Often called Paradise Island, Cayo Paraiso is an uninhabited island off the coast of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It’s a popular stop for snorkel and catamaran tours. If you are staying in Puerto Plata, it is likely you will depart from the small fishing village of Punta Rucia. Speedboats take visitors on a relatively short ride across the bay to the island. Once you arrive at Cayo Paraiso, you can swim and snorkel around the coral reef and lagoon that surround the island. The snorkeling here is said to be among the best in all of the Dominican Republic. On a tour, you typically have about 2.5 hours to swim and enjoy the scenery. Watch for vibrantly colored schools of tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays, eels and more. Bright coral formations are found throughout the area as well.
Monte Cristi National Park is located near Cayo Paraiso and is one of the driest areas of the Dominican Republic. Here you will find mangroves, subtropical dry forests and swamps that are home to a variety of birds. Also near Cayo Paraiso and Monte Cristi National Park is the natural landmark of El Morro, a 777-foot (237-meter) limestone mesa. Keep an eye out for The Seven Brothers Cays, Los Cayos Siete Hermanos, which are several small islands that serve as the nesting grounds for a number of reptile species.
Tours to Cayo Paraiso depart from the northwest of the island. It is about a 25-minute speedboat ride across the bay to Cayo Paraiso. There are combination tours available that take visitors to both Cayo Paraiso and Monte Cristi National Park. There is very little shade on the island and typically none on the boat, so hats and sunblock are highly recommended. Tours typically include lunch and unlimited drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic).