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Puerto Plata or San Felipe de Puerto Plata is a city in the Dominican Republic. It is capital of the province of Puerto Plata.
Known for its pretty sandy beaches, Puerto Plata is a popular resort destination as well as a great place to meet Dominican people and to shop in local commerce.
Gregorio Luperón International Airport (also: Puerto Plata Airport) (POP). Daily flights to most North American cities. POP is located about 15 minutes east of downtown Puerto Plata.
There are several options for local transportation between the city proper and the surrounding hotels and resorts.
Taxis are the most expensive option and not really more secure than other choices. You will probably prefer to book a Private Transfers with a reliable company.
Buses are slower, but the cheapest, and, once you understand the routes, the easiest way to get around.
Guagua are simple minivan for normally 7-8 persons that can be easily packed to 22 persons and 2 roosters. Guagua are the main common transportation system but not really organised; you can stop practically anywhere along the main streets and wait for one to stop and climb up, the fare is normally cheap, but you'll probably have to negotiate with the driver or the door operator.
Propinas. The same general rules must apply here. The difference is that some of the ones here will take the "con man" approach. One typical example is that you will be approached by a friendly individual who will pretend to be an employee at your resort, based on looking at the wristband you wear, given to you at the hotel. They can be very knowledgeable about your resort when asking them any questions, and so it is easy to see how they may win your confidence.
What to see
Christo Redentor (Monument at the top of Parc Nacionale de Isabella de Torres), Parc Nacionale de Isabella de Torres. 8-17 (known for opening late and closing early). Take a funicular to the top of the mountain that sits behind Puerto Plata to see a replica of the original located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fortaleza San Felipe, Avenida General Gregorio Luperón. Historical fort located by the main bay of Puerto Plata. The smell of diesel exhaust is pervasive since it's right next to the main electric generator for the city, which burns diesel. There are many local vendors who are quite persistent at trying to sell you goods at exorbitant prices, and children also asking for money in their limited English. In front of the fort is a nice grassy area that's good for a picnic overlooking the water.
Live Music (In central park), Central Park, Purto Plata downtown. Live musicians play in the park on Sundays.
Museo Del Amber (Amber Museum), Calle Duarte 61 (About 100 meters from Parque Central). Amber gems in a nice villa.
Public beach Puerto Plata (lay out in the sun). This beach is very close to the entertaining Wal-Mart of Puerto Plata (La Sirena).
Private RIU beach, RIU Hotel (15 minutes west of the city center of Puerto Plata). This all inclusive resort has man-cleared beaches.
Water sports and excursions. There are countless excursion companies, both local and foreign-based offering water sports (water-skiing, banana boat rides, windsurfing, catamaran cruises, etc.) and land excursions ('safari' trips, horseback riding).
Catamaran tour. Sail on a catamaran, most vendors are asking for $60USD for a 1hr ride, though this is a bit high, and you can negotiate.
City tour, depart from most hotels. You will find that many "vendors" are selling generic "city tours", mostly to visitors of all-inclusive resorts who want to get a more authentic tour of local life and locales.
Scuba diving. There are many scuba diving outfits, but the pollution in the area has decimated the underwater environment. Puerto Plata is not the place to scuba dive for this reason. The dive shops operate from Sosua and will pick you up from your hotel. If you're going to be diving more it's better to stay closer to Sosua as it may be an hour and a half drive from the resorts in Puerto Plata and Cofresí to the dive shop.
Charcos de Damajagua (27 waterfalls), Highway 5 past Imbert heading west (Take Highway 5 heading towards Santiago. Continue on the highway for about 20 minutes before passing by Imbert. Stay on the main highway and you will pass over one bridge on your way out of town before climbing a hill.
Ocean World, Calle Principal 3, Cofresí (Go west to Lifestyle Resorts, Cofresí, take the left road.). 9-18. The day pass includes a pickup from nearby hotels, the shows (dolphin, sea lion, shark, and bird), some other animal attractions (birds, tigers, iguanas in a terrarium), and lunch. It is a bit pricey but the shows are quite good. You can upgrade to animal encounters, dolphin swims and such. $69USD for adults.
Malecón (Avenida General Luperón and Avenida Circunvalación Norte). Walk along the Malecón, ie. the 3km beach strip.
Self-Drive the Ruta Panoramica, (Juntion located 7 kms west of Puerto Plata Airport). La Ruta Panoramica is a scenic mountain road that connects Puerto Plata on the north coast and Santiago City in the Cibao Valley.
If you are looking for tourist stuff (paints, rum, cigars, t-shirts, etc.) the best place to go is Sosua, about 10-15 minutes from Puerto Plata.
La Sirena Market (Supermarket), Avenida del Malecón (Avenida General Gregorio Luperón). Get your fix of a Wal-Mart away from home. La Sirena has a very North American feel, and a wide selection of products that may be difficult to find in other small shops.
Souvenirs Market, Calle Beller (About a block northwest from Parque Central). Many souvenirs available, none with price tags.