Cana’s airport and takes just 45 minutes to La Romana, less to Bayahibe. From there, three tolls are involved, only totaling 250 pesos (two are 100 pesos, the third 50), but you must have pesos.
Local agencies exist, but it is highly advisable to rent only from internationally known companies. U.S. citizens should really consider only U.S.–based chains, so that if you have a problem you have easier recourse. Major agencies are in most of the island's airports. At Las Americas International Airport, most agencies are open 7 am–11 pm.
Avis. 809/549--0468; 800/331--1212.
Budget. Punta Cana International Airport, 800/472–3325; 800/214--6094; 809/466--2028; 809/586–0413; 809/549–0351; www.budget.com.
Europcar. 809/549–0942; 809/686–2861; www.europcar.com.
National. Casa de Campo, 809/523–8191; www.nationalcar.com.