Puerto Plata Travel Guide
Established in 1502, Puerto Plata earned its name, Port of Silver, from the glistening silver color of its coast at sunset. The seaside city served as the last stop for ships carrying goods back to the Old World. Today, Puerto Plata welcomes those taking a different type of journey: from hectic real life to tranquil, all-inclusive decadence. continue»
The best time to visit Puerto Plata is May and June, when hotel rates take a dive for the impending rainy season. In general, the city's weather is warm with average highs ranging from 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to about 90 degrees in the summer. The region does experience a large amount of precipitation with an average of 50 to 60 inches of rainfall each year, with almost 10 inches alone on average in November.Read More Best Times to Visit Puerto Plata»
Puerto Plata Neighborhoods
Nicknamed the "Amber Coast" for its rich deposits of clear amber, Puerto Plata is the largest city on the north coast. The city has attracted countless visitors dating back to colonial times, from pirates and Spanish Conquistadors to vacationers and watersports enthusiasts.
Puerto Plata's vibrant history is maintained within the downtown area that's filled with quaint if decrepit Spanish Colonial and Victorian architecture. The area's home to the remnants of Fort San Felipe, which was built in the 16th century to protect Puerto Plata's shipping port from pirates, as well as the Puerto Plata Lighthouse, constructed in 1879 to warn passing ships of the island's coastal reefs.
Towering over Puerto Plata from the south is Mount Isabel de Torres, a mountain which rises more than 2,500 feet above sea level. Tourists can reach the mountain's summit via cable car, and English-speaking guides are available for hire. Located at the top of the mountain are the botanical gardens and a giant statue of Christ overlooking the city. Fodor's warns of persistent vendors selling jewelry and crafts at the mountain's summit: "If you really are not interested, let them know this unequivocally."
Most hotels and resorts are located outside of Puerto Plata, a few miles east in Playa Dorada. Travel writers have dubbed Playa Dorada the north coast's primary beach destination, as well as one of the Dominican Republic's most established resort areas. This area is known for its sandy beaches and offshore snorkeling reefs, but it also has a golf course and riding stable. However, travel writers recommend avoiding beaches owned by individual hotels -- unless you're staying there -- because hotel security guards are often territorial.
Approximately 20 minutes east, the town of Cabarete stands out for those who love water sports. Kiteboarding, jet-skiing, surfing and windsurfing are popular along this even sleepier beach town's shores. Cabarete also lures vacationers looking for more luxury than Puerto Plata typically provides. Expensive villas dot the coastline.
Crime is uncommon in the hotel zone. And without a few pointers on local customs -- especially concerning transportation -- tourists venturing away from Puerto Plata's hotel zone can become the target of misadventure. For example, police pullovers are commonplace for rental cars; if stopped, visitors should calmly ask the officer for his/her rank, a citation for the offense and the amount to be paid. Do not hand over your license: Scam artists sometimes pose as police officers and steal tourists' identification in exchange for cash.
Some warn against the popular motoconchos, or taxi motorcycles, that are available throughout the central plaza. Many D.R. roads are in poor shape, driving patterns are irregular, and few cyclists provide a helmet for passengers. Taxis are more expensive, but they offer a better chance at getting to your destination in one unsullied piece.
The best way to get around Puerto Plata is by taxi. They're cheap -- your average ride costs about $3 to S5 USD -- and drivers are willing to bargain to an even lower price. Minibuses are another popular (and negotiable) way to get around and can get you as far as Sosúa, a town east of Puerto Plata on the coast. Rental cars, although expensive, are available from the three major airports: Gregorio Luperón International Airport (POP) is about 10 miles east of central Puerto Plata, the Las Américas International Airport (SDQ) is around 100 miles southeast and the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is about 150 miles southeast.Getting Around Puerto Plata»