Fun things to do in Puerto Plata

  • View of Puerto Plata city
    View of Puerto Plata city
    by marielexoteria
  • Fort San Felipe
    Fort San Felipe
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Parque Central, Puerto Plata
    Parque Central, Puerto Plata
    by SWFC_Fan

Most Viewed Things to Do in Puerto Plata

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    El faro (the lighthouse)

    by marielexoteria Updated Feb 27, 2008

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    There's a lighthouse close to the harbor and the Fort of San Felipe. I couldn't find any information about it anywhere but my guess is that this lighthouse was probably used to light the path to the many ships coming into the harbor.

    Going up to the top isn't allowed.

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    Amber Museum

    by SWFC_Fan Written Dec 2, 2012

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    We visited the Amber Museum during a city tour of Puerto Plata in November 2012.

    The Amber Museum (with its logo reminiscent of the Jurassic Park logo) is located in a very impressive Victorian villa on Calle Duarte, just a couple of minutes walk from the heart of the city, Parque Central. The villa in question is known as Villa Bentz and dates back to 1919. It has housed the Amber Museum since 1982.

    There is usually an entrance fee of $US 1 for the museum, but it was included in the price of our city tour.

    The upper floor of the museum houses a small collection of exhibits. Glass cases showcase a number of pieces of amber which contain insects and plants that date back 30 million years. Our guide explained that the amber was formed from the sap of trees which has hardened into a semi precious stone over the years. Since Dominican amber is some of the most transparent in the world, this makes for some very interesting and clear viewing of the objects captured within it (mosquitoes, millipedes, leaves, lizard eggs...). Our guide explained that it is rarer to find a piece of amber that doesn't contain some form of plant or animal life within it than a piece that does.

    After we had finished our short browse around the exhibits (there is enough to keep you interested for 10 minutes or so...it's really not very big), we were led downstairs to a large shopping area that sold amber and larimar jewellery, cigars, rum and various souvenirs. This felt like a bit of a tourist trap to me; a short browse around the museum followed by an opportunity to spend our money as the staff explained the virtues of their "happy hour" necklaces (amber on one side, larimar on the other). We passed through without buying anything.

    The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm.

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    Fortaleza San Felipe

    by SWFC_Fan Written Dec 2, 2012

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    We paid a brief visit to Fortaleza San Felipe during a city tour of Puerto Plata in November 2012.

    This seafront fortress, dating back to 1577, is located at the end of the Malecon, Puerto Plata's seafront boulevard.

    Entrance to the fortress cost 100 Pesos (approx. £1.80) and that included the hire of a personal audio guide and earphones. Each time we reached an exhibition with a number displayed upon it, we typed the number into our audio guide and listened to a brief narrative of what the exhibition showed. The exhibitions inside the fortress were mainly weapons and tools.

    We climbed onto the top of the fortress, where we found cannons aimed out into the Atlantic Ocean; used in the past to protect the city from pirates.

    The fortress itself wasn't particularly impressive, but the views from on top were pretty good. In one direction we could look out into the Atlantic Ocean, while in the other direction we could see the imposing Pico Isabel de Torres looming over the city.

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    Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden)

    by marielexoteria Written Feb 25, 2008

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    At the top of the mountain there's a small botanical garden with around 200 plants. Some plants we saw are cat's tail (rabo de gato), cow's tongue (lengua de vaca), Dominican pine, helechos and patience (paciencia).

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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Mount Isabel de Torres

    by ChristinaNest Updated Feb 16, 2006

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    Take the cable-car to Pico Isabel de Torres. It's a nice ride over hills covered with thick wild vegetation. There is a big statue of Jusus on the top (like the one in Rio but much smaller). The view up there is breath-taking.

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    • Beaches
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Puerto Plata City Tour

    by SWFC_Fan Updated Dec 17, 2012

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    During our stay in Puerto Plata in November 2012, we undertook three excursions from our hotel in Playa Dorada.

    We booked each of these excursions through "Tours by James" who has an office on the ground floor of the Playa Dorada Plaza shopping mall. By booking through "Tours by James" we saved a total of $US 140 between us compared to the prices of the equivalent three excursions offered by our tour operator, First Choice/Thomson.

    The three excursions were:

    Puerto Plata City Tour with Teleferico (Cable Car) = $US 40 per person

    Paradise Island = $US 50 per person

    Outback Safari = $US 60 per person.

    This tip relates to Puerto Plata City Tour with Teleferico (Cable Car).

    We were picked up at our hotel (VH Gran Ventana) at 8:30am in a small minibus. There were only 8 of us on the trip; Emma and I, a Canadian couple from Saskatchewan and a family of four from Los Angeles. We were all English speaking so there was no need for any translations on this trip. The guide spoke English very well, provided us with information throughout the day and was happy to answer any questions that were put to him.

    We left Playa Dorada and within 5 minutes we were driving along the Malecon; Puerto Plata's seafront promenade which is dotted with simple beach bars and attracts joggers, cyclists and dog walkers. It's a good spot for people watching and I'd have liked to spend some time there sitting in one of the beach bars with a cold Presidente beer watching the waves roll in. Alas, this wasn't part of the itinerary on this tour – we simply drove along it on our way into the city centre.

    The first stop on the tour was the Brugal Rum Factory. This was billed as a "factory tour" but that proved to be a gross exaggeration. A guide gave us a brief narrative on the history and the operations of the factory as we stood outside the building and then we were invited inside where we were able to walk along an elevated platform and view the shopfloor and production process below us. We spent a few minutes watching bottles move along conveyor belts and workers pack them into boxes, before they were wrapped in plastic, loaded onto pallets and moved into the despatch area. After seeing the bottling and packing operations in action, we then made our way downstairs to the factory shop. We were invited to sample the various rums (white, dark and "Extra Viejo" aged rum) and to purchase bottles at factory prices. In fairness, and despite my skepticism, the rum was competitively priced so we purchased a couple of bottles (at just $US 4 each) to bring home with us.

    After leaving the rum factory, we were driven further into the heart of the city. I enjoyed watching the street scenes from the minibus window (bustling streets, colourful houses, mopeds zipping past...) and was looking forward to getting out and soaking up the atmosphere of the city. Unfortunately, that was never part of the plan for this city tour. Instead, we were driven to the Carmen Gift Shop where we were treated to a demonstration on jewellery making. First, we were shown a couple of small workshops where jewellery was being produced and then we were taught how to distinguish real amber from fake (plastic) amber. Real amber floats in saltwater, while imitation amber sinks. This is interesting to know, but not particularly useful when deciding whether to make a purchase in a souvenir shop. With this new-found knowledge, we were then invited into the gift shop where we were given 45 minutes (!!!) to browse and make purchases. I had long since reached my boredom threshold, so we excused ourselves and went for a walk around the nearby area. There was a busy fruit and vegetable market opposite and some other local shops.

    The weather had turned miserable by this point. It was overcast and there was light, but persistent, rain falling. The top of Pico Isabel de Torres was shrouded by cloud and it would have been pointless to take the Teleferico cable car ride at this point as we would have seen nothing from the top. Our guide decided that we would wait instead until the cloud had cleared.

    To pass some time, we were then driven to another souvenir shop. This one was a large shop called "D Francisco Souvenirs Market" and sold everything from rum to cigars, paintings, ornaments, clothing, jewellery and souvenirs. I didn't have any desire to go inside, so we made our excuses and went for a walk to a supermarket that we had driven past en-route and bought a few items at genuinely local prices.

    When we returned, the rest of our group were still browsing the souvenirs. We were given complimentary shots of the local "mamajuana" theraputic drink as the staff tried to sell us various products. We resisted their sales pitch and went for another walk. Within a couple of minutes, we had stumbled upon Parque Central, the picturesque main square of the city. We spent a few minutes walking around the square and taking photos, by which time our guide and the rest of our group had caught up with us. I'm glad that we got there a few minutes earlier than the rest, because there was no time for sightseeing – we were herded into the San Felipe Church which stands at the edge of the square. After a brief walk along the aisle and a short narrative on the stained glass windows we were tapped up for donations and ushered on our way.

    From San Felipe church we walked back through Parque Central (no time for sightseeing!) to the nearby Amber Museum. The Amber Museum is located in an impressive Victorian villa on Calle Duarte, just a couple of minutes walk from Parque Central. The exhibition is fairly interesting with a number of glass cases displaying pieces of amber containing various insects and plant life dating back millions of years. However, it's only a small museum and only has enough content to keep visitors interested for 10 or 15 minutes. The museum's exit leads into a much larger ground floor souvenir shop (the theme of this city tour!) where we were once again given the opportunity to purchase cigars, rum, jewellery, ornaments...

    After leaving the Amber Museum, we were next driven to the seaside San Felipe Fortress. We paid a small entrance fee (RD$ 100 = £1.80) and received personal audio guides that explained the (limited) exhibitions that were housed within the fortress. We climbed on top of the fortress and admired the views along the seafront and out into the Atlantic Ocean. At this point, the cloud was clearing and our guide thought it would be a good idea to make a dash for the Teleferico cable car while the viewing conditions were favourable.

    A short drive later and we were at the lower station of the Teleferico. We sat in an air-conditioned room and were entertained by local musicians while waiting for our turn on the cable car. We then enjoyed a 10 minute cable car ride over the rainforest covered mountainside to the summit of Pico Isabel de Torres. The views were breathtaking and we were thankful that the weather had cleared (and that our guide had waited for it to do so before bringing us here). The summit of Pico Isabel de Torres features a large statue of Christ (similar to its more famous counterpart in Rio de Janeiro)...and, of course, more souvenir shops! The cable car ride and mountain-top views over Puerto Plata were the highlights of the city tour for me.

    Overall, I found the structure of the city tour to be a little frustrating. It's probably the most cost effective way to visit all the highlights of Puerto Plata and to get between the main sights quickly and effortlessly, but we spent too much time in souvenir shops and not enough time out and about on the city streets for my liking. We rushed through Parque Central and drove the length of the Malecon without stopping to enjoy it. If I ever return to Puerto Plata, I plan to catch a gua gua into the city and spend a few hours exploring it at a more leisurely pace! It's a worthwhile trip for first time visitors who want to get out of their all-inclusive resort and see some snapshots of the city.

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    Neptune - God of the Sea

    by ValbyDK Updated Apr 13, 2014

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    Along the malecon, you will on one of the small islands see a statue dedicated to Neptune (the god of the sea in Roman mythology).

    It is said that the statue guards the harbour of Puerto Plata.

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    Estatua de Gregorio Luperón (Luperón's statue)

    by marielexoteria Updated Nov 13, 2008

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    Gregorio Luperón was one of the heroes who fought the Restoration war against Spain in 1863 and he was also a president in 1879. His statue is found almost in front of the fort, at El Malecón.

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    Catedral San Felipe

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Dec 6, 2008

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    Next to the Parque Central is the Catedral San Felipe. This Victorian cathedral is the largest building downtown and is still in active use today.

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    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

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    The fort

    by ChristinaNest Updated Mar 21, 2006

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    The fort (Fuerte San Felipe) was built after Columbus' arrival in 1492. It's situated on a small penninsular in Perto Plata Bay, close to the centre of the town. There is a small museum inside.

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    • Beaches
    • Castles and Palaces

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