Things to do in Puerto Plata: Best excursions, attractions, museums, beaches, nightlife
A famed tropical destination situated on the Dominican Republic's Atlantic north coast, Puerto Plata is a vacation hot spot that's adored by many from around the world. Though the area is best known for its beaches, there are plenty of other things about Puerto Plata that should get you excited about planning a trip here. Alongside numerous fun and exciting attractions, there are some great day excursions to choose from, a few good museums and cultural experiences, and a nightlife worth partaking in.
When planning your visit to Puerto Plata, you'll want to take into account how long you'll be staying. That's because most of the excursions available take up the entire day, eating into your beach time. If you're visiting for a short trip that's only a few days long, you may want to stick to only one excursion and maybe one attraction. If you're visiting for a week or more, then you'll find plenty of time to visit a few of each, in addition to your beach time.
Best excursions of Puerto Plata and surrounding area
Excursions are a big part of most vacations as it can get a bit boring just laying on the beach day after day. With that said, there are several different types of excursions that people generally look to partake in, some being more on the relaxing side while others filled with action and adventure, leaving you worn out at the end of the day, but in a good way. Puerto Plata is home to numerous adventure style excursions, giving you an opportunity to have fun in various ways. But not all of them are really that great, meaning you want to do your research first. If you don't have time to research each one, you'll want to select from one or two of the excursions listed below.
Santiago and Jarabacoa Waterfalls
A full day adventure tour, this excursion to the Santiago and Jarabacoa Waterfalls gives you the opportunity to view beautiful scenery that you'll be talking about for years to come. In addition to the waterfalls, you'll also find yourself visiting a cigar factory, a ceramics factory and the Dominican Alps. Once in the Alps you'll continue your excursion via horseback before switching to on-foot. Lunch is provided as well, making this a great, well rounded tour.
- Adult: US$88.99
- Child: US$44.99
Outback Safari Adventure Tour
Great for those who like to get out into nature, this safari tour features an open air truck that treats you to a guided, 8 hour tour. During this tour, you'll explore the North Coast where you'll learn more about the local culture, history and various ecosystems that call this region home. In addition, lunch is provided alongside an open bar. Make sure to bring your camera during this excursion as you'll get plenty of chances to take pictures at various scenic points throughout the trip.
- Adult: US$79.00
- Child: US$39.50
Paradise Island Day Trip by Speedboat
A great day trip for both adults and children, this speedboat adventure to Paradise Island is exactly that, paradise. First you'll take a speedboat ride to the island where you'll then enjoy the white sand beach before snorkeling among the schools of tropical fish that the island is known for. In addition, you can also explore the area mangrove forests and lagoons. Lunch is provided right on the beach alongside drinks from the beach bar.
- Adult: US$95.00
- Child: US$47.50
Best attractions in and around Puerto Plata
With attractions in and out of town, you'll find plenty to eat away your days in Puerto Plata. Some attractions are worthy of a whole day while others will only take a few hours of your time. With that said, there are some that are a bit lackluster, meaning that only a handful should be visited during your vacation. For the best of the best, read more below.
Damajaqua Cascades (27 Waterfalls)
If you're looking for a thrilling adventure, then you'll want to make sure not to miss this attraction. Better known as 27 Waterfalls, Damajaqua Cascades is an attraction that allows you to traverse through many different waterfalls in a canyon. Because there is a lot of climbing and hiking involved, you'll want to think long and hard before bringing your young children here as they could easily get tired early on during your adventure. When visiting, you'll find that you have a choice of how many waterfall climbs you want to do, seven, twelve or twenty seven. Most opt for the lowest of the three, which seems to be plenty of adventure for many.
- Adult: varying
- Child: varying
Ocean World Adventure Park, Marina and Casino
A great stop for pretty much everyone, this attraction houses a marina, a park and a casino, making it ideal for both adults and kids. At the adventure park you'll have the chance to swim with stingrays, sea lions, sharks and dolphins. If you love tigers, there's also a few on-site, where you'll be able to witness them up close and personal. If you love to gamble, then you'll find lots of fun at the casino, that's also marine themed. In addition, you'll find shows and restaurants on-site, making this attraction very well rounded.
- Adult: US$69.00
- Child: US$54.00
Best Puerto Plata museums and cultural sites
If you like to learn while on vacation, you'll find plenty of opportunities to do just that during your trip to Puerto Plata. Here you'll find lots of natural and cultural sites alongside a few museums, making it so that you could easily spend a few days discovering all of the ones nearby. However, some are a bit more exciting than others. To make sure you don't end up wasting your vacation time, here are the best of the best.
Just like what the name sounds like, this museum is all about amber. Here you'll find a rather large amber collection, two whole floors worth to be exact. Some of these specimens are fossilized as well, helping to make this museum very interesting to visitors and locals alike. It's also easy to find as it is located in downtown Puerto Plata and situated in a beautiful Victorian mansion. Just make sure to only purchase items within the museum as items sold by vendors outside are plastic replicas and not the real thing. This museum is also open six days a week, from Monday to Saturday.
- Adult: US$2.00
- Child: US$2.00
Mount Isabel de Torres
Just southwest of Puerto Plata, this site is easily reached via taxi. Once there, you will then take a cable car to the very top where you'll find a giant statue of Christ along with a botanical garden and some pretty impressive and neat views of the city below. When planning a trip here, you'll want to make sure to visit during the morning hours as afternoon brings in heavy cloud cover, which in turn obstructs your view. If you're looking to buy a few trinkets to take back home with you, you'll find several eager vendors in the dome situated under the statue.
- Adult: US$7.00
- Child: US$7.00
Best beaches in Puerto Plata
Home to some pretty incredible beaches, Puerto Plata offers you a beachfront destination that's worthy of a thousand pictures. But with so many beaches to choose from, unless you're staying for a long time, you won't have time to explore them all. Instead, you'll want to focus your time on the best beaches in the area, with the top ones listed below.
Noted as the number one beach in the area, Playa Dorada is the choice for visitors. Most likely, you're staying in a hotel or resort along this beach, making it conveniently located. This beach is perfect for lounging, people watching and just plain relaxing. It's also a great choice for watersports with windsurfing, snorkeling and more common here. If you like to fish, you'll find several fishing tours that leave from this beach as well.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Just west of Puerto Plata, Cofresi beach is a quieter beach that is frequented less than some of the other beaches nearby, yet is still just as nice. This is a great beach for families with small children as the water is on the calmer side and there is plenty of shade to rest under so that you're not in the hot sun the entire time. There are also umbrellas available alongside a few restaurants. This beach is right next to Ocean World Adventure Park as well.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Best Puerto Plata nightlife
If you love to continue the party into the night, then you'll be happy with Puerto Plata's nightlife scene. Here you'll find a few great choices to select from, as well as some that aren't worth wasting your time on. For the best of the best, continue reading below.
Big Lee's Beach Bar
A favorite of cruise passengers, Big Lee's Beach Bar offers fun both day and night. It's also often listed as the best bar in Puerto Plata. Home to some classic rock, karaoke and great drinks, this bar is a fantastic spot to enjoy time with new and old friends while taking in the ocean view.
- Adult: free
- Child: free
Kviar Show Disco & Casino Puerto Plata
A chain nightclub that has made its appearance in Puerto Plata, this stationary party offers visitors a combination of a casino and show venue. Once inside, if you feel like you've just been transported over to Las Vegas, you're in good company. Not only will you find a working casino, but a club as well offering shows, DJs and theme nights. If you're one to stay up late, then this club is your best option.
- Adult: varying
- Child: varying