things to do in puerto plata

16 Best Things To Do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Located on the Dominican Republic’s stunning north coast, Puerto Plata is the island’s third-largest city, long a favorite with travelers. With beautiful beaches, lush natural landscapes, and even historical ruins, it’s no wonder that Puerto Plata is a highlight for travelers to the Dominican Republic.

It’s almost too much to enjoy in just one trip to Puerto Plata! In this guide to the best things to do in Puerto Plata, we share the best this unique and memorable destination has to offer – from the city’s best beaches to culinary destinations and even nearby island getaways. Get ready for an incredible trip.

best things to do in puerto plata

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Dominican Republic Travel Basics

Easily accessible from the United States and the rest of the Americas with frequent direct flights year-round, the Dominican Republic is a popular vacation spot and is even a budding destination for remote workers, digital nomads, and expats.  

Puerto Plata is about 3.5 hours from the capital of Santo Domingo, though you’ll also find flights into the nearby Gregorio Luperon International Airport (Puerto Plata Airport) to the city’s east.

Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic but be warned – the accent of Dominican Spanish is one of the more challenging accents for Spanish-language learners to pick up. The best currency for the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso. However, U.S. dollars are widely used as well.

Read More: 10 Best Hotels in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

16 Best Things To Do in Puerto Plata

1. Relax At Playa Sosua

Regarded as one of the most popular beaches in the area with both locals and visitors alike, Playa Sosua is about 24km from Puerto Plata. This beach is a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Local restaurants and bars are in the vicinity for refreshments.

While many travelers to the Dominican Republic claim that the island’s best beaches are in Punta Cana, Playa Sosua certainly gives Punta Cana a run for its money! There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana to choose from, but Playa Sosua has much more charm and an array of accommodation options to choose from.

Read More: 18 Best Beaches in the Dominican Republic

2. Stroll Along the Iconic Umbrella Street

You can’t visit Puerto Plata without taking a moment to admire the beautiful Umbrella Street at the center of the historic part of the city. The street is covered with brightly-colored umbrellas, making it an ideal location for photographs.

Additionally, the area has numerous local restaurants and bars for food and entertainment. It’s a must when visiting this historic area of the city.

3. Explore Ocean World Adventure Park

Whether you’re traveling with kids or a significant other, a visit to Ocean World Adventure Park is a highlight of a trip to Puerto Plata. Visitors can swim with dolphins, and see beautiful tropical fish and unique wildlife. Furthermore, sea lion encounters are also available where visitors have the opportunity to interact and play with the animals.

4. Spend The Day At Paradise Island

Known as Cayo Paraiso or Cayo Arena, Paradise Island is a “deserted” island in La Isabela bay known for making a popular excursion from Puerto Plata for travelers looking for a unique experience away. Surrounded by crystal clear water, the island is a fantastic place to swim, snorkel, and spend the day relaxing.

There are no amenities or restaurants on the island, so plan your visit with this in mind. Many Paradise Island day trip operators will keep this in mind and schedule around meal times, or provide food and drinks.

5. Explore Monkeyland

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with wildlife, Monkeyland is a must! A popular attraction with kids and adults alike, this is the perfect attraction to get up close with squirrel monkeys. 

The monkeys will jump on your hands and shoulders and this makes it a spectacular activity for animal lovers. Hold on to your sunglasses!

things to do in puerto plata dominican republic

6. Visit Fort San Felipe

Take a deeper dive into the history of Puerto Plata with a visit to Fort San Felipe and learn some fun facts about the Dominican Republic along the way. Built in 1577 to defend the region from British, Dutch, and French invaders, this historic landmark also offers some of the most spectacular views of the city.

Today, the fort still has the original canons and remnants of the weapons used to safeguard Puerto Plata. It’s just one of the best parts of historic Puerto Plata you’ll want to see during your trip.

7. Relax At Playa Dorada

Another beach in Puerto Plata to explore for its calm turquoise waters is Playa Dorada. Fun fact: Playa Dorada is actually an artificial beach built in 1991, though you’d never know it. Today, this idyllic beach shares its shoreline with many major resorts, including Gran Ventana Beach Resort and Iberostar Costa Dorada Resort.

Due to its calm waters, Playa Dorada is an excellent beach for swimming and is ideal for small children. The beach is also known for its superb marine life which makes it a lovely location for snorkeling.

Read More: 10 Best Resorts in the Dominican Republic

Travel Essential

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8. Visit The Amber Museum

Did you know that Puerto Plata and the Dominican Republic are known for their amber? It’s true, and in Puerto Plata you’ll want to see these precious stones up close and personal at the Amber Museum just outside of central Puerto Plata.

These precious stones were featured in Steven Spielberg’s world-famous movie, Jurassic Park. In addition to visiting the museum, tours are available where you can hike through the mines and climb in the underground tunnels where amber is unearthed.

Kids and kids at heart will love seeing the amber that preserves wildlife frozen in time, like the lizards and mosquitoes fused on the inside of the stones. You’ll also see the blue amber – the rarest in the entire world – only found in the Dominican Republic.

9. Go To El Choco National Park

Another Puerto Plata attraction for nature lovers, El Choco National Park has a landmass of 30 square miles and it includes hiking trails through the tropical jungle, freshwater lagoons, and caves.

The caves are filled with beautiful clear water where you can swim, as well as admire impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations. Guided tours are available through the park, and are highly recommended! You’ll get to see the best of the park while learning so much about the tropical plants and wildlife you’ll see along the way.

best things to do in puerto plata dominican republic

10. Ride The Cable Car

First opened in 1975, Puerto Plata’s “teleférico” is a cable car ride that allows passengers to take in the city’s natural beauty from an altitude of 2,625 feet – it’s one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic.

This is a highlight of a trip to this city that you won’t want to miss! Get ready for incredible views, both on the way up and at the top. The views of the ocean, white sand beaches, and lush jungle are impressive.

Read More: 25+ Best Things To Do in the Dominican Republic

11. Tour The Museum of Taino Art

This small but interesting museum in Puerto Plata is a must for those interested in the cultural and linguistic history of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean.

Dedicated to the art, language, and cultural traditions of the Taino indigenous group who called Caribbean islands such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas home, the museum offers an important look at the island’s pre-colonial history. It offers a unique collection of art from the Taino people, as well as an excavated tomb from that period.

12. Find all 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua

Also referred to as 27 Charcos, the waterfalls of Damajagua is one of the most visited attractions in Puerto Plata and the city’s most popular day trip. Nevertheless, most visitors tend to only see 12 waterfalls due to the time it takes to hike to the various locations.

The easiest way to visit the waterfalls is by taking a small group day trip. Access to the waterfalls is via a walking trail with some areas requiring individuals to walk along steep paths. This attraction requires some measure of physical fitness, thus making it unsuitable for small children and the elderly.

Tours usually provide protective gear such as life jackets and helmets, and there are areas where you can slide down natural waterslides. If you are adventurous, there are many spots designated for jumping into the falls.

13. Hike Mount Isabel de Torres

At 2,600 feet (793 meters) above sea level, Mount Isabel de Torres is the highest peak in Puerto Plata, offering a breathtaking view of the city. At the summit, you will also see a botanical garden filled with amazing tropical flora, fauna, and wildlife.

The trail is about two and a half miles long, with a statute of Christ the Redeemer at the end. This monument is similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil erected as a landmark of the city and its profound history.

14. Visit San Felipe Cathedral

Constructed in 1956, this structure is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city, located on Calle Jose del Carmen. The Victorian-style cathedral has bells that signal the start and end of mass. Tourists are welcome to enter and view this historic building.

15. Go Kite Surf At Cabarete Beach

Cabarete Beach has perfect wind conditions to enjoy kite surfing and other water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, and paddle boarding. There are numerous schools nearby if you are interested in learning kite surfing. The beach tends to be crowded during the busy tourist season.

There are several restaurants, bars, and clubs along the beach if you are seeking nighttime entertainment while in the city or just looking for a bite to each to extend a day at the beach.

Read More: 18 Best Beaches in the Dominican Republic

16. Explore Cofresi Beach

Located at the north end of Puerto Plata, Cofresi Beach is a 12 km stretch of sand perfect for walking, jogging, and more. You’ll also find plenty of spots along the beach perfect for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.

Cofresi is a popular area with vacationers, including couples and families alike.  Ocean World Adventure Park is located on the East end of the beach, and the all-inclusive Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort shares its shorelines.

Exploring Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata is one of the most visited provinces in the Dominican Republic for a good reason: it provides visitors with an awesome blend of history, culture, and adventure with a range of activities for all travelers. Make sure to add Puerto Plata to your Dominican Republic itinerary!

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.