Best Things To Do in Puerto Plata
In addition to the beach (which let's face it, should be your number-one 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, Marina and Casino.
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 new restaurants.
The town's big claim to fame is Kite Beach. "It has sandy beaches and areas to launch your kite, perfect conditions and a reef 300 meters from shore," notes world66.com. "Beginners don't kite on the reef, but as a more experienced kiter it can be a lot of fun." 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.
- #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 is THE beach of choice in the immediate Puerto Plata area, and all the major resorts are represented along its shores. Also, staying at the beach could easily take up at least one full day of your time at the Amber Coast. If you racking your brain for things to do, take note that previous travelers have enjoyed windsurfing, snorkeling and even fishing along Playa Dorada. 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 and open any hour of the day.
- #3View all PhotosfreeCofresi Beach#3 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 gold-spun sand that doesn't usually face the tourist assault of Playa Dorada. 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, Marina and Casino 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 25 minutes to reach the cascades, which are west of Puerto Plata along the Damajaqua River. Exploring the lower falls isn't horribly strenuous, but you should still think twice before bringing your young kids along. Your tour of the area will include climbing, sliding and cliff jumping, which could be too advanced for children under eight years of age.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Puerto PlataSightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME 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. Awaiting you is a massive statue of Christ, a botanical garden and some spectacular views of the city.
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 USD per person) and just enjoy the mount's summit on your own.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Puerto PlataCasinos, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDCasinos, Zoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Just like its name implies, there's something for everyone at Ocean World Adventure Park, Marina and Casino. You can swim with stingrays, sea lions, dolphins and sharks, or enjoy an interactive "encounter" with Ocean World's Bengal tigers. You can also gamble with your money (instead of your life) by visiting the complex's marine-themed casino. There's Vegas-style shows (the exotic Bravissimo Show is popular with recent visitors) and three on-site restaurant/bars.
The Ocean World Adventure Park, Marina and Casino is located along the banks of Cofresi Beach. General admission is somewhat pricey, and participating in one of the interactive swims or encounters will cost extra. Visit the complex's official website for more information on prices or hours of operation.
- #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 floor's worth of amber specimens, some fossilized. And if you're planning on purchasing some amber jewelry, travelers suggest you do so here. The museum guarantees its items are authentic. Outside vendors, of which there are many, could be pushing plastic replicas.
The Amber Museum is open Monday through Saturday until 6 p.m. Admission is reasonable -- less than $2 USD for adults.
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Fort San Felipe holds some historical significance, and perhaps will be a little fun for kids who've never seen a fort before, but it's not an overwhelmingly compelling site. But Puerto Plata is largely a beach town with very few must-sees, hence the fort's inclusion as a U.S. News' Top Attraction.
One unenthusiastic TripAdvisor user notes: "I suppose the fort itself is ok, but after you walk up the stairs and look at the views of the harbor filled with commercial liners, you are pretty much finished because it is so small." Other reviewers negatively highlight a fairly aggressive set of street vendors positioned just outside the fort.
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