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If you're visiting or flying into another region of the country, it's possible but difficult to drive to Punta Cana. Throughout the region, main roads (carreteras) are mostly paved country roads with two-way traffic, but few dividing lines. Potholes pose a hazard, although there have been some notable improvements in recent years, as some long stretches, notably in Uvero Alto, have been paved over by the government. A 20-mile network of privately funded new roads built within the vast Cap Cana development is impeccably smooth and well lit, as are some nearby roads constructed privately by the PuntaCana Resort & Club. Elsewhere, be alert for potholes, which are particularly hazardous after heavy rains, when the larger ones fill up with water and drivers have to avoid—or slog through—the big puddles. It's extra tough around the bends, but drivers adhere to a set of commonsense unwritten rules of the road—basically, choose the path of least resistance, dodge potholes, and get out of the way when facing an oncoming vehicle. Night driving is not a good idea.
Traffic signs and road-name labels are scarce throughout the region; resort billboards at junctions and landmarks give clues to point you in the right direction, but detailed road maps of the area are nonexistent, and driving can be confusing. However, it seems that better driving conditions in some areas aren't too far down the road. New pavement was being laid down in some spots, and a signage deal was in the works—look for street labels, lane markings, traffic lights, and road maps to follow in the next few years.
A new highway—the so-called "Tourist Boulevard"—is being constructed from the airport to Uvero Alto, and should significantly reduce the traveling time along that stretch, from about one hour to 25 minutes, as well as improve driving safety conditions. Actual work on the boulevard, however, happens in fits and starts, often coinciding with election periods, according to observations made by local hotel managers. And the targeted completion date of the project has been set back for several years by additional obstacles, including negotiations with owners of existing properties that lie in the path of the road.
Few vacationers choose to rent cars in Punta Cana, but rental cars are an economical choice, given the expense of taxis in the area. Several major car-rental companies have outlets at the Punta Cana airport, as well as in Bávaro. Most will deliver cars to area hotels (in some cases, they will complete the paperwork at your hotel; in others, they will bring you back to the office to complete the paperwork).
Free parking is available at all the resorts. When you venture out, free parking is also common, including at the shopping plazas and local restaurants—and generally easy to find, except perhaps on the cluttered streets of Higüey.
Avis (Punta Cana International Airport, Punta Cana. 809/688-1354; 800/331-1212 U.S., international. Carretera Arena Gorda, Plaza Caney, Bávaro. 809/688-1355; 800/331-1212 U.S., international.)
Budget (Carretera Verón-Bávaro, Bávaro. 809/466-2028; 800/527-0700 in U.S.)
Europcar (Punta Cana International Airport, Punta Cana. 809/686-2861. Carretera Friusa-Melia, Friusa, Bávaro. 809/686-2861. www.europcar.com.do.)
National (Punta Cana International Airport, Punta Cana. 809/959-0434; 800/227-7368 U.S., international.)
Shell (Carretera Verón-Punta Cana, Verón.)
Texaco (Intersection of Carretera Friusa and Carretera Riu-Arena Gorda, Friusa, Bávaro.)
Texaco (Carretera Bávaro-Macao, east side of road, Macao.)
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