by Rebecca Holland
Last month I found myself on a cruise to the Dominican Republic. We docked in Amber Cove, a port on the northwest side of the island. It’s pretty, has cute shops, decent food, and is not even that overpriced. It’s also not at all where you should spend your time in the Dominican Republic.
Here’s what you should do instead:
Explore the Sights of Puerto Plata
Hop in a taxi and get out of Amber Cove. Puerto Plata, the capital of the province, is only about a 10 minute drive away and has some cool local shops, colonial history, and a nice beach. (Tip–Get a taxi once you’re outside the gates of Amber Cove, as it’s about 1/3 of the price. Don’t pay more than $10 to get to Plaza Independencia).
Puerto Plata is a very small city, so don’t worry you won’t actually get lost! But do wander along the streets. I dragged my mom down what to some could be questionable looking alleyways, but we found the most amazing bakery with pastries for about 20c, a man selling chulas for $1, and the sweetest family-run bar where we people-watched and drank as the day wound down. Was this food more exciting than what we had been served for days on a cruise? Yes. And seeing how people live and carry out their daily lives in other cities and countries is always interesting.
Hike the Damajagua Cascades (27 Waterfalls)
This is one of the most invigorating things I’ve done in awhile, and my mom kept saying it was one of the best things she’s done in her life. You hike through canyons knee deep in water, sometimes swimming, climbing slippery rocks and diving into pools, and then slide down waterfalls on the way back. Our guides were amazing. One even carried my camera above his head in a plastic bag and documented the whole adventure. Plus, it only costs $7 for your ticket, guide, and a lifejacket. Plan ahead and bring water shoes or you’ll have to wear shoes they provide, which in my case were yellow Keds….
Visit a Private Island
We rented a car with a few other women, found a local guide (leave me a comment and I’ll send you his phone number) to drive us around, and headed to Play Rucia. Here we met up with our guide’s friends and made our way to Paradise Island in a rickey boat that I wasn’t sure would make it. At one point the water was so bumpy even our guide looked nervous, and we arrived absolutely soaked. In other words it was amazing. There were a few other people on the island when we got there, but after about 30 minutes we had the entire place to ourselves to snorkel, drink rum, eat fresh pineapple and coconut, and lie in the sun marveling at the beauty around us.
Have you been to Puerto Plata? What did you think? Anything you would add? Let me know for my next trip!