Best Things To Do in Puerto Plata
In addition to the beach (which let's face it, should be your No. 1 reason for visiting), this once prominent port city is also home to several... READ MORE
In addition to the beach (which let's face it, should be your No. 1 reason for visiting), this once prominent port city is also home to several historic and cultural sites, such as the traveler-recommended Fort San Felipe or Mount Isabel de Torres. If you have young kids, consider spending a day at Ocean World Adventure Park.
Updated October 10, 2012
- #1View all PhotosfreeCabarete#1 in Puerto PlataSports, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPENDSports, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Cabarete used to be quaint fishing village; now, it's a high-geared getaway for the jet set. You should consider planning a day or two's worth of activities in this town east of Puerto Plata, where you'll find the best kitesurfing and windsurfing beaches, not to mention a smattering of bars and restaurants.
The town's big claim to fame is Kite Beach. Other popular shores include Bozo Beach (about 5 minutes from downtown Cabarete) or Encuentro Beach. Most of the surf breaks are too rough for first-timers, but never fear, Cabarete also has about 10 kitesurfing schools where you can learn the craft. Recent visitors loved watching the kite surfers, as well lounging on the gorgeous beach. They also mentioned there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
- #2View all PhotosfreePlaya Dorada#2 in Puerto PlataBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
We don't really need to tell you to go here; chances are this is where you're staying. Playa Dorada (or Golden Beach) is the beach of choice in the immediate Puerto Plata area, and all the major resorts are represented along its shores. Lounging at the beach could easily take up at least one full day of your time at the Amber Coast.
If you're looking for more things to do other than sunbathe and admire Mount Isabel de Torres in the distance, take note that previous travelers have enjoyed windsurfing, snorkeling and even fishing along Playa Dorada. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants if you need a snack or drink. Most of the hotels offer rental equipment (some even for free), if you want to try your hand at any number of sports. And what's the best aspect of Playa Dorada? It's free to enjoy.
- #3View all PhotosfreePlaya Sosua#3 in Puerto PlataBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Located about 15 miles east of Playa Dorada, Playa Sosua is a popular stretch of sand beloved by visitors for its soft, khaki-colored shore, shallow waters and ample facilities. When you're not lounging on the sand or snorkeling in the calm ocean, you can peruse the many restaurants and bars that line the beach.
Recent travelers frequently described Sosua as "beautiful," but warned of afternoon crowds. Past visitors also reported some pushy vendors selling everything from lounge chairs to massages. If you're not interested in their services, previous travelers said a firm "no gracias" did the trick. Reviewers reported paying about $10 for a lounge chair rental.
- #4View all PhotosfreeCofresi Beach#4 in Puerto PlataBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
West of Puerto Plata is a relaxing stretch of golden sand that doesn't usually experience the tourist assault of Playa Dorada, according to recent visitors.
The waters at Cofresi are nice and calm for swimming, and there's plenty of shade (you'll have your choice of umbrella, hut or trees) to set up camp under. A few restaurants flank Cofresi Beach (which is free to the public and open 24/7), and the Ocean World Adventure Park is right next door.
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The Damajaqua Cascades are one of the most thrilling sights and experiences in Puerto Plata. Better known as the "27 Waterfalls," the cascades are just that – and have been set up as a national monument for tourists to canyon through.
It'll take you about 45 minutes to reach the cascades, which are west of Puerto Plata along the Damajaqua River. Most visitors opt for a Jeep tour or other organized excursion to the falls, but you can transport yourself to the attraction. Exploring the lower falls isn't overly strenuous, but you should still think twice before bringing your young kids or anyone with mobility issues along due to slippery rocks. Your tour of the area will include climbing, sliding and cliff jumping, which could be too advanced for young children. Recent visitors stressed that water shoes, waterproof cameras and bug repellent are must-bring items, and raved about the beauty and adventure the falls provide. If you don't have a waterproof camera, you'll have the option to buy a photo package from the guides.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Puerto PlataMonuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMonuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
You can take a taxi to the base of Mount Isabel de Torres southwest of Puerto Plata, and from there, a cable car to the peak, 2,600 feet above the city. Awaiting you is a massive statue of Christ the Redeemer, a botanical garden and some spectacular views, which recent visitors said should not be missed. After you get your fill of the view, wander around the botanical gardens, which showcases local flora and offers shady spots to relax out of the sun. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the several species of colorful birds that call the area home.
Plan your visit for the early morning, however, before the afternoon cloud cover rolls through. And avoid the dome under Christ's statue if you're not in the mood to shop – the vendors there are ardent sellers of their jewelry and crafts. Other travelers suggest you even forego the English-speaking tour guides (usually available for about $5 per person) and just enjoy the mount's summit on your own.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Puerto PlataMuseums, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
You can get an up-close look at the Dominican Republic's beloved amber in this Victorian mansion situated in downtown Puerto Plata. There are two floors worth of amber specimens, some fossilized. One of the highlights is a fossilized lizard dating back millions of years ago. And if you're planning on purchasing some amber jewelry, past travelers suggested you do so here. The museum guarantees its items are authentic. Outside vendors – of which there are many – could be pushing plastic replicas.
Past visitors praised the museum's guides and appreciated the opportunity to learn how amber is sourced and its history in the Dominican Republic.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Puerto PlataHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDHiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Located in El Choco National Park – a playground for outdoors lovers – this cave network dates back millions of years. Exploring the caves is a popular daytrip for recent visitors – many called the caves a hidden gem and raved about the experience. Visitors can either opt for an organized tour that departs from Cabarete or hire expert bilingual guides at the park, who can take participants to explore the various chambers. On a tour, travelers can hike, swim and admire the cave's stalactites, stalagmites and rock art.
According to recent visitors, travelers should expect to pay about $20 for a guided tour. They also advised wearing a swimsuit.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Puerto PlataCasinos, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDCasinos, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
A popular attraction for families, Ocean World Adventure Park touts one of the largest man-made dolphin habitats in the world. Among the activities available to visitors is reef snorkeling, swimming, animal shows and animal encounters (for additional fees). The sprawling complex also boasts a nightlife venue and a marina.
Recent visitors thoroughly enjoyed the park, calling it educational and fun, especially for kids. Reviewers applauded the animal shows, but a few said the overall experience is overpriced. Many were also disappointed to find that animal encounters, such as swimming with the dolphins, costs significantly extra.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Puerto PlataChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
The current San Felipe Cathedral was built in 1956 on top of the footprint of a 16th-century church that burned down in 1863. After the fire, construction on the new church started in 1870; reconstruction was completed in 1956. In 1996, Pope John Paul II created the Diocese of Puerto Plata, giving the church the rank of cathedral. Several times a day, the bells are rung announcing the start and end of Mass at this busy and lively cathedral.
Recent visitors found the architecture and stained glass interesting. A few reviewers said there are tour guides stationed at the church who can provide more information about the church's history. If you choose to take the guides up on their offer, be prepared to give a tip.
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The original mission of Fortaleza San Felipe, which was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century, was to defend the north coast from the British and Dutch, as well as from French pirates in search of the area's gold and silver. Completed in 1577, it later served as a prison beginning in the 19th century.
Today, the fort is a museum, where visitors can see original canons facing the Atlantic, ancient weapons and a variety of hidden chambers. History buffs, in particular, find the fort fascinating. In addition, the panoramic views over the Puerto Plata coastline are enchanting, especially at sunset.
- #12 in Puerto PlataHistoric Homes/Mansions, MuseumsTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDHistoric Homes/Mansions, MuseumsTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
The General Gregorio Luperón House Museum is dedicated to national hero and leader of the Dominican Restoration, General Gregorio Luperón, and is located in his last home. The eight-room museum showcases exhibits detailing his life and place in history as the "sword of the Restoration," as well as other exhibits about the region.
According to recent visitors, the museum staff is friendly and informative, explaining the general's and the area's history in detail.
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