Getting Around Ocoa:
By car it takes about 2 hours to get to Ocoa. The road can get bad at times and it has many twists and turns but for the most part it is easy driving.
Take the bus at Parque Independencia in Colonial Zone. The bus leaves every ½ hour to hour. The 2 hour and 45 minute ride costs $160 pesos (10/2011) to the center of San Jose de Ocoa. The road can get bumpy at times but the Guagua/ bus is comfortable and has air conditioning.
Once in San Jose de Ocoa there are many transportation options. Guaguas/ busses, mototconchos/ motorbike taxis and taxis are all available in the city. Once outside the city a taxi is almost impossible to find.
Walk. Make sure you get out and take a walk around the town. Stop by the Bomberos/ Fire Station and say hello. They are very proud of their fire company. The people here are so friendly but not overly so. Smile, say hello, talk even if you do not speak Spanish.
Motoconcho drivers I recommend:
Rodin - 829-892-3350 (locally in Ocoa)
*Odalis - 809-966-7741 and 809-931-2390 local in Ocoa and also can take you around the area. I used him from Rancho Arriba to Ocoa $200RDP plus gas and extras. He will stop and show you the sights for a little extra cash. Very trustworthy, tell him Janette sent you.
*Hotel Marion Restaurant and Bar - Located in front of the central park, Parque Duarte, Calle Andres Pimentel and San José. The restaurant and bar prices are very reasonable (try the Monfongo, it is great). Rooms have cable, air conditioning, hot water and fan. Room rates start at $600 RDP (10/2011). 809-558-2438. Owner speaks some English. Cash only.
Hotel Restaurant El Barcon - Avenida Canada #48. Prices start at $400rdp for a basic room and up (10/2011). 809-558-2432
Rancho Francisco - Just outside of the town, Calle Padre Billini #1, and has a resort look and feel with a giant restaurant and bar area. Prices start at $1000 and up (10/2011). They have 3 fresh water pools where you can buy a day pass for $50RDP per person. 809-558-4099
There is a small supermarket near the park Supermercado Massiel, Calle Duarte #41, 809-558-3725. There is a man there that speaks some English and can be very helpful.
Rancho Arriba is 750 meters/ 2500 feet above sea level. It is a farming community where you will see many Caballeros/ Cowboys riding fine horses around the town at any given time. You will see cows in fields in the center of town as well as other farm animals. There are coffee bushes in the center of the town just behind the park on the little rise with their shiny green leaves. The area is known for their coffee production, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other veggies. There are many greenhouses located throughout the area providing a year round growing season. It is centrally located 30 K from Ocoa and Pierda Blanca.
*Note* - Most of the hotels and business here do NOT take credit cards. There are no bank machines to withdraw money from your accounts in Rancho Arriba. The closest banks are in San Jose de Ocoa. Make sure you have sufficient cash with you before you arrive.
From San Jose de Ocoa to Rancho Arriba by bus/ guagua the cost is $100 Dominican pesos (10/2011) and takes about 45 minutes to an hour on rough terrain, mountain roads with wonderful views. If you continue on the same bus from Santo Domingo the ride is comfortable. You can also go to the bus station/ Parada in Ocoa and get the bus up the mountain.
If you take a bus from the street or from Rancho Arriba there is a good chance you will ride a Land Rover type vehicle with vegetables and maybe an animal or two going along for the ride. It can be quite cramped but is a real experience. The main bus station is at the bridge across from the park and Colmado in the center of town.
The other option where you can really get a chance to see the views and enjoy a bit more is to take a motoconcho. Make sure you tell them to drive slow and easy and tell them what you want to see. A direct ride from Ocoa to Rancho Arriba starts at $200rdp. I recommend Odalis (mentioned above) for the long trip (tell him Janette sent you).
Make sure you get out and take a walk around the town.
*Hotel Tell Apin - A few blocks from the town center. There is a complete restaurant serving all types of fresh food at very reasonable prices. The rooms are very basic, no tv, cold water but clean and comfortable, safe parking area. There is a tv and internet in the lobby/ lounge area. The owner is Fernando. His son can speak English. They are very friendly and helpful and love to share information about the area with everyone. I recommend a visit here if it is only to have dinner (the Mondongo is wonderful). 809-601-0422 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Cash only.