5 Unusual Things To Do In The Dominican Republic

1 – Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

It is unknown to many that the very first hospital and hospital services in the Americas were in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo to be exact. In 1503 Nicolás de Ovando, who was the second governor of Hispañiola, commissioned the construction of the hospital. The actual building of the hospital was performed in two stages: once in 1503 and again in 1552, both at the request of Nicolás de Ovando. The hospital was built in the Spanish colonial style, which included stone floors and thick walls to act as a fortress. The wards accomodated up to 70 patients, and it is said that the hospital was modeled after the Hospital of Sancto Spiritu in Rome. In 1586 a pirate attack left the hospital terribly damaged. During its heyday the hospital served wounded and ill soldiers and was renamed Hospital Militar (Military Hospital) for a brief time. After operating for 350 years, Hospital San Nicolás de Bari is now a preserved ruin that qualifies as one of the most unusual and visited landmarks in the Dominican Republic.

2 – El Meson De La Cava

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is home to beauty, history, culture and a great deal of dining options. However, there is one place in particular which is just as unusual as it is spectacular, and has both local and international visitors flocking to it for a chance to view and indulge. El Meson De La Cava is a natural limestone cave that was formed by over one billion years of ocean waves. In 1965, the soldiers of the Organization of American States originally used the space for storage. Two years later, this beautiful cave became home to El Meson De La Cava restaurant. Known and respected as the most renowned restaurant in the area, El Meson De La Cava is also famous for some of the best cuisine that can be found in all of the Dominican Republic, with an emphasis on modern Spanish, local Caribbean and classic French cuisines. The restaurant is adorned with a spiral staircase that is 12.2 meters (40 feet) in height and takes diners down to the lobby. Guests can enjoy natural features within the cave, including stalagmites and stalactites all around, and viewing the belongings of the cave’s previous occupants. Diners will never find an experience like this anywhere else in the world.

3 – Corral de Los Indios

Located approximately 5 km north of the city of San Juan de la Maguana lies a circular ceremonial site, which has been compared to Stonehenge and the Ring of Brodgar. Named Corral de Los Indios, this pre-Columbian ceremonial site was once used by the Caonabo and Anacaona Indians and features a circular clearing 771 feet in diameter. Within the center of the clearing, visitors will find a vertical stone with the carving of a face, and it is speculated that astronomical phenomena could be observed from this ceremonial and astrological rock. In 1918 during an invasion by Americans, the ceremonial site was damaged when the center stone was moved. However, in the 1960s Emil Moya Boyra restored the center stone to its original condition and placement where visitors now see it today.

4 – FARO A COLÓN (COLUMBUS LIGHTHOUSE)

Faro a Colón, also known as Columbus Lighthouse is located in Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic, a municipality of Santo Domingo province. Faro a Colón is reinforced concrete constructed into a cross-shaped monument that reaches 210 meters (680 feet) in height and 59 meters (195 feet) in width. It represents the Christianization of America and is said to contain the remains of Christopher Columbus, a belief that continues to add to its mystery and generate many visitors to the monument annually. However, there has been a great deal of disagreement over this report.

Faro a Colón was constructed in 1986 and inaugurated in 1992. The project cost an estimated $70 million USD and was funded by Latin American states. The monument features 157 beams of light that project upward toward the sky; these beams of light can be seen as far away as Puerto Rico. The architect’s intent for the monument was for it to serve as a mausoleum, however former President Balaguer requested it be turned into an exhibit that showcases a permanent collection of exhibitions from America, European and Asian countries. Today, both local and international visitors flock to Faro a Colón for its beauty, mystery and history.

5CUEVAS DE LAS MARAVILLAS (CAVE OF WONDERS)

San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic is currently known for being the home to a large number of professional baseball players. However, it is also home to a great historic wonder, and that is Cuevas de las Maravillas. Taíno shamans used the cave for religious and funeral rites over 1000 years ago. In 1926, when this 800-meter cave was discovered, it was still decorated with hundreds upon hundreds of Taíno cave paintings, all of which were incredibly intact. In addition to the mesmerizing cave paintings, Cuevas de las Maravillas is home to beautiful stalagmites and stalactites that surround visitors during their tour, as well as a preserved bat inhabitant.

Cuevas de las Maravillas is west of La Romana, Dominican Republic and lies between the Soco and Cumayasa Rivers. The cave must be accessed by taxi or rental car, as tour companies are not yet offering excursion opportunities to the cave due to its private ownership. Once at Cuevas de las Maravillas, guided one-hour tours take visitors 25 meters (80 feet) deep underground and are offered Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The cost of each tour is $10.00 USD and reservations are recommended. Please keep in mind that photography is not permitted, but the memories you will have after visiting Cuevas de las Maravillas are worth their weight in gold.

What are some of the most unusual things you’ve done while traveling to the Dominican Republic? Share your experiences below!

Top 10 Things To Do In Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic


San Felipe de Puerto Plata, or simply referred to as Puerto Plata, is the eighth largest city in the Dominican Republic, and one of the most desired and popular for the many vacationers that visit annually.

Due to Puerto Plata’s rich history, thriving development and beautiful and picturesque backdrop of beaches, jungles, ocean and mountains, Puerto Plata is a highly desired destination with activities and excursions galore.

This Caribbean paradise offers many of the most exciting destinations one will find when traveling to the Caribbean, and we are thrilled to provide you with our top 10 list. Through personal experience, interviews and research, our list consists of the very best and most exciting things one must do when traveling to Puerto Plata.

10 – Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in Puerto Plata is an absolutely breathtaking and thrilling adventure that should be experienced by all when visiting this destination. If galloping along beaches, over mountains, through jungles, into villages and along the countryside sounds like perfection, we are here to tell you it is.

The horseback riding excursions in Puerto Plata are like none other and are enjoyed by many. We can confidently confirm that this is one of the most popular tours in Puerto Plata, and for obvious reasons. The beauty one experiences while riding these amazing creatures and at the same time taking in the surrounding beauty cannot be found easily anywhere else in the world. In addition to group tours, there are also private tours.

If you prefer, you and your loved one can request a private guided tour through the shallow ocean or up a Puerto Plata mountain. By far, this is one of the best things you can do while visiting beautiful Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Underground Skateboarding in Puerto Plata

Cabarete, a town located in the province of Puerto Plata is known for its many attributes, including kiteboarding, fishing, nature trails and hiking. But did you know that there is an underground skateboarding scene in Cabarete as well? The underground skateboarding scene started in the early 1990s and some of the world’s best and most noteworthy skaters have made Cabarete a highly competitive skate scene.

One of the most attractive aspects for skaters visiting Cabarete is the first underground skate ramp! This skater’s oasis featured at the eXtreme Hotel on Kite Beach was built in 2004, and was the first underground skate ramp in the world. The underground skate scene mixed with all of the international skaters flocking to this gorgeous destination, makes for quite the paradise for die-hard skaters. Aside from this popular ramp, there is also an amazing skate park in Cabarete, which is concrete, equipped with ramps, rails and many other jumps that make this park a skaters dream. Factor in the gorgeous weather and scenic views, and you will have one of the most memorable skates of your life. If you prefer to show off your skills, head on over to the famous Maui and Son’s, which has a large skate presence on the island, providing half pipes for skaters to enjoy.

The locals in Cabarete are very welcoming of both local and international skaters where you can meet new skate friends and learn new tricks when visiting Cabarete. So on your next trip to Puerto Plata Dominican Republic, enjoy the surf, sand, dune buggies and nature trails, but bring your board for some once in a lifetime skating!

 

Swing Through Puerto Plata’s Monkey Jungle

On the outskirts of Puerto Plata city, centrally located between Sosúa and Cabarete, lies a very special place filled with exotic and adorable monkeys, incredible heart pumping action and loads of fun. This wonderful destination is Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic and it offers visitors of all ages a once in a lifetime experience. Animal lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, adventure lovers and even gun connoisseurs have a place to let loose and enjoy an entire day frolicking with furry monkeys, zip lining through caves, and practicing your shooting skills, all of which help to benefit a great cause.

Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic is not only a fun filled paradise, but also a charitable organization whose primary purpose is its remarkable free dental and medical center. Officially named the Leon-Laroche Clinics, the dental center was started in 2009 by Nashville, Tennessee pediatric dentist, Dr. David Snodgrass. Dr. Snodgrass’s ambitious start began with him literally pulling teeth out of the back of a pick-up truck. He soon joined forces with retired Canadian orthodontist, Dr. Gerry Pinsonneault whose expertise aided in seeing the clinic flourish. These two charitable doctors realized the great demand for dental and medical care in the area, and it was evident to Dr. Pinsonneault that due to the costs involved a commercial attraction would be needed in order to continue with the dental clinic.

The commercial attraction materialized and Monkey Jungle & Zip Line Adventures was born thanks to Dr. Pinsonneault’s divine suggestion of opening an oasis for monkeys that would include zip lines for revenue generation to fund the dental clinic. With donations received from visitors and expats, the Monkey Jungle Dental Clinic is a valued addition to the Dominican Republic and continues to change lives for the better on a weekly basis. To date over 21,000 patients have been treated free of charge by more than 45 teams of volunteers who have passed through helping locals and inevitably helping the Monkey Jungle Dental Clinic toward its continued success.

Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic offers three main activity sectors. First we will look at its namesake activity, the beautiful and plush botanical gardens, which is home to almost 50 monkeys, including free roaming squirrel monkeys. These gentle, sweet, and exotic monkeys are the most popular attraction at Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic, and are merely the size of a squirrel, hence their name, “squirrel monkey”. Aside from being tiny and cute, some of the monkeys are astronauts as well! Betsy, a resident squirrel monkey was sent on a trip into space by NASA, and returned safely after her exciting voyage. The guided tour will allow you to interact with the squirrel monkeys, who will often times sit upon your shoulder or head and allow you to feed them via a special plate. You will continue to encounter monkeys galore as you walk through the Botanical Gardens and have the opportunity to make your way through their ancient grotto. Within the grotto you will find rescued capuchin monkeys, who have been physically and/or nutritionally abused prior to coming to Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic. Thanks to Dr. Pinsonneault and Dr. Snodgrass, as well as the amazing Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic team, these precious capuchin monkeys are all now closely cared for by Monkey Jungle’s rescue team.

Should high adrenaline activities be more up your alley, then you will certainly enjoy the second activity sector consisting of seven heart pumping zip line courses totaling 4,500 feet! As the sport of zip lining continues to gain in popularity, Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic can proudly say that they have one of the most unique zip lining courses in all of the Caribbean. Monkey Jungle’s zip lining system is called a belay system and features two suspension bridges and multiple platforms for descending deep into caves. Just imagine zipping through bat caves, mountainous areas and a jungle canopy! Should you feel more comfortable with an instructor, Monkey Jungle offers a guided tour through the mountainous areas as well. All ages are welcome and safety should not be a concern as the zip line courses are ACCT certified and inspected by a Qualified Course Professional on a regular basis

The third and final activity sector Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic offers is its well-known, private gun range. Not for the faint of heart, there are two highly skilled firearms instructors on-site and if you feel up to it, you can take an extensive safety course taught by these well-trained instructors. Should you decide to move forward and partake in the firearm fun at one of their seven shooting stations, there are two types of guns you can choose from. The first type of gun is a 12 Gauge Mossberg shotgun. Mossberg shotguns stem from one of the oldest family-owned sport gun manufacturers in the United States and are considered to be one of the most well made shotguns in the world. The second and equally exciting gun in the Monkey Jungle arsenal is the 9mm Bersa. Nicknamed the “Thunder 9” the Bersa is the handgun of choice used by the Argentinian Army and is an extremely smooth shooting handgun. It will be a difficult choice, as both of these guns are great for target practice. You may just have to try your hand at both while learning proper technique from the on-site expert instructors.

Monkey Jungle is open seven days a week, 364 days a year and is rated #1 Top Adventure in the Dominican Republic by the Travel Channel. As versatile and exciting as Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic is, the fact that all of the proceeds go towards helping locals in need, while protecting our furry friends, makes it all the better. So the next time you are in Puerto Plata, make sure to carve out time to spend a day at Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic. Not only will you have a lot of fun, you will also be helping locals and animals too.

To donate directly to the Monkey Jungle Dominican Republic Dental and Medical Clinic, please use the link below.

http://www.hadac.org/GetInvolvedN.html

Puerto Plata’s Historic Lighthouse

Puerto Plata is a city rich with history and culture. From the historical landmarks to the beautiful Victorian architecture there is much for history buffs to experience when visiting Puerto Plata. The little known lighthouse in Puerto Plata is one such landmark that we must bring attention to.

Standing out amongst the coastline, you can’t miss the statuesque yellow lighthouse guarding the Puerto Plata harbor. This bright lighthouse was constructed in 1879 by R. Deely & Co. of New York. Puerto Plata’s lighthouse was in full use up until the 1960s and to date it is the second oldest lighthouse in the Dominican Republic and one of the longest standing in the world. Standing a whopping 24.38 meters high on a 6.20 meter base and 41.75 meters above sea level, this gigantic iron monument is both beautiful and powerful. The fact that the lighthouse is still standing is a testament to the well-designed and well-built cast iron architecture of the late 19th century. The Cultural Heritage Office of Puerto Plata has called it a symbol of the values of the city of Puerto Plata, illuminating the pathways of progress.

The origin of this spectacular structure is as rich as its city’s history. The lighthouse system of Puerto Plata was desperately needed largely in part for the exporting of sugar and other materials from Puerto Plata to ports all over the world. The bright kerosene light at the peak of the lighthouse was used as a shadow and light system to prepare and warn navigators nearing the Dominican coast. Over the years the corrosive salt air took its toll on the structure and the lighthouse was inevitably retired due to aging and the constant maintenance that was needed.

In the early 2000s, The World Monuments Fund, American Express and the Dominican Republic Government embarked on the restoration of this beautiful landmark with the help of Metaldom, a local metalwork firm. Luckily, original plans were still in tact and available from the 1870s. These plans were inevitably used to restore the lighthouse, utilizing remaining columns and fabric from the existing structure. New necessities, such as the lighting and a spiral cast iron staircase in the middle of the lighthouse leading to the top have been added, making for the picture perfect lighthouse that stands today.

The Puerto Plata lighthouse is a part of the Fort San Felipe Museum, which includes a long history of one of the oldest European settlements in The New World. With Fort San Felipe in the background and the Puerto Plata Lighthouse in the foreground, both are an impressive sight for travelers and locals to visit. Guided tours will soon be offered for visitors seeking both insight and the history of the lighthouse. Funding to continue to conserve and protect this nation’s beloved monument is still underway.

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.

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.

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.

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!