The Dominican Republic is an island in the Greater Antilles Archipelago. To the north it borders the Atlantic Ocean, south the Caribbean Sea, east Puerto Rico, and to west the country of Haiti. Puerto Plata is a beautiful scenic area with picturesque beaches with a breathtaking mountain backdrop. Dominicans can claim a rich cultural inheritance from many parts of the world. The original inhabitants of the island were Taino Indians, but unfortunately during the colonization they all perished. Hispaniola, the land comprising the Dominican Republic and Haiti, has traded hands between the French and Haitians, the Dutch and English, and has been influenced later by people from the Middle East.
You can find a global culture here with a unique Dominican twist. French dance and ballet can be found in the Cibao and Santiago, Victorian and English architecture still can be found in Puerto Plata, and the descendents of Jews who fled Nazi Germany still call Sosua home. You can also trace the descendents of Africans and also fleeing slaves from the Americas to the island.
In a nutshell, the Dominican Republic is truly a ‘global village’ in terms of its people and cultural mix. This intermix of cultures is best expressed in the Merengue dance and music of the island. A rhythmic mix from African and Caribbean origins, Merengue is very much part of life here!
Beaches are the single greatest attraction in and around Puerto Plata and are fronted by coral reefs, so you can dive and snorkel when the tides are good. The main beach for Puerto Plata is Long Beach, located just to the east, along the Malecon. In the vicinity of Puerto Plata lies Playa Dorada (golden beach), the beach has an amazing 24km (15 miles) of white sand. Up and down the coast are other beaches like Cabarete, Boca de Cangrejo, Cano Grande, Bergantin, Playa de Copello, and Playa Mariposa. To the west of Puerto Plata is a favorite, the shaded Guarapitao Beach.
The north coast is a tropical oasis to visitors around the globe. Tours are provided by local Dominicans who know the area, the secret spots, and best times for viewing the landscape. Puerto Plata is the ideal location for great sport fishing. Depending upon the season you’ll find Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo and Sailfish.
The best diving on the North Coast of the island takes a little time getting to. There are a number of shallow water reef systems, however in Sosua, about 20 minutes from Puerto Plata, you will find reefs, canyons, shipwrecks, and gardens. Average water temperatures are about 80 degrees, and dive depths are usually 50 to 130 feet. The area of Playa Grande, about an hour and a half away, also features the Gri Gri lagoon for snorkeling. A colorful historical story of one shipwreck is the Concepción. The North Coast tossed this Spanish galleon into the Silver Banks about 60 nautical miles from Puerto Plata. The foliage and wildlife in this area is also breathtaking so make sure to visit the river which is surrounded by mangroves
Thousands of humpback whales from the North Atlantic migrate to the waters of the Dominican Republic each winter to mate and give birth. Their most popular winter rendezvous is Silver Bank, the 3000 square kilometer reef system approximately 70 miles north east of Puerto Plata. But from there many circulate to other popular areas. One of these gathering places is Samana Bay. More than 1500 humpbacks visit the bay, with as many as 300 present at any given time during mating season. The World Wildlife Fund considers Samana Bay one of the best places in the world to watch whales.
A visit to Puerto Plata would not be complete without taking the cable car up to the peak of the mountain, Isabel de Torres. From the top (2555 feet or 855 meters above sea), you’ll enjoy the beautiful panoramic ocean view and surrounding areas of Puerto Plata. In addition you will find botanical gardens, the famous statue, Christ a la Rio de Janiero (similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), a restaurant and several souvenir shops.
The Fuerte San Felipe (San Felipe Fort) is located on a small peninsula on the Bahia de Puerto Plata, the bay Columbus once had such high hopes for. The Fort is, in fact, the only vestige of Puerto Plata's colonial past.
If you like to play a round, Playa Dorada is home to the famous Robert Trent Jones golf course, listed as one of the top 100 golf courses in the world. Serious golfers may want to make a trip outside of Puerto Plata to another Robert Trent Jones creation, Playa Grande, considered to be one of the best courses in the Caribbean.
For a spot of shopping, there are plenty of markets and shops around Puerto Plata so if you like to bring home a souvenir indicative of the area you vacationed in, there will be no shortage of places to fill that desire.
The Amber Museum gift shop features amber jewlery of all kinds. This part of Puerto Plata is one of only two places in the world where significant amounts of amber can be found. Amber is a fossilized resin from trees that existed 60 million years ago.
There is no shortage of eateries offering every type of cuisine you’ll need, and for a fun night on the town try a Dominican Casino. These casinos are set in a scenic tropical setting, making your night out a fun adventure.
A few hours from Puerto Plata is a region called Monte Cristi. One of the driest regions, it only receives two and three-sixths inches of rain per year. The most sought after area for explorers is the Cayos Siete Hermanos Keys, also known as Seven Brothers Keys, which is a desert. The other notable landmark is the 777 foot limestone mesa called El Morro. This enormous stone entity is the habitat for an endemic plant species called sabia montecristini as well as 10 species of reptiles including the American crocodile.
If you’re seeking a vacation out of the ordinary plan to visit Puerto Plata - an amazing tropical getaway.