The Autopista Duarte ultimately leads (via a three- to four-hour drive) from Santo Domingo to the North Coast, sometimes called the Amber Coast because of its large, rich amber deposits. The coastal area around Puerto Plata, notably Playa Dorada, is a region of well-established, all-inclusive resorts and developments; the North Coast has more than 70 miles (110 km) of beaches, with condominiums and villas going up fast.
The farther east you go from Puerto Plata and Sosúa, the prettier and less spoiled the scenery becomes. The autopista runs past Cabarete, a town that's a popular windsurfing haunt, and Playa Grande, which has a miraculously unspoiled white-sand beach with amenities now being gentrified, a famous golf course (now under major renovation until fall 2015), and a development project underway. Surrounded by high cliffs, this incredibly beautiful stretch of sand had food shacks and cheapie souvenir stands that marred its beauty. Vendors now have brightly painted, cutesy, Victorian-style huts that have been relocated to the end of the beach. There is now a proper parking area and vehicles can no longer drive on the beach. The Playa Grande Beach Club has a new collection of high-end bungalows available for rent.