- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
- HOTELS (BEST VALUE)
- COFFEE & DRINK
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
- THINGS TO DO
- STAY SAFE
Info Puerto Plata
San Felipe de Puerto Plata, Puerto de Plata, often referred to as simply Puerto Plata, is the ninth-largest city in the Dominican Republic, and capital of the province of Puerto Plata. The city serves as one of the most important trading ports in the country.
Puerto Plata is famous for resorts such as Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, located east of San Felipe de Puerto Plata. There are a total of 100,000 hotel beds in the city. The only aerial tramway in the Caribbean is located in Puerto Plata, in which visitors can ride up to the Pico Isabel de Torres, a 793 meter high mountain within the city.
The fortification Fortaleza San Felipe, which was built in the 16th century and served as a prison under Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship, lies close to the port of Puerta Plata. The ambermuseum, is also a well-known attraction in this city. La Isabela, a settlement built by Christopher Columbus, is located near Puerto Plata. In April 1563, the Spanish settlement became notorious when the English slave trader, Sir John Hawkins, brought 400 people he had abducted from Sierra Leone. Hawkins traded his victims with the Spanish for pearls, hides and sugars, some gold. This was the start of British involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in which 20 million people were forced into slavery.
|FOUNDED :||Founded 1502|
Municipality since 1844
|TIME ZONE :|
|AREA :||509.01 km2 (196.53 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||8 m (26 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||19°47′14″N 70°41′30″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.02%|
• Female: 49.98%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
The city is famous for tourist centers such as Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, located to the east of San Felipe of Puerto Plata. There are a total of 100,000 hotel beds in the city. The Riu chain of resorts: Bachata - Riu Merengue & Riu Mambo resorts (all-inclusive), are located nearby on the beach in Maimon Bay some 45 minutes from the airport, and 9 km from Puerto Plata.
Puerto Plata is served by the international airport of Gregorio Luperón, situated around 15 kilometers to the east of the city, near the town La Union.
In 2015, Carnival Cruise Line opened a $85 million cruise port called Amber Cove. Amber Cove is the featured destination of the Fathom Cruise Line.
Ocean World is an adventure park located amidst the reefs of the Beach of Cofresí, boasting the largest man-made dolphin habitat in the world.
The park is a main tourist attraction, and is the largest and most complete park of its kind in the Caribbean.
The investment on this project is valued at more than 45 million dollars. It includes a yacht marina, the permanent residence of some 19 dolphins, beaches and forests, as well as fishbowls, picturesque and exotic birds, Malayan tigers, and a casino, which was recently inaugurated.
Ocean World is located within a tourist complex on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.
The investor and president of Ocean World, L. A. Meister, showed great interest in the tourist potential of Puerto Plata, in its first incursions in this city, as he was directed and oriented by Juan Carlos Moral, original owner of the lands of Cofresí.
With its golden sands and a mountainous natural landscapes combined with the turquoise of the water that many times dress of a tone turquoise with the reflections of the sun in the day, and of moon at night. These beaches bring pleasing memories by their landscapes, stones, waves, sand, uveros, almonds, yawls, rowboats, music and dances. Many of them represent all an epoch of daydream and traditions, like they are La Poza del Castillo, Cofresí, Costámbar, Long Beach, Marapicá, Playa Dorada, Maimón, Bergantín, among others. The beaches are considered as one of the main tourist attractions of the city.
Since the founding of La Isabela, the first village in the New World, on January 2, 1494, Puerto Plata has been a town of firsts in the Americas.
Historians are not clear on the exact year of Puerto Plata's founding. Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Américo Lugo, Jose Bordonada, and Samuel Hazard give the year 1502 as recorded by Nicolás of Ovando. Dr. Llenas affirmed that it was 1503. Dr. Joaquín Marino Incháustegui, in his Dominican history records, cites 1504. Dr. Manuel Arturo Roca Batlle indicates that the city was founded in 1505. The historians, Alonso Rodriguez Demorizi (brother of Emilio) and Jacinto Gimbernard, express that it was in the year 1496 and Padre Español said that it was in 1506.
The aforementioned Nicolás of Ovando records a port existing in the northern coast of the island near 1502.
Around 1555, Puerto Plata's importance as a port town was lost and it became one of the places of the Antilles frequented by pirates.
Christopher Columbus, in his first trip, called the mountain Monte de Plata, observing that since the top is frequently foggy it had a silver-like appearance, hence the name of the port.
The city was designed by the brothers Christopher and Bartolomé Columbus, in the 1496 and based on the year 1502 by Frey Nicolás de Ovando.
In its first phase as a Spanish colony the town was considered the main commercial and maritime port of the island. In 1605 it was depopulated and destroyed by order of Fernando III, to hinder the advance of English piracy.
In the Battle of Puerto Plata Harbor, US Marines landed on the island and attacked a French ship and Fortaleza de San Felipe. After capturing the French privateer Sandwich and spiking the guns of Fortaleza San Felipe, US forces retired victorious. This was during the Quasi War, an undeclared conflict between France and the United States from 1798 to 1800.
A hundred years later the town was repopulated with farmers originating from the Canaries. From 1822 to 1844 the city was under Haitian control. From 1844 on began the period of the republic in which the city began to recover its maritime and commercial boom.
The city grew under the influence of European immigrants, who left a cultural and social footprint that remains unique among other cities on the island.
In 1863, during the War of the Restoration, the city was razed completely. Beginning in 1865, the current Puerto Plata began to be built. This explains the Victorian style of much of its current architecture. By the end of the 18th century, Puerto Plata had become important for its cultural, social, maritime, and economic development.
Puerto Plata has a tropical climate, more specifically a tropical monsoon climate, with hot, somewhat wet summers and warm, very wet winters (Köppen climate classification Am), due to its tropical location and the cold fronts that reach the region during the "winter" which typically brings the area humid, wetter weather.
|Record high °C (°F)||32.5|
|Average high °C (°F)||28.9|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||23.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||17.5|
|Record low °C (°F)||9.4|
The city sits on land that rises abruptly from the sea making it almost completely visible from the port. It is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and to the south and southwest by the hill Isabel de Torres.
The small bay around which the city was built provides a natural harbor. Puerto Plata is the largest city on the northern seaboard. Its subdivisions include: El Cupey, Maimón, Los Mameyes, Sabana Grande, El Toro, Tubagua, Yásica Abajo and San Marcos. The mountain, Isabel de Torres, is situated some 5 km to the southwest of the city of San Felipe. Geographically it forms part of the Cordillera Septentrional, reaching a maximum height of 800 m above sea level. It is possible to drive to the top of the mountain by following the highway Don José Ginebra. The highway, upon leaving the city, continues west passing the populated areas of San Marcos, Piedra Candela and El Cruce arriving at a paved section that continues southeast and then leads directly to the top. The area surrounding Loma Isabel de Torres has been declared a National Monument with an area that covers approximately 20 km2. At the summit, there is a tropical botanical garden covering about 7 acres (28,000 m2), featuring 600 varieties of tropical plants.
The Municipality of San Felipe de Puerto Plata is prominent in agrobusiness and tourism, making it a major contributor to the economic growth of the entire country. Other forms of income and economic development that serve to support some segments of the population include port management, sea vessel production, fishing, and textiles. The port has a significant impact in the national and provincial economy.
The port frequently receives cruise ships as well as general bulk freighters. They export a great variety of merchandise, including farm products and manufactured products in the duty-free zones of the region.
Transportation - Get In
Gregorio Luperón International Airport (also: Puerto Plata Airport) (IATA: POP). Daily flights to most North American cities. POP is located about 15 minutes east of downtown Puerto Plata.
As with other airports in the Dominican Republic, a $10USD (December 2011) fee for a tourist card will be required upon arrival. You'll buy it at one window and immediately turn around and hand it to an attendant to be scanned and dropped into a box. A $20USD departure tax is collected when you fly out.
Puerto Plata is served by at least two intercity bus lines which connect the city with Santiago, Santo Domingo, and other cities.
Transportation - Get Around
There are several options for local transportation between the city proper and the surrounding hotels and resorts.
Taxis are the most expensive option and not really more secure than other choices.
Buses are slower, but the cheapest, and, once you understand the routes, the easiest way to get around.
Guagua are simple minivan for normally 7-8 persons that can be easily packed to 22 persons and 2 roosters! Guagua are the main common transportation system but not really organised; you can stop practically anywhere along the main streets and wait for one to stop and climb up, the fare is normally cheap, but you'll probably have to negotiate with the driver or the door operator. Guagas can often be identified by "Se venda" stickers on the windows and a large rear view mirror pasted to the back door.
Dominican Airport Transfers Offers airport transfers from the airport to any location in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Rio San Juan and Samana area.
Propinas. Much has been written about Propinas in the surrounding areas of Puerto Plata . The same general rules must apply here. The difference is that some of the ones here will take the "con man" approach. One typical example is that you will be approached by a friendly individual who will pretend to be an employee at your resort, based on looking at the wristband you wear, given to you at the hotel. They can be very knowledgeable about your resort when asking them any questions, and so it is easy to see how they may win your confidence.
At first they will say how he/she does not need any of your money and how they will protect you from aggressive vendors. They will show you around various landmarks (mostly upon request) and they will help you bargain at local shops (sometimes at very good deals). Some time after when they feel the dust has already settled in, they will begin to pluck at the heartstrings (talking about how his/her parents needs medication, or how his/her baby needs milk, etc.) so you may feel obligated to give them some money when they do ask for it(usually $30 - $60 USD, which is WELL ABOVE THE PROPINA GOING RATE!). Even if you offer to buy the items yourself at the store you are already in, they will insist on taking the money instead. Soon afterwards, they will direct you to the bus station which will lead you back to the resort, and most of the times you will never see this individual again!
General rule of thumb: If you do not recognize the individual at all it is best to ignore them (perhaps by pretending to not understand them at all by replying in gibberish). However, if you do not speak Spanish and if you are lost, Propinas may be your only hope in directing you on how to get back, even if their company is at a staggering cost. If you do recognize an employee outside of your hotel, make sure YOU are the one who approaches that person first. And if you know exactly where you are going, just simply ignore them. Or if you are well-versed in Spanish but a little lost, it is better to ask around from someone else who seems less shady as there can be helpful individuals not looking to dig into your wallet. Don't be played for a fool.
Motoconcho or motorcycle taxis can be recognized by their yellow vests. They are a cheaper alternative to taxis if you are comfortable with being a passenger on 2-wheels. They often congregate around "destination" areas like airports, markets.
Motorcycle/Scooter Rentals of two-wheeled vehicles is possible. The rate should be about $25USD/day. Be sure that you have experience with a motorcycle or scooter, the road surfaces are poorly maintained and the driving style is very hectic. Drivers very rarely observe stop signs, even red lights are "optional". A license is not necessary to operate a motorcycle or scooter and as such, the skill levels vary widely. Trucks and other large vehicles often overtake unsafely in corners and low visibility stretches of road, so you may be forced into a ditch! License plates are applied to scooters but not motorcycles. It is very common for overtaking vehicles to announce their presence to a scooter or motorcycle by honking, try not to be startled by this! Helmets are seldom used (some motoconchos wear them), but you may have difficulty getting a rental helmet, and it most certainly will not fit properly. Inspect your scooter or motorcycle before renting. Also, most bikes are small displacement compared to other parts of the world. Most are under 200cc and are 2-stroke.
Car Cars are more expensive to rent and very likely to be damaged, as the Dominican mentality is "no big deal", count on no one having insurance. Prices are around $60USD/day for a 4WD style vehicle.
If you are renting your own vehicle keep in mind what type of fuel it uses. Natural gas (propane) is popular and the natural gas stations seem to outnumber petrol stations. Obviously the two are incompatible, don't strand yourself thinking that you can go to any station and get the fuel that you need!
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
If you are looking for tourist stuff (paints, rum, cigars, t-shirts, etc.) the best place to go is Sosua, about 10-15 minutes from Puerto Plata.
Also good for vanilla and coffee.
- La Sirena Market (Supermarket). Get your fix of a Wal-Mart away from home. La Sirena has a very North American feel, and a wide selection of products that may be difficult to find in other small shops.
If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, chances are that you will have a wide array of foods to choose from. Be adventurous and try some local foods like mashed platanos (starchy banana-like fruit), okra, Yuca (a starchy, sweet, potato-like vegetable), and lots of avocado.
- Casa de Queso (About 3km west of RIU hotel). This small shop makes their own cowsmilk cheese. A round of Danish-style cheese is a good bet, professionally wrapped with a sticker as a label. They also offer a soft cheese they'll put in a plastic bag for you, and an firm, orange, cheddar style one as well. $150RDS.
- Entre Amigos, located along the Malecon, which is the road that paralells the ocean in Puerto Plata. It's an excellent restaurant, frequented by tourists.
- La Pescada (On the south side of Highway 5, 1km west of RIU hotel).This small fish restaurant specializes in sopa del pescado, or fish soup. Have a bowl and put some of their home-made citrus & lime sauce. The owner looks about 18 years old and is rather friendly and eager to please tourists. $150RDS.
Coffe & Drink
If you are staying at an all-inclusive, chances are that your alcohol is included. It's not very good, but it'll do.
The local brands of alcohol are Brugal (for rum) and Presidente (for beer).
Sights & Landmarks
- Cristo Redentor (Monument at the top of Parque Nacional Isabel de Torres), Parque Nacional Isabel de Torres. Take a funicular to the top of the mountain that sits behind Puerto Plata to see a replica of the original located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. $10USD.
- Fort San Felipe (Located at the edge of Puerto Plata bay). Historical fort located by the main bay of Puerto Plata. The smell of diesel exhaust is pervasive since it's right next to the main electric generator for the city, which burns diesel. There are many local vendors who are quite persistent at trying to sell you goods at exorbitant prices, and children also asking for money in their limited English. In front of the fort is a nice grassy area that's good for a picnic overlooking the water.
- Live Music (In central park), Central Park, Purto Plata downtown. Live musicians play in the park on Sundays. $FREE.
Museums & Galleries
Museo del Ámbar: The business Costa, Inc. A cultural company of family administration, directed by Aldo Costa, founded the Museo del Ámbar Dominicano in the 1982 in the Villa Bentz, (more elegant Hotel of Puerto Plata of the year 1918, built by the famous Spanish architect Marín Gallart and Cantú). This museum is considered the first Museum of the Amber of the Dominican Republic and at the same time, a great historic monument of the city.
La Zona Colonial (Casas Victorianas): From 1857, it was initiated in Puerto Plata. The Victorian style originating from England, call thus, in honor of the Queen Victoria, manager of that epoch. This it extended to almost everyone and was considered it more modern.
The fundamental characteristics were the elaboration of the wood in artistic form, for the construction of dwellings. From that moment, Puerto Plata defined clearly their architectural style, evolving to what we have nowadays as our patrimony. The rise and development of that new modality in the art of construction, was what gave start, to the buildings of the Victorian houses of the decade from the 70 of the 19th century. Creating a unique style in the city, which him is known today as Victorian architecture of Puerto Plata.
Things to do
Rent a lounge chair if you really want to appreciate Puerto Plata's beaches; if you don't, the Dominican people will ask you all day long if you want to rent a chair from them. The only advantage to being extremely patient and tolerant is their prices drop down with the time! But as everything else, chair rental prices are also negotiable.
- Puerto Plata public beach (lay out in the sun). This beach is very close to the entertaining Wal-Mart of Puerto Plata (La Sirena). free.
- Private RIU beach (lay out in the sun), RIU Hotel (15 minutes west of the city center of Puerto Plata). This all inclusive resort has man-cleared beaches. You can get in through the "guarded" gate. It's said that they require a room key as proof that you are staying there, but if you dress like a tourist they probably won't ask any questions. free.
- Water sports and excursions. There are countless excursion companies, both local and foreign-based offering water sports (water-skiing, banana boat rides, windsurfing, catamaran cruises, etc.) and land excursions ('safari' trips, horseback riding) $50USD+.
- Catamaran tour. Sail on a catamaran, most vendors are asking for $60USD for a 1hr ride, though this is a bit high, and you can negotiate.$50USD+.
- Charcos de Damajagua (27 waterfalls), Highway 5 past Imbert heading west (Take Highway 5 heading towards Santiago. Continue on the highway for about 20 minutes before passing by Imbert (do not turn left at Imbert!). Stay on the main highway and you will pass over one bridge on your way out of town before climbing a hill. On your way down the hill you'll pass a sign for Ingenio Amistad on your left and will cross another bridge. The road will then turn left and a large sugar cane field will open to your left. Up ahead you will see a large Brugal billboard. Just before the billboard you will see the AGRD kiosk on your right immediately opposite the dirt road entrance to the waterfalls.), e-mail:[email protected]. 27 levels of waterfalls, elect to do as many as you like, it costs more to do more. You will be provided with guide(s) to help you out. They provide life vests and helmets. On the way back down you'll slide down the chutes or jump into the pools. It's a protected area, and many tour companies come here, but you can also get there yourself. $8-12.