Things to do on the north coast of the Dominican Republic

Things to do on the north coast of the Dominican Republic

Casey Siemasko

Venture outside your all-inclusive resort walls to discover the true beauty of the Dominican Republic. A country of sweeping beaches, rolling hills, a rich culture, and friendly locals, we share the highlights of the North Coast between Puerto Plata and Cabrera—arguably one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the country.

The route is best experienced with your own transportation; however, driving in the Dominican Republic is not for the faint of heart. We recommend hiring a private driver to ensure a stress-free road trip that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

Isabel de Torres National Park

Begin your adventure with a breath-taking trip on the only cable car in the Caribbean. Starting in Puerto Plata, it takes visitors to the top of 2,555 ft. Mount Isabel, where stunning views of the surrounding landscape await. Once at the top, there are a few casual walking paths that take you past tropical flora and fauna, as well as a small cafe with pleasant views of the jungle-laden mountains. There’s also a small replica of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer perched atop the mountain, though it’s not quite as dramatic as the original.

If you have extra time, follow up your ride on the teleférico with a quick walking tour of downtown Puerto Plata. The San Felipe Fort, Central Park, and the Malecón are the city’s primary attractions.

Isabel de Torres National Park | Photo: Dan Moore

Isabel de Torres National Park | Photo: Dan Moore

Sosúa

Snorkelers and scuba divers won’t want to miss a stop at Sosúa Bay. Renowned for its excellent visibility and diverse marine life, here divers can expect to find colourful fish darting in and out of vibrant coral, mysterious wreck sites, and even the occasional pod of dolphins.

Not a diver? Try your hand at Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). Two-hour tours begin early in the morning (before the wind picks up) and often include a swim break. On a calm day, it’s possible to see through the crystal-clear water straight to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Sosúa is a popular beach with locals and tourists alike. If you prefer something a bit more secluded, hop down to adjacent Playa Linda. The beach is just as beautiful and a bit quieter. It’s also an especially wonderful spot to watch the sunset.

Cabarete

Just a few minutes drive from Sosúa is the lively beach town of Cabarete, the adventure sports capital of the Dominican Republic. Cabarete Beach is one of the best places in the world for kite surfing and windsurfing, and as a result, there’s an eclectic group of expats from all corners of the globe that now call the town home. Take a beginner’s windsurfing class, or simply sit back with a drink while enjoying the colourful kites as they soar through the air.

Playa Grande

Though Playa Grande is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, the long stretch of pale yellow sand remains a hidden gem. Grab a beach chair and lounge away the day while cooling off in the idyllic Atlantic Ocean. This is also a good spot to rent a surfboard and try your luck with the waves.

Be sure to arrive at Playa Grande hungry; this is one of the best spots to chow down on fresh seafood and lobster with your toes in the sand. Wash it all down with an ice-cold Presidente beer or a Santo Libre (Dominican rum, lime juice, and Sprite).

Playa Linda | Photo: Dan Moore

Playa Linda | Photo: Dan Moore

Playa Diamante

It’s easy to miss Playa Diamante if you’re not on the lookout. This enclosed bay is the impressive result of an underground river that meets the Atlantic. Wade out for nearly 200 meters on silky soft sand into the calm turquoise water and still only find yourself thigh-deep. While the actual beach is not our favourite, the peaceful and secluded bay is an ideal spot for a leisurely swim. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to share the place with a handful of local fisherman.

Dudu Lagoon

Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, head inland to visit the lovely Dudu Lagoon. This unique cenote is a great place to cool off (the water is freezing) while enjoying the verdant surroundings. Adventurous souls can opt to jump from the adrenaline-pumping zip line high above the natural swimming pool. The Dudu Lagoon is also a unique place to scuba dive through underground tunnels and caverns. While you won’t see much marine life, the experience to swim through dark caves from lagoon to lagoon is unparalleled.

Be sure to arrive at the Dudu Lagoon in the morning as tour buses do make stops here come afternoon. When there’s a long line for the zip line, it limits the space to swim.

Where to stay

For boutique luxury at its finest, you can’t go wrong with Casa Veintiuno. This three-room bed and breakfast is conveniently located in Sosúa, where all of the above highlights are easily accessible. Casa Veintiuno features a picturesque swimming pool, private terraces, and a well-equipped gym. The on-site restaurant is easily one of the best in all of Sosúa; we recommend the truffle oil risotto with a glass of prosecco. Request Suite number 1, which includes a large jacuzzi and lovely view of Sosúa Bay.

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