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Puerto Plata Travel Guide, Dominican Republic

Located on the northern coast of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, at 209km (130 miles) northwest of Santo Domingo, the city of Puerto Plata, capital of the province Puerto Plata, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Plata city, a European colonial city in the 16th century, can be visited on foot or by taxi. With narrow sidewalks, you can make your way throughout the streets busy with traffic by taking a taxi or gua-gua (a local bus), less expensive than a taxi, but very crowded.

You can arrive to Puerto Plata by plane as the two important airports are relatively close to the most popular destinations. Cibao International Airport in Santiago, located approximately an hour south of Puerto Plata city by car, receives flights mostly from the US. The Gregorio Luperon International Airport, known also as the Puerto Plata Airport, is the closest airport, located east of Puerto Plata city. If you are headed to northern destinations as Cofresi, Luperon, Puerto Plata city, Playa Dorada and Cabarete, this is the right choice for most tourists. The airport offers service to and from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe, and even connecting flights through Mexico City and Caracas. There are hotels that include in their services free shuttles to the city or to the beach.

In winter it rains a lot in Puerto Plata so, if you are in the mood for sunbathing, then choose Punta Cana and the beaches located on the southern coast.

The city of Puerto Plata ("port of silver") began its existence as a settlement in 1502 when Nicolás de Ovando founded the city. Because of weather conditions Columbus did not succeed in establishing the city La Isabela at Puerto Plata. The harbour represented the place where ships were loaded with treasures in order to be sent back to Europe.

Travellers seeking a vacation out of the ordinary can plan an amazing tropical getaway in Puerto Plata. There are many beaches on the north coast of the Dominican Republic to explore. With stretches of narrow beaches, dotted with palm trees, loudspeakers projecting meringue, the national music of Dominican Republic and plenty of tourists, these beaches are to be found next to resorts. If you're looking for something more remote, venture out a bit and you'll find some fantastic areas.

Offering tourists training and equipment, scuba diving represents a major attraction of these beaches. You can enjoy a magnificent under water scenery with reefs, shipwrecks, humpback whales and sea creatures.

Have you ever wanted to play a round of golf overlooking the ocean? Puerto Plata offers excellent courses, most of them designed by Robert Trent Jones: the 18 hole Playa Dorada golf course and the nine hole Los Mangos golf course. One of the best courses in the Caribbean is The Playa Grande Golf Course set on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous ocean above one of the best beaches on the island called Playa Grande. Experienced and amateur golfers alike should take advantage of this tropical island setting for a great round of ocean side golf.

A fantastic way of spending your day is swimming with dolphins at Ocean World Water Park. Your children will enjoy feeding parrots, lovebirds and watching shows with sea lions. You can buy photos with animals and celebrities at the photo shop.

But your activities do not stop here. In the Puerto Plata region tourists can choose between hiking in the mountains, horseback riding, fishing, bicycle tours and more.

If you like to bring home a souvenir specific of the area you vacationed in, there are plenty of shops in Puerto Plata, as well as in resorts.

There are dozens of all-inclusive beach resorts, where food, drinks, beach equipment and a long list of demands are all part of a one-price package. The culture is immersed with color, flavor and texture of Spanish cuisine. But because of the all-inclusive trend, many restaurants closed. This is why Pizza Hut became the most popular dining choice.

There is a spectrum of hotel and resort options to suit different budgets. The majority of lodgings are to be found in Playa Dorada, a conglomerate of hotels, apartments and villas. There are hotels that restrict admission only to their guests, each one of them being given wristbands in order to indicate to which resort they belong.

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