Things to do in Puerto Plata

Itineraries for Your Trip to Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Puerto Plata for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Not only is Puerto Plata a fascinating historical destination, it’s also an excellent base for exploring the natural beauty and heritage of the Dominican Republic’s northern coast. With three days, you’ll have time to see the city’s highlights and head farther afield to experience the wonders of this Caribbean nation. Here are some tips. 

Day 1

Kick off your trip to Puerto Plata with an orientation of the north coast aboard an open-top safari truck. Get an introduction to the area’s history, culture, and ecosystems as you drive along the back roads, passing through rural villages and by hidden beaches, visiting an artisan craft market and local school along the way. In the afternoon, take some time to tour the historical highlights of Puerto Plata itself. Walk the historic walls of Fort San Felipe (the oldest fort in the New World); sample rum at the Brugal Rum Distillery; learn about the region’s semiprecious gemstone at the Amber Museum; and ride the cable car to the top of Isabel de Torres for panoramic views. End your day with a romantic horseback ride along one of Puerto Plata’s quiet beaches at sunset.

Day 2

Puerto Plata is the kind of place where you can choose your own adventure, whatever thrill level appeals to you. Head into the tropical rain forests outside Puerto Plata to explore one of the Caribbean’s top natural attractions, the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. Other options include an ATV ride through the rugged country landscape, a zipline tour through the canopy, a horseback ride from a local ranch, or sailing, snorkeling, or scuba diving in Sosua Bay. No matter how you spend your day, keep the fun going into the night with a north coast barhop between Puerto Plata, Sosua, and Cabarete. 

Day 3

Get a broader view of the Dominican Republic with a day trip. One popular option is swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters off Cayo Arena, also known as Paradise Island. History and natural beauty blend within Los Haitises National Park, where you can explore petroglyph-covered caverns and spot manatees in dense mangrove swamps. If you’re visiting in winter, consider spending the day whale watching in Samana Bay, where humpback whales come to mate and give birth. These day trips can be quite long, so plan for a quiet dinner at your hotel or resort.

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