Puerto Plata, the bride of the Atlantic
The bride of the Atlantic, which is how San Felipe de Puerto Plata is known, one of the most famous places in the Antilles where pirates and filibusters dedicated to smuggling.
Soaps, wines, flours, fabrics, perfumes, nails, shoes, medicines, paper, nuts and dried fruit, iron, steel, knives ... were bought by the neighbors of this region, which was known as the island of La Española, in exchange mainly for sugar, leather, cassia fistula, ginger and tobacco.
The origin of its name has different versions. One of them tells us that when Christopher Columbus arrived for the first time at the Dominican Republic, he hugged the Amber Coast until he reached what is today Puerto Plata bay. Here, the sun that was reflected in the ocean, gave the impression that it was a sea of coins, hence the bay carries this name.
The most touristic city of the north coast that was founded as a sequel to the first Spanish settlement in America, wakes up every Sunday of February with color and enjoyment, when Taimáscaro, the main character of the carnival, wears full to perform this popular celebration.
To know the history of Puerto Plata, it is necessary to visit the Fuerte de San Felipe which construction was ordered by the Spanish monarch Felipe II for maritime protection. The fortress was used as a prison on several occasions. The father of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte, was imprisoned in its cells as a political prisoner. At the foot of the Fort, La Puntilla Park, which has different paths for pedestrian and cyclists, is located.
As part of the architectural history, the Victorian style houses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in downtown city, that today house cultural centers, residences, shops or offices, reflect the glorious past of the city. It is worth to mention the Gregorio Luperón Museum, which emphasizes the figure of this national hero or the Amber Museum, a two-story mansion that the Costa family, amber collectors, acquired in the early 80s so as to establish an antique shop there.
The cathedral of San Felipe was originally built in wood but a fire and an earthquake affected its structures, reason why it had to be renovated several times. The last renovation was made in 2008. Today, the temple has a modern Victorian style. The House of Culture, formerly the "Faith in the Future" Society, was erected entirely in wood in 1908, during the dictatorship of Ulises Heureaux "Lilís". In the course of its history, it has been cultural standard due to its literary gatherings.
The Funicular is installed in the Loma Isabel de Torres, named in honor of the Queen of Castilla who sponsored the trips of Christopher Columbus. It’s a magnificent promontory about 800 meters above sea level. It allows you to have access to the Botanical Garden and Cristo Redentor, and a wide variety of establishments and restaurants as well.
The Archaeological and Historical National Park of Villa de La Isabela comprises three areas, where you can see the remains of the first village founded by the Spaniards when they arrived at the island. Very close to this open space, the village of El Castillo where you can enjoy the local craftwork, especially, the precious wood carvings made from the guayacan tree. The Juan Lockward Amphitheater which has benches built in wood, is located in front of the sea covering an area of almost two thousand square meters with capacity for more than four thousand people.
Puerto Plata is also known as the Amber Coast due to its important mineral deposits. Actually, in those placed at Yásica you can see firsthand how the extraction process of this prehistoric resin is and its manipulation until turning into precious pieces of jewelry.
In addition to its majestic beaches and impressive vegetation, it treasures historic buildings such as the Brugal rum Distillery that has been producing this product since 1888. Among the communities of El Chocal, the traditional production of organic cacao can be seen and in El Cumbí, the place of origin of the Machacó dance, a folkloric dance, can be discovered in person. For those who seek to have a personal experience of feeling the merengue in its birthplace, the community of Rincón Caliente (in the municipality of Guananico), can meet the teachers who build the musical instruments used for playing this Dominican rhythm.
The aquatic complexes also make this province to be a reference for leisure and adventure trips. About seven miles from Puerto Plata, the Damajagua River, coming from the northern cordillera, has meanders with falls of 42,3 feet in height, which in turn form water curtains and natural pools. Hence, the formation of the 27 famous ponds that can be crossed on foot or using other transport with the help of local guides.
Internationally known for its dolphinarium, the Ocean World Adventure Park, the largest amusement park of the Caribbean is located in Puerto Plata. There, visitors can swim in the aquarium with rays and sharks, feed exotic birds and observe iguanas, among other activities with different animals. Inside the complex, a nightly show called Bravissimo Fiesta is offered including live presentations.
In the Estero Hondo community, a lake surface fed by several rivers and separated from the sea by a sandy strip, the visitor can appreciate the Antillean manatees, one of the most ancient mammals of the Caribbean lands that, an endangered animal, find food and protection in Dominican waters.
It is particularly attractive for the local public due to its calm atmosphere and its numerous leisure options, the Cofresí beach that has played a leading role in the tourist development of the area since the 70s, when some resorts and different recreation centers were established on its coast.
Cayo Arena is to the northwest of Puerto Plata, one of the most beautiful islands in the northern strip of the Dominican Republic. Snorkeling is regularly practiced to admire the marine fauna of this almost virgin environment.
From Santo Domingo take the Duarte highway to Navarrete, municipality of Santiago de los Caballeros, from which you take a beltway. To travel the distance of about 143 miles takes an average time of 3 hours and a half. Also, the private bus companies, METRO and CARIBE TOURS, provide service on this route every day of the week with different schedules. The trip average time is 4 hours.