Motoconchos, Carritos, and Guaguas: Getting around in Cabarete

Cabarete is a small town, but walking any distance is a sweaty struggle in the hot Caribbean sun.

Lucky for you, there are some options that locals and visitors to Cabarete use to zoom around town to where they need to be.

Motoconchos, carritos and guaguas are your three cheapest ways of getting from A to B in Cabarete. There are taxis floating around, but they do cost that bit extra.

What on Earth are motoconchos, carritos and guaguas?

Allow me to introduce you to Cabarete transport’s finest.

Motoconcho: The Motorbike Taxi

Ever been on the back of a motorbike? My first time on a motorbike was in Cabarete, when my friends called me out of my hotel room for dinner, the first night.

As I stumbled out of the hotel entrance in a jetlag daze, they hailed two local guys on motorbikes. Having quickly agreed a price for the four of us, my friend jumps on and motions for me to do the same.

Before I could really process what was going on, I was clutching the moto driver’s T-shirt and we were zipping through the traffic. I think I managed to shout ‘Lento, por favor!’ over the roar of the engine, but I’m not sure he heard my plea.

Motoconchos are a fun and easy way of getting around town. Within a day or two, it seemed totally normal and you couldn’t even see my knuckles through my skin any more.

Riding a motoconcho is a risk, sure, and it can sometimes be dangerous. From watching the guys in Cabarete, they are pretty confident and competent drivers. Most of them have been driving from a very young age, and they handle the moto like it’s an extension of themselves.

Dominicans are experts at carrying all sorts of things on their motos. Shopping bags, long metal rods, multiple fruit baskets, a refrigerator. The whole family? No problem.

You can take extra precautions like bringing your own helmet to wear and asking the driver to go slow. Oh, and choose the older-looking drivers over the super-young guys who drive a bit too wildly.

Motoconchos cost around 50RD per person within Cabarete, depending on your haggling skills.

Carrito: The Carpool Taxi

Carrito means ‘little car’ in Spanish. Carritos are public taxis. Like normal taxis, but crammed with as many (or more) people as you can fit in a car. Carpooling, if you will. Very eco.

Around 8 people fit in a 5-seater carrito, in case you’re wondering. More, if there are children involved.

Carritos are faster than guaguas because they carry fewer people and therefore make fewer stops.

For the Spanish-speakers among you, carritos are the place to catch all the town gossip. It’s a small car, and you may well overhear some entertaining stories about local goings-on!

If you spot one heading in the direction you want to go in, hail it by waving your arm.

Bonus points if you get loud bachata music all the way.

Enjoy the ride!

Guagua: The ‘Tight Squeeze’ Bus

Taking a guagua, crammed in like a sardine, is almost a rite of passage in Cabarete.

Guaguas are public buses that look like vans with sliding doors. They run very regularly along the main road, with one passing every 5 or 10 minutes, or so.

If you walk along the street in Cabarete, you’ll likely be enthusiastically invited into a van full of people by a shouting and waving man, who may or may not be hanging out of the open door.

To get on, wave the guagua down and jump in, if there’s space. Tell the assistant where you want to go, using local landmarks if you can, and pay the fare. It should be around 12-20RD per person for most short journeys.

Offical guaguas have ID tags and destination names on the wind shield, which may well be cracked. They often carry cheery slogans like ‘Jesus saves’, ‘God bless my driving’ or ‘May God help whoever crashes into me’.

Please, use common sense and don’t get into an empty, unlabelled van.

Once you’re in, you will likely be sharing the van with tens of other people, and maybe some large, pointy-edged packages and live animals too, if you’re lucky.

To get off, just do what everyone else does and shout real loud. ‘Aqui, aqui, aqui!’, ‘Me quedo!’ or ‘Llego!’ usually work a treat.

The most fun part of taking a guagua is trying to guess when the driver or assistant thinks the van is at capacity. Just when you think no one else could possibly fit, everybody squeezes up and suddenly there’s room for a family of four!

They say there’s no such thing as a full guagua. Always room for one more!

So, now you’re all clued up on Dominican transport methods. Life in Cabarete truly is an adventure.