Although the swirling blue slides aren’t visible the exact moment you step off the ship, they could be. Instead, what you see are the brightly-colored cabanas tantalizingly balanced on the wooden walkway over the ocean. If you’re not sure what to expect from your day (or longer) in the new port of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Amber Cove will warm you up.
Amber Cove–a port for cruise lines such as Holland America, Princess, Carnival, and Fathom–has a lot of the things that are typical of a cruise port in the Caribbean. There is, of course, a Diamonds International and a full complement of souvenir shops. There is every kind of duty free rum you could hope for, with free tastings available. You can even get your passport stamped at a kiosk in the center of the Amber Cove port. But there are also a number of features that set Amber Cover apart from other cruise ports in the Caribbean.
It’s not usually my style to hang out at the port when I take cruises. Usually I’m off exploring local beaches, scuba diving, or snorkeling. But sometimes you need a balance between adventure and relaxation.
I had the luxury of spending part of my last day in Puerto Plata at the winding pool (numerous lifeguards included) that occupies a large section of the Amber Cove cruise port. It twists and turns at different depths that are perfect whether you want the wading area for children or the deeper area that becomes a swim up bar at the Coco Cana. And what’s not to love about a swim up bar? Plus, there’s a sea of pristine, blue lounge chairs just waiting for guests.
Just next to the pool area are those alluring, swirling slides. The side-by-side tubes allow you to race your friends to the bottom and provide just as much (if not more) fun for adults as for kids. If you’re looking for something even more active, clip onto the twin zip lines that soar above it all.
Nearby, you can rent pretty much any kind of equipment you need to make your day more enjoyable. Kayaks ($19-46) and stand up paddleboards ($20-32) can help you explore the bay adjacent to the port and your ship. Or, you can stick a bit closer to land renting one of many cabanas or even a pool float to lounge on. If none of that sounds like your thing, head to the coffee shop or the aptly-name Sky Bar at the top of the hill.
Those that are looking for adventure beyond the Amber Cove port just need to walk in, turn left, and head out near the back of the port complex. That’s the meeting point for the buses leaving on shore excursions. It’s also the home of the National/Alamo car rental counter if you’re feeling like exploring the island on your own.
If you’re looking for something between a planned shore excursion and a sporty day driving yourself in the Dominican Republic, the taxi stand can help you have a day in town, at the beach, exploring the 27 waterfalls attraction, or any of the other things to do on the island. Be aware that the taxis are pricey compared to those at other Caribbean ports, so you may want to gather a group.
Do you have a favorite spot in the Caribbean?