Christopher Columbus built the first European settlement in the New World here on his second voyage in 1493, near the mouth of the Bajabonico River and facing the bay of La Isabela, populating it with his entourage of approximately 1,500 Spaniards. Named after the then-Queen of Spain, the archeological ruins of the settlement, now a national park, are still standing in this bay area, including Columbus’s first home, perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and nearby, the first church. Historical records show that the first Catholic mass was celebrated there. A modern version of the church–Templo de Las Américas–was rebuilt and inaugurated in 1994 to mark the 500th anniversary of that first mass. There’s also a museum on-site depicting the Taino inhabitants and the Spaniards’ arrival, as well as other preserved relics.

Ruinas Isabela HistoricaRuinas de La Isabela
Center map

Other attractions in Puerto Plata


Amber Route

The DR is known for producing some of the clearest and oldest amber in the world, mined in Puerto Plata. Tour amber mines where the stone is unearthed, in the hills of La Cumbre, passing entrances to holes that run 61 meters deep (200 feet), and watch workers reappear with stones in hand.

Puerto Plata, Family-Friendly, Gem Hunting, Hiking

Cabarete Coffee Company

Based in Cabarete, this “organic, shade grown, hand-picked, fair trade” coffee provider takes you on a tour of multiple coffee farms approximately two hours away, where it sources its coffee beans. You’ll get to roast, grind, and brew your own cup.

Cabarete, Puerto Plata

Cabarete Shopping

Shopping in Cabarete is as bona fide an activity as surfing. The beach town’s main street is lined with exquisite boutique stores carrying carefully curated Dominican art and apparel from around the country and from overseas.

Cabarete, Puerto Plata

Casa de Arte

The north coast’s most recent cultural center doubling as a museum and an educational arts and crafts hub. Located in the heart of Sosúa’s beach town, Casa de Arte rotates paintings and sculpture exhibits, lectures, and hosts other events every month.

Puerto Plata, Sosúa

Cayo Arena

Cayo Arena offers schools of tropical fish that can also easily be seen in shallow turquoise waters, making this spot a paradise for snorkeling fans; the area boasts some of the most abundant marine life in the DR, with corals and sponges, and schools of tropical fish swimming around your feet.

Montecristi, Puerto Plata

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