If your perfect weekend getaway must be relaxing, memorable and adventuresome – providing new experiences with a dose of an adrenaline rush, look no further. Consider Puerto Plata, a city located in northern Dominican Republic by the Atlantic Ocean.
Puerto Plata Gregorio Luperon International Airport (POP) is not overwhelmingly big or crowded, served by just ten airlines. You can get there in about three and a half hours from New York City, Boston, and Toronto, directly. Miami is only two hours away.
Here are five reasons why you’ll love a Puerto Plata weekend getaway:
1. Relaxation and pampering
Treat yourself to relaxation and pampering at a resort in Playa Dorada or Playa Cofresi either at an all-inclusive or non-all-inclusive resort. Most are a destination in themselves, like a cruise ship where your stay includes activities, entertainment, all meals, and drinks.
There’s a selection of beachfront resorts, from affordable to the most exclusive offering a laid-back lifestyle and balmy breezes by the ocean. Three of the top resorts to consider are Casa Colonial (a non-all-inclusive resort in Playa Dorada), VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort (an all-inclusive resort in Playa Dorada) and The Tropical at Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort ( an all-inclusive resort in Playa Cofresi).
2. History and culture
Columbus founded the first European settlement known as La Isabelica in 1493, which was renamed Puerto Plata (Silver Port). The Spanish built San Felipe Fort in the mid-sixteenth century to protect the port from pirates. However, Puerto Plata was abandoned entirely until 1736 when it became the most important port for transporting coffee and other produce in northern Dominican Republic.
Begin your exploration by taking a cable car (teleferico) up to Isabel de Torres Mountain for panoramic views of Puerto Plata and the coastline. Then head to San Felipe Fort by the Atlantic Ocean. Wander about the fort and the museum with displays of old guns, war artifacts, and cannon balls. Another must visit is the Amber Museum housed in a historic Victorian mansion.
Be sure to make time for a break at the Independence Square, also known as Central Park of Puerto Plata. There are several cafés and restaurants surrounding the square serving local coffee and Dominican food.
3. Extreme sports
Just a 45-minute drive south is Cabarete, a seaside town with the best conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Ranked the world’s best place for kitesurfing, Cabarete is sought after by beginners and professional kite surfers.
Head straight to Bozo Beach if you’re an advanced kite surfer or bodyboarder. It’s not an ideal beach for swimming but great for more advanced kite surfing. There are a few restaurants and bars by the beach that are alternative places to stop by for non-surfers.
Cabarete Beach, Kite Beach, Encuentro and Cabarete Beach are the other beaches to check out surf schools for kitesurfing lessons.
4. Discover the Caribbean tropics
When in Puerto Plata you can join full day excursions to discover the Dominican Republic’s mangroves, lagoons, farms, and mountains. Some of the day tours to consider:
1. Visit the mangroves and ancient Taino cave drawing in Los Haitises National Park.
2. Take a speedboat trip to Paradise Island with white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and tropical coral reefs.
3. Join a tour to Blue Lagoon and Grigri Lagoon with a stop at a fruit plantation.
4. Head for a scenic drive through “Dominican Alps” to Santiago, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic.
Experience an adrenaline rush at the secluded Damajagua Waterfalls with 27 waterfalls. Here you can swim, jump and slide down on the cascading falls. This tour is not for everyone but would surely delight those who love nature and experienced swimmers. Some of these falls are 13 feet tall. You get to have fun in 12 of the 27 falls.
Have you been to Puerto Plata?