Located just 4 hours from Santo Domingo, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata is one of the main tourist destinations in the Caribbean country after Punta Cana. However, its lesser popularity does not do it justice, as we find many things to do in Puerto Plata to enjoy with the whole family.
In fact, the coastal municipality of Puerto Plata has a long list of exciting activities to do in the midst of stunning natural settings, including museums, natural areas, historical sites, interactive water parks, restaurants, and much more.
Did you know that it was the first tourist destination designed in the country to receive travelers? That is why it has a wide range of all-inclusive resorts, hotels, cruise ships, and well-preserved natural areas, with paradisiacal beaches.
So, if you are planning to take a memorable vacation in the Dominican Republic, either as a couple or with your family, Puerto Plata and its surroundings offer various fun and fascinating activities that will leave you with a wonderful experience. Let’s see.
13 things to do in Puerto Plata: You will love them all!
Without further ado, we now tell you 13 things to do in Puerto Plata so that this other side of the Dominican Republic does not go unnoticed. Read on and discover all that this seaside city has to offer!
1. Sunbathe and give yourself a break in Playa Dorada
A first reason to immerse yourself in the charms of Puerto Plata are its dazzling beaches, all equally beautiful and well-cared for. However, one of the most attractive and popular is Playa Dorada.
Its clean and soft golden sand, and its turquoise waters, make this beach one of the most enchanting places where you can sunbathe and take a well-deserved rest. In addition, most of the all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Plata are located here.
In addition to the resort facilities, the coconut-fringed beach doubles as a large plaza, with shops, restaurants, artists, and food and souvenir vendors all over the place. Another of its attractions is the live music, and also merengue, the national rhythm of the Dominican Republic.
On the other hand, the turquoise waters are excellent for swimming and water sports. In fact, you can rent equipment like banana boats or take kitesurfing lessons.
2. Visit the markets, the historic center and the streets of the city
If there is something you should know about Puerto Plata in the first place, it is that it is a monument city. This means that it may seem like a real museum full of life, since you will be able to see much of the heritage of the settlers in its structures and magnificent Victorian-style colonial houses, also known as Gingerbread.
Therefore, we recommend you take walks and walks in its many craft markets, streets, and places to eat with the best of local gastronomy. In fact, it is a great opportunity to discover and taste “street food”.
Finally, be sure to try the chicharrón or the almond paste if you think you can eat a little more. If you love sweets, they may conquer your palate.
To get to know the Historic Center, we recommend you start with the Central Park and its buildings dating from the colonial era. Around the park you will see the Cathedral of San Felipe Apóstol, and the House of Culture.
If you want to eat the best of national gastronomy, make a stop at one of its many restaurants, or eat a delicious dessert in its ice cream parlors and bars to enjoy XXX grape ice cream. Another of the most famous snacks are tostones. As for drinks, try the cocktail made with rum typical of the Dominican Republic.
3. Take an off-road excursion on a quad bike
Being a commercial port located on the coast, Puerto Plata offers miles of coastal paths. These conditions make hitting the road very attractive entertainment to enjoy incredible views.
In fact, a very popular activity is to drive your own ATV for 4 and a half hours from Puerto Plata during the day. Clearly, travelers have a local guide, who will lead them through the rural trails.
In addition, this activity is perfect to do as a couple, since it has many frequent stops to take beautiful photos next to the landscape and upload them to social networks. Likewise, you will be able to take breaks and dip into the river, and/or drink some coconut water to keep you hydrated and full of energy under the sun.
4. Taste Brugal Rum in its Distillery
In addition to finger-licking dishes, the Dominican Republic offers a selection of great drinks to try. One of the most famous is the traditional rum, that is, Ron Brugal, which you can try directly at its distillery.
This winery has been operating since 1888, and currently you can visit it and learn about its history. During the tour you will be able to delight yourself with its varieties of rums, and buy this and other products at a good price, which are usually lower compared to other stores in the city.
5. Ride the Cable Car
Another of the obligatory tourist stops in Puerto Plata is the Cable Car. In fact, a curious fact is that it is the only city in the Caribbean that has this type of transport. It was built in the 1970s, and connects the historic center of the city with the top of the Isabel de Torres mountain.
Its name is a tribute to Queen Isabella of Castilla and is currently a symbol of the city. If you decide to get on this important tourist transport, you will enjoy an impressive view of Puerto Plata and the Atlantic Ocean at a height of 800 meters above sea level.
Upon reaching the top, you will see a statue of Christ the Redeemer, which reminds us of the iconic Christ of Rio de Janeiro. In addition to learning about this famous stature, you have the opportunity to wander through the Botanical Gardens, where the local flowers and vegetation will offer you a respite from the bustle of the city.
Also, if you want to buy souvenirs or souvenir gifts, you will see many street vendors in the shopping plaza. Some of the most outstanding products are amber jewelry and handicrafts made by local people. There is also a restaurant to taste the best of traditional Dominican food.
6. Take a tour of the Saltos de Damajagua (an authentic natural water park)
The beaches are not the only protagonists of Puerto Plata, as the Damajagua Waterfalls are the main tourist attraction in the area. If you are a nature lover and want to live a new adventure, then you cannot miss them.
To take the tour, you can be equipped with helmets and life jackets. In addition, travelers have the opportunity to swim in the river, jump and slide through the waters. The natural water slides are the most popular.
In fact, these stone slides were created by the torrential waters themselves for many years, which were carved in their fun shape to slide and plunge into the waters. One of the most popular slides is at 20 feet at the Tinajita and Corkscrew Falls.
On the other hand, you cannot miss the Jaiba pool , which owes its name to the numerous freshwater crabs that live among its rocks. Another curious fact that will surprise you about this pool is that it has two layers of water : a cold one at the top, and a warm one at the bottom.
Whether you want to take a break halfway, or if you want to continue the hike to visit all the exciting waterfalls, the best way to get to know this little paradise of Puerto Plata is through an organized tour. Be sure to add it to your itinerary!
Note: Not all waterfalls are ideal for people who cannot receive strong emotions. Also, the upper waterfalls are more recommended for people with physical training and those who are experienced in hiking.
7. Venture out on a safari-style tour
If you want to continue exploring the natural wonders of Puerto Plata, one of the most unforgettable options is to venture out on the 5.5-hour Safari Adventure Tour . It is an exciting and fun activity for the whole family and couples.
During the exploration, travelers will be able to enjoy breathtaking views aboard a safari truck in the midst of nature. Meanwhile, the guide will be happy to tell you all the curiosities and important facts of the surrounding countryside.
If you want to take pictures, you can take the most instagrammable ones next to incredible panoramic views, and on the slopes of the Isabela de Torres mountain. Don’t worry, the tour has several stops so you can take your tours and photos without problems.
Between the stops, you will visit a plantation that grows coffee, fruits and chocolate. You’ll also get to see a wide variety of wildlife, such as the endangered rhinoceros iguana. The last stop of the day is an amazing beach where you can stay and relax in the water.
8. Day trip from Santiago de los Caballeros to Jarabacoa
Another of the most exciting activities is to take a guided day tour of Santiago and Jarabacoa. During the excursion, visitors will get to know the most important historical and natural points between these two tourist spots.
Also, this is a great way to learn more about the culture of the Dominican Republic, and go beyond the limits of Puerto Plata. Thus, travelers first visit Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the country, and one of the richest in history, as it was one of the first European settlements of what was then called the “New World”.
On the tour, you will visit the main tourist attractions of Santiago, including the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration and the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In addition, the guide will tell you about the history and culture of the city.
Once this part of the tour is over, you will continue to Rancho de Jarabacoa. Here, you can choose to go hiking, go horseback riding, or simply ride a Jeep to see the whole area comfortably. In addition, you will be able to visit the Salto Jimenoa Uno Waterfall in Jarabacoa.
Finally, you will enjoy a local artisan bazaar and you will go up to the mountains to observe the Cibao valley.
9. Visit the Amber Museum of Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata is home to one of the most important and famous fossil wonders in the world: the amber stone that contains prehistoric animals inside from 15 to 20 million years ago. In fact, these fossils inspired the amber stone with a mosquito inside used in Steven Spielberg’s famous movie Jurassic Park.
The stones are in the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata , and in its design we find several floors in a neoclassical style residence. In addition to this, there are other notable specimens. It should be noted that although amber is not an actual stone, it is the designated national gemstone of the Dominican Republic.
It is not only popular in the jewelry area, but most people are interested in its millions of years old contents, such as insects, plants, and other small creatures captured in time by the sticky sap and paralyzed as fossils.
Another of the attractions of the Amber Museum is the huge lizard of almost 40 centimeters also trapped inside the Amber. It is currently very well preserved after millions of years. Awesome!
If you want to take some jewelry and replica specimens with you, you can visit the museum gift shop, as well as information on local mining tours to learn more about this area.
10. Get to know the “San Felipe Fortress”
If you want to travel back in time and also add a great view of the city from its highest point, then you must visit the San Felipe Fortress. This is the city’s historic fort with remarkable architecture and history.
Likewise, you have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful walk with a view of the sea, and see the Dominican locals buying many of the best local products in the market. As a curious fact, Fort San Felipe is the only local architectural heritage present in Puerto Plata.
In fact, it was one of the first forts built in the Americas by colonists. This was built between 1564 and 1577. It has many years of history! It functioned as protection from settlers from other European countries, as well as pirates looking for gold and silver.
In addition to this, it also served as a prison for deserter politicians during the Trujillo dictatorship. Inside, visitors will see eight-foot-thick walls as well as historical artifacts from the war epic. You will also find a small museum full of interesting artifacts.
At night, the Fort offers a very beautiful sight full of lights, surrounded by deep moats, and a park below the fort to watch the sunset. You will also get a view of Puerto Plata from the structure.
11. Ocean World Adventure Park
If you want to get a greater aquatic experience, you should not miss the Ocean World Adventure Park, located just 5 km from Puerto Plata, especially if you have traveled to the Dominican Republic with the whole family.
One of the reasons why it receives thousands of visitors is due to its interactive experiences with marine life, as it offers shows with animals such as dolphins, sharks, sea lions and tropical birds. Ideal to enjoy with children for its educational function!
By purchasing your ticket, you will be able to enter and enjoy the attractions of the water park, including pools and slides, with access to the Tropical Reef aquarium, where you can snorkel if you love this activity.
As a visitor you also have the option to purchase programs with special access, which will allow you to meet and interact with the sea lions, pet the rays, swim with the sharks, and other ways to interact with the dolphins, petting and feeding them.
In fact, you can spend a whole day with the trainers, who also take care of these spectacular marine animals.
12. Zipline adventure and eco-tour
Another of the most exciting activities to do in Puerto Plata is the zip line. This is an extreme activity where the most courageous travelers venture on a pulley suspended by cables mounted on an incline through “Monkey Jungle”.
Without a doubt, it is an incredible activity for those who seek to experience strong emotions.
Its name is due to the noisy and abundant population of squirrel monkeys in the forest. This part is located on the edge of the El Choco National Park in the immediate vicinity of Cabarete. In addition, you can visit it on a guided zipline tour from Puerto Plata.
The tour lasts 5 to 6 hours, including transportation to the park. Upon arrival, you will see the suspension bridges and seven zip lines, which will give you a breathtaking view of the rainforest when you slide down the rope.
If you want to interact with these friendly primates and learn more about the rainforest, you can explore the area with a professional naturalist guide. You will not only see these adorable animals, but also a wide variety of local vegetation and animals.
13. Snorkel in the Banco de Plata Sanctuary
Finally, you have the option of diving or snorkeling in the Silver Bank Sanctuary (Santuario del Banco de Plata), which will give you a memorable experience swimming close to humpback whales during their migration north of the Puerto Plata coast to their mating season.
It should be noted that it is only possible to see them between the months of February and March, when they reach the coast to give birth to their young. Whales come to these warm waters, as their calves have a better chance of surviving there than in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, where we can see them the rest of the year.
As we can see, Puerto Plata is a tourist destination that is worth knowing. Including it in your travel plans will allow you to enjoy numerous incredible activities that will leave you with a smile and a unique experience in the heart of the Caribbean.
Finally, don’t forget to go to one of its best beaches with a drink in hand to watch a beautiful sunset while it dyes the horizon a beautiful pink color. Your mind and body will thank you. And we assure you that you will want to return!