The Amber Coast, named for its rich deposits of lustrous semi-precious amber found throughout the region, runs along the northern Atlantic coast from Cofresi to Nagua and boasts an assortment of seaside towns and resorts. Forests, mountains and miles of golden beach provide a playground for adventure sports seekers with activities such as mountain biking and horse riding available, as well as a host of watersports like diving, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Amber Coast © Joe deSousa
The port city of Puerta Plata is the region's capital and the main tourism enclave. On the outskirts of Puerto Plata is the major Playa Dorada complex of low-rise hotels in a country club setting of gardens and beautiful beaches, centred on the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones designed golf course. Seaside towns and communities that are also popular with visitors include Sosua and Cabarete to the east of Puerto Plata, and Cofresi to the west.
Amber Museum © Michael Rhys
Amber MuseumAn attractive Victorian building in the centre of Puerto Plata on Duarte Street houses the Amber Museum, showcasing a unique collection of valuable Dominican amber. According to experts the amber found in this region is the most transparent, and therefore the most valued, in the world. The substance, classified as a semi-precious stone, is actually tree resin that has hardened across millennia, often enclosing fossils of plant and insect life. The museum offers guided tours in several languages, and has a shop where a full selection of Dominican amber jewellery can be obtained.
Address: 61 Duarte Street; Website: www.ambermuseum.com; Opening time: Monday to Saturday 9am - 6pm
Cabarete © Jeff
CabareteA small, laid-back Caribbean seaside town, the popular holiday destination of Cabarete is considered by many to be the windsurfing and kitesurfing capital of the Caribbean, and the town has hosted international competitions since the 1980s. It is the perfect tropical destination, particularly for younger travellers seeking sun and adventure sports, and has a buzzing beachside bar and restaurant scene. Tour operators also offer plenty of other activities including hiking, horseriding, canyoning, mountain biking and surfing.
Fort San Felipe © Kyle Simourd
Fuerte San FelipePuerto Plata's only remnant of its Spanish Colonial past is a small fort, situated on a small peninsula in Puerto Plata Bay. The fort, featuring a moat, and a collection of historical artefacts in a small museum, was built in the mid 15th century to protect the bay against pirates. However, it never saw great battle, and was mostly used as a prison. To the east of the fort is an oceanside road known as the Malecon, which features numerous cafés and roadside vendors. It is a popular promenade for walks beside the beach.
Mount Isabel de Torres © Mercedes
Mount Isabel de TorresTowering over the city of Puerto Plata is the 2,600 feet (792m) Mount Isabel de Torres, which is a popular tourist attraction in its own right. The mountain offers visitors the chance to take a spectacular seven-minute cable car ride up the mountainside to explore the summit. At the top of the highest point of Puerto Plata, there is a botanical garden which boasts an amazing array of flora and fauna, as well as a cruciform statue of Jesus Christ, replicating the famous Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro. There is also a restaurant, from which diners can enjoy breathtaking views of the city and coastline.
Beach walker © Vishal Patel
Puerto PlataPuerto Plata, the capital of the Dominican Republic's province of the same name, sits on the country's north coast and is the gateway to the numerous holiday towns and resorts found adjacent to the shore. The coastline itself is blessed with beautiful stretches of pristine beach, lush green valleys, and is backed by the majestic Mount Isabel de Torres. Columbus described the spot as 'the fairest land under heaven' when he arrived there in 1492, and the thousands of visitors that arrive every day today tend to agree with him. The city sports a romantic air of days gone by, enhanced by its Victorian architecture with its filigree lace wood and ironwork and 'gingerbread' motifs that characterise most of the historic homesteads and public buildings. The town has a buzzing atmosphere, with many restaurants and clubs pumping the sultry beats of merengue and salsa into the tropical night air.
Samana Peninsula © Jens Jäpel
Samana PeninsulaJutting out into the Atlantic like a finger, the beautiful Samaná Peninsula to the east of the island is a remote area with deserted white sand beaches, palm forests and clear, calm waters. Hidden towns and fishing villages, brightly painted Dominican homes, and a Mediterranean-influenced atmosphere characterise the communities here. Dominating the interior are mountain passes negotiated by winding roads that offer magnificent views, lush vegetation and cool waterfalls. The Samaná Peninsula is also known for the migration of humpback whales between January and March every year to the sheltered warm waters along its coast.
Playa Sosua © Brent
SosuaTo the east of Puerto Plata is the holiday destination of Sosua, a small village with a cosmopolitan character, which offers a superb crescent-shaped beach and numerous cafés, bars and restaurants. The town was developed by a group of approximately 600 Jewish refugees from Europe who settled here in 1940, and founded the now-thriving dairy industry for which the village is noted. The original synagogue built by this expatriate community is still standing, and features a museum dedicated to the history of the community.
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