Puerto Plata, the largest city on the north coast of the Dominican Republic is a wonderful Caribbean seaside town that burst with energy. For me its appeal lies in its history, culture and architecture that literally spans centuries, an asset you do not find in the newly build resort towns.
Some of my favorite pictures I took during my Dominican Republic travels are those of my early morning visit to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, more 2500 feet above sea level. The gondola ride is an adventure, the botanical gardens are just wonderful and the views nothing less than breathtaking. El Malecón is great for an evening stroll, people watching and to sit down for a drink or bite to eat at one of the many intimate restaurants. more...
The annual Puerto Plata merengue festival, which is normally held in October, is one of my favorite reasons to visit this exciting seaside town. The Malecón is completely closed off for traffic and lined with food stands. I try some of the typical Dominican specialties and dance the night away to some of the best merengue bands in the Dominican Republic. Most people who visit Puerto Plata stay in one of the luxury all-inclusive beach resorts of neighboring Playa Dorada but this time I find it more convenient to stay in one of the more affordable Puerto Plata hotels.
- Puerto Plata Hotels
The Spaniards who founded Puerto Plata in 1496 decided to abandon and set fire to the settlement in 1605. The only structure from this period that survived the blaze is Forte San Felipe along the Malecón, which was completed in 1540 to fight off the pirates. I love the awesome views of the Atlantic Ocean that are much more invigorating than the small prison museum. From nearby Parque the Luperón it is really nice to walk through the charming Puerto Plata streets to Parque Central with its lovely centerpiece La Glorieta, a 1960s reconstruction of the original symmetrical 2-story white-and-green wooden bandstand that was constructed after a Belgian design in 1872. The park is partly surrounded by some of the most elaborate nineteenth century Victorian mansions I have seen on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Some other Puerto Plata favorites I recommend visiting are Iglesia San Felipe with its subtle art deco influences in addition to the fabulous stained glass windows and the amber museum that houses an amazing collection of fossils that are between 25 and 40 million years old!
Puerto Plata is a great town to visit when you stay in one of the nearby all-inclusive resorts. The people are some of the friendliest you will come across in the Dominican Republic. A trip to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres, either by foot, which is rather challenging and takes approximately 2-2.5 hours or gondola (teleférico) will reward you with some fantastic photo opportunities of Puerto Plata, the statue of Christ and the botanical gardens. I suggest arriving early for the clearest views.
How to get there
Unless I am touring other regions of the country, I always fly to Gregorio Luperón International Airport just 18 kilometers east of Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada. Santiago's Cibao International Airport is located about an hour south from Puerto Plata. At the airport you can catch a bus, airport shuttle, rental car or taxi to your final destination.
- Dominican Republic International and Domestic Flights
Tours and attractions
Puerto Plata has two major festivals each year, the cultural festival, which is held during the third week of June, and the Puerto Plata merengue festival the first week of October. (I suggest you check exact dates.) The Cultural festival offers an insight into Dominican culture with Folk Music, traditional African tribal dances, salsa and merengue and there are many exhibits of crafts from local artists. Neighboring Playa Dorada is home to the world famous Playa Dorada Golf Course. As far as excursions go I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Yasika tours offers exciting zip line adventures. Tours to all parts of the country can be booked at hotels and other tourists places and vary from a simple picnic to the most extreme adventure activities. The nearby beach towns like Sosua and Cabarete all have their own distinct atmospheres that are worth checking out.