48 Epic Things to Do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic + Day Trips

The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and that’s for a reason. No matter where you are, there are so many things to do in the Dominican Republic. While Punta Cana and La Romana hold it down in the southeast with their breathtaking luxury resorts, up north, you can find a romantic region brimming with some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, equally charming rental accommodations, rivers, ancient caves, and intrinsic Dominican history. It’s time to visit the Bride of the Atlantic and the true star of Jurassic Park: the city of Puerto Plata. Here are 48 Places to Visit & Things to Do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic!

Table of Contents

I. How to Get to Puerto Plata 

One of the most special things about traveling in the Dominican Republic is the size of the country! If you’re up early from wherever you are, you can surely venture to the other side of the country and back within a day. Here are some ways to get to Puerto Plata from within the country:

  • Transfer from Santo Domingo: If you’re kicking your Dominican Republic trip off in Santo Domingo, you can grab a transfer through here.
  • Airport transfer: From Puerto Plata airport, you can book a shared vehicle to take you into the heart of the town.
  • From Santiago Transfer: Santiago is less than two hours away from Puerto Plata, and you can book a transfer here.
  • Transfer from Punta Cana: If you’re starting your trip from Punta Cana, you can book this transfer.

II. Places to Visit & Things to Do in Puerto Plata

Thanks to its luscious location nestled between the clear waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the rivers and mountains of El Cibao, there are so many places to visit and things to do in the Puerto Plata province. From tours to hikes and free samples galore, check out these places to visit and things to do in Puerto Plata.

1. Walk Around Downtown Puerto Plata

With its charming architecture and colorful houses, Puerto Plata makes for an attractive city to explore. By joining a tour like this one, or booking this similar one, you can encounter some Puerto Plata trip staples like the Museum of Gregorio Luperon, the central park, the umbrella-donned street known as Calle de Las Sombrillas where you can find the tasty Helados Ivon.

2. Learn How to Make Casabe With Yudelka 

Casabe is a traditional Dominican food item made from cassava. This household kitchen staple is a crumbly cracker-like bread that pairs well with garlic, avocado, peanut butter, etc. In Puerto Plata, you can learn how to make traditional Taino casabe at the home of Yudelka. She shares her generational knowledge of how to make this traditional pre-Hispanic and indigenous food. 

3. Hike to the 27 Waterfalls

The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua are top of our list because there is nothing like the quality of those refreshing waters. You can go on your own, but for a guided experience, you can join a tour or book a similar experience like this one. The hike is challenging, but if you stick through it, you’ll get to dip in those crystalline currents.

4. Swim in Rio Sonador

Rio Sonador is a breathtaking and electric blue (basically cyan) river in the Puerto Plata province. By booking with excursion and adventure experts Finca Papirucho, you can spend the day exploring this vibrant river found in Yasica Arriba. A dip in its refreshing waters is well-earned after the hike over to the river.

5. Visit the Chocolate Farms

The Dominican Republic has an incredible history of cacao production. In Puerto Plata, there are several places for you to purchase artisanal chocolate from different coops of farmers.

In the Altamira town of Puerto Plata, you can find Chocolala, a cacao farm run by women. You can also find Chocolate Mountain, a farm and camping site! In Guananico, Haciendo Cufa offers tours and products for purchase.

6. Explore Fortaleza San Felipe

This historic military fort starts its life story as a fort to guard the plentiful coast from the Dutch, French, and British. In the 19th century and through the reign of Trujillo, Fortaleza San Felipe also served as a prison. Present day, the fort is a museum you can visit and capture photos of the coastlines of Puerto Plata.

7. Go snorkeling on a Catamaran Tour

It’s time to get schooled – school of fish, that is! Spend a whole day vibing, drinking, and dancing your way through Puerto Plata waters by joining this affordable catamaran trip. The catamaran makes two stops where you are encouraged to snorkel and check out the colorful fish and coral reefs! If this sounds like the perfect day for you, don’t miss the opportunity!

8. Trek El Choco National Park + Cave Swimming

Fifteen minutes away from Cabarete is a 30-mile park full of hiking trails through coffee and cacao trees, fresh water lagoons, and some really old caves known as the Cabarete Caves. Bilingual guides lead you down millions-of-years old caves while offering insight into how they formed and how they’ve been used throughout the years. All around Puerto Plata, you can find local vendors offering deals for adventurous hikes through the park. 

9. Visit Cabarete Town

Are you the aquatics sports type? Then make sure to make your way to Cabarete, a town in Puerto Plata known for its diverse community of travelers, expats, and aquatic sports! Surfing, windsurfing, and kite surfing are some of the popular sports you’ll witness at Cabarete beaches.

The night life is also memorable, with plenty of clubs just steps away from the beach. For the general vibe, this is a definitely a top place to visit in Puerto Plata.

10. Try Dominican Rum at Museo del Ron con Brugal

There is no liquor more representative of Dominican culture than the rum Brugal, perhaps contending only with Presidente beer in popularity. During your time in DR, you are sure to come across a cup of Brugal. But only in Puerto Plata can you go on a tour of the distillery, learn about the history of Brugal, and taste some rums.

11. Spend the day at Fricolandia 

Fricolandia is like a beach playground with gorgeous views of the ocean, and because of that, this local favorite spot stays booked and busy! You can enjoy all its amenities by staying overnight or enjoy a chill day by the water with family using a day pass. Both options give you access to the beach, bungalows, two restaurants, a swimming pool, and playground. 

12. Del Oro Chocolate Factory

If you’ve booked a tour of Puerto Plata through another vendor, chances are you’ll make a stop at Del Oro Chocolate Factory. Their free samples are a sure hook into the plethora of chocolatey souvenirs available for purchase. They offer a quick history and insight into the chocolate-making process, and are a popular tourist destination.

13. Kick it at Punta Rucia and Cayo Arena 

When you’re in Puerto Plata, you have to experience this double whammy of aquatic joy. First, drive on over to beautiful Playa Punta Rucia, and don’t forget to stop and take a picture at Brisas del Atlantico, a popular photo location.

From Playa Punta Rucia, you can either head to nearby Playa Ensenada for lunch, OR, take a catamaran over to a sandy caye in the middle of the crystalline ocean for some snorkeling! Cayo Arena aka Paradise Island is an absolutely gorgeous experience, and you can book a tour here.

14. Meet Manatees at Santuario de Mamíferos Marinos

Two words: Manatee. Sanctuary. Located by Playita Gulin in Puerto Plata, Santuario de Mamiferos Marinos de Estero Hondo allows you to head on up a lookout tower and watch the endangered West Indian manatees flop about the water in all their glory. Perfect for a family moment with kids! The sanctuary is also a protected habitat for birds. 

15. Charco de los Militares

Charco de los Militares is an ambitious trek through Puerto Plata greenery that culminates in three waterfalls. We say ambitious because this hike is over an hour long and requires some bravery! The final destination is totally worth it though. If you’re interested, you can book a hike with Tubagua Eco Lodge.

16. Tour del Café de Pedro Garcia

Near the border of Santiago and Puerto Plata is a coffee farm that you can tour, and they let you roast your own coffee! The Pedro Garcia coffee trail is a perfect stop if you’re curious about one of the Dominican Republic’s most important cash crops. The area, surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges and rivers, was rebuilt recently with the intent of better coffee production. Grab a tour and some beans!

17. Embark on the Tobacco Valley Tours

The Dominican Republic has a deep history of tobacco production and the manufacturing of high-quality Dominican cigars for global consumers. If you enjoy cigars and history, you can book a guided tour experience like this one. Tobacco Valley Tours offers half-day visits to the tobacco plantations in Villa González. Or go independently to a farm like Vivonte Cigars in Puerto Plata and enjoy the food and amenities offered in their smoking lounge.

18. Embark on the Pico Diego Ocampo Hike

Hikes and nature lovers rejoice! If you find yourself wanting a break from the Puerto Plata beaches, then take a quick trip to Pico Diego de Ocampo. It is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Septentrional and owes its name to the captain of the black maroons who fought against slavery during the colonial times. Access is free. It’s a 45-minute to two-hour hike, depending on the traveler’s hiking ability. 

19. Stop by Cafe del Yaroa

Located smack dab between Santiago and Puerto Plata is Cafe del Yaroa. Located in the town of Yasica in Puerto Plata, you can find a sweet local coffee shop dedicated to campo style coffee (traditionally brewed Dominican coffee). Cafe del Yaroa makes for a special afternoon for the family to experience the Dominican countryside!

20. Try Stand-up Paddle Boarding

This underrated aquatic sport challenges your balance and stability leg muscles like no other. Whatever level you’re at, you can book this experience in Sosua and spend two hours with your family or friends (ages 8+) learning how to paddle board while taking dips in the mesmerizing blue waters of Puerto Plata.

Tip: You can stand on both feet or just rest on your knees to start.

21. Hike Rio Partido + Las Golondrinas Waterfall 

Truly, Puerto Plata has rivers like nowhere else in the Caribbean. The crystalline waters of Rio Partido are refreshing and necessary to beat the heat. Las Golondrinas waterfall is the picture-perfect landscape for your trip. Be warned, the hike is intermediate difficulty, but those lush blue waters are worth the trek.

22. Hike to La Rejoya Waterfall 

If you can’t embark on the Las Golondrinas waterfalls trip, no worries! You can join this hike, which will take you to the beautiful Le Rejoya waterfall. This is also much more accessible than some of the other hikes we’ve mentioned.

You’ll be guided by Jorge, a Puerto Plata local who centers wellness in his activities. This is the perfect hike for some re-centering! 

 23. Salto del Gallo Waterfall Day Trip

A magical place where the waters sing as they cascade down rocky cliff edges. Salto del Gallo is located in the Dominican Alps region of Corocito, San José de las Matas (also known as Sajoma). With a height of 50 meters, this waterfall offers a natural rugged stairway allowing you to climb to the top and enjoy breathtaking views.

From Puerto Plata, it is about 3 hours driving. But the trip is well worth the gorgeous drive. You can stop by Santiago for dinner on your way back. With local guides from Corocito, you will have to walk or ride a horse for about 2 hours going up and down several hills.

24. Fresh Fruit Stops (Fruteros)

Sprinkled around the city and roads of Puerto Plata are local Dominican fruit stands full of goodies like coconuts, limoncillos, sugarcane, and mangos — to name a few. This is a great way to support local vendors, small businesses, and your digestive system by purchasing fresh fruit to energize you on your trip through Puerto Plata.

 25. Visit the Amber Mines

Through time, Puerto Plata (which translates to Silver Port) has held a few nicknames: la tacita de plata, La novia del Atlantico, and now, the Amber Coast. In Puerto Plata, you can tour amber mines in the hills of La Cumbre. If you’re looking for an authentic souvenir to bring back home, consider buying amber jewelry from local vendors. For guided tours, contact the folks at Amber World Museum.

 26. Walk around the historic La Isabela Ruins

One of the oldest landmarks in the Western World, La Isabela was founded by none other than the infamous Christopher Columbus in 1493, and abandoned by 1500. Named after the queen of Spain, the settlement housed more than a thousand Spaniards. The ruins are now part of an archeological museum that showcases the history of the site.

27. Take the Teleferico to Loma Isabel de Torres

If you were to imagine Puerto Plata as a city with a beating heart, then the teleferico to Loma Isabel de Torres is its main artery. This cable pumps through the city skyline, delivering locals and tourists alike to panoramic views of the coast, and to the famous massive statue of Christ the Redeemer.

28. Visit the Jewish Museum

The Dominican Republic is an absolutely diverse nation, although we don’t hear much about how and why. In the town of Sosua in the Puerto Plata province, you’ll find a museum dedicated to Jewish heritage, archiving their history from their arrival in the country as refugees from the Holocaust, to their contributions in Dominican culture (looking at you, delicious Productos Sosua).

The Sosua Jewish Museum is open on weekdays at 9 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 5 PM.

29. Museo Gregorio Luperon

The Gregorio Luperon Museum shares the story of a revolutionary leader who helped the Dominican Republic gain its second independence from Spain. The museum has two floors of exhibits with a gorgeous courtyard in the center. You can do a guided tour or peruse on your own.

30. Visit Temple of the Americas 

Built on the ruins of La Isabela, the Temple of the Americas is a great stop for photos and exploring important cultural and spiritual Dominican history. Enjoy the brisk winds facilitated by the sea as you move through what is considered the first and oldest Catholic Church in the Americas.

31. Do a Full Day Puerto Plata Tour from Amber Cove

If you’ve been reading this list in an attempt to build your Puerto Plata itinerary and are feeling overwhelmed, then we absolutely have to recommend this Amber Cove Shore Excursion booking. The day is planned out for you with stops at cigar factories, the teleferico, and Fortaleza San Felipe, ensuring that you visit some classic locations before kicking back at any of the Puerto Plata beaches.

32. Go Ziplining

A healthy dose of adrenaline goes a long way on a jam-packed trip! For that jolt of energy, go on a Puerto Plata zipline adventure. Not only do you get to go ziplining, but you spend this 5-hour excursion cruising through Puerto Plata in a safari-style vehicle, and even get to stop at a local petting zoo! 

33. Snorkeling Tour in Sosua

Universally known for its luscious crystal blue waters, Sosua is a popular snorkeling destination. With Eric Tours International, you can take an affordable snorkeling tour to two stops: Three Rocks and Sosua Bay. All you need to bring are your swimming basics and a positive attitude. They provide snorkeling gear.

34. Take a Surfing Class

Did we mention that Puerto Plata is the aquatic sports center of the Dominican Republic? Find out for yourself on this surfing class provided by Juan Pablo with the Surf and Kite School. If you’re in Cabarete or Sosua, they also offer pick-up and drop-off from your hotel. You get a private lesson, surf theory, and the opportunity to catch some waves!

35. Take a Haitian Cooking Class + Farm Visit

Project Esperanza is a non-profit that works with Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic, providing them with support and spaces to sell art, like the Art Shop in downtown Puerto Plata. You can support them by taking a Haitian cooking class, where you’ll learn how to make Sik Sou Bon Bon.

36. Santiago City Day Trip

Puerto Plata is only about two hours away from the second largest city in the Dominican Republic: Santiago de Los Caballeros. Santiago is home to the nation’s major monument, and the bustling city provides you with everything you need for an incredible culinary experience and successful night out in the club.

There are actually so many things to do in Santiago, we had to give you a different article for it!

37. Adventure Full-Day Tour of the Puerto Plata Region

What do you get when you add horseback riding to ziplining, swimming, a barbecue, and twelve waterfalls of Damajagua? You get this steal of an all-day Puerto Plata adventure and likely a nice tan from all the outdoor fun! Horseback riding in the Dominican Republic is still a common practice in the campo areas of the country. Try it for yourself!

38. Take a Dip in Sosua

If during your time in Puerto Plata, you stumble upon the gorgeous beach known as Sosua, keep a few things in mind: the area is plagued by older, usually white men, who use their wealth to prey on vulnerable young Dominican girls and boys.

Help combat the economic desperation that leads to dynamics like these by supporting local businesses with plentiful purchases and tips. Its main beach, Playa Sosua, is famous for its decadent warm waters, and while you’re there, say yes to boardwalk vendors offers of fried fish and a coco-loco (a pina colada in a pineapple)!

39. Enjoy the serenity of Playa El Viejo Oscar

If you want access to a quiet, private beach for a low price, we recommend the tranquil Playa El Viejo Oscar, nestled between Playa Larga and Playa Secreta. White sand, crystal waters, and solitude is definitely worth the visit if you’re someone who likes to soak in the sun without interruption. These are definitely two of the best beaches in Puerto Plata.

III. Where to Eat in Puerto Plata

As you can tell, there are so many incredible things to do in Puerto Plata! While you’re packing your Puerto Plata trip to the brim with fun, don’t forget to eat well and support local businesses by dining away from your hotel or resort. Check out some of our Puerto Plata dining favorites:

  • La Catalina Restaurante: Just 30 minutes from the historic center of Puerto Plata, this restaurant is located on a gorgeous ranch overlooking the mountains. The food is top-tier and affordable.
  • Lis & Liz Tea and Coffee Room: Donned in comforting pink designs and roses, this tea shop is the perfect stop for coffee and a cute photo! 
  • Check out the Comedores around town for Lunch: Comedores are affordable buffet-style eateries available all over the country. In Puerto Plata, grab lunch at a comedor between 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. Support local vendors!

IV. Where to Stay in Puerto Plata 

A quick search online will probably show you many hotels and Airbnbs for your stay in Puerto Plata. The province has several great accommodations for you to book, but here are some of our trusted ones:

  • Greenland Bubble Glamping: This is one of the Dominican Republic’s unique glamping sites, offering bubble tents that give you a transparent view of Puerto Plata. The photos don’t do it justice!
  • Sea Horse Ranch: Traveling with a group? This 5 bedroom villa located in the beautiful Sea Horse Ranch puts you right by the ocean and in the middle of all the fun.
  • Tubagua Ecolodge: Full breakfast? Outdoor pool? A wooden lodge in the mountains of the Dominican Republic? Tubagua Ecolodge is a sustainable choice for a good night’s rest.
  • El Gallo Ecolodge: Just 15 minutes away from Puerto Plata city is El Gallo Ecolodge in Cupey. This eco-friendly accommodation is solar-powered and offers an incredible view of Puerto Plata from the mountains.
  • Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel: This beachfront hotel in Cabarete takes a wellness approach to its accommodation, offering yoga, spas, and nutritious breakfasts for its guests to recenter and unwind.

Dear reader, we hope your wanderer and Dominican Republic-loving heart takes you into the gorgeous and underrated city of Puerto Plata. Even if all you do is visit Ocean World Adventure Park, make sure to support local businesses and be conscious of the spaces you move through.

Although there are many great places in DR, Puerto Plata is truly one of the best places to visit in this country.  Keep this list top of mind, and let us help you craft the perfect itinerary of things to do in Puerto Plata. 

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3 thoughts on “48 Epic Things to Do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic + Day Trips

  1. maria says:

    do you recommend any airbnbs? I planning a family trip and we wanted to stay in the middle of all the excursions so we don’t have to drive too far what town do you recommend us staying in that’s close to paseo de Dona blanca, near the center of the city ?

  2. Duane Brock says:

    Excellent article! We’ve visited Puerta Plata and Punta Cana in the past and thoroughly enjoyed our visits but we missed several of the things you’ve recommended. Your article will add to our visit this trip!

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