How to prepare yourself for flying in to Puerto Plata (POP), Dominican Republic
If you are planning on coming to the Dominican Republic and you are arriving in the Puerta Plata Airport, here are a few tips that will save you some time, money and confusion.
I am originally from Vancouver Island, which is a large island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. To get to the Cabarete, I normally have to do a circus act of flights to arrive. Vancouver – Newark – Miami – Puerta Plata, Vancouver – San Fran – Miami – Puerta Plata, Vancouver-Toronto – Miami-Puerta Plata…you get the picture. It normally takes me around 36 hours from my door step to get to my final destination. To minimize my headache and travel frustration, I have come to abide by this rules.
Tip #1 – Keep Your Carrying Light
Nowadays I understand that its costing more and more to check your bags, but when you’re hustling through airports to get to your next gate, you don’t want to me lugging anything heavy or awkward. I also recommend carrying as little as possible. Don’t try to be a hero and think you’ve worked the system by bringing everything on the plane with you. You’ll end up juggling all your shit and be one taking too much time at security, using up the extra seat at the airport bar or picking up your clutter while the rest of us wait behind you. This would bring me Tip #9 – Pack Smart Food!
Tip #2 – Get your seat in the front of the plane
If you can manage it, change your seat so that you can sit as close to the entrance of the plane as possible. This is important because when it comes to going through Immigration, security or check-ins, the sooner you get off the plane and get there, the shorter the wait. Make sure you also fill out your Immigration papers right away, this will save you time as well. As a side note, I like to board the plane at the very end. I’d much rather stretch my legs and walk around another 20mins then sit inside the sardine tube while negotiating over elbow space.
Tip #3 – BRING FOOD!
As a rule of life, I bring a snack with me everywhere, but I cant stress how important it is to eat good food while travelling. I swear it is a conspiracy by the American government to rid the country of obesity. In case you haven’t flown in a while, you’re pretty much looking at a bag of pretzel rejects and soda pop to keep you going for the next five hours. They provide small snacks to prevent me from going Lara Croft Kungfu Panda on an unsuspecting steward or stewardess when my blood sugar is about to dip too low. I miss those cute little tv dinners, I’ll never say anything bad about them again, I promise.
Tip #4 – Be Prepared to Hit the Heat Wave
Depending on where you’re coming from or how well you handle heat, be prepared to hit the hot wall of humidity once you step off the plane in Puerta Plata. This is why I like to layer. Under my travel outfit, I have the perfect Dominican outfit I can strip down to so that I’m not melting when I’m waiting in line for my bags or to get through customs.
Tip #5 – Have cash on-hand!
There are few things you’ll want to have USD or DOP for. First up, the local cha-cha band greeting you in the POP arrival hallway on your way to customs. Don’t be a dick, give them some change and you’ll have good voodoo during your trip. Next, your Tourist Fee, this will cost you $20. If you stay longer then 14 days, you’ll also have to pay a 500rd fine ($12 USD) on your way out of the country as well. You’ll also have to fill in a form for this (Make sure you have this on-hand with your immigration form which you should have already filled out on the plane). Once you get through customs and you have your bags, you’ll have many official and nonofficial people offering to help you with your bags to get you to a taxi. DO NOT ACCEPT! you are literally 50ft from the exit of the airport where you can get yourself a taxi and not have to pay someone for it. When you first walk-out, you’ll be surrounded by a big “U” shaped crowd of people yelling, chatting and trying to get your attention. Walk straight past them to the road (with confidence and purpose) and grab any taxi. It is a FLAT RATE of $35 to Cabarete. If you are going anywhere else, there is a big board listing the cost to other locations. Normally its $100 to Santiago and $200 to Santo Domingo, but you can always negotiate. Learn more about getting around the Dominican Republic and how to get around Cabarete here!
Hope this helps! Bon Voyage!
Until next time,