Puerto Plata

Hotel reviews summary
4.5

Our guest rating from 2 reviews

Overview

The caramel-coloured beaches of Puerto Plata province on the northern shore of the Dominican Republic rank among the country’s best. Puerto Plata’s beaches stretch along the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Caribbean Sea and you’ll be delighted by what you find. There’s also plenty of sightseeing to be found.

The city of Puerto Plata – Spanish for “silver port” – sits at the foot of a mountain, home to the breathtaking Isabel de Torres National Park. Ride the cable car to the summit to see gorgeous mountain views. Birdwatchers will want to keep an eye out for Hispaniolan parrots and red-tailed hawks.

Afraid of heights? No problem. There are plenty of options to keep you amused here, from the dancers at Ocean World’s Bravissimo Show to the nightly action at the discos.

Day trippers find Puerto Plata to be an ideal home base. Hire a taxi for a short ride east to the bustling town of Sosua, filled with colourful beachfront markets and shops. A little further, the town of Cabarete attracts windsurfing enthusiasts who flock to the windswept beaches. West of Puerto Plata (about 90 minutes by taxi) lies the historic town of La Isabela, founded by Christopher Columbus in 1493.

Perhaps all you want to do on your vacation is to relax on the beach with a good book or to eat plenty of tasty local seafood? There are plenty of places to do that too. But if you’re willing to explore a little, you may be pleasantly surprised by all the unique attractions this region has to offer.

Puerto Plata is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • culture and history
  • outdoor adventure

Airport served by: POP

Destination basics

The temperature in Puerto Plata averages about 25 C, year-round. Expect hot and humid days, especially in the summer months from May to October. Protect yourself with sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat. It’s also a good idea to keep a small towel handy to dab the sweat off your brow.

The rainiest months for the Puerto Plata region are November through January. Storms usually come in short bursts here, followed by sunshine. Evenings are noticeably cooler from November to April, so it’s wise to pack a light jacket or long-sleeved top.

If you’re looking for the best beach weather, consider visiting in late summer or early fall, when temperatures are warmest. However, you may want to check for stormy weather, which can strike from August to October.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Puerto Plata

Daily life in Puerto Plata unfolds at a more relaxed pace than you might be used to. There’s an old saying about Caribbean time: the hotter the weather, the slower things move along. So just relax, go with the flow and adopt the island’s relaxed attitude.

Baseball is by far the most popular sport in Puerto Plata. Dominican boys dream of making it to the big leagues in North America and many have achieved this goal. The Dominican Republic is a developing nation, so baseball is often seen as a gateway to a better life.

Tourism is one of the key industries in Puerto Plata province, with dozens of resorts and hotels along the coast. U.S. dollars are widely accepted and are often preferred over the Dominican peso. It’s helpful to have a supply of U.S. dollar bills or even Canadian loonies for tipping taxi drivers and waiters.

When it comes to Dominican food, don’t worry. You won’t break a sweat over food that’s too spicy. Be sure to try the local staple of beans and rice with mashed plantains. Lovers of tropical fruits will also be in heaven with bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples and passion fruit found in abundance here.

Rum is very popular in the Dominican. Three of the most popular brands are Brugal, Barceló and Bermúdez – known collectively as the three Bs. If you’re looking for something lighter, beat the heat with a bottle of Presidente beer. Adventurous drinkers can try some mamajuana – a concoction of rum, tree bark, herbs, honey and red wine. Dominicans consider this drink a health tonic.

Dominicans on the whole are friendly, welcoming and always willing to lend a helping hand to visitors. You’ll see plenty of smiling faces and waves during your visit here. Go anywhere the locals gather – the cathedral, the boulevard or the Playa Doroda Market – and you’ll see them enjoying the evening while sharing laughs.

Spanish is the official language here, but many young people learn English in school. The majority of Dominicans are a mix of European and African ancestry, though there are also descendants of the indigenous Taino people.

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso. Most hotels, restaurants and businesses accept major credit cards. If you would prefer to have cash on hand, both Canadian and U.S. money can be exchanged for the peso during your stay at both banks and exchange booths (called casas de cambio). Most hotels and resorts also offer currency exchange services.

If you need to withdraw funds, you’ll find bank machines at many resorts and popular shopping areas. Please note that local ATMs only dispense funds in pesos.

Whether you’re looking to spend your vacation on the beach, in the water or high in the mountains, Puerto Plata has something for everyone who loves the outdoors.

Looking for a lazy beach holiday? You’re in luck. The entire shore of Puerto Plata is basically a large strip of beach along the Atlantic. The city is the largest port in the region and is the centre of the local economy.

Interestingly, the sands of Puerto Plata’s beaches are a rich caramel colour, whereas the sands of Punta Cana’s beaches in the east are white. No matter what colour the sand, visitors to Puerto Plata are fortunate to have these beautiful beaches right at their doorstep. In fact, sun worshippers from other areas nearby tend to flock to Cofresí Beach, Long Beach and the beaches behind the resorts of Playa Dorada.

The waters in and around Puerto Plata support coral reefs, so diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will feel right at home.

The Dominican Republic is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean and is home to the region’s highest mountain at 3,098 metres high, called Pico Duarte. At the southwest corner of Puerto Plata is Isabel de Torres National Park, sitting atop a mountain 800 metres above sea level.

The mountains are largely forested with pines and tropical hardwoods, though lower, more-accessible slopes have been harvested for charcoal and lumber. Royal palms also grow throughout much of the country.

One of the country’s most unique features is Lake Enriquillo, the largest lake and lowest point in the Caribbean.

In Puerto Plata, there are plenty of ways to get around. You’ll find public buses, mini buses, cars and motor bikes (called moto conchos) offering to get you wherever you need to go. Visitors should be cautious of overcrowding. Most drivers try to get as many people on board as possible, which can pose a safety risk.

To get from Playa Dorada to Puerto Plata city, bus fare costs around 20 pesos. You’ll be able to identify these buses by the letter A or B posted on the buses front. Mini buses and cars run between Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete, and have rooftop signs that identify what route they’re running. Keep in mind that in the Dominican, there are no official stops for any of these transportation methods. You’ll typically need to flag them down along the road.

Please note that while car rentals are available, it is not advisable for visitors to drive. Traffic rules here are scarce and navigating these roads is nothing like driving in Canada and the U.S. In addition, drivers in the Dominican Republic must be 21 years of age or older.

Arrival

On your flight to the Dominican Republic, you will be given a blue immigration form and tourist card. Upon arrival, you will be handed a white customs declaration form which you will need to fill out (one per family). You’ll then proceed to the immigration desks where you will hand in your tourist card. The immigration officer will also check your blue immigration form and passport. The officer will keep a portion of the blue form and return the other portion to you.

After passing through immigration, stop by the baggage claim area to pick up your luggage. From there, you’ll pass through customs where you’ll hand in your white customs declaration form.

Upon exiting the airport, look for the WestJet Vacations representative from Hola Tours. The representative will direct you to a vehicle that will take you to your resort or hotel. The Puerto Plata Airport is approximately 20 minutes away from Playa Dorada and Sosua, and a 40 minute drive from the town of Cabarete.

Departure

If you have booked transfers with WestJet Vacations, a Hola Tours representative at your hotel will confirm pick up time to get you back to the Puerto Plata Airport. The same blue immigration form and white customs form needs to be filled out on your departure, which will be handed back to you after you check in at the airport.

Vaccinations

At the current time, no vaccinations are required for travelling to the Dominican Republic. Please speak with your healthcare professional for more information prior to travel.

Electricity in the Dominican Republic is 110 volts, and can fit most (two-pronged) North American plugs. However, some hotels may operate using Swiss outlets - which are round pins instead of flat pins. If you are bringing an electrical appliance, it is recommended that you verify prior to departure if a converter and/or adaptor is required.

Nature lovers are blown away by the cable-car ride to Isabel de Torres National Park, located next to the city of Puerto Plata. Admire the views of the forest below as you ascend to the summit. Gaze in awe at the incredible views of Puerto Plata at the foot of the mountain and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Expect to encounter an abundance of plant and bird life as you explore the park’s many trails. There is also a gem of a botanical garden and a nine-metre-tall statue of Jesus modelled after Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer.

Puerto Plata’s beaches may be the area’s most obvious attraction, but there are plenty of activities for those who aren’t interested in relaxing on the sand. More adventurous types can amuse themselves ziplining, horseback riding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving or even go-karting.

The Ocean World Adventure Park, Marina and Casino boasts the world’s biggest man-made dolphin habitat. The largest tank holds 12 million gallons of seawater! You can watch dolphins perform or even swim with stingrays.

Groove to the distinctly Dominican rhythms of merengue music, sample some of the fine local rum and gorge on succulent tropical fruits. Puerto Plata is a feast for the senses that’s best enjoyed at a leisurely Caribbean pace.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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