What to see and do in Puerto Plata
Though Puerto Plata is not as well-known as Punta Cana, the city known as the Bride of the Atlantic has everything it needs to make it the number one destination in the Dominican Republic. This province in the north of the country has spectacular heavenly beaches, a wide range of hotels, and natural wonders that are more protected from mass tourism. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve come up with a list of 20 things you can do in Puerto Plata that won’t let you down.
Sunbathe and go for a swim in Puerto Plata’s beaches
When you think of the Dominican Republic, you surely imagine sugar sand beaches surrounded by rows of coconut trees and turquoise waters where colorful fish swim. Puerto Plata has some of the best beaches in the entire country, such as Playa Dorada, Sosúa, Cabarete, or the more remote beaches of Punta Rucia or El Cambiaso.
Whether you want a beach that has beach bars, restaurants, and recreational activities or if you’re looking for virgin beaches far from tourist centers, you’ll find a wide variety to choose from in Puerto Plata.
Ride the cable car
What better way to see the city than from the air. Enjoy a trip on the cable car, the only one in all of the Antilles and a true symbol of Puerto Plata. The journey takes you from the city’s historic center to the Isabel de Torres Hill.
See the entire city from the Isabel de Torres Hill
Although you can see Puerto Plata from the air on the cable car, the best views in the entire area are from the Isabel de Torres Hill, which rises over 2,600 feet above sea level. The cable car goes to the top of this landmark. Here you can also find the Christ the Redeemer monument—another of the emblems of Puerto Plata—as well as a botanical garden that is worth a visit.
Try Brugal Rum
You cannot leave the Dominican Republic without trying the country’s main product: Brugal Rum. The distillery where this famous liquor is made is located in Puerto Plata. Visit the distillery to learn about the process of producing this popular rum made from cane sugar and take part in a tasting. This is certainly an essential plan on the list of things to do in Puerto Plata.
Enjoy an exciting experience gliding along the waves of the Atlantic on board a catamaran. The excursion has everything you need for an unforgettable experience: delicious Caribbean cocktails, merengue music, and the best atmosphere. You can also go snorkeling in spectacular coral reefs where you can spot plenty of fish, starfish, and manta rays.
Visit the San Felipe Fortress
The San Felipe Fortress is one of the most notable and emblematic monuments to see in Puerto Plata. It was ordered built by King Philip II in 1577 on a hill known as the Puntilla del Malecón in order to defend the city from pirate and corsair attacks. Take a walk inside of its walls and go back in time to the era of the pirates of the Caribbean.
Visit the Jewish Museum
In addition to fantastic beaches, the Dominican Republic has interesting episodes in its history. One of the curiosities of Puerto Plata province is the Jewish community that settled in Sosúa. To understand this history, you have to go back to the 1938 Évian Conference during the Interwar period. Faced with a large increase in Jewish refugees that were fleeing from Nazi Germany, this conference was held. Curiously, the Dominican Republic was one of the few countries that committed to accepting a quota of people from this community. They settled in the town and worked in agriculture, creating flourishing small industries in the region.
At the Jewish Museum of Sosúa, you’ll find photographs, documents, letters, and other everyday objects that tell the story of the families who left Europe fleeing from Nazism and started a new life here.
Puerto Plata has some of the best golf courses in the Dominican Republic. You can’t miss out on the opportunity to practice your swing on the coasts of the Bride of the Atlantic. The Playa Dorada Golf Course and the Los Mangos Golf Course, in Costambar, are two of the best courses in the area. They offer stupendous facilities as well as incredible ocean views and pleasant natural surroundings.
Stroll through the center of Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata was founded in 1845 around the San Felipe Fortress, which has been standing since the 16th century. Like all colonial cities, it has a historic center that is worth a visit. It features homes in the neoclassical and Victorian architecture styles from the end of the 19th century. You can also find other important buildings such as the San Felipe Cathedral, the Chamber of Commerce, or the Town Hall in the area around the city center.
Dance merengue all night
In the Dominican Republic, like in all Latin American countries, music is an essential part of life. It spills out of bars and is played day and night at work and at home. So, one of the essential experiences is to dance merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic. If you don’t know any steps, don’t worry. Resorts usually offer classes on merengue and other Latin dances such as salsa and bachata, which is also from the Dominican Republic.
Beyond its heavenly beaches, the Dominican Republic has wonderful inland areas filled with rivers, springs, mangroves, and forests that offer you the chance to have unforgettable adventures. A plan you can’t miss out on are the 27 charcos de Damajagua, or 27 pools of Damajagua. This exciting trail goes through pools and waterfalls along the Damajagua River, which runs from the highlands of Puerto Plata to the plains.
Take a boat ride through Gri-Gri Lagoon
The springs and rivers of the Dominican Republic are home to hundreds of animal species. Gri-Gri Lagoon, very close to the town of Río San Juan, is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the country. A boat tour is a great opportunity to get to know native species as well as the mangroves. The best time of day to see birds is the afternoon.
Visit the Ocean World Adventure Park
If you want to get up close and personal with dolphins, sea lions, sharks, manta rays, and other sea animals, at Ocean World Adventure Park you have the opportunity to see and swim alongside all these majestic species. Ocean World Adventure Park is more than a water park, it also has restaurants, live music, shows, and a fantastic terrace with views of the Atlantic Ocean so that you can have a great night out.
Visit the island of Cayo Arena
If there is a place in the Dominican Republic that is closest to heaven, it’s Cayo Arena. This small island in front of the coast of Punta Rucia, to the west of Puerto Plata province, is an essential excursion for those visiting the country. This white sand island is surrounded by turquoise blue ocean. Its crystalline waters are home to hundreds of species of fish that you can discover with goggles and flippers.
Discover nature at the El Choco National Park
The El Choco National Park is one of the best kept secrets in Puerto Plata. Located between the towns of Sosúa and Cabarete, this nature area extends over nearly 50 square miles. In its interior, it has all types of landscapes that entice you to go hiking, explore caves, sail on lagoons, and go bike riding. Its paths go through tropical forests with cacao and coffee plantations where hundreds of species of birds, lizards, and other animals live.
Go kitesurfing at Cabarete Beach
Cabarete, about 24 miles from Puerto Plata, is a main city for lovers of water sports. Thanks to its favorable seas and winds, this small town is the best destination in the Dominican Republic for surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity to catch the best waves or to try out these sports with a beginner’s course. It’s never too late to try a new sport!
Buy amber jewelry
The north coast of the Dominican Republic is known as the Amber Coast. This area of the island abounds with this semiprecious stone that originates from fossilized plant resin. One of the best places to go shopping is the Amber Museum. In addition to an important collection of pieces that are millions of years old, it sells jewelry made with this semiprecious stone. This is one of the best souvenirs from the island.
Snorkeling and scuba diving lovers are in luck, as the greatest treasures in the Dominican Republic are not only found on the surface, but also hidden under its waters. Two of the best places in the province to go snorkeling and diving are Cayo Arena and Sosúa Bay. Discover the amazing coral reefs full of marine life and a spectacular parade of colors.
Discover the capuchin monkeys at the Monkey Jungle
The Dominican Republic has its own population of capuchin monkeys at the Monkey Jungle park, a sanctuary for these animals that is located between Sosúa and Cabarete. Don’t miss out on seeing these small, funny monkeys up close. They’ll surely get a smile out of you! In addition to strolling through its botanical garden or going down into an ancient Taína cave, you can fly along the exciting seven-station zip line.
See the sunset
To top it all off, one of the plans that any good traveler can’t miss is enjoying a sunset in Puerto Plata. You just have to go to one of its fantastic beaches and, with a beer or cool drink in mind, watch how the sun turns the horizon pink.