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How to Explore Dominican Republic's North Coast


Since we'll be exploring historic Puerto Plata on Virgin Voyages' Dominican Daze cruise this December, here are some fun facts! Pictured above is the Caribbean's first aerial tramway, located in Puerto Plata, where you can ride 2,600 feet up to Mount Isabel de Torres. Here at the city's highest point, you'll find a national park, botanical garden, and a replica of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. While its statue is smaller than Rio's, Puerto Plata's mountain is higher.

You should definitely stay longer in the Dominican Republic, and I hope you enjoy the article below for ideas on how we can plan a week of adventure along its dazzling north coast that's also family-friendly!

Excerpt below from Virtuoso article dated 7/21/2019 by Michael Behar can be found here.

The Dominican Republic’s family-friendly north coast delivers surprises on every shore. The Dominican Republic is situated on Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean (after Cuba), and borders Haiti. The roughly 175-mile coastline, spanning the easternmost Samaná Peninsula to the Haitian border, seems to reinvent itself with every visit. In 2014, Puerto Plata’s international airport underwent major renovations to accommodate more wide-body jets. The following year, a state-of-the-art cruise terminal opened – the first on the north coast – along with Amanera, one of only two Aman properties in the Caribbean. An explosion of new restaurants, hotels, and adventure outfitters has pushed tourism steadily higher each year, with visitors topping a record 6.5 million in 2018.

The DR is really two locales, each with its own distinctive pace and temperament. Travelers have long vacationed along its better-known southern coast, known for high-end, all-inclusive resorts that provide a more familiar, calculated experience. The north is different, with a focus on boutique, low-rise hotels and independent travel.

The two-hour drive from bustling Puerto Plata to Amanera transforms gradually as you proceed east, from sunbaked grasslands to the undulating jade-green hills that encompass the resort. Architect John Heah cleverly designed its Balinese style teak-and-glass casitas to blend seamlessly into its 2,000-acre environs. Foraging for chinola is an apt metaphor for traveling the Dominican Republic’s north coast. It’s not always obvious how or where you’ll be rewarded. In 1984, a French-Canadian windsurfer named Jean Laporte visited a sleepy village here called Cabarete and immediately realized its potential for the sport. Since then, Cabarete’s population has soared from 2,000 to 17,000 residents, and it’s become known as “the adventure capital of the Caribbean.” Dining has come a long way too. Restaurants serving fresh-caught langostino, dorado, and other seafood have superseded roadside chicken shacks and scuzzy pizza joints. Meanwhile, kiteboarding’s popularity has eclipsed windsurfing on the town’s mile-wide bay, with as many as several hundred “kiters” on the water on any given afternoon.

Thankfully, it’s not always windy. Mornings are calm and the ocean placid, providing what some claim is the Caribbean’s best surfing. But that’s the thing about the north coast. Conditions are rarely intimidating. With its gentle waves and steady breezes, even rookie ocean-goers can enjoy surfing, kiteboarding, sea kayaking, snorkeling, or stand-up paddleboarding. The sea temperature hovers at a spa-like 88 degrees, and the water is so sparkling and transparent, you might as well be swimming in liquid diamonds.

After a few days at Amanera, relocate to Cabarete to be closer to the kiteboarding action and dedicate mornings to activities best done before the wind ramps up, such as honing board skills at Playa Encuentro’s beginner surf break. The nice thing about the north coast in particular is that travelers don’t have to choose between cloistered luxury and seat-of-the-pants adventure travel; you can dabble comfortably in both worlds. One day, drive east to the Samaná Peninsula with no set plans. Playa El Portillo, arguably the most kid-friendly beach in the north, with chalk-white sand and an outer reef that forms a protected lagoon is a natural wading pool, ideal for children to frolic in the shallows. After a full afternoon of swimming and snorkeling, spend the night in nearby Las Terrenas, a seaside resort town. An evening stroll down the waterfront esplanade brings us to La Dolce Vita for dinner. Its langostino, steeped in garlic butter, is the best. As the restaurant fills up, the bartender switches deftly between mixing pineapple daiquiris and manning the wood-fired grill, where a cornucopia of seafood sizzles with a smoky haze. It’s a snapshot of the region’s wild and dynamic personality, a place primed for discoveries even after repeated visits where you should embrace spontaneity. Not always knowing where to look for your next adventure often reveals its sweetest fruits.

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