Discover One Reader’s Love Affair with Puerto Plata and What Keeps Her Coming Back

Thandiwe Myke

Thandiwe Myke is like many New Yorkers who yearn for warmer climates during the harsh, cold winters of the northeast United States. Thandiwe celebrated her 30th birthday with two of her closest girlfriends during her most recent trip to Puerto Plata. “My trip was amazing! It was my girlfriends’ first time visiting Puerto Plata and also their first time at an all-inclusive resort and we had a blast.” She and her friends were fortunate to have stayed in Puerto Plata for nine days during their vacation. “I’m the type of person that when I go away on a trip, I want to feel like I moved! So I definitely could have stayed longer.”

You clearly have a love affair with Puerto Plata, as you have now traveled there a total of three times. What about Puerto Plata continues to draw you back?

Thandiwe: The culture and the people continue to bring me back. Dominicans are very friendly, genuine people. They are ready to help, nothing seems forced, and I love their cuisine. Dominican fried fish with yucca and tostones is absolutely delicious. I find that Dominican fish – from their sea bass to their salmon – is cooked very, very well.

Thandiwe MykeCan you share some of the highlights from your most recent visit to Puerto Plata?

Thandiwe: The ATV excursion was amazing. I did it during my first trip to Puerto Plata and I just had to go do it again, this time on my birthday. Driving the ATV gives you such a rush and you get to experience some of Puerto Plata city, especially on the journey to the ATV starting area. The ATV operators are really good because they allow you to ride on a small course to get you comfortable with the vehicle first. The excursion is a little dirty – you have to be okay with getting dirty because it can be rough but it’s fun; it’s very exhilarating! Midway through the day we stopped at a beach where you can go for a quick swim. I would definitely recommend doing an ATV excursion.

Thandiwe MykeDuring her first trip to Puerto Plata, Thandiwe went horseback riding for the first time, an excursion that she loved. She recalls “it was a little scary but it was nice. It was my first time on a horse and we were taken up into the mountains and you get a beautiful view of the countryside. You also get an idea of rural living in Puerto Plata. It was really, really cool. On my next trip I plan to go to the 27 waterfalls, experience some of the underground caves and also go zip lining.”

What tips can you give to first time travelers traveling to Puerto Plata?

Thandiwe: First, there is a $10 visitation fee to the Dominican Republic. A lot of people leaving the plane were caught off guard when asked to pay this fee in the airport. Also, you have to prepare yourself for the workers who help you with your luggage at the airport as they are friendly but can be a little pushy. They are expecting a tip so if you know that you are not prepared to tip, politely decline their help with your luggage. At the resort, although it’s all-inclusive, it’s nice to give a little something to the employees, especially if you’ve been provided with great service or have ordered a lot of drinks.”

Can you tell our readers about the Puerto Plata nightlife, and your experience with the nightlife?

Thandiwe: Shamelessly, I went to the nightclub every night that I was there. They played a lot of different types of music. We didn’t realize it, but we traveled to Puerto Plata during their Labor Day [which is May 1] and so a lot of locals arrived and stayed on the resort for the weekend. The club completely turned into a discoteca with a lot of bachata and merengue and it was a lot of fun.

As well as being a serial visitor to Puerto Plata, Thandiwe is also a serial entrepreneur in the beauty industry. Currently running two businesses of her own, Thandiwe is both a licensed aesthetician and licensed hair stylist. Lashes by Tea is a service that provides individual lash extensions. “It is great for people who do not necessarily want to wear mascara and want to have the ready look.  Natural, individual lash extensions are applied onto each eyelash in the shape, color, and length that the client desires. Lash extensions really brighten up your eyes and add so much to your face.”

Thandiwe MykeHer other business endeavor, Tender Loving Hair Care, is a service that teaches parents of transracial adoption, any parent who adopts a child of African descent with curly hair, how to properly care for their child’s hair. “Hair is very much tied to identity and beauty and everyone’s hair requires specific care. It can sometimes be a challenge for adoptive parents to care for their child’s curly hair. I teach parents how to nurture their child into feeling good about themselves.”

What inspired you to pursue a career in beauty?

Thandiwe: I’ve always had a knack for it. I graduated college in a time when it was a bit difficult to get a job and I also didn’t feel married to what I studied in school. So I decided to get a trade in the meantime; I didn’t mean for it to be a full-time career. What happened is that I thoroughly enjoyed working in the beauty industry. When you look good, you feel good and I like the feeling that I give clients after I’ve performed a beauty service. Their whole energy just perks up. Whatever they were dealing with that day, it’s not a concern for the moment at least because they can look at themselves and feel good about themselves. With Tender Loving Hair Care, I find that when you instill self-esteem and self love and the importance of self beautification in children, especially little girls, it sets the tone for who they’re going to be as they grow into an adult or as they’re going into their teens.”

Within the next five years, Tender Loving Hair Care will be synonymous with transracial adoption and aims to be an integral part of the transracial adoption process.

If you could leave our readers with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Thandiwe: Take a Spanish class.  [Laughing] Seriously, you don’t really need it but it would be helpful. Here in the States, we have the option of studying other languages in public school and I had so many years of Spanish and was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t communicate better. I think it’s nice to be able to communicate with the people because it enriches your experience there. When people see that you try and that you’re committed to learn about them and their culture, your experience really goes up a few notches and you almost feel like part of the family.

Thandiwe’s love affair with Puerto Plata runs very deep and holds a special place in her heart. You will be sure to see Thandiwe on a beach near you in Puerto Plata this coming October when she returns to celebrate her friend’s birthday.

Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: Ulises Heureaux

 

Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERSwill highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers.

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Inside Puerto Plata’s series on key figures in Puerto Plata’s history continues with a summary of the well-regarded and disreputable Ulises Heureaux. Born in Puerto Plata in 1844, Ulises made his mark on the Dominican Republic as both a military man and dictator.

Nicknamed Lilís, Ulises served as a lieutenant under the esteemed General Gregorio Luperón, and played a significant role in the Luperón administration’s cabinet before becoming president in 1882. Ulises served multiple terms as president; the first from 1882 to 1884 and again using electoral manipulation and fraud from 1886 until his assassination in 1899.

Ulises was described as a man who had a thirst for power and control. He was a very popular statesman and in his quest for domination, he managed to manipulate previous and interim administrations to his benefit. His first term as president was described as an uneventful one; however, Ulises successfully conspired to secure longterm control of the country for more than a decade.

Ulises Heureaux the GAMECHANGER

There were a series of events that set the stage for Heureaux’s dictatorship. First and most important was the effective series of moves he undertook that extended presidential terms from two years to four years.

Heureaux’s administration, unlike others before, included members from opposing sides of government and utilized a network of secret police and informants that helped to prevent citizen uprising and rebellions.

In 1892, a sequence of pivotal meetings took place between President Heureaux and a group of Wall Street businessmen. The group of businessmen, known as the San Domingo Improvement Company, had purchased all of the Dominican Republic’s foreign debt and the country was not making payments. Negotiations ensued and President Heaureaux quickly saw that these men, through their connections and resources, could be used to borrow money and help keep him in power1. Needless to say, much of the money went to support the dictator’s personal extravagances and the financial requirements of his police state2.

There were considerable improvements made to the infrastructure of the Dominican Republic while under Heureaux’s rule. These include the construction of a railroad from Puerto Plata to Santiago, the electrification of Santo Domingo, and his support of Cuban sugar planters, which subsequently led to sugar as the main export. However, widespread corruption overshadowed the administration’s improvements and dissent grew.

A member of a growing group called the Young Revolutionary Junta assassinated President Heureaux in July 1899 and escaped untouched. After Heureaux’s death, the Dominican Republic fell into bankruptcy and foreign financial control.

Ulises Heureaux was considered a smart and effective politician. Unfortunately for him and for his country, his legacy is marked by corruption, financial mismanagement, and eventual bankruptcy.

1How Wall Street Sleaze Led to Roosevelt’s Famed Corollary. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/

2Dominican Republic Foreign Policy and Government Guide, Volume 1

White Water Rafting Down the Yaque del Norte River

3Attention extreme sporting enthusiasts, have we got the excursion for you! If adrenaline, challenging yourself, excitement and loads of fun sound like your perfect day, then you must try white water rafting down the Yaque del Norte River!

This unique and beautiful river is the longest river in the Caribbean. It is a monstrous 185.2 mi/298 km long, and centrally located in the mountainous region of the Dominican Republic. Extreme vacationers and locals flock to the Yaque del Norte River to enjoy their perfect day of extreme adventure.

Once booked, you will be picked up at your hotel or resort, transported to the rafting base, which ends up being an approximate 2.5 hour ride from Puerto Plata, as there will be stops to be made. But don’t fret, the view is amazing and there is air conditioning in the van. Upon arrival to the base, you will be suited up with all the equipment you need, including wetsuits and even breakfast! Make sure to remember this is a long and challenging day on the water, so it is imperative you bring shorts, t-shirts, rubber soled shoes, a change of clothes, and leave your kids behind! Seriously, kids are not allowed.

Following breakfast, you will congregate by an entry point. Take a deep breath and start your adventure, and is it ever an adventure! You will feel as if you are flying down the rapid river, bouncing off of mini waves and rocks, all while your professional guides ensure you are safe and navigating the right way. If for any reason this intense excitement becomes too much for the moment, not to worry. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to stop, eat a snack provided to you by the tour, swim through the “Crocodile” rapids and even jump from the famous “El Cerrazo” rock. Once you have all had your fill of adrenaline for the day, you will make your way back to the base camp, where you will be provided with a lunch one could only dream of. Looking out over the river, you will dine on a buffet of authentic Dominican cuisine.

As you can gather, this is an extreme sport enthusiast’s dream. So if you are planning your next trip to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, make the wise decision of securing your spot white water rafting down the Yaque del Norte River.

Big Lee: Puerto Plata’s Most Loved Expat and Restaurateur

Meet Puerto Plata’s lovable and local celebrity Big Lee Peak. Bored with his life in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Big Lee was within 3 years of retiring when he decided to start taking vacations to help him decide where to spend his retirement. “I saw a ’60 Minutes’ segment on retiring outside the US where your money can go further. I went to Cancun where I joined a timeshare and then to Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. I’m so glad that I chose Puerto Plata; it is a real town with real people with real culture and history.”

Big Lee is the proud owner of the very popular Big Lee’s Beach Bar, which is located on the Malecón and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Big Lee’s Beach Bar employs 11 locals and a loyal dog named Spot.

After moving to Puerto Plata, what inspired you to open a restaurant/bar, and how did you decide on the type of restaurant/bar, as well as the area?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABig Lee: I’m going to give you some history first. I met a girl, came back in 6 months and in 1 year I retired. My kids graduated & moved across the US. Might as well move down since the relationship didn’t work out. I’m bored out of my mind after 2.5 years of just sitting around on the computer and watching cable TV. I started talking to people in the local watering hole about my interest in opening a sports bar. The cook heard that I was interested in opening a bar and said that she wanted to work for me because the manager at her bar wasn’t her favorite. I spent 3 months looking for the right location. I wanted to find 2 buildings together, one for the tourists to watch the ocean and one for the expats to sit on the street.

We didn’t start off with food until after one year to see if the business will succeed. I know I succeeded when I know that I have two hundred reviews on TripAdvisor with 4.9 stars. Everyone who has rated loves our fish & chips or our burgers & fries. Not a restaurant but bar with a grill with a very limited menu.   We do 14 dishes and I try to do them spectacularly. Our fish is bought every day, sea bass, but it’s frozen because it’s caught deep at sea. Everything else is prepared fresh. We peel & slice every potato for fries and we make homemade tartar sauce.  Every day we buy meat, potatoes, chicken and start serving at 9 am until 8 pm. We’re starting to branch out with a few specials every now and again to please as many as possible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe majority of Big Lee’s clientele are Canadian and American expatriates with 20% Dominican locals frequenting his establishment as well. “We play soft classic rock from around the world from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. For three and a half years that we’ve been open, we’ve been rate the number one bar in Puerto Plata and the number one bar in the Dominican Republic.” Big Lee’s Beach Bar is also rated #2 on TripAdvisor’s list of Top Things to Do in Puerto Plata.

Big Lee’s road to becoming the number one bar in the Dominican Republic is also a story of finding love. The cook mentioned above who was not too thrilled about working for her previous boss is now his fiancé.

Big Lee: So, I would love to finish telling you the story about how the girl that said she would never date me, but only work for me. I found the place, opened it up, called her and hired her. I was smitten with her. Worked with me for 3 months, then finally hugged and kissed me. We’re more than 3 years later, we’re engaged and we had a baby.

[Laughing] My vasectomy didn’t work so we are proud. We are moving across the street from her parents in a currently remodeled house. We’re getting married at the end of this year or the beginning of next. She’s now my boss because I can’t own [the bar] because it’s city property.

My baby is 1 year, 4 months. Her name is Marilee. My fiancé’s name is Mariela and she wanted a combination of Mariela and Lee. Thank goodness it was a girl because there was no combination for a boy!

We’ve touched on bits and pieces on your secret recipe to success. Do you think it’s you as the celebrity or combination of location/celebrity, the food, the atmosphere…what is your key to success?

Big Lee: [I’m] always around people. If I was going to open a business, I want to read people, shake their hand, thank them for stopping, say thank you for coming. I can’t imagine running a business any other way. There’s so much competition; places to eat and drink. I want [people] to come to my bar and I want them to return. Our food is spectacular. It’s as good of a cheeseburger as you’re ever going to get around the world. I search for the best meat, bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle. The food is excellent. I had to go through all the different hotdogs at all the grocery stores here just to find one that is edible. It’s spectacular. It’s a jumbo hot dog that tastes like home.

It’s a combination of me (the celebrity), and greeting everyone and the food but the views are spectacular. We are less than 100 feet from the ocean. Two islands are right off our shore. There is a statue of Neptune. I have a row of flags, looks like the United Nations. People find their flag and are really excited. If they don’t find their flag [here], they go find it and bring me one. We are within 2 miles of Mount Isabel De Torres, which is just gorgeous.

In addition to his busy schedule running his bar, Big Lee is also involved in philanthropic endeavors. In 2014 alone, Big Lee helped supply 40 children with back to school clothing and school supplies. With the help of donations and his ever-increasing popularity, in December 2014 Big Lee took 16 children and 2 mothers Christmas shopping. He also helps out the local dog association by helping to organize over 1000 street cats and dogs.

So, for those of you who are wondering, we certainly had to ask!

Where did the name Big Lee come from?

Big Lee: I was 325 lbs, wearing a 4X shirt, 50-inch belt with my belly hanging over; I was a huge man. I weigh 250 lbs now, there are no drive-thru’s, everything is fresh, not processed. [Laughing] They tease me and say that I need to rename it Skinny Lee’s or get the red circle with the slash through it to go over “Big” — formally known as “Big Lee’s!”

What advice can you give an expat who would like to open a restaurant/bar of their own?  

Big Lee: If you are going to open a business, no matter where but especially here in the Dominican Republic, put your entire heart and personality into it and do it with a 100% effort.  That is what I have done and it has worked.

Big Lee plans to expand to other locations throughout the Dominican Republic and with the first Carnival Cruise ships expected in October 2015, he will become even more busy. Big Lee’s Beach Bar is fast becoming a brand. Check him out in an upcoming JetBlue inflight magazine.

River Floating on the Yassica River in Puerto Plata

Inside Puerto PlataSimilar to the United States, Puerto Plata has its own time-honored tradition of river floating. For those who do not know, river floating involves relaxing on an inner tube as you float down a river, enjoying the scenery and surroundings. On the outskirts of Cabarete lies the Yásicca River, which is a large river showcasing development along the riverside. This beautiful river plays host to river floaters galore. Each day, locals and tourists alike take to the Yásicca River for a day of relaxation and fun.

Prepare for your tubing experience by dressing for your day of fun. Make sure you are prepped in swimwear or loose fitting shorts and a tee shirt, but most of all, outfit yourself with a pair of sandals or sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet. Since you will need to walk out to the water, as well as back to the shore, your feet will get wet, and there is often times a rocky terrain. Next, make sure to bring along your beverage of choice. A long relaxing day on the river is best served by one, two or several thirst quenching drinks. In fact, since you are in the Dominican Republic, pack a cooler full of this fine country’s most popular beer, Presidente and pass them out to your friends.

Start your tubing experience at the shores of the Yásicca River, which has a natural lazy flow in many areas, making it perfect for floating. In addition to the relaxing flow, the river is surrounded by beautiful and exotic scenery that can’t be mimicked anywhere else in the world. Don’t be surprised if you spot exotic birds or a unique animal or two indigenous to the Dominican Republic. As you drift down the river, relaxing, taking in the sun and scenery, you will come across natural wonders, such as cave systems, jungle trails and the infamous magic mushroom, which is a waterfall that is popular for rappelling down. Swim to the shore, drop your tube and enjoy. Take your time to explore, relax and have fun. After all, isn’t that the purpose of vacationing?

So next time you’re in Puerto Plata, make sure you set aside time for a float in Cabarete. It is a guaranteed time of fun to be shared with friends and family.

La Isabela: 1st European Settlement in the New World

La Isabela, located in the province of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic is considered the first European settlement in the New World. La Isabela was conveniently named by the queen of Spain, Queen Isabella I of Castile. This settlement was established by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1494 and was subsequently reclaimed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela in 1498.

La Isabela was established in 1494 and served as the ideal location to colonize the island of Hispaniola. Due to it’s natural beauty and the Bajabonico River, a fresh water river, colonists used this location for refining gold and metals (smelting) to ensure all the needs of the settlers were being met.

The colony initially failed, as Christopher Columbus and many of the settlers concentrated on searching for precious metals, instead of focusing on living off the land and the natural resources that thrived around them. Luckily, early colonists were able to construct structures including the First Church of the New World, an Admiral’s House for Christopher Columbus to reside in, as well as a warehouse. During this time of transition and building the native Taíno tried to assist the colonists, however since it was a challenge locating gold and silver, the Spaniards enslaved the Taíno and used their forced labor as an alternative form of revenue production. The majority of Taíno were left on the island to work, but some were transported back to Spain and enslaved there as well, all at the direction of the leaders of the colony.

In 1495 a disasterous hurricane struck La Isabela, resulting in extreme devastation, destruction of the buildings that had been so meticulously built and sinking all of the ships. Three years later, Christopher Columbus was called back to Spain to answer for his poor management of the colony, which in turn lead to the colony being abandoned by all its inhabitants.

Today La Isabela has been claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to the beautiful and picturesque La Isabela National Park which is open to visitors year round. At the Park, you will be able to visit a few of the remains from Christopher Columbus’ time spent on the island. You are able to still see the ruins of a wall which is believed to be a part of what is left of Christopher Columbus’ house. Also, while in La Isabela you will have the pleasure of viewing the original church and some other historic structures of this unique early colony that were not completely destroyed by the 1495 hurricane nor time. La Isabela National Park additionally offers a historical museum, where you are able to view several of the artifacts that were excavated by early colonists and Taíno Natives.

The next time you visit beautiful Puerto Plata, take in the sun, enjoy nature, have fun with excursions, but make sure to allow for time to experience a little history and visit La Isabela, the first European settlement in the New World.

Travel Tips for Travel Safety

When traveling, safety should always be a top priority. Exploring a new destination is very exciting and can make for wonderful memories. However, being a tourist in a new destination can bring with it dangers you wouldn’t normally face. Like it or not, locals will know you are a tourist, and unfortunately criminals prey on this weakness. So make note of our travel tips, stay alert and you should have a very safe and enjoyable vacation.

Research. It is imperative that you research your destination location(s) and the surrounding areas. In addition to your vacation destination, we advise that you research the city or town, resort or hotel, and check the internet for any travel or safety alerts for the destination(s) you are planning to explore. It doesn’t hurt to review the crime rates for the area. You can find chat boards with feedback and tips from previous travelers

Doctor. If you are traveling internationally, it is wise to pay a visit to your doctor 4 -6 weeks prior to your vacation. Depending on the country you will be traveling to, your doctor may suggest specific vaccinations or even precautionary medication. At the very least, make sure your vaccinations are up to date, and you have a current tetanus vaccination.

Airport. It is important that you pay close attention to your luggage at both your departing and arriving airport. While at the airport, always keep your luggage in sight at all times until given to the baggage handler, and if you are using a carry on, keep it with you at all times. While you wait to board, program your cell phone with emergency contact numbers, and the number of where you are staying. It is wise to write the number on a piece of paper as well, and carry it with you at all times, in the event your phone is lost or stolen.

Destination. Upon arrival, take in your surroundings and make a mental note of landmarks. You never know when this may come in handy if you were to get lost. When checking into your hotel or resort, ask if the front desk offers a front desk safe. Often times guests will prefer to store their valuables behind the front desk due to the insurance the hotel/resort carries. Travelers are sometimes skeptical of using the in-room safe, as we have all heard the horror stories of belongings that have gone missing from room safes. A front office safe usually charges a small fee to store your valuables, but for items such as passports and expensive jewelry, it is well worth the charge. As you venture out, exploring your destination and enjoying your vacation, make sure to stay in public places and remain “street smart”. By street smart we mean, watch your drinks, don’t leave your drink when using the restroom, do not wander down alleyways, don’t count your money in public and don’t wander off with overfriendly strangers. It is easy to have a lighthearted and naive attitude because you are on vacation, but you need to remain wise and vigilant, just as you would when you are not traveling. Don’t forget to bring both cash and 2-3 credit cards if possible. Keep one of your cards in the front office safe or securely hidden, in the event your wallet is lost or stolen.

Transportation. It is important that you only use licensed taxis, buses or transportation methods recommended and provided by your hotel or resort. If you have extra time, it doesn’t hurt to look up the route you will be traveling to ensure you are not overcharged for your ride. If you feel uncomfortable traveling with a particular taxi driver, make sure you are dropped off in a well-lit and busy area. If there is a language barrier, make sure to write down the transportation price you have agreed upon, so the driver cannot change his mind at the end of the ride and overcharge you.

Travel is about exploring new destinations, having fun and creating memories. Follow our travel tips and you can look forward to a safe and wonderful traveling experience.

Experience the Flying Trapeze in Cabarete

Here at Inside Puerto Plata we love to review and recommend numerous exciting excursions and activities for visitors to explore in cities in and around Puerto Plata. There is one activity we are very eager to share with you and that is the Flying Trapeze!

Approximately 45 minutes away from Puerto Plata in Cabarete, and located directly on Kite Beach, there is a well-known circus school and one of the many classes offered is the Flying Trapeze. Kaiceitos Circus is a professional circus and acrobatic program, offering classes for both professional and non-professional circus performers. This unique and extremely fun school is led by the famous Paul Roberts, who has over thirty years experience as a trapeze artist and has operated highly regarded circus schools in six countries and multiple cities. Owned and operated with his wife Sophie Roberts, Kaiceitos Circus offers classes to all ages and abilities and provides instruction in trapeze, aerial, fire dancing, tight wire, juggling, tumbling, the art of silks, trampoline and many other circus activities that you usually won’t find in your hometown. For parents worried about bringing their young children, you are in luck. Paul provides classes to children as young as 4 years old, offering up his Tumbling Tiny Tots class! If price point is a concern, circus school is extremely affordable, starting at $12.00 USD per class.

Kaiceitos Circus is so well known and popular that circus performers and professionals from all over the world flock to this famous school. If you are lucky, you may very well be waiting your turn aside professional circus performers training for their next big tour. In some instances, these spectacular circus performers will even put on an impromptu circus show for the newbies.

Kaiceitos Circus is open 365 days per year and has a very flexible schedule, allowing you to work this fun into your vacation. So next time you’re in Puerto Plata, make sure you plan accordingly and make your way to Kaiceitos Circus!

Birdwatching in Puerto Plata

The Dominican Republic offers birdwatchers and nature admirers alike some of the most gorgeous scenery and unique selection of birds in the world.

One of the best areas for birdwatching is two hours west of Puerto Plata in El Morro National Park. The unique landscape of the park, as well as the native birds that inhabit the park are held in high regard. Seasoned birdwatchers have noted spotting the Antillean Mango, a hummingbird with a long beak and a beautiful green color. Another interesting and gorgeous bird you may be lucky enough to spot while at El Morro National Park is the Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo. This beauty showcases colored tail feathers and possesses the features of a lizard, which makes it both unique and popular with birdwatching enthusiasts visiting the island.

Aside from the natural beauty that Puerto Plata offers, this fantastic destination is also known for its significant native and migratory birds. You definitely won’t have to go far for your birding options. As you travel throughout Puerto Plata, look high above and you may be honored with the presence of a Hispaniolan Parakeet. This beautiful bird is native to the island and offers a wingspan full of eye-catching vivid colors. If you’re staying at a resort or just walking through the city, you will likely observe the Hispaniolan Woodpecker, Cape May Warbler, Greater Antillean Grackle, and Antillean Palm Swift. El Choco National Park is also a great place to go birding, is home to 36 species of birds, and is located directly in Puerto Plata.

Puerto Plata is known for its fabulous and exciting excursions and tours. There are many eco-tours which will allow you to birdwatch to your hearts content. We suggest checking with tour companies or your resort, as they should be able to suggest the best birdwatching locations in Puerto Plata.

In late December to early January, the Dominican Republic offers an annual bird count with Dr. André Dhondt from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in this yearly census, which includes in excess of 25 unique and beautiful birds, all of which are indigenous to the Dominican Republic. Should you decide to participate in the annual census, know that you are working toward the protection of these gorgeous birds of the Dominican Republic.

With the wide variety of beautiful and unique bird species found in Puerto Plata, coupled with the city’s gorgeous surroundings, you will certainly find that this is a wonderful place for birdwatching!