Fort in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (Angelo Cavalli/Digital Vision)

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What to do in Puerto Plata

While much of the Dominican Republic is dominated by large, all-inclusive resorts, Puerto Plata is characterized by a quieter vibe and locally attuned cultural options that make breaking out from your beachfront mega-resort a distinct bonus. Average ocean temps linger around 80 degrees, meaning water sports are good year-round—try scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, or kiteboarding. Because of the town’s mix of African and Caribbean origins, most activities seem to have a soundtrack. In late October, the town hosts the Merengue Festival, with live bands, open-air food and drink stalls, and plenty of late-night dancing. The Cuba Libre (local rum with Coke) is the drink of choice here, and after a few sips, even the most timid will feel inclined to fall in step with the locals.

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