Heading to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic? Well you’ve come to the right place, in today’s blog post I’m giving you The Best Things To Do In Puerto Plata. I’ve compiled my list to my top 7 MUST SEE spots in Puerto Plata but this list could go on, the Dominican Republic is so beautiful and I’m still exploring new and fun things to do every time I visit.
7 Fun Things To Do In Puerto Plata
1. Paradise Island (Cayo Arena)
Paradise Island AKA Cayo Arena is a small sandbar with man made huts 20 minutes off the coast of Punta Rucia. We were able to experience this island all to ourselves and let me tell you it was incredible to have a whole island to ourselves. If you want to experience this island for just you and maybe a few people, I recommend going as early as possible. We left Punta Rucia Lodge at 7:00 A.M. and had the whole island to ourselves the entire two hours we were there. Later in the morning is typically when the large catamaran tour boats come in and I’ve heard it turns into a party island which would be cool to experience now that we’ve been able to experience it all to ourselves.
How to get to Cayo Arena?
You can get to Cayo Arena by boat and it is typically about a 20 minute boat ride. The boat stops at a natural piscina on the way and after Paradise island will take you through the mangroves on the way back.
You can book a boat ride or an excursion directly from your hotel. We booked a boat through our hotel (Punta Rucia Lodge) and we were able to choose what time we left the property. This cost us about $150 USD and we were there 20 minutes later.
You can also book a tour through an excursion booking site. Depending on where you’re staying in the Puerto Plata area, this could be an all day excursion. I have seen quite a few different packages, and VIP packages to where they’ll take you out early in hopes of beating the crowd.
Now, don’t quote me on this but I have read a blog post that If you have a rental car and drive to the public beach Playa La Ensenada in Punta Rucia, you can hire a local with a boat for around $100 to take you out to Paradise Island/Cayo Arena but please do your own research as I don’t know first hand.
Don’t forget your snorkel gear as there’s a ton of tropical fish surrounding Paradise Island.
Please remember to leave these places better than you found it.
2. Punta Rucia Lodge
Punta Rucia Lodge is one of Dominican Republic’s most Instagrammable hotels which includes a private beach with crystal clear water and lots of places to relax in the water (Yes, in the water).
Where is Punta Rucia Lodge?
Punta Rucia Lodge is located about 2.5 hours away from the Puerto Plata airport.
This luxury boutique hotel only has 13 beachfront bungalows so it feels like you have the whole place to yourself. If you decide to stay here, you can visit Paradise Island very easily. We stayed at Punta Rucia for 3 nights and it was the perfect amount of time before heading down to Cabarete.
I won’t get into too much detail as I have a whole other blog post solely dedicated to Punta Rucia Lodge which you can read here:
3. 27 Charcos
If you’re feeling adventurous, you definitely need to add 27 Charcos AKA 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua to your excursion list. We booked through Iguana Mama and had the best time with some really fun tour guides (Carlos, Speed Gonzalez Diego and Angel)!! We even had so much fun on the bus ride back to our hotel (Rum, may have been involved).
What is 27 Charcos?
This 27 Waterfall tour includes hiking an hour up and then sliding and jumping down 27 waterfalls, water slides and rock jumps to the bottom. However, being able to hike to the top all depends on the current water level. If there isn’t enough water, you will not be able to do all of the falls.
Now, if you’re feeling adventurous but not TOO adventurous, you can choose to do 12 waterfalls or 7 waterfalls and a zip line combo. Iguana Mama only does two 27 Charcos excursions a week so make sure to check their website for the week you plan on going to make sure it fits your schedule.
Cabarete is an active water sports beach town where you can surf, kite board, wind surf and so on. You will not be bored here. Afterall, Cabarete is known as the Kiteboarding capital of the world. From the array of water sports during the day, happy hours and restaurants along the beach, there is so much to do and everyone is so friendly!
We stayed in Cabarete for 6 nights at Hotel Villa Taina and still feel like we didn’t have enough time to explore it all.
Cabarete offers so many activities, foodie spots, El Choco National Park, and Water sport lessons. I took four hours of Kiteboarding lessons. The photo below shows the first time I got up!
Cabarete beach has a vibrant nightlife and each restaurant/bar has its own dedicated day with something going on every night. Thursday nights are Latin Nights at Ojo!
Cabarete is a very safe place and is centrally located in Puerto Plata, making it easy to do day trips.
The rest of the fun things to do in Puerto Plata on this list were visited on a day trip from Cabarete and it was a really fun day and felt like we made the most out of the day. These next three places to see in Puerto Plata are within close proximity of each other.
We hired a driver to take us to these three places and it was nice not having to worry about driving and just being able to relax in the car in between places and on the way back to Cabarete.
5. Natural Piscina (Rio San Juan)
The Natural Piscina is a natural pool located in Rio San Juan and so beautiful!
How to get to the Natural Piscina in Rio San Juan?
Head to the Laguna GriGri fishing village where you can hire a boat to take you to the natural piscina along with a cave and Playa Caleton and make a trip out of it. The private boat cost us around $38 USD.
To be honest, I had only wanted to go to the Natural Piscina, but it was cool seeing a few other spots as well which were included in the boat tour, not to mention the huge houses and resorts overlooking the cliffs was a site to see.
I was informed by some locals that you can only get to the Natural Piscina by boat but I have seen quite a few videos of people being able to walk down to play in the Natural Piscina.
Upon visiting, it is probably likely that you can just walk down but it is also someone’s house so the choice is up to you! I like to play it safe, especially when visiting another country.
The boat let us out to swim at the Natural Piscina and I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was. The scenery as well as the clear water! Swimming here is probably one of my top things to do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
6. Dudu lagoon
Dudu Lagoon is a beautiful well kept property mostly known for its zip line drop into Dudu Lagoon. However, this property is also home to caves with stalagmites (felt like we were entering the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland), natural pools/lagoons that you can swim in and a restaurant. There are lots of areas to walk around and look at. During our visit, I only came across one lagoon that you couldn’t swim in but it was still pretty to look at.
The entrance fee to get into Dudu Lagoon is around $6 USD a person.
We spent a good amount of time in one lagoon swimming and jumping into the lagoon off the jumping dock. Make sure to bring your goggles here. I was surprised to find fish. Also, when you swim towards the cave which is roped off, it gets pitch dark and it’s scary cool!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you have to try the Dudu Lagoon zip line drop which costs 50 pesos per zip line drop. Let me warn you, I have looked up Dudu Lagoon multiple times while searching for fun things to do in Puerto Plata before visiting. Online, the zip line looks like only 10 feet, NO, this zip line is about 40 feet in the air.
I almost chickened out but I conquered my fear and did the jump!
7. PLaya Grande, dominican Republic
Playa Grande is one of the most beautiful public beaches I’ve ever visited with a large pristine white sandy beach, surrounded by lush palm trees. As you first walk through the “Playa Grande” entrance, it looks like a market with various vendors and food stalls.
Although, when we arrived we were looking to eat but it looked like most stalls were closed. We were greeted by one of the employees, we let them know we were looking to get something to eat, and to my surprise they said pick anywhere on the beach (so we did) and they brought the table and chairs to us! How fun?! On the way down to the beach, we walked past the cutest beach bar (Playa Grande Beach Bar) which you can order drinks from at your table while your feet are in the sand.
This is probably my favorite place we ate because of how unconventional it was! The menu mainly consisted of seafood which was delicious and everything was a huge portion which was also great!
After a delicious lunch, make sure to enjoy yourself in the blue water at Playa Grande!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post including 7 fun things to do in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and you include a few of these top things to do in Puerto Plata during your visit to the Dominican Republic.
If you would like to hear any of these Puerto Plata must see spots in more detail, please let me know in the comments.
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