Sun-seekers and adventure-lovers alike are spoiled for choice on the Dominican Republic’s sparkling north coast.
The oldest city along the northern coastline, Puerto Plata fits snugly between a towering mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Downtown and along the malecón, you’ll encounter a curious collage of modern restaurants, some interesting museums and the crumbling technicolour mansions of wealthy tobacco merchants, dating back to the 1870s. Hop on the cable car for panoramic views of the city and the ocean stretching to the horizon.
Bustling beach town Sosúa offers some of the best snorkelling and diving in the country. Beneath the glittering surface of the turquoise waters, swim among moray eels, squid and tropical fish in a series of colourful coral reefs, sunken shipwrecks and underwater tunnels. Back on land, ubiquitous coconut palms reach skyward from the many-hued sands of the shore, and international visitors bolster an electric nightlife.
Once a quiet fishing and farming town, Cabarete now buzzes with boutique hotels, independent shops and oceanfront restaurants along its single main street. Wide, expansive beaches with rolling waves and good winds make this the adventure-sports capital. Try your hand at surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Or simply kick back with a cocktail and fresh seafood at one of the many beach dining hotspots.
Another destination with plenty of variety, Rio San Juan has a vibrant centre with dynamic restaurants, local art galleries and ice-cream parlours. While palm-fringed Grande Beach is ideal for aquatic sports, Corpses Beach is a quieter spot for relaxation. Minos Beach offers great dining options nearby. Once a year the town holds an exuberant carnival, showcasing the region’s traditional music and dance. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, spend a day spotting rare species at the Gri-Gri Lagoon bird sanctuary.
Overlooked by many visitors, Cabrera is a lesser-known gem of a town. As well as pristine beaches, the nearby area boasts tropical rainforests, crashing waterfalls and a luminous blue lake.