When you’re staying in Dominican Republic villas, The best way to explore the Dominican Republic is by renting a car. Although public transportation and taxis are good choices for short distances, a car rental provides the ultimate in flexibility. Rental car agencies in the Dominican Republic consist of both large international companies and local agencies. At the major agencies, renters will likely have a choice of compact, midsize and large vehicles, including a selection of SUVs and minivans. A four wheel drive SUV is recommended for reaching remote areas such as the mountainous regions.

The prices may be lower when renting from a local agency. Although some of the local companies are reputable, some may not always properly maintain their vehicles. For a one day car rental, a local company is recommended but it is usually best to go with a major company (preferably with 24 hour roadside assistance) for rentals of a week or more. The rental rates in the Dominican Republic generally run about $70 per day, varying widely based upon the type of vehicle, location and supply/demand. For the large international companies, it is best to reserve a vehicle in advance. The best opportunity for rental car deals is in Santo Domingo, particularly in the areas near the airport.

The requirements to rent a car in the Dominican Republic include a valid driver’s license from the renter’s home country, passport and a credit card. In addition, the renter must be between the ages of 25 and 80. Many agencies will also require a deposit in the amount of $200 because many roads in the country are not in great shape (the route between Santiago and Santo Domingo is a modern, four-lane highway and the route between Puerto Plata and Santiago is a smooth blacktop. However, many of the lesser roads may be full of potholes). Also, unless the renter has a separate car rental insurance policy, the collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss/damage waiver (LDW) should be purchased from the rental agency. These waivers, which are basically the same, prevent the agency from suing the renter in a case where the rental vehicle is damaged. The cost of these insurance options are generally not included in the quoted price and can add a substantial cost to the rental, but they also guarantee peace of mind while driving. Note that renters can also often obtain insurance through their credit card provider.

When driving a rental car in the Dominican Republic, seat belts are mandatory and driving is on the right hand side. The speed limit of 50 miles per hour is strictly enforced, and right turns are permitted on red after stopping. Otherwise, the driving regulations are similar to those found in most other countries. Renters should allow a significant amount of time to drop their rental car off at the airport, and less time is required with a local agency. When picking up the vehicle, the agency will be able to provide information regarding the time needed for the rental car return.