Travel Guide to Puerto Plata Province

Puerto Plata Province Travel Guide

Located on the northern coast of the Caribbean island of Hispanola, the province of Puerto Plata is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. Blessed with beautiful stretches of pristine beaches, lush green valleys, and cradled by a chain of majestic coastal mountains, Puerto Plata was described as “the fairest land under heaven” by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Over 500 years later, the province of Puerto Plata has continued to captivate visitors from around the world with an intoxicating potion of Latin American culture, incredible natural beauty, and the extraordinary kindness of its people.

Puerto Plata is one of the many regions of the Dominican Republic that the island is proud of. It is situated on the northern coast of the Caribbean island, facing the North Atlantic Ocean. Only in this area where a tourist may experience a vacation that is way beyond compare. The natural magnificence of Puerto Plata is definitely second to none. This is a region of the Dominican Republic with a great combination of stunning beach attractions and cosmopolitan cities. The cities in this region include Puerto Plata and the infamous Sosua. Some of the beach destinations of Puerto Plata are Cabarete, Luperon, and Costambar.

The region of Puerto Plata is known for its pristine beaches and panoramic views of lush valleys as well as the dramatic mountains of the north. The beach of Playa Dorada extends up to fifteen miles of fine white sands and aqua blue waters. Aside from Playa Dorada (details below), there is also the Cabarete which is one of the most visited places in Puerto Plata. Cabarete (more below) is famous for a water-sports enthusiast because of the great wind. Many people go to Cabarete to experience the thrill of windsurfing and enjoy kiting as well. Most areas of Puerto Plata have protected coves and the beaches have calm waters. This is a great summer destination for the whole family since the children may enjoy frolicking on the beaches of the region. Although the tropical weather may give out a striking hot sun, tourists may sip their fresh fruit shakes under the shades of palm trees dotting most of the areas of the resorts.

Because of the excellent quality of the water, Puerto Plata is also considered as one of the best scuba diving sites, not only in the North Coast but in the whole world as well. The various coral reefs protected in Puerto Plata are simply amazing. Moreover, there are sea gardens, canyons, and shipwrecks under the waters of Puerto Plata especially in the area of Sosua (see below). The great site for snorkeling is located in the Gri Gri Lagoon, a few hours away from Playa Grande.

In some areas of Puerto Plata, they are special attractions such as bird watching and whale watching. The bird-watching site is located in Monte Cristi in a national park called El Moro National Park. Some of the attractions of the national park include willet gullis, ruddy turnstone, wood stork, American Kestral, brown tody and more. The birds can be viewed year-round. However, the whale watching only lasts from January up to the month of April every year at Samana. This is where humpback whales usually swim and play around while tourists are trying to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants.

The nightlife in every corner Puerto Plata is very much alive. There are several places with loud music, upbeat songs and exotic rum served with cola. You can find many people dancing to the rhythm of salsa and meringue. Every Saturday night, bars play live music with local bands performing filled with local and foreign guests.

Puerto Plata & The North Coast Attractions

Mount Isabel de Torres

Undoubtedly Puerto Plata’s most impressive geographic feature, 2,600 foot Mount Isabel is also a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. After a seven-minute cable car ride up the nearly vertical slope, visitors will find botanical gardens, a statue of Christ similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro, and a superb restaurant, in addition, of course, to breathtaking views of the city and surrounding sea. Open Tuesdays and Thursday through Sunday from 8 am until 5 pm. Admission is about $10USD.

Playa Dorada

Home to the majority of Puerto Plata’s “all-inclusive” resorts, Playa Dorada features two golf courses, casinos, a shopping mall, and over 15 miles of beaches. Although most of the property in Playa Dorada is private, the beach itself is open to the public and can be accessed at the end of the main road running through the complex.

Columbus Aguaparque

Arguably the Caribbean’s finest attraction of its kind, the Columbus Aguaparque has quickly established itself as a favorite with kids of all ages for a day-long outing. Featuring a restaurant, small gift shop, showers, and lockers. Open daily from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. Admission is about $10 U.S. for the day, or about $5 U.S. after 4:00 pm.


Surrounded by calm, crystal-clear waters, Costambar is truly a beach lover’s delight! Featuring a 9-hole golf course, Los Mangos, Costambar is less crowded and more tranquil than Playa Dorada. Numerous restaurants are located throughout the residential community of Costambar.

The Brugal Rum Factory

Producing over a million and a half liters of white and dark rum each year, Brugal is the drink of choice for many North Coast Dominicans (with Barcelo being favored in the South). Although no distillation actually takes place at the Brugal Factory, visitors are given a brief tour of Brugal’s bottling operations and are treated to a refreshing drink featuring, but of course, Brugal rum.  Open 9:00 am-noon & 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Admission is free.

The Malecón & Fort San Felipe

The Malecón is an oceanside road featuring numerous cafes and small restaurants. Although the small beach is not suitable for swimming, a leisurely stroll along the Malecón offers fresh ocean breezes and excellent people watching.  The Malecón is especially popular on weekends and at night when roadside vendors prepare small snacks and several discos blast music into the early morning hours.

Walking west along the Malecón will lead visitors to Fuerte San Felipe, Puerto Plata’s only remaining colonial structure. Located on a small peninsula on Puerto Plata Bay, Bahia de Puerto Plata, it was at Fuerte San Felipe that Columbus had hoped to establish the first Spanish colony in the New World (the colony in Puerto Plata, however, did not last long and the Spanish resettled on the island’s Southern Coast at Santo Domingo). The fort features a moat, historical artifacts, and a small museum. Admission is about $1USD.

City of Puerto Plata

The North Coast is the center of a third of the nation’s hotel rooms, or more than 17,000. At the heart of this region, the city of Puerto Plata curves around the base of towering Mt. Isabel de Torres, whose pinnacle can be reached by an electrified sky lift system called the teleférico. A manicured botanical garden dominated by an illuminated statue of Christ – a scaled-down version of the one in Rio de Janeiro – crowns its summit. More adventurous types can reach the summit on foot.  The charm of Puerto Plata, the largest city on the North Coast, is enhanced by the extent and variety of its Victorian architecture, unrivaled by any other Dominican city.

Stylistically, the gingerbread motifs, wooden ‘lace’ filigree, and pastel colors of its houses and public buildings convey the romantic aura of an earlier time, but functionally they house a tourist-oriented city’s businesses, offices, shops, bars, restaurants and clubs. History is also preserved here in the imposing San Felipe Fort, built by the Spaniards in the 16th century as protection against seaborne invaders. The fort, which was used as a prison until the 1960’s, now houses a fine museum that documents its interesting history. Visitors strolling the city’s picturesque streets will also want to take time to see Puerto Plata’s extraordinary Amber Museum, the Brugal rum factory, and stroll the length of the Malecón, the lively seaside boulevard.

Downtown Puerto Plata

Visit the city’s central park, Parque Luperon, and make a stop at the picturesque church, Iglesia de San Felipe. Several inexpensive cafeterias are nearby, in addition to numerous stores specializing in local crafts. In downtown Puerto Plata you will find the last remaining Victorian gingerbread buildings – elegant 19th-century structures that are quickly disappearing due to commercial development.

The Amber Museum

Located on the second floor of a Victorian mansion, the Amber Museum is perhaps one of Puerto Plata’s best-known tourist attractions. Open from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, Monday through Saturday, the Amber Museum features collections of fossilized resin (Amber), some of which contain remarkably preserved specimens dating back thousands of years. Admission is about $2 U.S.

Playa Dorada Travel Guide

The region of Playa Dorada is not just for couples or adults wanting to unwind in the stunning beaches. Children of all ages may also enjoy the trip to Playa Dorada, especially at the Fun City. This entertainment park is one of the top tourist destinations in Playa Dorada. There are several fun-filled and safe racing cars for everyone. This includes bumper cars, go-karts, grand prix cars as well as sprint and midget cars.

Playa Dorada

Aside from the stunning beaches, the main attraction here in Playa Dorada is the region’s golf course. It designed by an architect named Robert Trent Jones who was fascinated by the beauty of Playa Dorada. It has at least 18 holes and 10 of which are located near the edge to make the play more challenging. This is the most popular place in Playa Dorada where most golf fanatics and golfers come together not only to play the sport but to be astonished by the panoramic views seen as the golf course.

The restaurants in Playa Dorada do not only offer exquisite local and international cuisines but magnificent views of the dramatic landscapes and islands as well. The captivating view of the dramatic mountains and islands will make you feel more relaxed as you take a bite of the unique blend of spices cooked by excellent chefs. Some of the best restaurants in Playa Dorada include Los Pinos, Acuarela, Otro Mundo and Café Cito. The price varies and you may choose from a lot of food establishments that would fit your taste buds and your budget as well.

During the night, locals and tourists would rush to the various bars to experience the lively nightlife here in Playa Dorada. Most of these bars and discos play typical merengue music that creates a very Caribbean ambiance. Aside from the music, the bars are filled with amazing foods, local drinks, and good-looking people. Most of the staff renders great service, not to mention that they are all gorgeous. It is another reason why foreigners are drawn into the bars of Playa Dorada.

Because of the booming tourism industry here in Playa Dorada, hotel and restaurant businesses are the establishments with lots of income. The same goes for the souvenir shops and alike. There are at least twelve different luxurious resorts to choose from. Each resort caters different activities that a guest may enjoy during their stay. Most of the hotel packages in Playa Dorada already include the foods and beverages. Along with the hospitality and excellent hotel service, the fresh fruit shakes adorned with little umbrellas or local flowers with vivid colors are the first thing that would welcome you as you step into these resorts of Playa Dorada.

Sosúa Travel Guide

Sosua a small area located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. So far, Sosua is considered by many as the most beautiful place in the Northern part of the island and in the Caribbean. It is abundant in stunning beaches, fine white sands, various luxurious hotels, and high-class restaurants. Sosua used to be a refuge for more than 600 European Jews who came to the Dominican Republic region to begin a new life. They have established a dairy industry that is renowned in the Caribbean which is still in running up to now. Moreover, Sosua is not actually a well-known tourist destination a few decades ago. However, because of the booming tourism industry, there are now a lot of bars and shops lining the streets of Sosua.

SosuaThe main attraction of Sosua is the pristine beaches that extend up to one-thousand miles. The sand that is sugar-colored, compliments the clear and turquoise blue water which is warm all year-round. Although the sun can be striking sometimes, coconut palms scattered in the white sands would give shade for your reading or relaxing pleasure. The wind differs depending on the place. There are some places in Sosua where the breeze is gentle enough to make fall into a nice slumber. There are also some areas in Sosua where the whole family may enjoy kite surfing.

Sosua offers various recreations so that your stay in the region can be more enjoyable. First-time travelers to Sosua would not want to miss experiencing the thrill of scuba diving. The sights are amazing. There are unique marine species, incredible coral reefs and alike. Shipwrecks can also be found under the waters of Sosua. Most resorts also offer other thrilling water activities such as a twenty-minute banana boat ride which is good for a group of six or more, jet ski rentals, kiteboarding, and windsurfing. Because of the excellent weather condition in some areas of Sosua, windsurfing events and kit boarding competitions are held annually in this region.

Because of the vast landscapes with a great view of the Caribbean’s finest, many have decided to build and design their own golf course here in Sosua. This includes designer legends such as the infamous Robert Trent Jones, Nick Faldo, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Tom Fazio to name a few. Because of the picture-perfect view and excellent weather, even the former presidents of the most powerful country such as George H. Bush and Bill Clinton used to go here to spend some time away from the world of politics. There’s no need to pack your golf clubs since the amenities are already prepared just for you. If you are just an amateur but willing to learn how to play the sport, there are professional golfers that may teach you the right lessons, strategies and give you tips on how to play golf.

Sosua has a very enticing nightlife. There are saucy nightclubs for those who wanted a lively nightlife and there are also fine dining restaurants for that romantic dinner you’ve been planning for you and your special someone.

Cabarete Travel Guide

The Amber Coast’s windsurfing Mecca is Cabarete, just a 15-minute drive east from Sosúa. This windsurfer’s paradise is situated on a strip of land between a bay and a lagoon. The prestigious Professional Windsurfing Association World Cup competitions have been held here, and an annual Cabarete Race Week brings the best of amateur competitors from around the world. Besides windsurfing, Cabarete offers bodyboarding, tennis, golf, mountain biking, and horseback riding and serves as a point of departure for numerous ecotourism excursions.

Cabarete was not considered as a vacation spot, except by locals of Santiago and Moca, until the late 80s. Before the 1980s ended, a couple of foreign tourists discovered the wind condition in Cabarete Bay that is definitely perfect for windsurfing. After a few years, the town became a host for many international windsurfing and kite surfing competitions, for professionals and amateurs in the two mentioned water sports. Aside from kite surfing and windsurfing, there are more outdoor activities that can be enjoyed here in Cabarete. One may do canyoning, horseback riding, trail hiking, mountain biking and more. Of course, being a part of the Dominican Republic, the town has stunning beaches that people of all ages would surely enjoy.

CabareteThe climate in Cabarete is very predictable. It has a consistent wind year-round because of the sea breeze and trade winds. Starting from the month of February up to the month of August, the small cosmopolitan town of Cabarete has a perfect, stable wind every day. However, during the month of June, Cabarete can have a really strong wind. It is not advisable to wear hats and skirts but this is the perfect time to indulge in different wind-related sports activities.

Many foreigners are attracted by the natural beauty of Cabarete. Some only visit for a few days while others can’t bear to leave the town behind. Because of the diverse immigrants in Cabarete, it is considered as the most cosmopolitan little town located in the Western Hemisphere. They have learned to live and love the town like the country where they came from.

The clear aqua blue waters of the beaches in Cabarete is not just a home for water sports enthusiasts but for coral reefs as well. The sands, colored in sugary white, feels like flour when stepped on because of its fine texture. The shores of the resorts are dotted not only by tourists but villas for rent and huge palm trees that gives shade when the sun is striking hot. Cabarete is definitely the place to be if you want to unwind and leave the noise of the modern city for a while.

The nightlife in Cabarete is very much alive. Most of the bars and restaurants have live music performances every night. There are various establishments playing different types of music such as jazz, ballad, pop and more. There are also the so-called happy hours where most bars offer alcoholic drinks at a cheaper price. The famous local drinks of Cabarete includes Mama-Juana and Cuba libre. Partygoers can stay until early morning since most of the establishments close at 3 a.m.

Luperón Travel Guide

In the North Coast of the Dominican Republic lies the nine divisions of the island which are all stunningly beautiful. One of these regions is Luperon. The region of Luperon is situated in a large bay. It is located 50 kilometers away from the western part of Puerto Plata. Aside from Puerto Plata, the neighboring areas of Luperon include Cofresi and Monte Cristi. Luperon is more of a port-town rather than a tourist destination. More or less, it has now twenty thousand inhabitants. Most of them get their daily income from the fishing industry of Luperon.

LuperonLuperon used to be a part of the Dominican Republic where most tourists are just passing by coming from Monte Cristi going to Puerto Plata. It was thought years ago that Luperon was just a laid-back town. A town that does not have potential, like the other parts of the island of the Dominican Republic, in the booming industry of tourism. But fortunately, several brilliant minds of architects and land developers have thought of improving not only the area but the lives of the locals of Luperon as well. With the emerging tourism industry, hotels were built and employees were needed. Although some still stick with the old way of living, the new breed of Luperon inhabitants is now employed in luxurious hotels, resorts and alike. Thus, making the tourism industry a big influence in the growing economy of Luperon.

Most of the visitors in the area of Luperon usually comes from its neighboring regions such as Playa Dorada or Puerto Plata. These are the tourists who just wanted to explore more lands and beaches in the Dominican Republic. Luperon, just like any other place in the Caribbean, is also abundant in clear waters which are commonly seen in turquoise blue color, white sand beaches with very fine texture and of course, the mangrove forests.

Although Luperon is a “late-bloomer” in the industry of tourism, many places in this region are now popular as a tourist destination for those who wanted to have an authentic Caribbean vacation. The marina of Luperon is one of its main attractions. The name of the famous marina in Luperon is called the Puerto Blanca Marina. It is situated in the outskirts of Luperon. Many sailors love to park their yacht here in Luperon. Out of all the harbors in the Dominican Republic, only Luperon is considered safe by many sea travelers. The waters in the bay Luperon are definitely very tranquil and is a great spot for having that much-awaited fishing adventure in the Caribbean.

Aside from fishing, there a lot of activities that can be done in Luperon. This includes horseback riding, tennis games, archery, and more. These facilities are seen inside the premises of the luxurious hotels and resorts in Luperon. Some even have their own swimming pool so that the kids would safely enjoy the ambiance of the town of Luperon. There are also optional packages that can be requested in these hotels such as diving lessons and spa packages.

Cofresí Travel Guide

Cofresi, located about 10 kilometers west of Puerto Plata, was named after Captain Roberto Cofresi, a Puerto Rican pirate. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in the 1490s, the town had its humble beginnings as a small fishing village. Today Cofresi is a bustling resort community that consists of high-end hotels and private villas that open up to breathtaking views of the mountains and the clear blue waters of the ocean.

CofresiCofresi is a peaceful and picturesque resort that offers visitors a quiet place to relax and unwind. Its exclusive resort area houses the brand new and expensive Ocean World which not only lets you stroll past huge aquariums displaying a myriad of aquatic life and coral reefs but actually allows you to get in it and swim with the wildlife.

One of the major attractions here the world’s largest dolphin lagoon, a sea lion encounter that is a first of its kind, the world’s first shark interactive pool and many other views of exotic animals, birds, and reptiles. These attractions draw more than 100 people every day and are always a sell-out. Therefore, it is recommended that reservations are done one week in advance.

Cofresi visitors can see city residents enjoying a break in the mid-day sun under the shade of trees and on Mount Isabel de Torres, located just behind Puerto Plata. Visitors can take a gondola to the top of the mountain to enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding area. The statue of Christ the Redeemer can also be found here surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens.

The beaches in Cofresi may not be the white sand variety but they are clean and the bay itself is impressive with the soft golden sand giving way to the crystal clear ocean waters. There are also a number of native handicrafts sold under thatched huts along the beach as well as food. Sunbeds are abundant and for the adventurous visitor, a variety of water sports such as diving, wind-surfing and boat rides are available even without accommodations.

Dining is mainly concentrated in the hotels. The local cuisine features a lot of stews and comes with a hearty serving of vegetables on the side. Casseroles and soups are also widely served and are usually accompanied by meat and seafood. Dominican cuisine is generally grain-rich. Rice plays an important role in many of their dishes like the rice and chicken (Arroz con pollo) which is a favorite dish and the locrio which resembles paella except the meat is used instead of seafood.

Nightlife in Cofresi may be less than ideal as the only big show in town is the Tropicalissimo, a show that is patterned from the style of the old Tropicana of Cuba. Tropicalissimo is shown at the Barceló Bavaro Casino. There are bars near the Barceló and Melia hotels where visitors can meet the locals but don’t expect a lively place when you do decide to try it out. However, the guests don’t mind the lack of night activities as they are exhausted from a day at the beach.

Share on: