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This article was written on 12 Apr 2010, and is filled under To: Dominican Republic.

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Visit the NORTH COAST of the Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata is a natural port on the north coast. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the early 1490s. Once a thriving port and the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, it has now become largely dormant, though it continues to attract tourists from the surrounding resort areas.

With stunning sunsets and beaches, no wonder why Puerto Plata is the favorite sun destination of so many tourists.

picture credit: Space Ritual

Many visit the city to see the Fortaleza de San Felipe, a fort on Puerto Plata’s Malecón built to protect the city from pirate attacks and later used to jail political opponents. Notice the restored lighthouse nearby. The old city has hundreds of classic, wooden gingerbread-like mansions from the late 19th century, including Casa Olivores, the Tapounet Family home, and a Victorian mansion on Calle Jose del Carmen that is now used as a gallery and coffee shop.

You can get a feeling of the city’s remarkable past in the magnificent Victorian gazebo in the central Parque Independencia, or sit and watch locals enjoy a break under the shade of trees. Check out the leaves, flowers, insects and reptile fossils trapped in amber (fossilized pine resin) pieces at the Museo de Ambar Dominicano (Dominican Amber Museum), and take a guided tour at the Brugal Rum Distillery.

Ocean World Adventure Park is a multimillion-dollar aquatic park that opened in March 2004. The Adventure Park features marine and wildlife interactive programs, including dolphin and sea lion encounters, sharks, stingrays, exotic tropical birds, sharks, a tropical forest, and a Tiger Grotto inhabited by majestic Bengal tigers. Other features such as a beautiful enclosed beach area, locker room, excellent restaurants, tropical bars, and a Las Vegas-style casino make for a once in lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Mt. Isabel de Torres is a 780m (2600ft) mountain located southwest of Puerto Plata. You can take a cable car to the top for a spectacular view. Other notable features include a huge statue of Christ the Redeemer, botanical gardens, and a restaurant.

Approximately 25km east of Puerto Plata is Sosua, a small town founded during World War II by 600 Austrian and German Jews. Although many of them returned to Europe or went to America after the war, their legacy continues with a small local Jewish community and a one-room wooden synagogue. You can learn more about their history at Museo Judio Sosua. The town consists of two areas – El Batey (eastern side) and Los Charaminos (western side). Los Charamicos, the modern side of the city, is predominantly occupied by fishermen, tourist sector workers, and small business owners, while El Batey is the city’s old quarter.

The two areas are separated by a small cove surrounded by amazing high coral cliffs, and the beautiful Sosua Beach with white, soft sand and crystal clear water. The walkway above the beach is packed with souvenir shops and restaurants vying for your business. Activities in Sosua Beach include snorkeling and diving tours. Over the years, the town has earned a reputation for prostitution, but much is done to clean it up and invests in its future. Upscale condos and hotels have been built and tourism has increased in the area.

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