Puerto Plata

Destination Location

Puerto Plata
  • 19.780769, -70.687109:primary
  • 19.7579002380371, -70.5699996948242:secondary
Hotel reviews summary
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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

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.

Between beach bars and elegant restaurants, Puerto Plata will keep you full and happy. Keep it casual or make it an occasion after basking in the warm Caribbean sun.

Downtown
Fine dining and fast food are equally easy to get in the city center, its many establishments representing a wide range of cuisines. More than a few places even pride themselves on having international menus. One such establishment is Kaffe, a quaint eatery that serves crepes alongside calamari, and everything in between. Down the way is Mares Restaurant & Lounge, a fusion joint known for creating an entire culinary experience. Head here for a memorable meal.

Costa Dorada & Playa Dorada
Home to several all-inclusive resorts, Playa Dorada suffers no shortage of dining options. Try places like Ristorante Passatore and Lucia for a guaranteed good time. Le Petit Francois, one of the highest-ranked restaurants in Puerto Plata, can be found between Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, as can several casual spots. A handful of beach bars are scattered around the coast for when you want a quick lunch or refreshing drink.

Cofresi
Perhaps the most beloved restaurant in Puerto Plata, Le Papillon serves up a delicious experience that might just compete with Playa Cofresi as the highlight of your time here. Elsewhere, a meal at Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros is a symphony of Mexican spices, complemented by a tangy margarita or chilled cerveza, and El Pilon is a great example of scrumptious local cuisine.

Costambar
Costambar has some of the best in affordable eateries around Puerto Plata. Stick close to the beach for cafes and beach bars that will satisfy your island cravings. A little bit inland, Los Tres Cocos boasts great food, stellar service, and an inviting ambiance. While the restaurant is best known for its Caribbean classics, you can sometimes find continental options on the menu.

Sosua & Cabarete
Make the most of a day trip down the coast with a finger-licking meal. Indulge in the Restaurant Casa Veintiuno in Sosua or Yalla in Cabarete for a luxurious meal or join hungry surfers for something easy and filling. Grab a taco at Gordito’s Fresh Mex after riding the Cabarete waves. Have another go in the ocean, the kick your feet up at one of the many watering holes in the area.

Puerto Plata is saturated with natural beauty and cultural significance. Situated on the scenic Atlantic north coast and surrounded by the grand Mount Isla de Torres, Puerto Plata was an obvious choice for colonization, leaving much to be enjoyed for today’s tourists.

Downtown
Victorian architecture abounds in downtown Puerto Plata, accompanied by Spanish Colonial and Neoclassical structures that have maintained their charm despite natural weathering. Sites like Fort San Felipe and the Puerto Plata lighthouse make downtown Puerto Plata a cultural hotspot. Many of the historic houses in the city center have been converted to dining and nightlife establishments, promising a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

Costa Dorada & Playa Dorada
Most of the luxury resorts in Puerto Plata lie along the sandy shores between Costa Dorada and Playa Dorada. The densest concentration can be found around the latter, which doubles as one of the best beaches in town. In between pockets of development along this coastal stretch are swaths of luscious green space, making it a favorite among nature enthusiasts.

Cofresi
West of downtown Puerto Plata is Cofresi, a beach neighborhood known not only for its beauty but also for housing the action-packed Ocean World. The area surrounding the adventure park offers a quiet contrast, and it is widely considered a place of great relaxation. Cofresi also offers several bars and restaurants to enhance your beach day.

Costambar
Popular among expats, Costambar is a stunning neighborhood with just the right amount of development. Some of the best seafood in Puerto Plata can be discovered in its casual beachfront eateries while most of its villas belong to permanent residents. Costambar is located between downtown and Cofresi, making it an equally convenient and pleasant place to pass an afternoon.

Sosua & Cabarete
While not strictly in the city of Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete are nearby towns in the Puerto Plata province that draw eager crowds. Sosua is cherished for its snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, and in the winter, it boasts unparalleled whale watching. Slightly farther down the coast is Cabarete, which is surrounded by the magnificent El Choco National Park. Water sports enthusiasts flock to this former fishing village to enjoy windsurfing, kiteboarding, and other beach adventures.

Between pale blue waters and lush green forests, Puerto Plata is blessed with inviting scenery. Outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of the tropics will find countless things to do here. Also home to a rich cultural landscape, Puerto Plata promises more than just natural beauty. You'll love its lively spirit.

Sports
Roughly an hour outside Puerto Plata is Estadio Cibao, stadium to the award-winning las Aguilas Cibaenas baseball team. Although the stadium hosts more baseball games than any other sport, it is a multi-purpose sports center. Be sure to catch a home game during the Dominican Winter Baseball League.

The Tennis Club at Sea Horse Ranch in Cabarete is a great place to take a lesson or simply play around. Although the courts are located in a high-end community, they are available to the public for a reasonable fee. You'll love the excellent facilities at Sea Horse Ranch.

Gambling Venues
There are several casinos in Puerto Plata that provide all sorts of fun for the adult crowd. Ocean World Adventure Park has a casino on site, as do the Grand Paradise Playa Dorada Beach Resort and Puerto Plata Beach Resort. Elsewhere, you’ll find endless entertainment at the Kviar Casino Cofresi, which also houses discos for dancing and music shows.

Festivals
Each year, the Dominican Republic hosts a legendary jazz festival. The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival features renowned artists, including GRAMMY winners in the past. The festivities take place throughout the Puerto Plata province, moving between Santiago, Sosua, Puerto Plata, and Cabarete.

The Puerto Plata Annual Cultural Festival is a weeklong event that celebrates various artistic mediums. It typically takes place during the third week in June and covers everything from live music and dance to local cuisine and cultural exhibits. Get lost in the spectacle or join in on the dancing. You’ll adore the dynamic Puerto Plata Annual Cultural Festival.

Puerto Plata

Province: Puerto Plata

Country: Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata by the Numbers
Population: 286,558
Elevation: 8 meters (26 feet)
Average Annual Precipitation: 193 centimeters / 76 inches
Average January Temperature: 23°C / 73°F
Average July Temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles, AC

Time Zone: UTC-4; Atlantic Standard Time (AST)

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 809

Did You Know?
The cable car system that runs to the top of Mount Isabel in Puerto Plata is the only cable car system in the Caribbean.

Orientation
Puerto Plata is located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is about 215 kilometers (134 miles) north of Santo Domingo.

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.

Christopher Columbus discovered this Caribbean paradise in the late-fifteenth century, just a few years after his famed first landing in the New World. Speculation about the inspiration for the name Puerto Plata, meaning “silver port,” reveals insight into the city’s gorgeous natural landscape. Some claim that the colorful moniker refers to the light mist that often enshrouds Mount Isla de Torres while others believe it is because the shimmering, sun-soaked coast is evocative of sparkling silver coins.

The first major development in Puerto Plata, officially San Felipe de Puerto Plata, was the construction of Fort San Felipe. The fort was erected to protect the area from pirates as it entered the world of trade and commerce. By 1508, there was significant activity in Puerto Plata, resulting in the King of Spain recognizing the city with its very own coat of arms.

Despite the region’s early success, the Spanish merchants who first settled Puerto Plata soon set sail to explore other ports, traveling as far as Puerto Rico and Cuba. Without a strong commercial influence, the city pursued less upstanding and productive business ventures. It also fell victim to piracy. Roughly a decade after receiving its coat of arms, Puerto Plata was in financial ruin, leading to an eventual Spanish decree destroying the city.

Years later, the mid-19th century saw a turning point for Puerto Plata, after farmers from the Canaries began repopulating the city, which was now under Haitian control. Commerce regained its stride, and the port began attracting back European immigrants, who played a significant role in shaping its culture. The Dominican Restoration War in 1863 led to the razing and rebuilding of what is now Puerto Plata, explaining its many architectural attractions. By the end of the century, the city had re-earned its reputation as a cultural, social, and economic hub.

The most recent boom to hit Puerto Plata was the tourism wave. Picturesque beaches and an easygoing island vibe continue to make the Dominican Republic and its major cities important destinations. Today, people from all over the world visit Puerto Plata to experience its blend of idyllic scenery, living history, and modern comforts.

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.

On your flight to the Dominican Republic, you will be given a blue immigration form and tourist card.

The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso.

In Puerto Plata, there are plenty of ways to get around.

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*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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