Tropical holiday village
Playa Dorada was the Dominican Republic’s first tourist outpost, and it’s still one of the best. This gated holiday enclave has a dozen or so luxury resorts and hotels bordering the Amber Coast. It’s sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, so it’s a really safe and easygoing place to relax. And with horse riding, golf and shopping around the clock, the fun never seems to stop.
With a 3-kilometre avenue of pale sand that curls around a wide bay, Playa Dorada is one of the island’s most in-demand beaches. The water is crystal clear and shelves gently, making it really safe for children. A little way out, there are coral reefs you can snorkel, too. At the beach hut, kayaking, sailing‚ windsurfing and parasailing are up for grabs. And if it’s more the castaway vibe you’re after, kick back at the tiki bars on the outlying sands.
Away from the beach, Playa Dorada has plenty to keep you on your toes. There’s an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, an equestrian centre, a couple of casinos, and a shopping plaza that lines up great boutiques, restaurants and a cinema. Fun City is on the doorstep, too. It’s the Caribbean’s biggest go-kart centre, with 3 different tracks to test your driving skills.
Close to Puerto Plata
A 5-minute drive away is Puerto Plata, a vibrant city that’s a melting pot of Spanish, American and Caribbean cultures. A visit to the 16th-century San Felipe Fortress by the harbour is a must, and so too is the tour of the Brugal rum distillery. Best of all is the cable car ride to the summit of Mount Isabel de Torres, where a statue of Jesus keeps a watchful eye over the town.