Come and explore Puerto Plata and the sizzling beach towns of Cabarete, Cofresí and Sosúa, where rich culture and history mingle with delicious gastronomy, warm Dominican people, lively music and magical ecotourism activities.
The enchanting Puerto Plata province along Dominican Republic’s North Coast features nearly 50 miles (80 km) of coastline as well as a variety of resorts, hotels and condominiums to suit every need and budget. It’s no wonder the area draws in free spirits who seek eco-adventure and stylish pampering, and want to participate in the joyous Dominican way of life. Christopher Columbus first arrived in this area on his first voyage to the Americas and the island of Hispaniola in 1492. Upon his arrival, he named the region Puerto Plata (Silver Port in Spanish) due to the sparkling reflection of the sun from the pristine ocean waters along the coastline and mountains. Also known as the Amber Coast for its rich and rare amber,
Puerto Plata is situated on the outskirts of Mount Isabel de Torres where the warm waters and perfect trade winds make this area the renowned wind sports and kite boarding capital of the world. It is also home to Ocean World Adventure Park, the San Felipe Fort, Brugal Rum Factory, the thrilling 27 Damajagua Falls, and the beautiful small island of Cayo Arena (Paraíso) great for snorkeling and more enjoyable attractions. If pampering and relaxation is what you desire, the region’s hotels and resorts deliver. The sparkling ivory-colored sand and crystal-clear blue ocean water catch the attention of visitors, but the winds, watersports and active pace of the province keep them coming back for more. The North Coast features beaches that provide enough wind to keep windsport enthusiasts enthralled and others that offer peaceful tranquility for those looking to take it easy. The following guide to Puerto Plata includes descriptions of the amazing attractions, accommodations and eco-adventures that await you.
The beaches are the single greatest attraction in and around Puerto Plata. Its tourist zone includes a stretch of golden sand beaches with more than 75 miles (120 km) of coastline where one can enjoy a refreshing swim, practice water sports, sunbathe or have some leisure time under the shade of a coconut tree with fresh ocean breeze.
PLAYA DORADA: Located just at the foot of the largest allinclusive resort complex in the Caribbean, Playa Dorada is protected by reefs and features a picture-perfect beach and warm waters. This beach offers privacy and seclusion within its gated community. While anyone can drive into the Playa Dorada complex, non-guests must pay for a day pass.
PLAYA COFRESÍ: Just a few minutes west of Puerto Plata lays one of the region’s most unique beaches, Playa Cofresí. Named after the pirate Roberto Cofresí, this beach caters to those looking to relax and bathe in the sun as it greets beachgoers with pristine waters, a soft Atlantic breeze and golden sand.
PLAYA SOSÚA: Located on a crescent-shaped bay, Sosúa is a postcard perfect beach. Featuring a backdrop of towering cliffs, the turquoise-colored waters here are calm and clear. Impressive mountains reach down to the ocean and abundant almond trees line the beach, where a few hotels sit nestled in the warmth of the Dominican sand. Is perhaps one of the Caribbean’s most popular beaches, which may explain the crowds. However, with so much to do – shopping, eating, snorkeling or even taking a glass bottom boat tour – it is worth the visit. Nearby, the new Alicia beach was formed in 2003 and is visited by many tourists and locals.
PLAYA CABARETE: Located on Dominican Republic’s North Coast, adventure seekers will fall in love with Cabarete Beach. One of the top five kiteboarding and windsurfing beaches in the world, Cabarete (often called “Kite Beach”) annually hosts an array of international championships. On any given day, visitors to the area will see the sky filled with hundreds of colorful kites carrying amateur and pro riders through the surf. The beach is bordered by worldclass restaurants, bars, discos and lots of shopping. PLAYA ENCUENTRO: Meaning “encounter” in English, Encuentro beach lies only five minutes from Cabarete and is a favorite due to having perfect waves for surfing. Several schools are located nearby that offer lessons for beginners as well as board rentals. Surfers know the beach very well and somehow keep it a secret from the tourists. The beach is usually very empty making it an ideal escape from busier beaches in the area. The waters here are decorated with vibrant corals and inhabited by sea urchins.
PLAYA GRANDE: Located between Río San Juan and Cabrera on the northeastern coast some 75 miles (120 km) east of Puerto Plata city, this long beach is known for its swells and undertows in winter and is a favorite for photographers because of the palm tree beach landscape.
PUNTA RUCIA: West of Puerto Plata and just off the beaten path, Punta Rucia boasts white sand beaches like La Ensenada and beautiful mountain views. Popular among snorkelers due to the presence of Cayo Arena, a large coral reef just off the shore, Punta Rucia offers a small selection of restaurants/bars and the peaceful lagoon Estero Hondo for manatee and bird watching.
OCEAN WORLD ADVENTURE PARK: Ocean World takes visitors up close and personal with the ocean’s majestic inhabitants, like dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, tropical birds, and sharks, among others. The entertainment complex offers a once in a lifetime experience. The four-story building immerses visitors into a different atmosphere. Experience five-star dining, live music, gaming, spectacular ocean views, cocktail lounges, as well as the tropical and exotic Bravíssimo Show. Adjacent to the marina is Ocean World Casino. www.oceanworld.net 27
SALTOS DE DAMAJAGUA: For those that crave adventure, hike and scale a series of spectacular waterfalls with the forest canopy above you and crystal clear water below. Feel your senses come alive as you experience nature’s perfect water park, the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua. Courageous visitors can jump, slide and swim down natural water chutes or jump in peaceful pools. Experience is not necessary, although only swimmers are encouraged to participate. www.27charcos.com
AMBER MUSEUM: Housed in an incredible epitome of Victorian architecture known as Villa Bentz, the Amber Museum boasts a unique collection of valuable Dominican amber dating back millions of years. The museum offers guided tours in several languages and displays details of how amber was formed and even how the insects in the stone inspired the film Jurassic Park. www.ambermuseum.com
VICTORIAN ARCHITECTURE: Downtown Puerto Plata is known for its gorgeous late 19th and early 20th century preserved Victorian houses and public buildings garnered with gingerbread motifs, wooden lace filigree and pastel colors. Visitors can admire turn-of-the century charm while they take a stroll in the heart of the city, which is decorated with some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture.
FORTALEZA SAN FELIPE: In 1541, Spaniards began constructing the Fort of San Felipe in order to protect Puerto Plata from pirates and other intruders. The fort was completed in 1577, making it the oldest standing structure in Puerto Plata and the only remnant of the colonial time architecture.
MOUNT ISABEL DE TORRES & CABLE CAR RIDE: Visitors can experience breathtaking scenery of Puerto Plata from Mount Isabel de Torres. A thrilling 10-minute cable car ride takes passengers up 2,656 feet (810 meters) through misty clouds to the mountain top with spectacular views along the way. The short ride up rewards visitors with lush exotic flowers that flourish atop in its botanical gardens with many walking paths. At the peak, riders can get a close up look at a statue of Christ the Redeemer, a smaller replica of the Rio de Janeiro landmark. www.telefericopuertoplata.com
JEWISH MUSEUM: Learn about the industrious Europeans who fled Nazi Europe and started all over as cattle ranchers and farmers in Sosúa at the Jewish Museum. Black and white photographs tell the story of the settlers as they created a new community that flourished.
NIGHTLIFE: Puerto Plata’s nightlife ranges from lively salsa clubs to bars with locals and visitors dancing to sultry Merengue music. In addition, the majority of the resorts will have evening shows with dancing, singing, costumed performers, Merengue lessons, karaoke, beauty pageants and more.
SHOPPING: When you travel, there will always be time to shop around for some amber, larimar, cigars, or good Dominican rum. For these purposes, Playa Dorada Plaza is a great place for shopping. The two-story shopping center has boutiques, jewelry and liquor stores, gift shops, and cigars. It also features restaurants, playground for children, banks, movie theaters, nightclub and cafes. For good quality amber and larimar jewelry, visit the Amber Museum, but if what you are looking for is to buy the best rum, Brugal Rum Factory is the place for you. Beach towns like Sosúa and Cabarete are well known for quaint little shops selling Dominican souvenirs, from beachwear to arts and crafts. Also, be sure to walk around in downtown Puerto Plata and stop in one of the many gift shops for local crafts.
MARINAS: Approximately 25,000 boats cruise along the North Coast, the main route between Florida and Venezuela. Therefore, Puerto Plata features several marinas to suit every need. Ocean World Marina is the first full-service marina you will find between the heavily traveled Florida/ Bahamas area and the Puerto Rico/Eastern Caribbean region. www.oceanworldmarina.com Luperón Marina is located in the small village of Luperón to the west of Puerto Plata. It is an enclosed bay providing excellent shelter for anchored and moored boats. The area is protected by natural barriers, featuring two small marinas with basic services to visitors. www.marinaluperon.com
LAGUNA GRI-GRI: A sanctuary for colorful birds, Laguna Gri-Gri is a beautiful and peaceful lagoon set under leafy mangroves near the village of Río San Juan. Located 62 miles (100 km) east of Puerto Plata, you can take a boat to Laguna Gri-Gri and explore the ancient mangroves, see the Cueva de Las Golondrinas (Cave of the Swallows), swim in the shallow cove and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of the secluded beach.
BRUGAL RUM FACTORY: Dominican Republic is famous for its rum and Puerto Plata is home to one of the country’s most well-known brand factories, Brugal. Since 1888, this rum has been produced in Puerto Plata by Dominican hands. Starting with the sugar cane, the spirit is distilled and aged – ensuring a truly Dominican flavor. No wonder it is a favorite of many locals and tourists. Tours are offered daily from 8 a.m. to 4p.m .The delightful attractions around the Puerto Plata region are at your fingertips. For these tours and more, please contact your hotel’s tour desk or representative.
CAYO ARENA: Puerto Plata’s Atlantic Coast is a gifted region full of natural jewels and one of them is Cayo Arena, also called Cayo Paraíso, a very small island off the beaches of Punta Rucia and La Ensenada. This rare coral island in Dominican Republic is worth visiting. Upon arrival, you will feel as though you have arrived to the secret paradise island of your dreams. The tiny island with soft white sand is surrounded by turquoise colored ocean waters where snorkeling is ideal.
JEEP SAFARI ADVENTURE: Experience the countryside in a more adventurous way aboard an “all-terrain 4×4.” The Jeep Safari Adventure allows participants to take in the landscape, while experience the tastes of the country, from the flavorful Dominican coffee, to various fresh tropical fruits surrounding you. Meet local Dominicans and create memorable moments getting to know their customs and lifestyle. The tour leads groups through sugar cane fields, rivers and beaches where they can enjoy a refreshing swim. In addition to activities, the tour also makes several stops for local shopping and crafts. For those looking to take a “hands-on” approach, the excursion also offers personal ATV’s and dirt buggies.
HELICOPTER TOURS: Discover Puerto Plata and its breathtaking land and seascapes from the thrilling helicopter tour. This flight will take you above the city and the bay of Puerto Plata. Fly over the Malecón, Fort San Felipe and across Puerto Plata’s central park with its Victorian houses and historic cathedral. Depending on the length of tour you choose, you can see Ocean World Adventure Park and its marine animals from on high or even fly all the way to Maimón, Sosúa and Cabarete.
ZIP LINING AT YASIKA ADVENTURE PARK: Once you arrive at Yasika Adventure Park, it’ll be thrills and chills, where adrenaline rises to the highest level when you start flying, hung from a cable over green and lush valleys below. A team of professionals will give you all the necessary instructions on how to use the equipment and immediately you’ll launch from the first platform for about 330 to 990 feet (100 to 300 meters) to the next at speeds of up to 30mph. www.yasikaadventures.com
MONKEY JUNGLE: Located 25 minutes from Puerto Plata between Cabarete and Sosúa, Monkey Jungle is a ½ square mile (1.3 square kilometer) natural wonderland of mountains and valleys, and is home to capuchin monkeys. Here you can zip line from mountain top to mountain top, over valleys and down into a newly discovered cave. The ACCT certified course is exhilarating, safe and more fun than the barrel of monkeys that greet you in the jungle. This is a true, hands-on experience which has brought much joy to the hundreds of children and adults who have visited. www.monkeyjungledr.com
EL CHOCO NATIONAL PARK: Check out one of the newest national parks in the country. An incredible 29.7 square miles (77 km²) of jungle, lagoon, caves, forest and open backcountry to explore between Sosúa and Cabarete. This park features some natural caves with underground ponds that were home to the aboriginals who once inhabited our island. Also, it offers several easy hikes, making it a great activity for families to do together and learn about the local flora and fauna and what the government is doing in terms of protecting natural areas and replanting important endemic tree species.
CATAMARAN TOURS: Enjoy stunning views of the Puerto Plata coast on a Catamaran with the wind, the sun and a tropical cocktail in your hand. This excursion will take you from Playa Dorada to the beach of Sosúa on a journey where colorful fish and playful dolphins may swim alongside you in the warm waters. Dance on board the vessel to delightful merengue music, the national music of Dominican Republic
CARIBBEAN LASER MIDWINTER REGATTA: The Annual Caribbean Laser Midwinter Regatta kicks off the world’s Laser Regatta calendar every January in Cabarete, the Kiteboarding Capital of the World. This event attracts top sailors from around the world and is hosted by the Laser Training Center with the assistance of the Dominican Sailing Federation. www.caribwind.com
PUERTO PLATA CARNIVAL: Carnival festivities are held every Sunday of February along the Malecón of Puerto Plata, where these celebrations date back to the 19th Century. The Taimáscaro is the main character of this carnival. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy parades, music and popular dances, Dominican dishes, demonstrations of arts and culture, and costumes.
MASTER OF THE OCEAN: National and international athletes in kiteboarding, surfing, windsurfing and SUP gather every February in Cabarete for Master of the Ocean. This ultimate water sports competition tests their physical conditioning, equipment and experience against two of the most powerful forces on earth – wind and waves. The event has an overall winner, “Master of the Ocean,” as well as individual winners in each discipline. www.masteroftheocean.com
CARIBBEAN CIGAR NIGHT: Is definitely another unique event that Puerto Plata hosts every year in March. With the country’s longstanding history of producing some of the finest cigars in the world, this event attracts a wide audience for to learn about and sample some of the most prestigious local and international brands. The event also offers fine dining and live music. www.cigarnightpop.com
KITEBOARDING COMPETITIONS: Cabarete’s idyllic bay is known for hosting some of the world’s most spectacular kiteboarding events during the summer. The bay’s excellent trade winds and warm waters draw internationally recognized competitions that attract top-ranked water and wind sport champions globally
MERENGUE & CARIBBEAN RHYTHMS FESTIVAL: Puerto Plata holds one of the most popular merengue festivals in Dominican Republic every September. The Malecón, Puerto Plata’s ocean boulevard, becomes a musical stage to celebrate the unique passionate and thrilling music of Dominican Republic.
DISCOVER PUERTO PLATA: This trade show, held in October, seeks to promote the attractions of the north coast that put Puerto Plata among the most complete and diversified Caribbean tourist destinations nationally and internationally. www.discoverpuertoplata.com
JAZZ FESTIVAL: Jazz aficionados travel from around the world each fall to the annual Jazz Festival held on the beaches of Cabarete every November. The event features an impressive line-up of jazz musicians, including artists from the U.S., Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. www.drjazzfestival.com For an updated list of events in Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic, visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com/events
This eco-touristic region is home of three golf courses, two of them designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior. Here, golfers can treat themselves and play between mountains, by the ocean or even under mangoes trees. PLAYA DORADA GOLF CLUB: www.playadoradagolf.com
PLAYA GRANDE GOLF COURSE: www.playagrande.com LOS MANGOS GOLF CLUB
Vacation Rentals: Our Dominican Republic 360Luxury villas offer private staff, concierge service & all luxury amenities. View photos, rates and reviews here. www.360Luxury.com