Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Cofres?, Maim?n and Luper?n
Why Puerto Plata?
Puerto Plata is for those seeking an attractively-priced R&R active vacation with the option of lots of places to visit in the vicinity. Puerto Plata's centrally located international airport is less than a 20-minute drive from most hotels. Choose Puerto Plata if you like to explore. Luper?n, Maim?n, Cofres?, Playa Dorada, Costa Dorada are the main tourism enclaves located near Puerto Plata city. Sosua and Cabarete are about half an hour away.
Playa Dorada, 10 minutes to the east of Puerto Plata, concentrates the largest number of hotel rooms in the North. This vacation compound includes 15 low rise resorts built in a ?U? shape and sharing a common gold sand beach and the Playa Dorada Golf Course, an 18 hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Meet guests from other hotels during evening outings at the casinos and night spots which are open to all guests. During the day visit the shopping center, the Playa Dorada Plaza, with its stores and movie theatre. Walking is safe and easy during the day and night, either on the beach or the sidewalk that connects all hotels. And because all the hotels are close together, this is a great choice for spring break travel.
Cofres? is located West of Puerto Plata City and is also an enclave of several smaller hotels and residential communities that use the same Cofres? beach facility.
Fifteen minutes from Puerto Plata city, Maim?n is located about five minutes from the highway entrance to Cofres? and its beach is dotted with new all-inclusive resorts that used to cater to Europeans but are now attracting large numbers of North Americans as well. Maim?n is for those seeking rest and relaxation, with the main attractions being the beach and other comforts provided by the hotel.
Luper?n is about an hour?s drive west of Puerto Plata. Luper?n Beach Resort is quite isolated and has its own beach. Perfect for those who want to get far away from it all but still enjoy luxury. Nearby is the La Isabela National Park, complete with a small museum that showcases items related to the first European settlement in the New World.
Playa Dorada Magazine
Insights into life in and around Puerto Plata.
What else is nearby
To the East, about 15 and 25 minutes away are the beach towns of Sosua and Cabarete and beyond that Playa Grande and R?o San Juan. The second largest city in the DR, Santiago, with its very attractive Centro Leon cultural center, is less than an hour away and to the south.
Port of Entry/How to get there
From abroad, the best way to get there is by flying into the Gregorio Luper?n International Airport located west of Puerto Plata. This is the choice of entry for tourists headed to Cofresi, Maim?n, Luper?n, Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Sosua, Cabarete, Playa Grande and Cabrera hotels.
This airport offers scheduled service by/from:
United States: American Airlines (Miami, New York), Continental (Newark), Ryan International (Minneapolis).
Canada: Air Canada (Montreal, Toronto) and Air Transat (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver).
Caribbean: American Eagle (San Juan), SkyKing (Providenciales, Truks & Caicos).
Europe: Air Plus Comet (Madrid), Martinair (Amsterdam), Holland Exel (Brussels, Amsterdam), Condor (Frankfurt), LTU (Frankfurt, D?sseldorf, Munich), Lauda Air (Viena).
There is additional charter service from: Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver; Brussels, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Milan, Paris, Shannon, Stockholm, and Zurich.
Santiago's Cibao International Airport, about an hour south, is second best. Scheduled airlines flying into Santiago are: JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines (New York), American (Miami), American Eagle (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Punta Cana Express (Takeoff Destination Service) offers scheduled domestic flights from POP to Punta Cana, Aerodomca serves Santo Domingo. Air Century offers chartered flights.
Within Playa Dorada, bicycle tours are available to visit the other hotels in the compound. Note that most everyone wears bracelets to identify the resort where they are staying and whether within that resort they are an all inclusive guest or not. Some hotels may restrict admission to those with the correct bracelet only. Hotels that are not located on the beach will offer shuttles to the beach and back several times a day. But for the most part, the entire complex is walkable. At night, the casinos will pay for your taxi ride to the casino but not back to the hotel, but a stroll under the stars could be one of the highlights of your say in Playa Dorada. To leave the Playa Dorada complex, request a taxi or inquire if your hotel has a free shuttle bus to the town. At the highway entrance to the complex, you can catch a public bus or guagua in either direction, east or west for a fraction of the cost.
Ocean World Park. 15 minutes west from Puerto Plata city, this zoo and marine park was built into a spectacular location that is farmed by the multi-tonal blues of the Atlantic Ocean. The park features the world's largest custom-made dolphin lagoon, swimmable aquarium, sea lion encounters, shark interaction pool, tiger feeding area and birds area, in addition to a large man-made beach and marina.
Columbus Water Park, an aquatic park featuring slides and pools less than 10 minutes away from Playa Dorada.
Fun City Action Park (Go Kart and Bumper Car Park), also 10 minutes away. Because it is an open air attraction, Fun City is open in the late afternoons and evenings.
Victorian architecture in Central Park. Around 150 late 19th century and early 20th century preserved edifices housing homes and public buildings with gingerbread motifs, wooden lace filigree and pastel colors. The best collection is right around Central Park.
San Felipe Fort built by the Spaniards in the 16th Century on the waterfront to fend off pirates. The 2,000 square meter fort is the oldest standing edifice in Puerto Plata and the only remnant of the colonial time architecture. It overlooks the statue of General Gregorio Luperon, hero of the war that restored the rule of the country to Dominicans from the Spanish.
Puerto Plata Lighthouse. Built in 1879 it was restored in 2002 with a grant from the World Monuments Fund that valued this 24.4-meter high rare cast iron tower, only one of very few still standing in the Americas.
Brugal Rum Factory, the largest in the Dominican Republic and third largest producer of sugar cane rum. A tour can be taken to observe part of the manufacturing process. The tour ends with a daiquiri tasting and the opportunity to purchase the finer quality rums at best prices.
Amber Museum (Calle Duarte 61). Located in an 1919-built mansion, the Amber Museum shows off one of the better collections of amber anywhere in the world. See the mosquito-encased amber that Steven Spielberg used in the film Jurassic Park, or a 42.5-centimeter lizard fossil, or the biggest bio-inclusion feather fossil in the world.
Taino Art Museum (Arawak Plaza, Calle Beller) for insights into the lives of the settlers of the island when Columbus and the Spaniards arrived.
Isabel de Torres Botanical Gardens. Take the 2,565 foot (800 meter) cable car ride up Isabela de Torres, the peak overlooking Puerto Plata? and endulge in the 135,000 square meter gorgeous Botanical Garden at the top with its subtropical vegetation and 15 small brooks and streams amidst multiple trails. Observe enormous ferns, overgrown flowers, fire-red gingers and giant hibiscus peaking through the rain forest's shield. Go in the early morning to catch the best views from atop of Puerto Plata and environs.
Excursions/Must See & Do
Visit the other beaches in the area, such as Luperon Beach, Cofres? Beach, Playa Dorada Beach, Sosua Beach, Cabarete Beach (for windsurfing), Playa Grande Beach (extraordinary scenery, big waves, not for children). Go to Monte Cristi (for great diving) and landscapes at the northwestern side of the country. These are all places that can be seen by forming a group and taking a taxi, or town minibus, or even by renting a car for the day.
Puerto Plata City Tour (Amber Museum, Cable Car Ride up to Botanical Gardens, Rum Factory tour, shopping).
Damajagua. Located half an hour from Puerto Plata, between the Altamira tunnel and the town of Imbert, this is an ecotourism attraction that combines cascading and plummeting down waterfalls. This is an excursion for the physically fit. It can be booked at the highway stop of the professional Association of Damajagua Guides. Guides are a must as they know which areas should be avoided or tackled in a different manner due to heavy rains or lack of rains. There is the option to hike one hour up the mountain to the 27th fall and then begin the three-hour descent. The shorter half-day version, mostly sold by tour operators, calls for climbing up and down only the first seven holes with the assistance of the acrobatic guides.
La Isabela National Park. Located about a two-hour drive from Puerto Plata and 14 kms west of Luperon. This park was built on the site where Columbus built the first settlement in the New World in the 15th century. Remains are still standing of what is believed to have been the church where the first mass in the New World was given. A small museum area houses relics from the days of the discovery.
Luperon Beach. Adjacent is Luperon harbor, which caters to dozens of sailors that year round make their way through the Caribbean and stop at this naturally protected harbor. During September, the peak month of the hurricane season, up to 100 sailboats can be counted at the harbor, giving the area the feel of an international community.
Monster truck, jeep safari trips and four wheel bike adventures are offered by several companies. See the rural countryside and the lifestyle of its people. Visit undeveloped beach areas, springs and rivers in all their lush tropical splendor, far from the touristy areas.
Catamaran boat rides. Feel the ocean breeze and salt spray while speeding through tropical shades of blue on the way to and from secluded beaches.
One to two hours away:
Santiago cigar tours to the E. Leon Jimenes Marlboro cigarette and Aurora cigar factory. Also visit the Tomas Morel Folk Art Museum with its collection of winning masks from the Santiago Carnival.
Baseball games at the Cibao Ball Park in Santiago. Befriend a taxi driver and have him come with you to Santiago for a ball game during the October-January winter professional baseball season. Big names from the Major League may be playing. Go early, have dinner in Santiago, visit the city's large Nacional or Pola supermarkets to stock up on the best Dominican rum (Brugal, Bermudez or Barcelo brands), Santo Domingo or Caf? Santiago coffee, Bon tropical fruit juices and marmalade to take home.
River-rafting or mountain climbing in Jarabacoa, in the center of the island. Unforgettable thrills but only for those over 14 years old.
Three and a half hours away:
Samana (whale-watching 15 January to 15 March), Santo Domingo (city tour).
Puerto Plata is a value-packed vacations.
Dining outside the hotel
Choose from restaurants in Cofres?, Playa Dorada Plaza and Puerto Plata, mostly patronized by locals. Cabarete restaurants, half an hour from Playa Dorada, are especially popular with tourists visiting Puerto Plata.
Nightlife outside the hotel
Puerto Plata nighttime activities range from merengue and salsa music clubs, which mainly attract locals and tourists who want to meet locals. Resort guests will enjoy cocktails prior to the evening dinner and show, mingling with new and old friends. Open to all in the Playa Dorada resort area is Mangu Disco (at Occidental Allegro Jack Tar), Crazy Moon at Paradise and Hemingway's at the Playa Dorada Plaza. The DJs will mix international music with local beats.
Casinos at the Jack Tar Village, Hotel Playa Dorada and Paradise Hotel in the Playa Dorada complex are open to all publics.
Cafecito restaurant offers an evening pub crawl, starting at the Fortaleza San Felipe, following onto a car wash (do as the locals do), and continuing on to Sosua and Cabarete beach restaurants and bars.
Puerto Plata supermarkets are for interesting finds such as Bon tropical fruit marmalades, Dominican sweets and for quality rums (not 151). Drop in at the bazaar-like Casa Nelson and Casa Colon shops in the Central Park area. Stroll down the streets to browse gift shops, such as the large Grand Factory, tour Harrisons and Amber Museum shops in Plaza Dorada. Visit the handicraft market up the hill in Puerto Plata city to meet the vendors. These same vendors may visit your hotel as they rotate through the main hotels, giving each one night a week. Beach towns are dotted with small shops selling a variety of beach and water sports ware, goods and crafts.
Guests have the option of playing golf at the Playa Dorada 18 hole Robert Trent Jones golf course or the Los Mangos nine hole golf course. Serious golfers should also look into playing at the Playa Grande Golf Course, considered one of the best in the Caribbean. Playa Grande is about an hour and a half drive from Puerto Plata.
Divers of all levels can enjoy shallow reefs, shipwrecks, freshwater cave diving, deep water diving and possible encounters with humpback whales and other large creatures. Summer air temperatures can hit the mid 90s, while winter temperatures drop to the 70s. Water temperatures range from the high 70s to low 80s, and visibility ranges from 70 to 100 feet. Serious divers should look into dives in the Monte Cristi area, to the west.
The hotel staff or tour representatives can help book a deep sea fishing excursion.
Ranches are plentiful on the North Coast. Again, your hotel or tour rep can provide information on the options in your area.