Amber Riviera

 Magic Blend of Culture, Beaches, Mountains and Outdoor Fun

One of the most fascinating vacations you could ever hope to experience begins when you fly into Puerto Plata International Airport, rent a car, pull out of the airport and just take off, go bopping from place to place along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic (also known as Atlantic Coast or Amber Coast).

You find yourself cruising along a two lane highway that follows the coast alongside spectacular beaches, through typical Dominican villages, in and out of breathtaking, ever changing tropical countryside. You stop at a beach here, explore a Dominican town there and otherwise take your time checking out whatever catches your fancy.

The best thing about exploring this wilderness highway is that youre not stuck to only wilderness. The road runs from oasis to oasis of civilization. You can stop for a lobster lunch in one town, then head down the road for an hour or so and find a quaint little hotel with a neat bar on a good beach. Maybe you meet some people you enjoy so you decide to hang out for a few days. Once you ve had enough, you move on to the next place. Whether you re looking to travel around or for a place to just relax for a week, the combination of friendly Dominican, lively Latin culture, offbeat expatriates, beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside all blend to make this one of the most unusual, fun, fascinating and safe places for a Caribbean vacation.

The Atlantic coast highway puts towns and resorts within easy access of the airport. Situated within a half hour from the airport are: Puerto Plata (population 150,000), the center of regional commerce, a port city and the capital of the province that bears the same name. The city is characterized by busy, narrow streets, quaint colonial gingerbread architecture and a wide oceanfront boulevard ending in a historical Spanish fortress.

Just outside Puerto Plata, you find Playa Dorada, the areas largest multiresort complex, offering 15 hotels set on a 3-mile stretch of beach and an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course. Theres plenty to do and you dont really have to leave to have a good vacation. But if you want a taste of what the real Dominican Republic is like, you have to venture beyond. Cofresi and Costambar are adjacent communities occupying two of the nicest beaches on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, popular with retired expatriates, many villas and condos available for rent by owners.

Sosua is a bustling Latin village centered around a magnificent beach in Cabaret is a town that sprung up on a beautiful beach once it was discovered to be one of the best places in the world to windsurf. Hotels, restaurants, bars and windsurfing centers mostly centered along a single beachfront strip. Further along the coast yet still easily accessible are other popular destinations: Luperon, La Isabela (the first permanent settlement of the hemisphere), Rio San Juan, Playa Grande (a beautiful beach with an excellent Robert Trent Jones golf course) and Cabrera, among others.