On the Dominican Republic’s Northern coast
Puerto Plata has more to its name than beautiful golden sandy beaches and swanky resorts (which it has in abundance). Look beneath the surface and you’ll find jeep tours, waterfalls, deep sea fishing, whitewater rafting, snorkelling, mountain biking, horseback riding and more...
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For arts and crafts in Puerto Plata, visit the Mercado (Avenida Isabel de Torres and Calle 2), open daily from Monday to Saturday. It also sells fruit and veg, random souvenirs and bric-a-brac. Not far from Puerto Plata is the Plaza Turisol Complex, with a few higher end shops. One of the more lovely souvenirs to keep an eye out for is amber jewellery – a Dominican speciality. Larimar is another typically Dominican stone found decorating many pieces of jewellery. Its mottled blend of azure blues, whites and turquoise embody the island’s beautiful waters. Other popular souvenirs include woodcarvings, pottery pieces and baskets.
Food & Drink
Eating fresh and well is not tricky in the Dominican Republic. A popular spot for a fine feast is Le Papillon (Villas Cofresi). Specialities here include rabbit, Chateaubriand and Gourmetpan – a hearty combo of beef filet, pork tenderloin and scampi kebab, fried potatoes, veg and a creamy Roquefort sauce. Fresh and zingy Mexican flavours rule at Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros (5 Cofresi Beach) accompanied by some great margaritas. For a child-friendly steak joint, try out La Parrillada Steak House (Avenida Manolo Tavares Justo), and for some striking sunset views, head to On the Waterfront (Calle Dr Rosen 1).
Santo Domingo Carnival
Santo Domingo, a couple of hours’ drive from Puerto Plata on the south coast, comes alive with carnival spirit every February. Carnival festivities can be found popping up across the Dominican Republic, but Santo Domingo’s events are on the largest and most enthusiastic scale.
La Vega Carnival
An hour and 45 minutes’ drive from Puerto Plata, find a jubilant celebration of the Dominican Republic’s African heritage every Sunday in February. The typically quiet streets of this central city transform into rivers of elaborate brightly coloured costumes pulsating and shimmying to the carnival beat.
Commemorating the Dominican War of Independence in 1844, after which the Dominican Republic earned independence from neighbouring Haiti, these celebrations are often combined with carnival festivities.
Festival of Merengue
A favourite among locals, this charming and fun festival brings the country’s most skilled merengue artists to Puerto Plata for a three-day dance and music event.
Dominican Republic Global Film Festival
This annual film festival takes place across the Dominican Republic, with venues in the likes of Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo and Santiago taking part. It’s a great way of seeing the work of the Dominican’s home-grown film makers.
Puerto Plata has a wealth of laid-back, tropical beachside resorts to choose from. Casa Colonial Beach & Spa (Complejo Hotelero Playa Dorada) is one of Puerto Plata’s higher end offerings, with a rooftop infinity pool, collection of hot tubs, and Bagua Spa offering a host of treatments such as the delectable-sounding Chocolate Fantasy Wrap. Around 10 minutes from Puerto Plata city is the all-inclusive Barcelo Puerto Plata (Playa Dorada), set on golden sands and boasting an 18-hole golf course. Rustic cabana-style apartments and a natural swimming pool can be enjoyed at the relaxing SunCampDR (Calle Principal 40) in Munoz Village.