My visit to Dominican Republic was supported & arranged by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism & Go Dominican Republic
The 16 Best Things to do in Puerto Plata
Updated December 2023, The Best Things to do in Puerto Plata, Domincan Republic was originally written in January 2019
Puerto Plata is where tourism in Dominican Republic began. The area boasts beautiful landscapes, relaxed beaches, and lush mountains & valleys. Home to the only aerial tramway in the Caribbean and some of Dominican Republic’s first resorts, there is plenty to discover in beautiful Puerto Plata.
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Quick History Of Puerto Plata
Founded January 2, 1494, nearby La Isabela just outside Puerto Plata was the first village established in the New World. Puerto Plata gained its name for its silvery appearance from a distance thanks to the leaf color of trees that populate the coastline.
Plan the perfect Dominican Republic getaway with my 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary
Dominican Republic Quick Info
- Currency: the Dominican Peso, abbreviated to RD$. The current exchange rate as of December 2023 is RD$56.72 to $1 USD
- Language: Spanish
- Drives on: Right
Things To Do In Puerto Plata
Explore historic Puerto Plata by foot… or bicycle
Set around Parque Central explore the Victorian-style architecture, visit the cathedral, wander the narrow streets, or just relax and people-watch at the park. Not keen to explore on your own? Join a Puerto Plata city tour.
Hike, or take the Teleférico to the top of Isabel de Torres
The only aerial tramway in the Caribbean takes you to the top of 800 meter Isabel de Torres (don’t worry, those of you wanting to get in some exercise, you can hike it). From the top enjoy the views down on Puerto Plata from above, have a stroll through the botanical garden, or have a meal at the restaurant up top. There is a large statue of Jesus up here, in fact, it’s a scaled-down replica of the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, you can’t miss it.
Planning your trip to Dominican Republic? Check out my 2 day itinerary for Santo Domingo & Boca Chica
Bike or ATV through jungle paths to see Northern Dominican Republic’s countryside
Wanna swim in secret lakes, sip coconuts with locals and see Dominican Republic’s rolling, lush countryside? Join Outback Adventures for an electric bike or ATV excursion. This was actually one of my favorite experiences in Puerto Plata, whizzing past beautiful places, and smiling faces.
Take a Rum factory tour
Being situated in the Caribbean, Dominican Republic is famous for its rum. When wandering around Puerto Plata, make sure and pop into Macorix House of Rum for an escape from the afternoon heat to learn about the creation process and sample some locally made Dominican rums. Don’t miss out on tasting the Coco Splash and Pineapple Rums.
Relax on Playa Dorada or Playa Cabarete
Playa Dorada & Playa Cabarete are great places to relax in the sun with calm Caribbean waters lapping at the shore.
Looking for off the beaten path ideas for the Caribbean? Check out Puerto Rico’s Culebra Island
Take a tour of a cigar shop
Not just Cuba is renowned for its fine cigars. Dominican Republic has a long history of cigar making. Pop in and learn a little about the history, tobacco used, and even take a crack at rolling one yourself.
Fort San Felipe
Get a historical feel for Puerto Plata exploring the fort and grounds surrounding it. Admission is free and informative headsets are available.
Other Things To Do In Puerto Plata
Visit the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua
One of the best day trips for adventure travelers visiting the North Atlantic Dominican Republic Coast. Exactly as the name implies, there are 27 dazzling waterfalls to explore in this area. Check out day tours here.
Visit the Monkey Jungle
A monkey rescue where you’ll have the chance to see and watch squirrel monkeys. Monkeys here are rescued on the island and free to roam the jungle. There is also a zipline at the rescue where proceeds help benefit the community.
Get a surf lesson
Head to Cabarete Beach to sneak in a ride, or for those without much experience get a surf lesson in.
Go horseback riding
From Cabarete Beach, it’s possible to go riding by horseback, trotting along this stunning and dramatic coastline. Check out this beach tour by horseback.
This perfect day trip will have you feeling like you’ve been marooned on a tropical island. Take a boat around, sightsee, snorkel, and have a drink on the perfect beach. Check out this Key Paradise day tour.
Snorkel and Dive
With prime corals scattered along the coast, snorkeling and diving around Puerto Plata is a real treat for those that like to drop below the surface. Check out these 2-tank dive trips and snorkel day trips.
Casa Museo Gergorio Luperón
A must for any history buff. This museum employs guides that are very well versed in the history of Puerto Plata that can answer any questions. There’s also the chance to catch an educational film here showcasing Puerto Plata’s history.
The Amber Museum
Puerto Plata is nicknamed ‘The Amber Coast’, thanks to the plethora of Amber that is found in the region. The museum holds impressive specimens locked in Amber. For movie fanatics, the mosquito trapped in amber used in the Jurassic Park movie was kept here at the Amber Museum.
A series of small caves connected by short hikes. Hire a knowledgeable guide and learn about the medicinal uses of plants that populate the area.
Where To Stay In Puerto Plata
On my recent trip to Puerto Plata with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, I stayed at the gorgeous Casa Colonial Beach Hotel & Spa on Playa Dorada. For those of you traveling on budgets here are a few more wallet-friendly options.
Search more Puerto Plata area hotels, hostels and guesthouses on booking.com
The gorgeous area of Cabarete, outside of Puerto Plata is another lovely area to stay in that is relaxing and quiet. We had the chance to tour the beautiful properties of Seahorse Ranch Cabarete, with villas for rent. Check them out here.
Where To Eat In Puerto Plata
Casita Azul Victoria Bar & Grill: This beautiful recently renovated Victorian home located along Parque Central in the heart of Puerto Plata offers up traditional Caribbean fare and unique spins on classic drinks. Don’t pass up the coconut mojito.
The Beach Club At Sea Horse Ranch: An oceanfront roundhouse with panoramic views from Cabarete’s North Atlantic coast where you can enjoy gourmet modern twists on favorite classics and delicious cocktails. From personal experience I 100% recommend timing your meal here with sunset.
Taking a Caribbean cruise? Learn how to visit Trunk Bay on a St. Thomas stopover
Traveling solo can be daunting. Why not join a day tour to explore with others? Here are a few great day tours offered around and near Puerto Plata:
- 27 Falls of Damajagua
- Puerto Plata ATV adventure
- Explore Puerto Plata city tour & aerial tram ride
- Horseback riding at the beach
- Puerto Plata gastronomy and libations tour
- Catamaran tour
- Ocean World day pass
- Monkey Jungle zipline
- Puerto Plata safari adventure
- Puerto Plata Snorkeling Tour
Check out more tours in Puerto Plata on offer here
How To Get Around
Once in Puerto Plata proper it’s easy enough to explore the historic center on foot. Most resorts are located outside town for which grabbing a taxi or Uber into town will be your most convenient option. Usually, a short walk outside the resort area you can flag down a motorbike taxi (look for drivers wearing vests) for those more adventurous as some of these guys can drive a bit crazy.
Buses connect Puerto Plata with other cities in Dominican Republic as well as across the border to Haiti. Read up more here. Puerto Plata does have an international airport about 25 minutes drive from the city.
Best Time To Visit
November-March are the best months to go to Puerto Plata as the weather is drier. April-July is still a good time of year to visit as well with many celebrations happening, though temperatures tend to be a bit hotter. August-October is generally not recommended as it is hurricane season, though not impossible if storms altering plans isn’t an issue.
Crime in Puerto Plata tends to be lower than in Santo Domingo and other parts of Dominican Republic. The usual precautions apply and try to be aware of your surroundings at all times just like anywhere else in the world.
Headed to Puerto Rico before or after your trip? See why you should visit Cabo Rojo
Where To Go Next?
- The Carnival Museum in La Vega
- Santo Domingo & Boca Chica
Have Any Questions About What To do in Puerto Plata?
Ask in the comments section below.