The popularity of Playa Dorada has attracted some professional tour operators offering a variety of interesting day-trips. Outback Safari, Plaza Turisol, Avenida Luperón Km 2.5 (t 244-4886, w www.outbacksafari.com.do), is the best of the adventure jeep tour outfits, with a tour (US$79) that includes coffee with a local family, swimming in a clear Cordillera Septentrional stream and boogie-boarding on a less popular north-coast beach. There’s always a bit of rum flowing so expect it to become quite lively as the day wears on. There’s alcohol aplenty too on the various catamaran cruises that ply the coast, generally sailing to Sosúa and back, breaking for snorkelling and lunch in Sosúa bay. Best of the bunch is Tip Top (t 710-0503, w www.catamarandomrep.com; US$65), which sails out of Maimón, west of Puerto Plata, alternating excursions to Sosúa with trips to Luperón. Freestyle Catamarans provide the Playa Dorada hotels with a wilder booze-cruise snorkelling trip to Sosúa and back, including snorkelling, lunch and free drinks.
By far the best scuba-diving shop in town is Sea Pro Divers in Plaza Playa Dorada (t 320-2567, w www.seaprodivers.com); most of their local dives are around Sosúa. A two-tank day trip costs US$90 (including equipment rental and transport) whereas you can also sign up for an eight-dive package, spread out over several days for US$300. A popular recent addition to the tours on offer is the Yasika Adventure (Mon–Sat 8am–5pm; t 650-2323, w www.yasikaadventures.com; US$84, cash only) an exhilarating zipline ride, which has you whizzing between ten platforms above the forest canopy high up in the Cordillera Septentrional, close to the village of Yásica on the mountain road to Santiago. Note there’s a US$14 discount if you book directly with them, rather than via your hotel, and a US$5 supplement for pick-ups from Sosúa, Cabarete or Cofresí. A more leisurely way to see the countryside is to saddle up at Rancho Lorilar, the north coast’s largest stable, just below Mount Isabela. They offer highly professional horse riding in small groups with excellent guides: two hours for US$50, and a full-day tour for US$70 (US$10 extra for a private outing); the latter includes lunch and a refreshing dip in a lagoon. Prices include hotel transfer.
Also check out Iguana Mama, which operates out of Cabarete but offers mountain-bike trips and the like in the mountains south of here.