Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
The town of Puerto Plata was named, in 1493, by Columbus because of the way the sun shone on the water, creating the illusion of a mass of silver coins (plata). This port was originally used as a stopover for ships carrying loads of silver on their way to Spain from Mexico. But of course in those days, where there were riches, there were pirates. Things got so bad that the Spanish crown insisted that the port be abandoned, only to revisit and move in again 100 years later.
The town remained a trading port until it built up its tourism industry beginning in the 1960s. The area experienced its most lucrative years in the 1990s when the economy swelled from the revenue that tourism created, far surpassing the tobacco, sugar, and cattle industries that had sustained it for so long. However, with the more recent birth of a lucrative tourism industry in the Southeast of the country, the economy here is once again slightly declining.
Even though the name Puerto Plata and the term all-inclusive are still synonymous, the real seedbed of the resort scene in the area is east of Puerto Plata on Playa Dorada. Playa Dorada is a resort complex just east of the town of Puerto Plata where long stretches of golden sand lure tourists to these worry-free sanctuaries where all their needs are met in one place. When booking a vacation, resorts will often use the names Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada interchangeably.
Aside from the beautiful beach here, Puerto Plata’s charming town square lined with restored Victorian homes offers plenty of reasons to wander outside of the resort complex. The town features a reputable amber museum, a colonial fortress, and a cable-car ride up the verdant and plush mountainside of Pico Isabel de Torres. Puerto Plata also presents an annual jazz festival and Carnaval celebration.
Today, Puerto Plata is a very clean town due to the efforts the government has put into sprucing up the town.
Getting to Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada
By Air: The Aeropuerto Internacional Gregorio Luperón (tel. 809/586-0107) is about 18 kilometers east of Puerto Plata and Playa Dorada. A taxi to or from the airport to this area costs US$20.
This is the airport that most travelers fly into if they are visiting Cofresí, Maimón, Luperón, Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Sosúa, Cabarete, Playa Grande, and Cabrera hotels. Some of the airlines that serve the airport are: American Airlines (tel. 800/200-5151, www.aa.com), Continental (tel. 809/200-1062, www.continental.com), Air Canada (tel. 809/541-5151, www.aircanada.com), AirEuropa (www.air-europa.com), JetBlue Airways (www.jetblue.com) and Delta (tel. 809/585-0973, www.delta.com).
By Car: Coming from the south, take Autopista Duarte 1 northward to Via Santiago, then take Exit 5 to the right, which is the route to Puerto Plata.
Driving from the east simply take the coastal and very scenic Highway 5, which runs all the way from Las Galeras on the Península de Samaná to Puerto Plata and then curves south.
By Bus: Caribe Tours (Puerto Plata, Calle Camino Real at Eugenio Kunhardt, by the Parque Central, tel. 809/586-4544 or 576-0790) has service to Santo Domingo (US$8) with stops in Santiago (US$7) and La Vega (US$5). A bus leaves every hour for the four-hour ride from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo, daily.
Metro (Calle 16 de Agosto, tel. 809/586-6062, www.metroserviciosturisticos.com) offers service to Santo Domingo (US$8.50), and with just one stop in Santiago (US$7), you’ll shave half an hour off your travel time. Buses leave at 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.
Guaguas are a low-budget option. Eastbound ones line up on the northern end of the Parque Central; they’ll stop at the gate to Playa Dorada and then continue onward along Highway 5 with stops in Sosúa, Cabarete, and finally Río San Juan. If you’re heading to Nagua you’ll have to transfer and then in Nagua transfer again for Samaná. You can be dropped off anywhere and flag them down anywhere. It really is a very efficient mode of transportation.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition