Exploring the Dominican Town of Puerto Plata

Along with Aruba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic is one of the most popular Caribbean vacation destinations. While Santo Domingo and Punta Cana may be the most well-known areas of the Dominican, Puerto Plata is quickly becoming popular among Americans seeking a Caribbean getaway.

The city of roughly 120,000 people boasts history, culture, and adventure. Visitors can play on the beaches, hike in the rainforests, and visit historic fortresses built more than 400 years ago. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Dominican, these are some of activities in Puerto Plata you won’t want to miss.

History and Culture in Puerto Plata

Fort San Felipe was built in 1577 to protect the port from possible invaders. These days, the fortress is a busy tourist attraction. It’s smaller than many other forts around the world, but it provides impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby forested mountains. There’s a prominent statue here of 19th century General Gregorio Luperon on horseback.

Fort San Felipe

The main plaza of Puerto Plata, called Central Park, features more statues on display, as well as old churches and the town’s City Hall. It’s a good spot for people watching and getting to know Old Town. From Central Park you can walk to most of the other local attractions.

Puerto Plata has a couple of small but interesting museums. The Amber Museum displays dozens of fossils and insects from millions of years ago preserved in amber. The Brugal Rum Distillery offers free factory tours where guests can get a look behind the scenes at how one of the island nation’s most popular rums is made.

Adventure in Puerto Plata

One of the coolest outdoor adventures in the Puerto Plata region is the “27 Waterfalls” activity in nearby Damajagua. Don life jackets and helmets and follow a guide through the series of thrilling cliffs, cascades, and waterfalls. Participants must be in good physical condition, as the activity requires a strenuous uphill trek to the starting point.

Puerto Plata waterfalls

If jumping off waterfalls is too intense, consider taking a leisurely hike in the rainforests. Or ride the Teleferico, a cable car tram that transports riders to the top of 2500-foot Mount Isabel de Torres. The eight-minute ride provides ample time to take in the panoramic views of the region. At the top of the mountain sits a smaller but still awe-inspiring version of the Christ the Redeemer statue found in Rio de Janeiro.

Other activities in Puerto Plata

Like most Caribbean beach cities, Puerto Plata has lots of great sand and water to explore. Swim on the public beaches or sign up for one of the various watersports excursions to go diving, snorkeling, or kitesurfing. With some advance preparation, visitors can also take part in volunteering activities in local rainforests and schools.

Puerto Plata offers some of the most affordable hotels in the entire region. Whether you choose to arrive by cruise ship or by plane, you can expect plenty of culture, fun, and sun once you get there.

Photos by the author

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

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