The north coast of the Dominican Republic is much quieter and quieter than the more popular southeast coast with the world famous resort of Punta Cana. The north of the country is washed by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It is there that the city of Puerto Plata, the third largest in the country, is located. It is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, luxurious sandy beaches and a large number of pubs, discos and nightclubs that await fans of hot, Dominican rhythms.
But Puerto Plata offers its guests much more than simple entertainment and relaxation on paradise beaches. The streets of the city are lined with Victorian buildings, among which you can find several architectural gems of colonial times. What to see in Puerto Plata in between sunbathing?
Top 10 attractions in Puerto Plata
Park of 27 waterfalls
The park of 27 waterfalls is located in Damajagua, in the mountains, where you can get from Puerto Plata in 20 minutes by taxi (the fare is about $ 30) or by a tourist bus as part of an excursion (it will cost $ 100-150). At first, you will have to wade through the rainforest, climb the reliable rope ladders, cross the abyss along the bridges, climbing higher and higher, in order to finally reach the place where the rapid mountain rivers fall down, forming cascades of waterfalls, the water of which fills the stone bowls. And here the fun begins! Tourists are offered to go down the water. You can jump from some waterfalls, from others it is customary to slide, descending along a stone channel, as if along an extreme slide in a water park.
Those who are not sure of their physical fitness are offered the passage of only 7 waterfalls. You can also plan a descent along 12 waterfalls or all 27. In the latter case, the excursion takes about 3 hours. Tourists are provided with all the necessary protective equipment.
Golden Beach (Playa Dorada)
Among the natural attractions of Puerto Plata, one cannot fail to note the amazing beauty of the Golden Beach, planted with picturesque palm trees and covered with fine white sand. As local tour operators joke, they monitor its cleanliness by sifting it through a sieve. Playa Dorada is the center of Puerto Plata's tourist life. Adjacent to this long beach is a huge resort complex with 13 luxury all-inclusive hotels, restaurants, a shopping center and Robert Trent Jones golf course. The well-warmed water near the coast and the bright sun make Playa Dorada ideal for a beach holiday.
You can get to Golden Beach from the center of Puerto Plata by regular shuttle bus. On the way, tourists will spend no more than 20-25 minutes. This beach is definitely worth visiting for the most beautiful photographs.
Fort San Felipe
The main tourist attraction in Puerto Plata is the fortress of San Felipe of the 16th century, which is an almost exemplary example of military architecture of the colonial era. This is one of the first European forts built in America. It was built by the Spaniards to fight the French and English pirates. The fortress was named in honor of the Spanish king Philip II.
Now inside you can find many ancient weapons, as well as a small historical and ethnographic museum, where costumes, archival documents, household items of the past centuries, and interesting examples of weapons are presented. There is no fee to enter the territory of the San Felipe Fortress. The fortress offers a magnificent view of the surroundings.
Where else can the Amber Museum be located if not on the Amber Coast, as the coast in the vicinity of Puerto Plata is sometimes called? Amber is one of the main treasures of the Dominican Republic, and the Amber Museum is designed to demonstrate to all guests of the country the beauty of this valuable resin stone. The amber exhibit is housed in a beautiful Victorian mansion.
In the museum, opened at the popular resort in 1982, you can see:
- amber samples of different colors. In the Dominican Republic, they usually find black amber, which is called "amber" here, but in the museum there are also pieces of resin of a different color: green, yellow, orange and even blue;
- amber, in which various insects have frozen forever: bugs, wasps, scorpions, etc. This part of the exhibition is especially loved by visitors;
- a huge piece of amber, in which a lizard is visible, whose length exceeds 40 cm.
The Amber Museum has a souvenir shop selling various jewelry.
Amusement Park "Ocean World Adventures"
While in the Dominican Republic, you should set aside time to visit a very interesting entertainment complex, on the territory of which there are a casino, a theater and a lagoon, where you are allowed to swim with dolphins and tropical fish, play with sea lions, stingrays and even sharks. There is an amusement park and a small zoo where tigers and many exotic birds are kept. By the way, these animals take part in interesting shows. Almost any fauna in Ocean World Adventures is allowed to be contacted. For example, parrots, tigers, iguanas, marine life can be hand-fed or simply watched.
The amusement park is located on the beach, in a very picturesque place. On its territory, there are several interesting corners that you should definitely capture on camera.
Isabel de Torres National Park
The height of Mount Isabel de Torres, rising above the city of Puerto Plata, is 800 meters. The top can be reached in a seven-minute cable car ride, walk along the jungle-covered slopes, which hikers do, or drive a rented car along steep mountain trails, which are unlikely to appeal to ordinary tourists, as it is considered quite dangerous. At the top of the mountain is the national park of the same name. The viewpoints offer breathtaking views of Puerto Plata.
The attractions of the park include blooming gardens, a restaurant and a statue of Christ, similar to the one that is the symbol of Rio de Janeiro. Souvenir shops are located under the dome over which the statue rises. Around the sculpture is a landscaped park with paths laid in the rainforest, with picnic areas and places for recreation.
Cayo Arena Island
Not far from Puerto Plata is the small village of Punta Rucia. Many more tourists come here than to neighboring villages, because boats sail from the local beach to the small coral island of Cayo Arena, which is officially called Cayo Paraiso, that is, Paradise Island. It is a small piece of land, in the center of which there are several thatched huts.
Travelers come here for the whole day to, without exaggeration, find themselves in paradise. Here you can sunbathe on the white beach or snorkel. In the emerald green waters of the ocean next to the island, life is in full swing: corals grow, colorful fish swim, which are absolutely not afraid of humans and allow themselves to be photographed.
It is difficult to name the exact size of the island, because it constantly changes its shape due to ocean currents. On the way to the island, tourists who have bought tours to the Cayo Arena are shown several sea cows.
The distillery of one of the world's largest sugarcane rum producers is located in Puerto Plata. The Brugal company was founded in 1888. At the local factory, tourists are introduced to the peculiarities of the creation of rum, with the history of the emergence of the famous brand, and then they are invited to tasting cocktails made with the addition of rum.
There is a shop at the factory where you can buy your favorite drink. The cost of one bottle is $ 10 or more. Rum prices at the factory are quite favorable. The same drink in supermarkets will cost twice as much. Factory tours are free of charge, so you can come here on your own, without purchasing a tour from local guides.
The heart of Puerto Plata is Independence Square, in the center of which there is an openwork Victorian gazebo. On this square, the side facade of the Cathedral of San Felipe, erected in an eclectic style. The construction date of the current building is 1870. It appeared on the site of a church from the beginning of the 16th century, which was destroyed by a fire that happened seven years earlier due to the fault of restorers.
A significant reconstruction of the temple began in 1929 and was completed only 27 years later due to an earthquake that interrupted restoration work in 1946. The restoration of the temple took place under the leadership of Tancredo Aybar Castellanos, who acted on behalf of the dictator Rafael Trujillo. At the end of the 20th century, the church received the status of a cathedral and became the main temple of the diocese.
The monumental lighthouse of Puerto Plata is an openwork cast-iron structure painted in a cheerful yellow color. The height of the lighthouse is 24 meters. It rests on a base 6, 2 meters high. The lighthouse was built in 1879 by the New York company R. Deeley & Co. " and transmitted signals with a kerosene lamp to ships that were crossing the Atlantic.
Constant hurricanes and salty sea air have caused significant damage to the material from which the lighthouse is made. In 1979, a hundred years after its creation, the lighthouse was closed for renovation. A local metalworking company, which was invited to restore the structure, managed to find original drawings from the 70s of the 19th century, according to which the lighthouse was built. The workers managed to preserve the Doric columns used to support the lantern. The spiral staircase inside the lighthouse is a remake. The restorers have also added a beautiful lighting system.
The lighthouse is located next to the city walls of the 16th century in the territory of the national park near the fortress of San Felipe. It is currently not operational. Access to the top is denied.