The city of Puerto Plata is located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and is the largest city in that region. It is the eighth largest city in the Dominican Republic. Located 732 miles southeast of Miami, Puerto Plata lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Mt. Isabel de Torres and covers a total area of 196.5 miles. With its name meaning “Silver Port”, Puerto Plata serves as one of the most important and leading trading ports in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, Puerto Plata is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic, and home to many resorts and hotels.
With latitude coordinates of 19.800 and longitude coordinates of -70.683, Puerto Plata reaches 800 meters above sea level, has a beautiful mountainous backdrop, and is surrounded by the largest amount of amber deposits worldwide. Mt. Isabel de Torres is located 5 km southwest of Puerto Plata city and if visitors follow the Don José Ginebra highway they can drive to the very top of the mountain. Being the largest city on the northern seaboard, Puerto Plata consists of several subdivisions. Puerto Plata Province is both tropical and mountainous, featuring beaches, ocean, mountainous regions, tropical jungle and city streets, a true combination of many environments. There are several rivers and streams running through Puerto Plata, including San Marcos, San Piñez, Corozo, Muñoz, Camú del Norte, Maimón, El Violón, Río Seco, Blanco, San Cristóbal, Caballo, Fú, and Culebra. The main oceanfront boulevard running through Puerto Plata is called El Malecón which offers gorgeous views of the pristine beaches that Puerto Plata is so well known for.
History and Culture
Taíno Indians were the first inhabitants of the area known today as Puerto Plata Province. Christopher Columbus colonized this area in 1494 while on his second voyage to the New World. Named La Isabela, the colony is considered to be the first European settlement in the New World. Columbus described Puerto Plata as the “Port of Silver”, due to its shimmery waters that mirrored the color of silver on his first approach along the coast. In 1496, Puerto Plata was officially founded by Christopher Columbus’ brother, Bartholomew Columbus, at which time he named the city San Felipe de Puerto Plata. Subsequently, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela reclaimed the settlement in 1498, and in 1508, San Felipe de Puerto Plata was granted an official coat of arms by the King of Spain. As a new Spanish Colony, San Felipe de Puerto Plata acted as the leading maritime and commercial port of the island.
Today, Puerto Plata primarily imports and exports tobacco, rice, cacao, coffee, sugarcane, lumber and bananas. Fishing, as well as processing and manufacturing plants, such as chocolate, matches, dairy products, and liquor rank highest as the leading products. Puerto Plata’s population is largely Catholic and is home to beautiful churches, including Catedral San Apóstol. Music is incredibly important to Dominican culture, most popularly, Merengue music. Puerto Plata is known for its many celebratory events, including the annual Merengue Festival, Carnival and Cultural Festival.
Puerto Plata is home to a cultural mix of residents, which makes this city so very vibrant. As of 2012, Puerto Plata was home to 286,558 residents, with a generous amount making up the expatriate community.
Day to Day
Passports are required for all visitors traveling into the Dominican Republic, whether from the United States, Europe, Canada or anywhere for that matter.
Puerto Plata remains on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) all year round, as there is no daylight savings time in the Dominican Republic. AST equates to the same time as Eastern Standard Time, April – October. However, October – April, Puerto Plata is one hour ahead of EST.
Upon your arrival to Puerto Plata, a $10 USD arrival tax is paid at your point of entry. Paying the $10 USD provides all tourists (except for tourists from a select few countries) with a Tourist Card that is good for up to 30 days. A $20 USD departure tax must be paid in full and in cash.
Mail is delivered by The Dominican Postal Institution (Inposdom).
Resort taxes up to 18% can be charged. This tax rate can be seen on grocery receipts, as well as restaurant receipts, so make sure to check your bill.
As of June 2014 Emergency Services (911) in Puerto Plata are available for police, fire and emergency calls. Emergency Services is being rolled out in cities throughout the Dominican Republic as well. The direct Emergency Services number is 809-566-6648. Operators speak Spanish. According to the Deputy Minister of the Presidency and 911 spokeswoman, Zoraima Cuello, a total of 2,850 security cameras will be installed in strategic places in Puerto Plata and Santiago provinces as part of the 911 Emergency and Security System. The plan is to have the system up and running by late 2015.
Electricity is 110 volts, which is the same voltage as the United States and Canada. European visitors are urged to purchase an adapter prior to traveling.
Puerto Plata drinking age is 18 years old.
There are several options when deciding on a form of transportation, all of which are very affordable. The standard taxi will cost approximately $5 USD for a ride to travel within the city, and it is possible to negotiate with a taxi driver as well. Motoconchos, which are moped taxis, are a form of inexpensive transportation (as low as $1 USD per ride). The Minibus, which is a privately owned bus that travels as far as Sosúa is a great option as well and will cost a passenger approximately $2.50 USD. Last but not least, there is always walking. After all, Puerto Plata is known for its beauty, so why not venture out and explore on foot?
Puerto Plata offers a tropical climate with an average temperature of 76.9°F (24.9°C). The average high temperature is 81°F (27.2°C) in August. During the winter months of December to February the low average temperature is 73°F.
The official currency of the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso (RD$). United States and Canadian currency can easily be exchanged at banks and at currency exchange booths called casas de cambio. Additionally, the majority of hotels and resorts offer currency exchange services for United States, Canadian and European currencies. Visitors will find that most businesses, including restaurants and hotels, accept major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express. As of August 01, 2015 the Dominican Peso exchange rate was RD$45.08 = $1.00 USD.