Puerto Plata one of the oldest cities in the new world founded by Christopher Columbus in 1492
Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the majestic mountains of the Northern Cordillera, surrounded by beaches and coastal villages, Puerto Plata is the capital of the northern coast. A few kilometers from Playa Dorada, a place filled with hotels and all-inclusive resorts, it was for many years the preferred vacation spot for the wealthy Caribbean classes. Today, its tourist appeal has been diminished by the boom in the Bavaro Punta Cana area. As a result, fewer tourists are visiting Puerto Plata and its surroundings and it is very easy to walk around the city without stopping to see signs selling houses and apartments. Despite this, Puerto Plata remains a recommendable place to visit.
History of Puerto Plata
On January 11, 1493, Christopher Columbus arrived in what is now known as the bay of Puerto Plata. From the beginning, Puerto Plata was a strategic and very important place thanks to its port, from where all the agricultural products obtained from the fertile lands of the north of the Dominican Republic left. The great trade that Puerto Plata had was ideal for pirate attacks, pirates under the protection of Spain’s enemies, which made the citizens of Puerto Plata, tired of being harassed by pirates, to trade with them rather than risk their lives and their goods. This provoked great anger from the Spanish kings, who in 1605 ordered the evacuation of Puerto Plata and its surroundings to prevent its settlers from trading with the enemy.
A century later, the Spanish crown again allowed settlers to move into Puerto Plata, primarily to prevent non-Spanish settlers, primarily French settlers from present-day Haiti, from doing so. Gradually, Puerto Plata regained its economic and strategic importance, mainly due to its port, until finally, in the early 1990s, revenues from tourism were so large that they exceeded its main industries, tobacco, leather, sugar and maritime trade.
The province also preserves the remains of the first colony of the Americas. Indeed, the three famous ships of Christopher Columbus, the Nina, La Pinta and the Santa Maria landed here on October 12, 1492 on this piece of land that was named La Isabela, the first city of the New World.
Origin of the name Puerto Plata
There are two versions of the origin of the name Puerto Plata. The first one says that when Christopher Columbus discovered the Dominican Republic, he sailed along the Amber Coast until he reached the current bay of Puerto Plata. Here, the sun reflected in the sea, giving the impression that it was a sea of silver coins, hence the name.
The second one says that Christopher Columbus observed a hill bathed by the bay of Puerto Plata, whose top was always foggy, which led Columbus to give it the name “Monte de Plata” (silver mountain). This led to the construction of the port on the shores of the bay, which was called Puerto Plata. Today, Monte de Plata is the hill Isabel de Torres, in honor of the Queen of Castile who sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus.
If you are in the area, be sure to visit the Taino Museum and the Temple of the Americas.
Nicknamed the Amber Coast for its rich deposits, the province of Puerto Plata is the largest on the northern coast with more than 300,000 inhabitants. The city of Puerto Plata has beautiful Victorian houses dating from the late 19th century. As for Fort San Felipe, it dates back to 1577. Among the other tourist sites of the city, we will note the museum of the amber, the cable car which allows the ascent of the Mount Isabel de Torres which is situated at 800 meters of altitude, with its botanical garden and the statue of Christ. Also not to be missed is a visit to the Brugal rum factory.
In the vicinity of Puerto Plata, you can visit the Ocean World aquatic park and swim with dolphins or admire the sea lion show, as well as go-karting.
If you take the tourist road along the coast, you will reach in 35 minutes the park of the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua, a series of waterfalls in the middle of the mountains where you can practice canyoning, white water swimming and much more…
In Puerto Plata you can enjoy the beaches, nature activities and cultural tourism.
You can also visit the coastal towns of Cofresí, Costámbar, Maimón, Luperón and La Isabela.