Must see attractions in North Coast

  • Top ChoiceSights in Río San Juan

    Playa Grande

    A long, broad, tawny beach with aquamarine water on one side and a thick fringe of palm trees on the other. Stark white cliffs jut out into the ocean in the distance. A surf school here offers lessons.

  • Sights in Río San Juan

    Playa La Entrada

    Playa Entrada is one of the longest, most picture-postcard-worthy beaches in the country. Privacy is easy to come by. A couple of informal shacks sell seafood and drinks (these might be abandoned on weekdays). It's east of Cabrera, a few kilometers past Playa Diamante.

  • Sights in Puerto Plata

    Teleférico

    A cable car takes visitors to the top of the enormous flat-topped Pico Isabel de Torres. On clear days there are spectacular views of the city and coastline – go early, before the mountain clouds up. The botanical gardens at the top are good for an hour’s stroll. You'll also find a large statue of Christ the Redeemer (similar to but smaller than its counterpart in Rio de Janeiro), an overpriced restaurant and aggressive knickknack sellers. Cable-car tickets are cash only.

  • Sights in Puerto Plata

    Fuerte de San Felipe

    Located right on the bay, at the western end of the Malecón, the fort is the only remnant of Puerto Plata’s early colonial days. Built in the mid-16th century to prevent pirates from seizing one of the only protected bays on the entire north coast, San Felipe never saw any action. For much of its life its massive walls and interior moat were used as a prison.

  • Sights in Cabarete

    Parque Nacional El Choco

    The famous caves of Parque Nacional El Choco are ensconced in the foothills of the Cordillera Septentrional, among 77 sq km of pastureland, lagoon, jungle, freshwater springs and rolling hills. The stunning, privately managed caves are walking distance from town, and can be visited during a 1½-hour tour. Bring a swimsuit – the crystal-stalactite caves 25m below the surface offer two opportunities to swim in small clear pools, provided the guide can still see you with his flashlight.

  • Sights in Dajabón

    Haitian Market

    A bustling market held on the DR side of the border. Haitians come over to buy and sell fruit, vegetables and everything else, as well as contraband (including donations from international organizations, which are sold here wholesale and then shipped elsewhere in the country). Crowds push and shove wheelbarrows, motorcycles burrow through the throng and crates of goods are piled high on women’s heads.

  • Sights in Río San Juan

    Laguna Gri-Gri

    This lagoon at the northern end of Calle Duarte is fairly picturesque, with a dozen or more boatmen offering hour-long tours (US$50 for up to seven people) through tangled mangrove channels, including interesting rock formations and a cave populated by hundreds of swallows.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Puerto Plata

    Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperón

    The life and times of native-born son and independence leader Gregorio Luperón are impressively fleshed out inside this beautifully restored, pale-green, Victorian-era building. Photographs and period artifacts trace Luperón's life, from humble beginnings to his role as provisional president during the 'Restoration,' as well as the story of Puerto Plata during the late 19th century. Staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

  • Sights in Cabarete

    Playa Encuentro

    Four kilometers west of town. The place to go for surfing, though top windsurfers and kitesurfers sometimes come to take advantage of the larger waves. The beach itself is a long, narrow stretch of sand backed by lush tropical vegetation; strong tides and rocky shallows make swimming here difficult. To find the beach, look for the fading yellow archway and sign that says ‘Coconut Palms Resort.’ Definitely not safe to walk around here at night.

  • Sights in Monte Cristi

    El Morro

    Part of the 1100-sq-km Parque Nacional Monte Cristi that surrounds Monte Cristi on all sides, El Morro sits 5km northeast of town – follow Av San Fernando north to the beach and continue to your right until the road dead-ends. Opposite the ranger station, 585 wooden stairs lead to the top (239m). If you manage to safely scramble over the rotting planks and loose gravel, you’ll be rewarded with excellent views. It's about an hour return.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Río San Juan

    Playa Los Mino

    This sweet little stretch of sand must be one of the DR's best village beaches, easily accessible from the road under Bahía Blanca. White sand, a green fringe of vegetation dappling the sunlight and azure waters seem to radiate chill even to the toddlers roaring around the sand. The local vibe here is light years away from the all-inclusives.

  • Sights in Puerto Plata

    Museo del Ambar Dominicano

    The colonial-era building houses a collection of amber exhibits. These exhibits include valuable pieces with such rare inclusions as a small 50-million-year-old lizard and a 30cm-long feather (the longest one found to date). Tours are offered in English and Spanish. A gift shop on the ground floor has a large selection of jewelry, rum, cigars, handicrafts and souvenirs.

  • Sights in Cabarete

    Kite Beach

    Two kilometers west of town. A sight to behold on windy days, when scores of kiters of all skill levels negotiate huge sails and 30m lines amid the waves and traffic. On those days there’s no swimming here, as you’re liable to get run over.

  • Sights in Sosúa

    Playa Sosúa

    Playa Sosúa is the main beach, and practically a city within a city. Located on a crescent-shaped bay with calm, turquoise waters, this narrowing (due to erosion) stretch of sand is backed by palm trees and a seemingly endless row of souvenir vendors, restaurants, bars and even manicurists. The crowds of Dominican families and long-term visitors staying in local hotels and condos make this lively beach a great place for people-watching.

  • Sights in Río San Juan

    Playa Caletón

    Located about 1km east of town, this small, peaceful bay with tawny sand, almond trees and towering palms is a good place to spend an afternoon. Food stands are near the entrance. The easiest way to get here is to take a guagua (local bus; RD$30) or a motoconcho (motorcycle taxi; RD$100) to the turnoff, from which it’s a 200m walk down a rocky access road past a goat farm to the beach.

  • Sights in Monte Cristi

    Parque Nacional Monte Cristi

    This 1100-sq-km desert park is overlooked by the vast majority of visitors; if you visit you'll have its beaches and mountains largely to yourself (unless you're lucky enough to spy a tortoise or bird of prey). El Morro is the very manageable peak to climb. At 239m it can easily be tackled in a morning or afternoon by most visitors.

  • Sights in Luperón

    Parque Nacional la Isabela

    This crumbling and little-visited but historically significant national park marks Columbus’ second settlement on Hispaniola. These days a lackluster museum marks the occasion, with some old coins, rings and arrowheads, and a small-scale replica of Columbus’ house. All the exhibits are in Spanish, and guides speak very little English. You can see it all in half an hour, tops.

  • Sights in Sosúa

    Museo de la Comunidad Judía de Sosúa

    This museum has exhibits with Spanish and English text describing the Jewish presence in the DR. At the multinational Evian conference in 1938 the DR was the only country to officially accept Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi repression in Germany (part of Trujillo's efforts to whiten the DR's population). If the gate is locked during opening hours, ring the number listed above – but don't get your hopes up.

  • Sights in Puerto Plata

    Malecón

    The completely paved Malecón (also known as Av General Luperón and Av Circunvalación Norte) runs along the shore. There are a handful of restaurants, as well as a half-dozen beachside shacks selling food and drinks on Long Beach, the main city beach around 2km east of downtown. A few experienced kitesurfers launch themselves into the waves here on windy days.

  • Sights in Río San Juan

    Playa Preciosa

    Only 25m down a path leaving from just in front of Playa Grande's bathrooms is this spectacular stretch of sand. Pounded by serious waves and some undertow, few attempt to play in the surf. Those who do – typically surfers at dawn – do so for the thrill. Some of the narrow beach is covered during high tide.