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Looking for a great escape? Tempted by those brochures promising endless beaches and sparkling sand?

Tucked away on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, the 'Silver Port' region packs in all those Caribbean dreams. Think beach nightlife in lively towns, spectacular hiking and mountain biking, and - of course - miles and miles of that famous Caribbean sand.

Best of all, Puerto Plata is one of the few places where you can escape the tourist hordes while still enjoying world-class tourism infrastructure - all for a price that's significantly lower than you think.

Sound tempted? We certainly are. Here are seven reasons we love Puerto Plata - and why we're sure you will.

1. The beaches

It almost goes without saying, but this coastal region is blessed with some of the longest stretches of unspoiled beaches in the Caribbean. The best known of these is probably Playa Grande, just 15km east of the town of Río San Juan. This is undoubtedly one of the country's most beautiful beaches - long, broad and tawny, with the aquamarine sea on one side and a thick fringe of palm trees on the other. Stark white cliffs jut out in the distance. It's the perfect setting for swimming, surfing or lazing.

If you don't get out to Playa Grande, you can still catch some world-class sunshine at Playa Dorada, just outside the city of Puerto Plata. Or be adventurous and discover your own sand-covered coastal paradise - the area begs for exploration.

Pin this image Drag yourself away from the beach: Puerto Plata is full of culture, too. Image by Adam Jones / CC BY-SA 2.0 Drag yourself away from the beach: Puerto Plata is full of culture, too. Image by Adam Jones / CC BY-SA 2.0

2. The watersports

Just plain old 'surfing' doesn't begin to tell the story. Puerto Plata's breezes and gentle swells have made it world renowned for kitesurfing, wakeboarding and windsurfing - as well as the plain-vanilla variety. One of the region's most attractive towns, Cabarete, began life as a humble farming hamlet until it was discovered by a windsurfing pioneer less than 30 years ago. The rest is history: the entire area is now a prime drawcard for surfers of all stripes and types.

3. The outdoors

Once you're adequately bronzed, it's time to turn your attention inland. Puerto Plata's interior offers spectacular scenery and activities for all skill levels. Mountain-biking tours range from beginner level to insanely difficult. Guided hikes introduce you to the region's native flora and fauna. And, for an extra adrenaline kick, try out exploring such attractions as the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua. Often described as 'the coolest thing in the DR', the waterfalls are a splashy playground where you can leap from rock walls into crystalline pools. (Guides and safety equipment are provided.)

4. The nightlife

Puerto Plata's bar and entertainment scene is enough to keep you buzzing for weeks. All the resorts have their own bars and discos, which are open to guests or those who have purchased day passes. The beachside nightlife kicks on well into the wee hours. If you're willing to explore, you'll discover such gems as Sosúa's Ruby Lounge (featuring live music and karaoke - it's a party that spills out into the streets most nights) and Lax, Cabarete's nightlife hub.

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