Dominican Republic -North Coast Touring

The north coast highway: perfect for beach hopping, town hopping

One of the most fascinating vacations you could ever hope for

begins when you fly into Puerto Plata International Airport, rent a

car, pull out of the airport and just take off, go bopping from place

to place along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. You

find yourself cruising along a well-maintained, two-lane highway

that follows the coast alongside spectacular beaches, through

typical Dominican villages in and out of breathtaking,

ever-changing tropical countryside. You stop at a beach here,

explore a Dominican town there and otherwise take your time

checking out whatever catches your fancy. 

 

 

The best thing about exploring this wilderness highway is that

you're not stuck to only wilderness. The road runs from oasis to

oasis of civilization. You can stop for lobster lunch in one town,

then head down the road for an hour or so and find a quaint little

hotel with a neat bar on a good beach. Maybe you meet some

people you enjoy so you decide to hang out for a few days. Once

you've had enough, you move on to the next place. 

 

This journey is made all that much more colorful by the collection of offbeat

foreigners who have taken up residence along this coastline. They herald from places like Vienna and Amsterdam and Sicily and Montreal and they

run restaurants and bars and b&b's. They organize activities and ways to discover unusual and fascinating things hidden away in the mountains and along the beaches. They take you mountain biking, cave exploring, whitewater rafting,

whale watching and otherwise live out their passions by making it possible for visitors to experience them too. 

 

Whether you're looking to travel around, or for place to just relax

for a week, this web site will help you find what you're looking

for. Whichever way you choose to travel, the combination of

friendly Dominicans, lively Latin culture, offbeat expatriates,

beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside all combine to make

this one of the most unusual, fun, fascinating and safe places for a

Caribbean vacation.

The north coastal  highway puts towns and resorts within easy access to the airport. Here is a list of the principal towns and areas of interest along the north coast:

 

Puerto Plata City is the center of regional commerce, a port city

and the capital of the Province of Puerto Plata (pop. +/- 150,000).

The city is characterized by busy, narrow streets, quaint colonial

gingerbread architecture and a wide oceanfront boulevard ending

at a historical Spanish fortress.

 

Playa Dorada Complex: Playa Dorada has the largest concentration of resorts.

It offers a country club setting, with hotels spread out through a very lush

and appealing garden-golf course setting. All the buildings are low-rise,

maximum three stories so the natural vegetation dominates. The whole setting

is done really in quite good taste. There are some 15 different hotels in this

complex, located about 5 kilometers from the edge of town. But it

doesn't feel dense because of the low rise building code. Some are

on the beach, others are around the golf course but all in all you

are basically on the beach. The golf course hotels all have their

own oceanfront beach clubs and even though it's walking distance

they have golf carts and other means of shuttling those who don't

feel like walking. When you're in Playa Dorada you're basically in

a controlled environment. There's plenty to do and you don't really

ever have to leave to have a good vacation. But, it's not the "real"

Dominican Republic, so if you want to explore a bit, you'll have to

go beyond your resort. That's what this web site is all about. There

is not much of anything right outside this resort complex. To find

local color you basically need transportation. Unless you want to

walk down the highway for five kilometers to get to town. In other

words, you're basically landlocked within a tourist complex. There

is a shopping plaza in the middle of the complex with restaurants

and pubs and shops, and you can explore up and down the beach.

Most all inclusive resorts restrict admission to their own guests,

though. 

 

Sosua: a bustling Latin village centered around a magnificent beach and bay. Lots of foreigners running small hotels, bars and discos, and plenty of interaction with local Dominicans.  This is a must see for sounds and sights.  Also a center for Real Estate sales for much of the North Coast.  (see AMERICAN REALTY:   american@codetel.net.do    Tel. 809-571-1979  &  1-710-7602 (cell))

 

Cofresi & Costambar: adjacent communities occupying the two

of the nicest beaches on the outskirts of Puerto Plata City, popular

with retired expatriates, many villas and condos available for rent

by owners.

 

Maimon: this bay is the location of Riu Merengue Resort, located

about 12 kilometers west of Puerto Plata city. Riu Merengue is a

beautiful resort that sits alone on this bay, but there is not much

going on in the area surrounding the resort so basically you are

landlocked here and will require transportation to go exploring. 

 

 

Cabarete: a town that sprung up on a beautiful beach once it was discovered to be one of the best places in the world to windsurf. Hotels, restaurants, bars and windsurfing centers mostly centered along a single beachfront strip.

 

The above areas are all located within a half hour from the

airport. Further down the coast yet still easily accessible are other

popular destinations: 

 

Luperon: Luperon Bay is a large multi-fingered estuary with

narrow access to the open water that makes it the best hurricane

hole on the north coast. The town is growing around servicing

boaters and there are a handful of interesting watering holes and

restaurants. 

 

La Isabela: The first permanent settlement built by Christopher

Columbus on his maiden voyage in 1492, now a historical point of interest.

 

 

Rio San Juan & Playa Grande: a coastal town popular for boat

rides through a mangrove-choked lagoon. Just outside of town is

Playa Grande, a beautiful beach and excellent golf course being

developed for resorts.

 

Cabrera: a serene, agricultural region that is attracting well-to-do

foreigners who are building luxurious countryside estates far from

the madding crowd. 

 

At the eastern extreme of the north coastal highway lies the

Samana Peninsula, a region of spectacular hills that feature a vast

forest of coconut palms. Places like the town of Samana, Las

Galeras and Las Terrenas are Dominican towns that have been

developed into charming, cosmopolitan villages by foreigners who

have moved in and set up shop.

 

At the western extreme lies the border of Haiti and the towns of

Dajabón, Manzanillo and Montecristi. These are authentically

Dominican towns with little or no tourism influence. Beyond the

border lies another world, Haiti, definitely worth a visit by way of

overnight excursions organized out of Puerto Plata.

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