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Dominican Republic: A unique and endless destination throughout the world.

The Amber Coast
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Towards the Amber Coast

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The northern coast of the Dominican Republic, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of the provinces of Montecristi, Puerto Plata, Espaillat, María Trinidad Sánchez and Samaná which have an immense potential for tourism with all the natural conditions appropriate for the practice of water sports.

Montecristi

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Montecristi, is the coastal province of the country's northern zone that adjoins Haiti. In its arid land grows wild oregano and buckthorn, whose wood is still used by the country folks to make vegetable charcoal used for cooking.

San Fernando de Montecristi, the province's capital, the cradle of educators, is a town planned with wide streets that had their great economic boom throughout the last century when the important Grenada Fruit Company established itself there, with high quality banana and plantain plantations geared towards exportation.

How to Get There
Metro Tours offers transportation from its bus stations in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Dajabon. If you are driving, take Autopista Duarte (N 1) from the south going north until the point where the route practically ends. From there, in the town's central park, you will find the Town Clock, an orginal French relic from the XIX Century, whose clapper still makes the bell ring every quarter of an hour, to welcome visitors.

 

 

Where to Go

Máximo Gómez and José Martí Museum, located in the house where the document that planned the ideological program for achieving independence from Cuba, know as the Manifiesto de Montecristi (Montecristi Manifesto).

The delta of the Yaque del Norte River, the biggest in the world.

elmorroThe Montecristi National Park where you can observe the sleeping dromedary, the natural rock sculpture that lies in the sea, known as El Morro, and walk among the mangroves that conserve diverse species of the Dominican birds among which the alcatraz and the pelicans stand out.

Playas Costa Verde • La Granja • Playa Popa • Playa del Morro, with steep bank, strong tide and deep waters.

Cayos Los Siete Hermanos (The Seven Brother Keys), seven virgin islands that encircle a coral area of more than 30 kms, with a splendid marine fauna, perfect for scuba diving.

For avid bird-watchers, the keys offer an impressive spectacle each May, when the bubíes come from Florida to mate.

The splendid Manzanillo Bay, a beautiful corner of the world and guardian of one nature's best treasures, appears to have been created for rest and contemplation. It is located far westward of the northwestern coast. With crystalline waters that run over a mantle of incredibly white sand, Manzanillo awaits a bold and daring investment than can transform it into the ultimate vacation spot without disturbing its spiritual and ecological balance.

Puerto Plata

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Between the sea and the mountains, 235 km from Santo Domingo, the "Bride of the Atlantic" awaits you.

Don Christopher Columbus arrived on its shores on January 11, 1493 and, admiring the shining sea, named it Puerto Plata (Silver Port).

Surrounded by the beauty of a landscape somewhat indolently carved out of nature's whim, emerges the majestic Loma Isabel de Torres at whose foot Don Bartolomé Colón founded the city in 1496.

To the north are the waters of the Atlantic, its waves lapping over the beautiful beach of golden sand with a soothing murmur. To the west lies a small peninsula where the Castillo de San Felipe has stood since 1540; and to the east is Long Beach, a beautiful beach with a great extension of golden sand.

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A pine fossil resin from the miocene age, endowed the region with amber mines, the national gem that entraps millenary fossils. Since within the province lies one of the world's largest amber deposits, this coast is known as the Costa de Ambar (Amber Coast).

Puerto Plata's historical importance derives from its primacy as the venue of the principal events that took place in the first decade following the discovery of the Americas.

Its placid coasts of exuberant vegetation welcomed on December 5, l492, the maiden landing of the Santa Maria, the ship that was carrying the brilliant navigator and his companions on December 5, 1492. It was also from here that a fort called "Christmas" was built.

Finding Fort Christmas destroyed during his second voyage, Columbus explored the area to the west of the original construction site and chose an open inlet where the founded the first city in the New World to be baptized with the name of La Isabela, in honor of Spain's Queen, Isabel la Católica.

La Isabela was the seat of the first European government in the Americas. It was here that the first court of law adjudicated disputes and where, according to historical records, Father Bernardo Boil celebrated the first mass in the New World on January 6, 1494.

Puerto Plata has also made immense contributions to the literary and political cultures of the Dominican Republic. Among the city's illustrious sons are: Gregorio Luperón, "standard-bearer of the Restoration," and Emilio Prud'Homme, poet, educator, and composer of the Dominican national anthem and other tunes.

El Porvenir, a newspaper that was first edited in Puerto Plata in 1873, is the pioneer of the national print and publishing industry.

Cafe-y-chocolatePuerto Plata produces and exports coffee, cocoa and tobacco and is among the ten provinces in the country with the largest cattle ranches. It produces liquor, dairy and pasta products, leathers and furs. A portion of its population is drawn into the fishing industry. Sugarcane, first brought to these parts by Columbus in 1493, is cultivated and remained one of the regions most important crops until 1990.

Today, Puerto Plata lives for tourism and from tourism. Its tourist zone includes a stretch of golden sand beaches estimated at around 300,000 sq. meters. Eleven kilometers of beach, reaching from Cofresí to Sosúa are being developed into a tourist complex that can satisfy the needs of the most demanding traveler.

By air, there are scheduled direct flights from overseas, and you can get a connecting flight to Puerto Plata from most major cities in the world. The major cities are service by reputable international carriers. Consult the Airline Directory on page 126.

How to Get There
Metro Tours offers transportation from its bus station. If you are driving, take the Autopista Duarte (#1) from the south northward to Villa Bisonó, take Exit #5 to the right—You are on your way to Puerto Plata. Route #5 is the ocean-view route between Puerto Plata and Samaná. See a map of getting around, on page 67.

Where to Go Puerto Plata

Where to Go
La Isabela National Park: the first European settlement in the New World, location of Christopher Columbus' ashes, venue of the first mass ever celebrated in the New World, and a cemetery. The Park also houses a Taíno museum, regional crafts and gift shop, and the temple of the Americas, inaugurated on January 6, 1994, to commemorate the five-hundredth anniversary of the first mass o Paso de los Hidalgos, milepost of the first land route used by the conquistadors.

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Take the urban route that forms part of the historic zone, where diverse architectural styles can be appreciated, among which the romantic Victorian style prevails; Fort of San Felipe and the Fort Museum (along the Malecon) are of historical importance and testify to the areas colonial past.

Cofresí, Costámbar y Long Beach

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Cofresí
Cofresí is a small inlet of crystalline waters offering a splendid panoramic view of almost the entire zone, with a beach of less than one kilometer covered by coconut groves. Hotels offering very good service operate in this beautiful place. See the Hotel Directory in page 70.

Costámbar
Located to the west of the city, Costámbar is an open beach protected by coral reefs and an exuberant vegetation of almond trees that shields it from the sun. Hotels offering very good service operate here. Consult the Hotel Directory on page 70.

Long Beach
Puerto Plata's urban beach also is sheltered by almond trees and coconut groves; it is accessible to all patrons of the city's hotels and guest houses.

Playa Dorada

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Playa Dorada, with its extensive sunny beach of fine, golden sand, has at present more than 4600 rooms designed for the absolute enjoyment of the traveler.

It offers meeting and convention facilities, a commercial plaza, casinos, and a selection of bars, cafeterias, clubs, and small, comfortable and cozy restaurants capable of satisfying the most demanding palate.

The benign climate of the region allows year-round sporting activities. Playa Dorada has excellent tennis courts, a professional, 18-hole golf course, designed by the English architect, Robert Trent Jones; it has all areas for practicing almost all aquatic sports and activities, eco-tourism, guided adventure tourism like River Rafting, Jeep Safari, Monster Truck, Parapente, Out Back Safari, such as guided routes at the Siete Chorreras, Salto del Limón, scuba-diving, deep-sea fishing, to a fishing town for eating fish daily, to see the humpback whales that come in the winter to give birth on the Banco de la Plata, or simply to ride, walk, or run.

Other beautiful beaches located along the Amber Coast are: Cabarete, Boca de Cangrejos, Caño Grande, Bergantín, Playa de Copello, and Playa Mariposa.

Before leaving Puerto Plata it is advisable to take a tour of La Isabela Archaeological Park, the first European settlement in the New World. You can get there by taking the Imbert-Luperón highway. Taking a tour through the urban area that forms the historical zone of Puerto Plata, you can admire the zone's combination of diverse architectural styles, where the romantic Victorian style prevails. The Fort of San Felipe, along with the Fort Museum, are other points of historic interest that testify to the colonial past they are located along the Malecón.

The Amber Coast has not only beautiful, sunny beaches but also treasured precious jewels from the tertiary age. It has natural deposits of the best Dominican amber, which can be purchased, made into jewelry of different shapes and forms, and carved by Puerto Plata-based foreign and native artisans. Don't miss a visit to the Amber Museum.

If you like heights, a cable car takes you to the summit of Loma Isabel de Torres, some 800 meters/2620 feet above sea level to enjoy the panoramic view.

Take advantage of your visit to eat shellfish and the fabulous crab claws, cooked native-style, served in most hotels and restaurants. Italian ice creams and ginger cookies are also a delight to the palate.

Sosúa

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Sosúa is a beautiful area, located some 16 km from Puerto Plata, where natives live in harmony with a sizeable colony of European immigrants who came to these shores as a consequence of the massive exodus generated by the turmoil of World War II.

The immigrant group, made up mostly of German and Austrian Jews, settled in Sosúa as a result of the commitment made by the Dominican Republic at the World Conference for European Refugees, held in France in 1938, to contribute to alleviating the distressing consequences of the Holocaust that Adolph Hitler had unleashed against all Jews.

Under the auspices of the United Jewish Appeal, the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA) was established to initiate an experimental agricultural community project.

Unlike other immigrants who came to Puerto Plata at the turn of the century as marine workers, this refugee group was made up of professionals, skilled craftsmen, and corporate executives. Because of the level of their intellectual acumen, they have exerted a positive influence on the region's socio-economic development. The majority were single men who very soon becoming permanent residents and settlers in Dominican homes.

Medical doctors, engineers, industrial chemists, artists, decorators and agronomists, among others, dedicated themselves to agroindustrial ventures and animal husbandry. They later founded industrial dairy and cattle production cooperatives, with an initial contribution of RD$10 from each member. Today, this cooperative is a powerful enterprise that makes the famous Sosúa sausages, cheeses and butter.

ventorrillososuaThe demand for service has gradually created a harmonious infrastructure that is not often found in small communities. What was once a small village of refugees in the 1940s, is now a thriving, self-sufficient, hospitable community that has opened its arms to international tourism.

In Sosúa you can enjoy modern comforts within the calm and peace of a fishing village. Discover the rich Jewish heritage; visit the museum and the first synagogue established in the country.

Sosúa beach, nestled in an open bay, offers swimmers a splendid panoramic view that is lost over the mantle of golden sand from which emerges a lush vegetation of almond and coconut groves.

 

 

The Silver Bank

bancodeplataThe Banco de la Plata or Silver Bank, an underwater platform of coralline origin located 80 nautical miles from the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, extends from the Bahamas to the Banco de la Navidad (Christmas Bank). Thousands of very distinguished visitors travel to this underwater sanctuary every year and are always received by Dominicans with the outmost respect and admiration. These "visitors" are the humpback whales that migrate from the frigid waters of the North Atlantic to reproduce in the warm and peaceful waters of our coasts.

Porfirio Rubirosa, renowned Dominican playboy of the international jet set who died in a car accident in Paris, once hired French divers to recover the sunken treasures of the shipwrecked Spanish galleons in the Banco de la Plata (Silver Bank); but the galleons were not found, and Rubirosa failed in this adventure. Other expeditions have had better luck, and some museums display pieces obtained from these archeological explorations.

Cabarete Beach

cabaretePlaya Cabarete is a favorite summer resort for locals as well as tourists, especially the younger visitors who come to enjoy its strong surf, the beautiful range of blue tones reflected in its clear waters, and the informal tourist characteristics it offers.

Given its special features, winds from 15 to 25 knots coming from the Atlantic and the safety that the wind direction represents for the competitors (blowing as they do, from inside-out) Cabarete is considered one of the world's best for windsurfing.

Every year time ago during Cabarete race week, the city of Cabarete hosts the world cup for professional windsurfing and, starting ago, the world cup for professional kiteboarding. This activity has generated a lot of tourist services.

For more information about these competitions, please contact: Phone: 809-571-0882.

You can enjoy good food in small restaurants scattered around town, 
and there are hotels which offer very good service.

María Trinidad Sánchez

When you get to Rio San Juan, a town in the Maria Trinidad Sanchez province, you may take a refreshing break and stay overnight at excellent hotels.

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Nearby is a charming spot you should not miss: Laguna Gri-Gri, where a yolero (owner of medium-sized rowing boat) will guide you between mangroves, through a canal of crystalline mineral water to find coral banks, la Playita, la Cueva de las Golondrinas, El Caletón, and Puerto Escondido beach (Hidden Port), an enchanted haven along our shoreline almost paradise!

Along the same coastal road that borders the Bahía Escosesa (Scottish Bay) are located Punta Preciosa, and farther on, Cabo Francés Viejo. In this coast marine terraces of great height emerge where the ocean floor practically disappears, you have also reached the highest point from which you can contemplate the Atlantic Ocean and meditate on the crimson glow of a beautiful sunset.

A few kilometers farther are the municipality of Cabrera, Laguna Grande beach, and Diamante beach.

Nagua

The next stop is the town of Nagua, located over a low-lying coastal strip that gives it a distinctive appearance, the receding ocean tide has left an ample stretch reminiscent of an urban beach. Here the traveler can rest and feel the warmth of townsfolk. Nagua is the capital of the province of María Trinidad Sánchez.

Samaná

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Samaná province, with the peninsula and bay bearing its name, its many lakes and seascapes, constitute, without taking anything away from the other regions, our country's most extraordinary geographical coastal relief, and the most exotic asset of the Dominican tourist industry.

A tour along this ecological corridor, carefully designed with care by the Supreme Creator, is truly a spiritual journey. Guided boat tours are available from the ports of Sánchez, Sabana de la Mar, Samaná, Miches, Laguna Redonda, Laguna del Limón.

The first point of contact with the peninsula of Samaná, as one enters it from the west, is the vibrant city of Sánchez, along the railroad network whose construction was overseen by Mr, Baird, a Scotsman. Indeed, for years, rail service had linked the cities of La Vega and San Francisco de Macorís with the bay area of Samaná.

Here in this port city, you can enjoy fresh seafood; the bay is a famous breeding ground for fish and shellfish. Take advantage of the opportunity to eat freshly caught shrimp and the small fish at Manita's fried-food stand.

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This is the fork in the road, the moment to decide which way to go. Whether to go north, passing through the mountain range along a panoramic road leading to Las Terrenas and El Portillo; to follow Highway N 5, which leads to Santa Barbara de Samana; or to take a boat circuit to visit the charms offered by the bay and the peninsula from the amazing transatlantic port operating in its coasts.

If, on the other hand, you decide to follow the road to Samaná there is no to worry. The road is level and, shortly after passing the new port of Sánchez, you will come to Airport Arroyo Barril, which serves private planes and domestic flights. Those who do not wish to lose much time and enjoy air travel should know that the flight to Samaná from Las Américas, La Romana or Punta Cana is between 30 to 45 minutes.

Continuing on the coastal highway (N 5) that winds between millions of coconut trees, one arrives at Santa Bárbara de Samaná (located 245 km northeast of Santo Domingo) the province's capital. A beautiful community that has served the tourist industry remarkably, it preserves from its past only its name and "La Churcha," an old building brought from England to house the freed North American congregation who became the nucleus of the Wesleyan Methodist Church; today it is the Dominican Evangelical Church, and its the romantic Victorian architecture has lured many a photographer to its portals.

The old fishing village, sprinkled with salt and sun, located on the shore of the bay bearing the same name, became an attractive tourist city of beautiful avenues, functional buildings, comfortable hotels and restaurants where it is possible to taste international cuisine, the famous gingerbread, yaniqueques (Johnny cakes) and the fabulous pescado con coco (fish in coconut sauce) made from the English grandmother's old recipe.

The shallow marine floor of Samaná (the greatest depth of the bay is barely 45 meters) represents a danger for ocean-going vessels with a deep draft; but, on the other hand, conditions are favorable for a large-scale fishing industry.

The soil of the area belongs to the cretaceous period and most of the peninsula is layered with white, pink, green and gray marble, quarried to supply the industries that process it in Santo Domingo. In addition, coconut, fish and shellfish abound.

During the pre-Hispanic period, the territory belonged to the chieftainship of Maguá under the domain of the Ciguayo, Guarionex. From excavations carried out, interesting archeological pieces have been preserved as pointers to the history of that period.

Christopher Columbus arrived in Samana on January 12, 1493. The following day the first battle in the New World took place between the Taínos of Ciguayo and the Spaniards. According to a journal entry in the admiral's own handwriting, "[he had] never seen so many arrows fly over a ship." Before leaving for Castilla on January 16th of the same year, he dubbed the bay the Golfo de las flechas (Gulf of arrows).

Santa Bárbara de Samaná was founded in 1756 by the Spanish brigadier and the governor of the island, Francisco Rubio Peñaranda.

terrenasSamaná celebrates its patronal feast on December 4th. For more than half a century Doña Vetilia Peña has initiated the festivities in her home, with the bambulá, a ritualdance that can only be seen and danced in the Samaná peninsula during its patronal festivities and on October 24th, the feast day of San Rafael.

The Chivo Florete, a dance of suggestive, erotic movements that are considered inappropriate by some, is a dance typical of Samaná, as well as the olí-olí, it forms a part of the carnival's comparsas (costumed groups dressed alike at carnival time) in which only men participate.

In the city you will find different business centers and hotels designed for tourists which offer comfortable accomodation. See Hotel Directory, page 70.

For those hungry for an exotic treat, Samaná is famous for its fabulous typical regional cuisine. A preferred dish is Pescado con Coco (fish in coconut sauce), a culinary delight. Info: Tourism Office: 809-538-2332

 

 

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