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
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,
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: email@example.com 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
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
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
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.