So, your cruise ship is taking you to Amber Cove, and you’re a planner. You want to make sure you know exactly what you will do once you get there. This is for you.
Located on the northern part of the Dominican Republic’s Amber Coast, Amber Cove is tucked away just inside the Bay of Maimon.
It might be one of the Caribbean’s newest cruise ports, but there is plenty of history to see and places to explore. Just want to relax? There are plenty of options for that as well.
Related: 7 Reasons to Visit Amber Cove
A Brief Background on Amber Cove
If your cruise happens to be pulling into Amber Cove, then you can expect an eclectic mix of old and new. Even the most dedicated, long-time cruisers may not yet have visited the Caribbean’s newest port.
The port, located on the northwest point of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, has only been open to cruise ships since 2015, and only Carnival owned cruise ships can access the port. Since then, over one million tourists have visited Amber Cove, and have marveled at its brilliant architectural designs and old Spanish fortress.
Despite being so new to visitors, Amber Cove still manages to give off a historical vibe, as it has existed for generations. In fact, history buffs will be quite impressed by the colorful history found in the region. Lying on the northwestern coast of the island known as Hispaniola, the area actually dates back to the 1490s, having been discovered by none other than Christopher Columbus.
The Fuerte de San Felipe still stands and was one of the first forts built in the Americas.
Add to this the work Carnival has put into Amber Cove (to the tune of a hefty $85 million investment by the cruise line), plus the natural landscape and unique culture make this port a truly one-of-a-kind cruise destination that you’ll be excited to visit.
While Carnival’s investment mainly consisted of constructing modern resorts and activities for tourists, they didn’t ignore the rich history of the area, and visitors can still take a tour into the Spanish colonial past just beyond the sandy beaches.
You can explore Amber Cove’s rich and vibrant history and culture a variety of different tour options.
Here’s an overview of the many things to do in Amber Cove.
Relax Right There in the Port
You don’t need to go very far to find things to do in Amber Cove. In fact, you can find things to do just steps off of your ship! This is especially true If you’re just looking for a place to chill out rather than fill up your day with activities.
Right there in Amber Cove, you can…
- Kick back in a cabana
- Lounge by the pool
- Eat all the snacks you could possibly desire
- Sip on some cold drinks
… all without having any logistics to worry about.
Doesn’t that sound like a vacation to you?
If you are feeling like a real VIP, you can pamper yourself and rent an overwater cabana for yourself and up to 20 friends. There are even beach houses nestled on the shore and luxury villas available for you to pamper yourself and be waited on all day while you enjoy the tranquility of the calm waves and ocean breeze.
If you want to even go a step further, you can take your day party over to Serenity VIP Resort Beach for a truly exclusive experience, complete with its own crepe and oyster bars, and hammocks for you to siesta the day away.
FREE Adventure in the Port at Aqua Zone
If you want a little adventure but don’t feel like going too far, you can have some fun in the pool at Aqua Zone. Located right there in the port, Aqua Zone is a resort-style pool with cabanas for rent, a swim-up bar, waterslides, and a lazy river on which to ride in a tube. You can even strap in for a wild ride on the zipline.
And the best part? Aqua Zone is actually complimentary for cruisers. So you can find your chill vibes and a little adventure right in the port for free! But it’s likely that at some point you will get hungry, and boy do we ever have you covered there too.
Grab a Bite and Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
What’s the point of cruising into port if you’re not going to try the local flavors? Amber Cove is the perfect place to go on a little culinary adventure. You can find a great authentic lunch at Coconut Cove and several traditional restaurants right around the port. Most excursions will also include meals, so even if you plan on being a bit more adventurous, you won’t miss out.
For those craving some sweets, you won’t want to miss out on an authentic chocolate experience. This tour requires a 40-minute bus ride to Altamira town, but trust us, it’s worth the trip.
You’ll learn how to plant cocoa seeds and meet the women who actually make and package the chocolate. You’ll learn the entire process of making chocolates while giving back to the local community, and yes, of course, get to eat plenty of samples.
Of note: chocolate and coffee are the main exports of the region and make great gifts!
Embrace Your Adventurous Side
Perhaps you and your family want to seek as many thrills as you possibly can. If this is more what you’re looking for, then Amber Cove has you covered as well. They really pack in a bunch of fun into a small area!
There are plenty of exciting opportunities in Amber Cove of almost any kind, from the zip line and challenge course at Country World Adventure Park to ATV tours through the rugged hillside, and water activities galore. You can even package a horseback ride, zip line and mega-truck tour into one ultimate excursion. Whatever land adventure it is you crave, you’re likely to find it here, or perhaps open yourself up to an entirely new experience.
But for your money, you want to get wet and go canyoneering down the Rio de Damajagua.
This incredible and unique adventure will test your mettle and feed your inner explorer. You’ll get scooped up in the port and whisked away to the forest where your adventure begins with a hike through the hills and stunning landscape of Puerto Plata. You’ll wind your way through canyons and narrow pathways to reach your destination — the Damajagua waterfalls.
These series of cascading falls of crystal clear waters is where the real adventure begins because you’re not just here to look, you’re going in. You’ll jump, slide, and swim from fall to fall and through water pools that have been naturally formed by the river over thousands of years.
Comfortable footwear will be required and your guides will provide you with a helmet and lifejacket as well as transfer to and from the port.
Enjoy the Waters of Amber Cove
If canyoneering is a bit too much for you, there are of course plenty of options for you out on the water.
A popular choice among cruisers is to go on a snorkeling or fishing excursion and there are several to choose from.
If you want to switch things up a bit, one excellent way to take to the sea is to head out on a catamaran for a snorkeling trip. You’ll feel like a real jetsetter taking in the views from a catamaran’s spacious deck or net as you sail to your snorkeling destinations. You’ll have access to drinks onboard and will likely be fed a fresh lunch as well.
And as for the snorkeling itself — the waters around Amber Cove are some of the most clear waters you’ll find anywhere in the world, with colorful corals and an incredible variety of sea life. Most trips will stop at two different snorkeling locations to give you a slightly different view and you don’t even need to worry about lugging any snorkeling gear around as your tour provider will provide life jackets, goggles, snorkels, and flippers.
The same goes for any fishing adventure as your tour provider will have all required gear there for you on board. You’ll get scooped up in port and taken to a couple well-known fishing areas to try and pull in some big, colorful fish that you can brag to your friends about reeling in.
Whether you just want to look or are out for a big catch, Amber Cove has you covered.
Find a High-Speed Water Adventure
Looking for something a bit more up-tempo? Consider a high-speed adventure on the sea.
Available right in and around Amber Cove, you’ll find water sports aplenty, from windsurfing to high-speed boat rentals. You can rent jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, and even go para-sailing. Many of these activities will be available in the port and/or on any of Amber Cove’s beaches.
Speaking of which…
Dip Your Toes in the Sand
If you want to get away from the busyness of the port, you can take a little excursion to one of Puerto Plata’s many beautiful beaches.
While there are no beaches within the port itself, there are a few different beaches available for you to grab a lounge chair, a beach umbrella, and enjoy chair-side service at just a short bus ride away.
You can grab lunch and watch windsurfers at Cabarete Beach, find all of the family and watersport activities you desire at Sunscape Resort, the best snorkeling can be found at Sosua Beach or head to a more secluded retreat at Coconut Cove.
All three beaches will have different package options, but in general, you can expect your price to include:
- transfer to and from the beach
- all food and drinks
- a personal lounger and umbrella
- access to water toys like snorkels and flippers, paddleboards, jet skis, and more
For our pick, it’s likely Sosua Beach because it just has a bit more to offer, and is a slightly shorter drive at 30 minutes from the port.
Located between Puerto Plata and Cabarete Bay, Sosua Beach has a long stretch of white sand where you can find whatever vibe you’re looking for, whether that be laying out to soak up some sun, splashing away in the pristine waters, or snorkeling right off the shore in the Sosua coral reef.
Swim with the Dolphins
A dream among many cruisers is to hop in the water and swim with the dolphins. Well, you can do just that here in Amber Cove at Ocean World’s Dolphin Encounter. You’ll get to hop in the water with these incredibly intelligent and playful creatures and dance, swim, pet, and hug the dolphins. If you’re lucky, one might even give you a peck on the cheek!
It’s a must if you’ve never done it before and great for the whole family. Ocean World is located just 15 minutes from Amber Cove and also offers bird, shark, and sea lion shows. You can book in advance or even make the last-minute decision once you pull into port. It’s an item that Amber Cove makes easy to check off of your bucket list.
For Retail Therapy
Of course, we understand that shopping is a major component of shore excursions for many cruisers. If retail therapy is your thing, you won’t be disappointed with Amber Cove, which offers plenty of local shops filled with authentic items made by local artisans. You’ll also find shops from many familiar brands.
The shopping begins at marketplace stalls and shops just steps away from the port, including wooden crafts, chocolate, local coffee, clothing, and many more unique cultural items. You’ll also find duty free rums and a free rum tasting within the port if you’d like to sample the rich Dominican flavors and take a bottle home. You can even learn how to make cigars and what makes Dominican cigars among the best in the world at Aurora Cigar shop.
Once you’ve checked out all of the shops in the port, head into town at Puerto Plata for a more local experience.
Don’t Sweat it in Amber Cove — Year Round
A quick note in regards to weather — while things can heat up quite a bit in other areas of the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, the weather at Amber Cove and Puerto Plata actually stays consistently pleasant for most of the year. In the midst of summer you can see days in the 80s, while winter days aren’t much different at an average of around 75 degrees.
The waters will be warmest in August and December is the rainiest month.
Getting Around Amber Cove
We’re happy to report that it’s quite easy to get around in Amber Cove. That’s because of Carnival making easy transportation a main priority when they developed the port. Once you pull in, you’ll find a transportation hub just a 5 minutes’ walk from the pier, which will give you access to taxi services, rental cars, and all of the shore excursions listed above which will provide you with round-trip transportation to and from your destination.
You’ll pass through a large duty-free area on the water to the information center kiosk, giving you an immediate shopping opportunity. (Don’t worry, you can also catch it on the way back to your ship.)
Most excursions will provide transportation via bus, while others will depart from right there in the port.
If you plan to just hang in the port, the main restaurant, bar, and pool area will be to your right-hand side as you enter the port. The artisan market, shops, jewelry stores, and coffee shops will be to your left. All pre-booked tours will be found right in the port, either to the left at the main excursions kiosk. You’ll also see dozens of guides holding signs for respective tours, waiting to take you on your adventure.
While there really is no wrong way to spend your time in Amber Cove, there are some things we recommend.
The first is to do your homework on the available Amber Cove shore excursions, even if you prefer to just play things by ear. This will help you to not be overwhelmed by all of the options when you pull into the port. While there are many last-minute excursions available, many others do sell out, so it is best to book in advance if there is one, in particular, you know you will want to do.
You don’t need to add any stress to your vacation, so we highly recommend taking the time to look things over beforehand so you’ll at least have an idea of what is offered in Amber Cove before you arrive.
One other tip is to bring your own sunscreen and bug spray with you on the cruise, as you will likely want both here in Amber Cove, and they will be more expensive to purchase on board or in the port than they would be at home.
This guest post has been written by John Sidney Owens.