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Island Adventures In The Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata is an interesting town on the north coast. Those visitors who venture into town will find some notable Victorian architecture and streets lined with charming boutiques offering regional arts and crafts.

A cable-car ride up Mount Isabel de Torres, 2,565 feet above sea level, is a good orientation to Puerto Plata. There is a sensational view of the city and the azure coast, in addition to a small collection of gardens atop the mountain.

The region around Puerto Plata is often called the Amber Coast because it’s the world’s largest source of clear amber. You wouldn’t forgive yourself if you went home without stopping by the nearby Amber Museum. The museum houses some of the most remarkable samples of amber in the world, including some that contain the remains of prehistoric plant and insect life.

Another frequented site is the Fort of San Felipe, a daunting stone fortress dating back to the 16th century. It was originally built to protect the island from French and English pirates, but later turned into a prison for political protesters. Today, the fort is a museum housing interesting remnants of the city’s past.

An enjoyable day trip from Puerto Plata is Sosua. It was founded by Jewish refugees in the late 1930s who fled Germany to escape Nazi persecution. The town’s Jewish Museum retells the experience of the 700 refugees, who established a dairy and a sausage-manufacturing facility. Today, the town is popular with travelers from Canada, Europe and the U.S. because of its lovely beaches and dive sites.

The small, simple village of Sosua is actually two villages straddling the bay: Los Charamicos to the west and El Batey to the east. Los Charamicos has a typical Dominican village atmosphere, complete with lively Creole restaurants and bars, street vendors and loud music. El Batey is the hub of Sosua’s tourist activities. It is home to upscale restaurants, bars and boutiques.

A 10-minute drive east of Sosua is Cabarete, one of the ten best windsurfing spots in the world.