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Introducing North Coast

Within two hours’ drive of Puerto Plata’s international airport, you’ll find all the best that the north coast has to offer – water sports and beach nightlife in Cabarete, mountain biking in the coastal hills, the celebrated 27 waterfalls of Damajagua, sleepy little Dominican towns where it’s still possible to escape the tourist hordes, and mile after mile of that famous Caribbean sand.

Puerto Plata’s all-inclusive resorts continue to draw a steady stream of package tourists, but it’s Cabarete that shines as the north coast’s center for independent travelers. This one-street town hit the big time when the winds were judged world class for kitesurfing, and up and down the street you’ll hear half a dozen languages chasing the latest adrenaline-pumping activities – kitesurfing, of course, but also surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, mountain biking, and followed always by dinner and drinks on the beach.

Those looking for less action and more beach time – and who don’t mind renting a condo – will find Cofresí or Costambar to their taste. Both sit just a few kilometers outside of Puerto Plata, and their large, condo-dwelling expat populations have the beaches almost entirely to themselves. Theme park fans will enjoy Ocean World, on Cofresí beach, where you can swim with the dolphins, but still gamble at the casino till dawn.

The north coast is bookended by two completely different towns: Río San Juan to the east and Monte Cristi to the west. Set amid the dry desert scrub near the border, Monte Cristi is the obvious launching pad for an expedition to Haiti, but otherwise holds little of interest. Río San Juan is a sleepy little town that sees few tourists, and yet is a good base for spending time on Playa Grande, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.