Ocean World, Calle Principale 3 at Cofresi (tel. 809/291-1000; www.oceanworld.net), is the largest entertainment complex in the country, lying 5km (3 miles) west of Puerto Plata. It combines a plush casino and a world-class marina with such mass-market venues as a kiddie park and an aquarium for marine life. There is a series of watery "pens" and habitats for the care, feeding, and display of dolphins, sea lions, sharks, stingrays, piranhas, and other denizens of the Amazon rainforest. A number of close encounters with these nautical creatures, especially dolphins, are offered, but these encounters are not cheap, ranging from RD$1,677 to RD$9,313 per person, depending on your age and the length of exposure you opt for. Supervision of man and beast is carefully monitored by trainers, and reservations are recommended. For those 13 and up, charges are RD$2,049, and RD$1,490 for ages 4 to 12. Free for children 3 and under.
Fort San Felipe, the oldest fort in the New World, is a popular attraction (tel. 809/261-6043). Philip II of Spain ordered its construction in 1564, a task that took 33 years to complete. Built with 2m-thick (6 1/2-ft.) walls, the fort was virtually impenetrable, and the moat surrounding it was treacherous -- the Spaniards sharpened swords and embedded them in coral below the surface of the water. The doors of the fort are only 1m (3 1/4 ft.) high, another deterrent to swift passage. During Trujillo's rule, Fort San Felipe was used as a prison. Standing at the end of the Malecón, the fort was restored in the early 1970s. Admission is RD$20, free for children 11 and under. It's open daily 9am to 4:45pm.
Isabel de Torres (tel. 809/970-0501), an observation tower that was heavily fortified during the reign of Trujillo, affords a panoramic view of the Amber Coast from a point near the top, 780m (2,560 ft.) above sea level. You reach the observation point by teleférico (cable car), a 10-minute ascent. Once here, you're also treated to 3 hectares (7 1/2 acres) of botanical gardens. The round-trip costs RD$190 for adults, RD$70 for children age 12 and under. The aerial ride runs every hour Thursday to Tuesday 8:30am to 5pm. There's often a long wait in line for the cable car, and at certain times it's closed for repairs, so check at your hotel before you head out.
You can see a collection of rare amber specimens at the Museo de Ambar Dominicano (Museum of Dominican Amber), Calle Duarte 61 (tel. 809/586-2848; www.ambermuseum.com), near Puerto Plata's Central Park. It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm. Guided tours in English are offered. Admission is RD$40 or RD$7 for children.
Rum drinkers might want to head out for the Brugal Rum Bottling Plant, Carretera Luperón, Km 3.5 (tel. 809/586-2531; www.brugal.com.do), on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, 1km (2/3 mile) from Puerto Plata. Admission is free, and it is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4pm. Some 350,000 bottles -- maybe a lot more -- of rum are filled and boxed annually for shipment. On a guided tour, visitors are taken through the plant to see how rum is bottled. At the end of the tour, you're treated to a fruit daiquiri and can purchase Brugal hats and other gifts or souvenirs if you wish.
One of the most visited attractions in the Dominican Republic is Parque Nacional La Isabela (tel. 809/472-4204), open daily from 9am to 5:30pm, charging RD$130 for admission. In spite of its fame, there isn't a lot to see once you're here. Nevertheless, this park contains what's left of Columbus's second settlement on Hispaniola.
At the park, excavations have revealed the outlines of what may have been the explorer's house, the church where the first Mass in the New World was conducted, and an observation tower where Columbus used to gaze at the stars.
The buildings were constructed of mud and limestone. The settlement established by the sailor of Genoa was ill-fated, one-third of the population falling sick within 4 or 5 days.
The ruins of La Isabela are reached along a paved road lying 15km (9 1/3 miles) west of the town of Luperón. It was declared a national park in 1998. The government has messed with the site and added more to the ruins, so its original remains have been tainted. A little museum displays artifacts believed to have been owned by these early settlers from Europe.
Getting to the park isn't easy. The most direct route is to go by one of the guaguas leaving from the center of Puerto Plata heading for Imbert. At Imbert you must take yet another minivan to Luperón. From here, motoconchos go to La Isabela. All this takes 2 hours or so. Alternatively, you can drive here by rented car, or ask at one of the hotels if any tours to La Isabela are being organized during the time of your stay.