Introduction to Puerto Plata
Columbus wanted to establish a city at Puerto Plata and name it La Isabela. Unfortunately, a tempest detained him, so it wasn't until 1502 that Nicolás de Ovando founded Puerto Plata ("Port of Silver"), 209km (130 miles) northwest of Santo Domingo. The port became the last stop for ships going back to Europe, their holds laden with treasures taken from the New World.
Puerto Plata appeals to a mass-market crowd that prefers less expensive all-inclusives. More accommodations of this kind continue to pop up on this coast, and yet many are still booked solid almost year-round.
Most of the hotels are not actually in Puerto Plata itself, but in a tourist zone called Playa Dorada, which consists of major hotels, a scattering of secluded condominiums and villas, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed golf course, and a riding stable.
The government has spent millions of dollars to rejuvenate the beaches of the D.R., including several long stretches along the North Coast. These improvements have made room for more sunbathers on the sands. But don't expect Robinson Crusoe-style isolation, either; you'll never be alone on a stretch of beach in Puerto Plata, since the beach is shared with the residents of at least nine hotels. However, if you enjoy beige sand that's rarely too hot to walk on, and a never-ending array of watersports kiosks, chaise longues, and loudspeakers projecting merengue music, you'll be happy here. One important note: It rains a lot in Puerto Plata during the winter. If you want guaranteed sun, go to Punta Cana or the beaches on the southern coast.