Why Go To Puerto Plata
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.
Its beach-town neighbor to the east, Punta Cana, offers the coddling comforts of the all-inclusive but with very little authenticity. Puerto Plata's appeal, however, is in fusing the two. In addition to the spectacular beaches of the Dominican Republic's north coast or the activities along the lively Malecón boardwalk, there's also the crumbling yet majestic colonial architecture of the historic district or the breathtaking views atop Mount Isabel de Torres in the morning. In short, Puerto Plata's virtues include plenty of off-resort activities to placate the curious and plenty of all-inclusive activities to entertain the laid-back -- and for a reasonable price. Need even more diversions? This Port of Silver is just a quick flight away from the DR's capital, Santo Domingo, and the thriving nightlife, shopping and burgeoning food scene found there.
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Puerto Plata Travel Tips
Best Months to Visit
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.
Weather in Puerto Plata
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
- Don't forget your Spanish You should pick up a Spanish phrasebook before traveling off the resort. Learning small pleasantries like hello (hola), goodbye (adios), and thank you (gracias) will help you get around.
- Don't forget to cover up Residents take great pride in their appearance and appreciate you doing the same. Wearing a swim suit anywhere except the beach is discouraged; it's especially frowned upon in restaurants.
- Don't forget to ask the price Young men called propinas, literally meaning "tips," will help you change currency, find a lounge chair on the beach, or even fetch food and drink for you from beach stands. These men expect compensation for their work so to avoid problems, establish the fee before agreeing to their help.
How to Save Money in Puerto Plata
- Push your bargaining skills Barter and barter low when boarding a minibus or catching a taxi. And remember to agree on your fare with the driver before entering the vehicle.
- Pick a pad in town Although the all-inclusive resorts are some of the cheapest around, even cheaper accommodations can be found downtown.
- Practice good planning Planning your visit in the shoulder months of May and June can save you up to 50 percent on your accommodations, never mind the crowds have died down.
What to Eat
Even if you're enjoying a pre-paid food plan, you shouldn't pass up the chance to sample some D.R. cuisine. La bandara -- the national dish of red beans, stewed meats, rice and fried green plantains -- is a must-try, and samaná's pescado con coco (fish with coconut sauce) will be appreciated by any seafood lover. And caffeine addicts will have no problem finding their fix in this city. The Dominican Republic as a whole is known for its coffee bean production, and you can expect your Puerto Plata cup o' joe to taste fresh and flavorful.
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.
Getting Around Puerto Plata
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.
Entry & Exit Requirements
All United States citizens must travel with a valid passport to enter the Dominican Republic. In addition, you'll need to obtain a travel visa either before traveling (at the Dominican Embassy) or upon arrival (at the airport). This visa allows travelers to remain in the country for up to 60 days. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's site.
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