The Perfect Puerto Plata Vacation (Complete Visitor Guide)

Nestled on the northern shores of the Amber Coast, Puerto Plata was the very first tourist destination in the Dominican Republic. Since inception, millions of vacationers from across the world continue to flock Puerto Plata in droves to enjoy the all-inclusive resorts that line its beautiful beaches.
The Perfect Puerto Plata Vacation
Table of Contents

Puerto Plata provides the perfect base from which to discover the Dominican Republic.

Boasting soft white sands and clear, turquoise waters, its beaches offer diverse activities with fun for the entire family. For those who simply want to relax, there’s the cool ocean breeze and sublime tropical climate.

Tourists looking to venture beyond their resort can enjoy many fantastic excursions in and around Puerto Plata. Attractions include fascinating museums, natural sites, a historic fort, first-class golf course, an interactive water park, restaurants, cafes, bars and lots more!

Read on for the ultimate visitor guide to vacationing Puerto Plata.

Is Puerto Plata a good vacation spot?

Yes, Puerto Plata is a good vacation spot as it offers a combination of adventure and relaxation opportunities.

From the endless white-sand beaches and historical sites, to the all-inclusive resorts and adventure tours, Puerto Plata offers a great year-round holiday destination.

Add to this its sublime tropical climate and Puerto Plata makes for a fantastic Caribbean getaway.

What is Puerto Plata known for?

A key trading port and major resort area of the country, Puerto Plata is the third-largest city of the Dominican Republic. Its official name is San Felipe de Puerto Plata.

Puerto Plata is known for:

  • Beautiful white-sand beaches
  • A historical inner city
  • Interesting museums
  • Spectacular views

What Are the Beaches Like in Puerto Plata?

Puerto Plata boasts several beaches, each offering its own unique attractions.

These include:

  • Playa Dorada: One of the most fun yet relaxing spots in Puerto Plata.
  • Playa Punta Rucia: A stunning beach comprising a small, quiet yet amazing paradise.
  • Playa Luperon: This beach is ideal for lovers of extreme sports who can have fun diving into the crystal-clear waters.
  • Playa Cofresi: A pleasant beach offering a perfect spot for marine sports such as diving.
  • Sosua Beach: Popular among locals, this is the most wonderful beach in Puerto Plata.
  • Encuentro Beach: A surfer’s paradise, this beach offers the best surfing atmosphere in the entire Caribbean.
  • Cabarete Beach: Come here for the best surfing waves in the whole Dominican Republic.

What is there to do in Downtown Puerto Plata?

Tourists visiting Downtown Puerto Plata can enjoy a host of things to see and do, including:

  • Playa Dorada: Puerto Plata is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and the best one is Playa Dorada. This beach offers soft, white sands that are ideal for sunbathing and relaxing, while the clear, turquoise waters are amazingly calm. Playa Dorada also has a market, plenty of resorts and several spots where visitors can stop to enjoy a refreshing drink.
  • Key Paradise: Key Paradise is an incredible tropical island that makes for a beautiful day trip from Puerto Plata. Once here, visitors can go snorkeling and sightseeing, sample the local food and seasonal fruits, and enjoy a leisurely boat ride. There is also a bar on site, which comprises a small hut that serves alcoholic beverages, coconut water and pineapple juices.
  • Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car: The Teleferico Puerto Plata Cable Car offers a thrilling ride to the summit of Mount Isabel de Torres. Rising 800m high, this cable car lets you enjoy stunning panoramas of Puerto Plata and its surroundings. At the top, visitors can explore attractions such as the botanical garden with its lagoon, cave and paths, or visit the restaurant and gift shop.
  • Damajaqua Cascades: The 27 Charcos de Damajagua are a series of 27 waterfalls that constitute the epitome of natural beauty as showcased by the warm and friendly Dominican people. During the tour, the knowledgeable guides will provide insights about the waterfalls. Once at the top, visitors who aren’t afraid of heights can jump or slide down the falls.
  • Ocean World Adventure Park, Marina and Casino: For a fun day out in Puerto Plata, look no further than Ocean World. Every day, the venue holds 4 animal shows twice a day, which means that visitors will not miss a thing as they move between shows. Come watch a bird show, a shark show or a sea lion show, all done to upbeat classical tunes.
  • Diwa Dominicana: Diwa Dominicana is a scuba diving school in Puerto Plata that offers quality diving instructors to take you under the seawaters and show you a whole new world. Go on fantastic dives from Sousa Bay to see a diversity of incredible marine life including barracuda. Instructors bring food to attract the fantastic creatures to you as you take the big plunge.
  • Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort: The Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort is a great relaxation spot to spend time in Puerto Plata. The resort offers clean, soft, white sands, clear, turquoise waters, and places to recline on the beach and rest after fun excursions around the island. Cofresi has friendly staff on hand to provide you with a true luxury experience as you enjoy the scenery.
  • Pico Isabel de Torres: Rising 793m high, Pico Isabel de Torres is Puerto Plata’s highest point which is accessible via a cable car ride. From the top, visitors can enjoy fantastic views including the magnificent statue of Christ the Redeemer. Once at the top, have your photo taken, take in the views and then enjoy the thrilling cable car ride back down the mountain.
  • Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperon: Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperon offers a great opportunity to learn about Puerto Plata’s history. This well-managed museum has very informative guides who will tell you about the history of Puerto Plata, including stories of General Luperon. To provide more information, the museum also shows an educational film.
  • Fort San Felipe: Take a stroll around the grounds of Fort San Felipe to experience the historical aspect of the island. From the top, you can enjoy gorgeous panoramas of the surroundings far out in the distance. Have a photo taken posing by the cannons and learn the history of the Dominican Republic. For self-guided tours around the fort headsets are available.

Where do ships dock in Puerto Plata?

Ships in Puerto Plata dock at Amber Cove.

The Amber Cove Cruise Port is located to the west of Puerto Plata, on the Bay of Maimon, which is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Is Puerto Plata North or South?

Puerto is located to the north of the Dominican Republic. In fact, it is the largest city on the island’s northern seaboard.

Puerto Plata is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and by the Isabel de Torres Hill to the south and southwest.

What is the best time to go to Puerto Plata?

The best time to go to Puerto Plata is in April.

The month of April offers idyllic weather condition in the Dominican Republic, as it precedes the summer heat that sets in from May.

April in Puerto Plata is predominantly dry with little rain, but experiences cooling winds to moderate the high temperatures. April’s clear blue skies, hot sunshine and warm seas are ideal for beach activities in Puerto Plata.

Although April falls within the shoulder season, the top Puerto Plata attractions – sun, sea and sand – are still as good at this time of year.

What’s more, tourists on a budget can benefit from cheaper prices for flights, accommodation, restaurants, tours and excursions, as well as sales by resort boutiques hoping to clear their excess stock.

Does it rain all day in Puerto Plata?

Puerto Plata records an average of 116 days of rainfall in a year, which accumulates up to 1510.6mm (59.5″) of rain.

The amount of rainfall you find in Puerto Plata will depend on the time of year you decide to travel.

Rain is normally quite brief in Puerto Plata, with showers lasting fifteen minutes to one hour. However, if you visit Puerto Plata during its hurricane/rainy season, you may experience extended periods of rain.

Is Puerto Plata windy?

The amount of wind you find in Puerto Plata will depend on the time of year you visit.

Although wind activity in Puerto Plata is usually calm, August is the windiest month, followed by July and April.

The month of August experiences wind speeds that constitute a light breeze. The highest daily wind speeds lasting several minutes are recorded in mid-July and are considered a moderate breeze.

If visiting Puerto Plata during the windy months, you can expect the wind to blow sand around thereby clearing the beach and keeping sunbathers away.

However, the wind calms down in the evenings to enable people to dine outside without needing an extra layer for warmth.

Is Puerto Plata safe for tourists to visit?

Yes, Puerto Plata is perfectly safe for tourists to visit.

Except for opportunistic crimes like petty theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing that typically occur in major tourist areas, crimes against tourists rarely happen in Puerto Plata.

What’s more, you can reduce the risk of suffering crime in Puerto Plata simply by sticking to the well-traveled touristy places which are generally safe.

Can You Drink the Water in Puerto Plata?

No, you should not drink the water in Puerto Plata. Tap water in Puerto Plata is not safe to drink because it has not been treated.

It is recommended that tourists traveling in Puerto Plata only drink purified water.

Before drinking tap water, be sure to sterilize it by boiling, which will help to eliminate the bacteria that cause stomach infections.

If you cannot sterilize the tap water beforehand, drink bottled water instead which is also widely available in Puerto Plata.

Is Puerto Plata dangerous in any way?

Yes. Walking around in some areas of Puerto Plata alone at night can be dangerous.

It is especially dangerous for those who stray away from the places that most tourists stay.

Touristy areas are generally safer as they are patrolled by tourist police, and are generally well-lit and highly-populated with active bars and clubs.

What currency is used in Puerto Plata?

The Dominican peso and the U.S. dollar are the main currencies used in Puerto Plata.

Although most prices at Puerto Plata businesses are listed in Dominican pesos, U.S. dollars are also widely accepted by many shops, resorts, restaurants and tour operators.

How much do you tip in Puerto Plata?

The general rule for tipping in Puerto Plata is to give the same amount of tip that you would give at home.

Of course, the actual amount you decide to tip all comes down to you. What’s important is that you leave a decent tip whenever you receive good service in Puerto Plata.

The table below offers a guide on how much to tip in Puerto Plata in U.S. dollars (USD):

 

Low End (USD)  High End (USD) Don’t Forget
Housekeeping 3 5 Tip daily
Room Service 15% 20% Only if gratuity is not included (normally it is).
Concierge 5 to 20 40 to 100 Depends on whether your request was easy or complicated.
Luggage Attendant 1 to 2 per bag Round it up when using luggage carts
Valet 2 5 Tip after they return your vehicle
Butler 10 15 Tip daily
Waiter 10 – 20% Only if gratuity hasn’t been included
Buffet Breakfast 1 to 2 Per person
Villa Staff 10% Of the total rental amount of the villa
Private Driver 10 – 15% Of the total fare
Shuttle Driver 1 to 5 Depending on the length of your trip
Tour Guide 10 – 20% 5% Of the total cost of your tour
Caddie 1 per hole Give a bigger tip for a caddie you use severally

Do you need a passport for Puerto Plata?

Yes. The Dominican Republic’s entry/exit requirements provide that in order to enter the Dominican Republic (as well as their home country upon return) tourists must travel with a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond their intended stay.

Is there Uber in Puerto Plata?

Yes, Uber services are available in Puerto Plata.

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