Puerto Plata

Puerto Plata or San Felipe de Puerto Plata is a city in the Dominican Republic with a population of about 130,000. It is capital of the province of Puerto Plata.

Understand

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.

Get in

Gregorio Luperón International Airport (also: Puerto Plata Airport) (IATA: POP). Daily flights to most North American cities. POP is located about 15 minutes east of downtown Puerto Plata.

As with other airports in the Dominican Republic, a $10USD (December 2011) fee for a tourist card will be required upon arrival. You'll buy it at one window and immediately turn around and hand it to an attendant to be scanned and dropped into a box. A $20USD departure tax is collected when you fly out.

Intercity buses

Puerto Plata is served by at least two intercity bus lines which connect the city with Santiago, Santo Domingo, and other cities.

Get around

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.

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. Guagas can often be identified by "Se venda" stickers on the windows and a large rear view mirror pasted to the back door.

Dominican Airport Transfers Offers airport transfers from the airport to any location in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Rio San Juan and Samana area.

Propinas. Much has been written about Propinas in the surrounding areas of Puerto Plata (to get a better idea who these people are see Sosua ). 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.

At first they will say how he/she does not need any of your money and how they will protect you from aggressive vendors. They will show you around various landmarks (mostly upon request) and they will help you bargain at local shops (sometimes at very good deals). Some time after when they feel the dust has already settled in, they will begin to pluck at the heartstrings (talking about how his/her parents needs medication, or how his/her baby needs milk, etc.) so you may feel obligated to give them some money when they do ask for it(usually $30 - $60 USD, which is WELL ABOVE THE PROPINA GOING RATE!). Even if you offer to buy the items yourself at the store you are already in, they will insist on taking the money instead. Soon afterwards, they will direct you to the bus station which will lead you back to the resort, and most of the times you will never see this individual again!

General rule of thumb: If you do not recognize the individual at all it is best to ignore them (perhaps by pretending to not understand them at all by replying in gibberish). However, if you do not speak Spanish and if you are lost, Propinas may be your only hope in directing you on how to get back, even if their company is at a staggering cost. If you do recognize an employee outside of your hotel, make sure YOU are the one who approaches that person first. And if you know exactly where you are going, just simply ignore them. Or if you are well-versed in Spanish but a little lost, it is better to ask around from someone else who seems less shady as there can be helpful individuals not looking to dig into your wallet. Don't be played for a fool.

Motoconcho or motorcycle taxis can be recognized by their yellow vests. They are a cheaper alternative to taxis if you are comfortable with being a passenger on 2-wheels. They often congregate around "destination" areas like airports, markets.

Motorcycle/Scooter Rentals of two-wheeled vehicles is possible. The rate should be about $25USD/day. Be sure that you have experience with a motorcycle or scooter, the road surfaces are poorly maintained and the driving style is very hectic. Drivers very rarely observe stop signs, even red lights are "optional". A license is not necessary to operate a motorcycle or scooter and as such, the skill levels vary widely. Trucks and other large vehicles often overtake unsafely in corners and low visibility stretches of road, so you may be forced into a ditch! License plates are applied to scooters but not motorcycles. It is very common for overtaking vehicles to announce their presence to a scooter or motorcycle by honking, try not to be startled by this! Helmets are seldom used (some motoconchos wear them), but you may have difficulty getting a rental helmet, and it most certainly will not fit properly. Inspect your scooter or motorcycle before renting. Also, most bikes are small displacement compared to other parts of the world. Most are under 200cc and are 2-stroke.

Car Cars are more expensive to rent and very likely to be damaged, as the Dominican mentality is "no big deal", count on no one having insurance. Prices are around $60USD/day for a 4WD style vehicle.

If you are renting your own vehicle keep in mind what type of fuel it uses. Natural gas (propane) is popular and the natural gas stations seem to outnumber petrol stations. Obviously the two are incompatible, don't strand yourself thinking that you can go to any station and get the fuel that you need!

See

Do

Rent a lounge chair if you really want to appreciate Puerto Plata's beaches; if you don't, the Dominican people will ask you all day long if you want to rent a chair from them. The only advantage to being extremely patient and tolerant is their prices drop down with the time! But as everything else, chair rental prices are also negotiable.

Buy

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.

Also good for vanilla and coffee.

Eat

If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, chances are that you will have a wide array of foods to choose from. Be adventurous and try some local foods like mashed platanos (starchy banana-like fruit), okra, Yuca (a starchy, sweet, potato-like vegetable), and lots of avocado.

Drink

If you are staying at an all-inclusive, chances are that your alcohol is included. It's not very good, but it'll do.

The local brands of alcohol are Brugal (for rum) and Presidente (for beer).

Sleep

For additional nearby options see Sosua and Cabarete.

Anguins International, Puerto Plata. Privately owned, luxury three bedroom, three and a half bathroom villa can accommodate up to 6 people. It is located in a quiet residential enclave just 15 minutes from downtown Puerto Plata, the international airport and all major tourist attractions and just 3 minutes walk from the beach.

RIU Bachata, RIU Merengue, RIU Mambo (All Inclusive resorts), Baia de Maimon (45 minutes west from airport along Route 5). A set of All-Inclusive resorts set side-by-side on a man-made beach. Services are shared between resorts. Mambo is the lower-scale property and Bachata is the upper end.

Victoria Golf & Beach Resort (Playa Dorada). The Victoria Resort Golf & Beach - This resort is temporarily closed.

Most of the large resorts in the area are directly on the beach and offer 'all inclusive' options for food, drinks, and activities.

Casa Colonial Hotel, Playa Dorada road, . A fusion of old world charm and modern sensibilities, the Casa Colonial Beach & Spa is a 5 Star luxury ‘all suite’ boutique hotel with an incredible spa, a roof top infinity pool with 4 Jacuzzis and an award winning Executive Chef.

Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada, Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata, Tel: (809) 291-0001, . Located 15 minutes from Puerto Plata Airport. 204 room resort located in the Playa Dorada complex with a shopping mall, three casinos, numerous restaurants, discos, beach and golf.

The White House. Luxury 5-bedroom villa near Cabarete and Sosua on the north coast. Tubagua Plantation Eco Village (Adventure travelers lodge and ecotourism project), Km 19 on the Tourist Hwy between Pto Plata & Santiago,  809 696-6932. This palapa-style country chateau commands spectacular views of the north coast, family operated B&B-style. Comfortable, great food, close to airport, city and beaches. Check web site for all info from $25/pp sleeps 2-30

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