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Martin Espinal


Make Your Vacation Individual with Martin Espinal of Isaira Tours For information contact Martin at:
espinal30@msn.com or
espinal30@hotmail.com
Cell Phone: 1 (809) 696-3151
Home Number: 1 (809) 574-0062
Office: 1 (809) 320-1433

El Doral Plaza ( Cariátides)
Office 1-B, Luperón street
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Operated by Martin Espinal
Comments from my customers
Pairlene - June 2010
I just got back from the Sosua/Cabarete area of the Dominican Republic, North Coast, where I used the services of Isaira Tours with Martin Espinal, the owner providing personal service. I wish to thank you for recommending Martin and his company. He is a very personable and professional person. My family and I enjoyed the personal tour he provided for us to Santo Domingo. His van was very comfortable and the entire tour was enjoyable. We would, without hesitation, use his services again, and again.

Bill, Joanne and Hannah - December 2008
Based on the great reviews of others, we booked a Jeep Safari Tour through Isaira Tours. After sending an email to them, I made arrangements and one of their staff picked me up and took me to their office which was very close to the resort. I told them the trip and day, paid for it and they were their to pick us up right on time. We were taken on a trip out into the country where we were shown some stone carving and a very short cock fight (don't worry - the cocks have on "boxing gloves" so neither gets hurt. Also remember - it's perfectly legal and accepted there). From there we went to a very remote village where we were shown how they make coffee and cocoa. They lady showing us was named Mama Dora and was this very charming and beautiful older lady with the warmest smile you could imagine. We were given samples to try - the hot cocoa tasted amazing!! Our guide, Elvis was very knowledgable and was very helpful. From there we were taken to a ranch for an excellent lunch and then onto a place called 27 Charcos (27 Waterfalls). This is a National Park and is just amazing. Our tour took us up to the 7th Waterfall and from there you come back down, either sliding down the falls or jumping down. The slides are anywhere from a few feet to as much as 15 feet and the the two main jumps are 18 feet into a very deep pool and about 12 feet - also into a deep pool. While this is a truly amazing trip, know that it is not for the young, old or sedentary. You are given Lifevests and helmets and water shoes if you didn't bring your own. However, it is moderately physically demanding, but definitely worth it for those who go.

Michelle - December 2008
I would firstly like to say how very happy myself & my partner were with this tour company. We booked 4 tours with them & their service was excellent, from being picked up from our hotel to go to their offices to book the tours, to all the tour themselves. We truly had a fabulous time in Playa Dorada (staying at Bluebay Villas) and Isaira Tours made the experience even better. The staff Jami & Alex particularly were so very helpful & very prompt at dealing with our pick-ups & enquiries. Even to the point that when I was ill & not able to attend the Catameran trip they arranged for Alex to come to our hotel to give me a partial refund, which was totally unexpected & very much appreciated.

Nancy - April 2008
Did two excursions, both of which we arranged through Isaira Tours. Met Martin a few years ago when he was starting his business and his office is just across the road and down a bit from the hotel—nice leisurely 5 to 10 minute walk and wanted to give him our business again. He is a great guy and runs a first-class operation. Initially we wanted to do a catamaran/snorkeling trip but not a party boat. Through our rep Freestyle Catamaran was $84, but Martin got us on a smaller catamaran (I believe also operated by Freestyle) out of Playa Dorada beach. Cost was $70 each and we were picked up at the hotel at 8:30 and returned around 4 pm. Sailed to Sosua Beach with two stops for snorkeling and nice lunch and drinks on the boat. Great crew and only had about 25 passengers so it was a nice group. Fun and lots of laughs but not crazy—great for families. Crew interacted lots with passengers and they seem to really enjoy their jobs. Also had two of Martin’s staff (Alex and Jose) drive us around for the day. Picked us up at 9 am and returned us around 2 pm. Did Rum Factory, Amber Museum, the fort, a grocery store and then drove to Sosua and spent some time wandering around the beach. Got our rum at the Rum Factory and compared prices with the supermarket and there was no difference; however, each bottle was at least $6 more at duty free at the Puerto Plata airport. Paid $6 for white rum, $7 for Brugal Viejo and $8 for Extra Viejo. Bought back four bottles of rum, wrapped them all carefully in checked luggage, declared them all at Pearson and no problem bringing them back. Think four was pushing it a bit, but gotta try!

Grace & Chuck - April 2008
We also enlisted the help of Martin from Isaria Tours for a tour of Puerto Plata. This company is excellent, we learned about him here on Debbie’s, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. We had our own driver and tour guide (driver was Alex and the guide was Hosea) and for the cost, ($105USD for 3 people) it was well worth it. It was less expensive that the tours through the resort.

Zachsmom - March 2008
The only time we left the resort was on a tour we arranged with Isaira Tours, which was recommended to us on this site. We set our own agenda and pace, the driver spoke English very well, and we had a great day on a tour that included the fort, amber museum, cigar factory, market, Brugal, and other sightseeing. Highly recommended this tour company.

Crystal - February 2008
We took the city tour with “Isaira Tours“ and it was great! We got to see the Brugal Rum factory, the Amber Museum (which was extremely over priced – do not buy anything from there if you are looking for the right price), we took the cable car up to the top and were able to stop at some shops to buy things as well as stop at a local supermarket to buy our coffee beans to bring home (this is the cheapest place to buy coffee and snack foods – the beach vendors and small shops have to buy it somewhere, and you know that it’s somewhere locals go – the supermarket!) The cable-car is a MUST SEE if you are in the Puerto Plata area. The views were spectacular and well worth the trip up to the top. The cable car felt safe and the operators were very professional and courteous.

Bob - February 2008
We had a great day with Martin. We managed to tour the rum factory, toured through a good portion of Puerto Plata, visited the fort, drove up to Cofresi and Maimon, dropped in at Ocean World Casino and the Marina, went to Costambar for lunch and took the cable car up the mountain. I've been recommending Martin for years now, based on other peoples reports. Now that I've met him, I can now recommend him based on personal experience. I'd also like to thank him for his generous donation to the foundation. I'd also like to thank him for a great day. I've also added a slide show about our day with Martin. See my website at www.bobfromcanada.com Liz ~ January 2008
We went on two excursions this time, and we booked with Isaira Tours (they have a website, so look them up!) Martin is a great guy! I had contacted them before hand and they had just hired a new girl to take on internet requests, well she sold me a tour that was only for groups. So rather then making us cancel it, Martin himself drove us around and allowed us to stop wherever we wanted on the way to and from the tour. We visited the Cabarete Caves, which was a lot of fun. If you do want to go bring sport water shoes and a bathing suit, as well as cameras! You are allowed to swim in them (which we did not know). You can take a cab out there and its only $15 to get in to the caves! That was a lot of fun, there are three caves that you can go in, the stairs are very narrow, and so if you have difficulties walking or with knees then this is not the tour for you. There are a lot of steps… There are HUGE spiders too, but they are blind, unless you touch them, then they can find you… Bob ~ March 2007
However I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Isaira Tours. They are great people and try very hard to please you. Their prices are lower than the resort and they deliver a great service. The owner (Martin Espinal) made it a point to meet with me personally and make sure that everthing was going to our satisfaction. I can not say enough good things about Isaira Tours.

Ramona and Dean - January 2007
I read about Martin Espinal's tour company on Debbie's Caribbean. After having contacted his office to arrange our visit, I received further confirmation of his involvement in helping kids through a foundation called "Beyond the Beach". But, humanitarian work aside, if anyone is interested in booking a tour, he offers some great packages for the adventurous and the not so adventurous. Quite last minute, we decided to take one of his guided city tours and were the only ones in the van. It was just myself, my husband, the driver and our guide, Nestor. It was like having a private tour and we visited 3 different towns, Sousa, Caberete and Montellano. We got as much time as we wanted in each location and they also took us to another school/orphanage to drop off some extra school supplies. I found their prices to be very reasonable, even compared to those offered through the tour operators. They have a website, if anyone is interested in what they offer. Personally, I would highly recommend their services.

Matthew ~NY - November 2006
My family and I are extremely happy with the transportation service that Martin Espinal and his staff provided for us during our stay in the Cibao in November 2006. We traveled from San Francisco De Macoris to Puerto Plata and also from Puerto Plata to Santiago Airport.

Traveling on these trips were my wife, two-year old daughter and myself; we felt safe and secure at all times. Isaira tours staff is very professional. Martin called our hotel room the day before the trips and also a couple hours before pick-up time to provide us with the name and description of the drivers. We were picked up on time in new minivans and were driven to our destinations cautiously. The drivers are very knowledgeable of the road/area and courteous. When we return to DR we will definitely be using Martin’s services again.

We Highly recommend Isaira Tours

Abe and Maria - September 2006
We did horse back riding, deep sea fishing, jeep safari, and half day shopping and cable car tour all worth the money. We book all our tours with Isaira Tours this is the second year we have used them, Martin the owner of the company is a great person who takes alot of pride in his company and his country, you can set up a meeting via email he will take you to his office and show you all his insurance papers and you can see every thing is above board. Here is a link to the website www.isairatours.com you can book trips at the mall or the resort but we find Martin so personal to deal with.

Leanne - April 2006
Isaira Tours (Martin Espinal) across the street from the hotel (same building at Caritide's Restaurant). We booked a 1/2 day city tour with cable car ride as well as the Outback Jungle Safari Tour through Isaira Tours and were very happy with our choice. They gave us a great deal and we saved money when booking our second trip. The 1/2 day city tour involved a visit to the Brugal Rum Factory (with complimentary daiquiri) with chance to buy rum for cheap ($4-$9 US a bottle!!!). The we went for a tour of the city and saw how the different classes of people lives - rich, middle-class, poor. It is almost shocking. Then we went to the Fort San Filipe and took a tour of the building and listened to a very old local man tell the history (give him a tip - he does this everyday for free!). Back on the bus we visited the Amber Museum, jewellery store, a few other stores, before heading up the mountain (Isablella Torres) on the cable car. It was so much fun - even for those of us who are afraid of heights! It takes about 10 minutes but you get great views of the city (if it doesn't cloud over...which it did when we got right to the top!). At the top you will find a statue of Christ, botanical gardens/park and a restaurant. We explored the area for a little while before heading back down on the cable car. Got some nice photos, too.

Jeri & Jack - April 2006
For a substantial cost savings, we flew into Santiago and had to find transportation from the airport to the resort. Thanks to many of you on Debbie’s Dominican, I contracted with Martin Espinosal to transport the 9 of us with luggage to and from the airport. Not knowing what to expect, it was a very welcome, pleasant sighting after clearing through all of the customs, taxes, etc. to see a very nice looking young man holding a sign with our name on it and taking us to a very nice van that fit us just right. OK he did have to do some creative packing of the luggage but it worked fine. The ride took about 1 hour 45 minutes, but was an education in culture and some beautiful scenery of its own. I would not hesitate to do that again for the savings for a group of our size. I would also highly recommend Martin Espinosal’s Transportation Company for any of your transportation needs. His driver and vehicle was very clean, professional and on time.

Celina - April 2006
The main reason for my wanting to write this review is to mention that we contacted Marin Espinal who ownes Isaira Tours because of the recommendations about him on this site. Everything said about this man and his company is true, they were wonderful to us. We have 8 in our travelling group (4 adults and 4 kids - 10-13 years) and we took 2 tours with Isaira Tours. The first one was up the cable car and to Sosua Beach. The views from the cable car was fantastic. The second tour we took was the safari all day trip to the 7 waterfalls. This trip is not for the faint of heart but it was very exhilarating, exciting and a one of a kind experience. Our two 10 year old had a few tense moments but the guides looked after them very well and looked out for their safety. All the kids thought it was one of the most exciting things they have ever done. One hint though - wear a one piece bathing suit, one of our girls totally lost her bottoms getting up one of the waterfalls!

Because we were a group of 8 Isaira tours organized our own transportation for each trip. The cable car we were in our own van and on the waterfall trip we had our own open air jeep. We had the same Guide (Piyanni- not sure of the spelling) for both trips and he was a wealth of information about his country and could answer any question we threw his way.

If you email Isaira Tours in advance they will pick you up at your hotel and bring you personally to their office, all insurance papers will be shown to you. Isaira Tours is totally safe, help these local people continue to make a living looking after tourists - they do a great job of it!

Brian - February 14 2006
School Visit: Before heading down to DR I was reading this site and about Martin Espinal Isaira tours which encourages visitors to bring school supplies to give to local schools on their tours. So with this in mind I headed to various Staples locations around Toronto to look for items at their bargain table. For those who don't know, each Staples location has a liquidation table where everything is 50% off the last marked price which is sometimes 50% off the original asking price. I found Rubbermaid plastic pencil cases for around 23 cents each, 8-pack Crayola crayons for 33 cents each, Laurentian 24-pack crayons for 25 cents, 30cm wooden rulers for 25 cents, 2-pack yellow highlighters for 22 cents each. so I bought as many of these items as I could find along with a pack of 72 wooden pencils at regular price, plus 8 pencil sharpeners from Dollarama and loaded up a suitcase with around CAD$80 in school supplies. Since I only gave out a few crayon packs at the village fiasco I still had plenty of crayons left as well as some baseball caps and some more candy. I booked a Puerto Plata/Sosua/Cabarete tour with Isaira tours for US$40 per person and it was on this tour that we drove to a village mainly made of Haitian immigrants and their children to donate to their school. When we got to the school I actually asked if it was a school because it didn't look like any of the other schools that I had seen in other villages. It was basically a run-down house with a crude extension on the sides. The extension was subdivided into three sections for 3 different classes and it was divided by a wall made of sticks and I don't know how they could learn stuff because the kids were talking on both sides and as well from inside the schoolhouse and the sound was going everywhere. The extension didn't even have a floor it was a dirt floor. But definitely a government school because the children were all in uniform and the uniform is standard through the entire country. Bringing with me my past experience in the village and my suitcase we met the principal of the school and told her we would leave everything with her and she could decide how the supplies were allotted. She was very grateful and welcomed us into her "office" which was an tiny extension on the other side of the school house. There she said she would give the supplies to children who needed it most as it was a destitute community. If you are thinking of bringing supplies I recommend bringing pencils, lined paper, paper, lots of paper. And chalk. Paper is something I noticed was scarce in the school. Don't bring anything that needs electricity because believe it or not I don't think that school had any power.

Isaira Tour - Going back to the Isaira tour it was okay- was a private tour with only the two of us and the driver so he was pretty flexible in our schedule. We went to the Brugal Rum bottling plant, the Amber museum, the Fort, then to the Haitian village, then Sosua, and then Cabarete. Note to self - anything sold by street vendors is fake - especially when it comes to stones like Larimar and Amber. Assume they are fake and bargain from that standpoint. The vendors are good salesmen and try to make it sound like it hurts when you bargain - but if they don't give you your asking price of 30-50% of the original - walk away. Take my advice for it. And Cabarete has some great shops where you can buy from a legit store all the stuff the street or beach vendors sell - for a good price without bargaining. Overall I was pleased with my experience with Isaira and they did seem more professional than the tour operators in Playa Dorada which seem to have commission-inspired sales tactics..but in the end the main reason I went with them was because of the school donation. For a standard city tour most operators in Playa Dorada can offer similar packages for the same or lower price.

Alison - January 2006
We found Isaira Tours through Debbie's Dominican page and decided to give them a try as on our previous holidays we had always booked through our tour company and wanted to cut down abit on cost and put some cash back into the country.

We arranged through email to be picked up the day after we arrived and were taken to Martin's office to go through all insurance documentation and book the tours we wanted. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Our first tour was a Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete tour which was excellent, we could decide (along with 2 other people on the tour) where we wanted to visit and how long to stay. We were taken to 2 dominican schools to hand out pencils and pens and this experience will stay with me forever. When we arrived home Martin rang our apartment to check we had enjoyed our trip and everything went ok, as he did every time we went on a tour with him which was a lovely touch. We then we! nt on the Paradise Island trip by speedboat which was amazing and again everything was taken care of, excellent service, transport and guides. We also visited Ocean World and the Gri gri lagoon tour which meant we got to see Playa Grande as well, definitely worth a visit. We also arranged for Martin's company to pick up a few things for the Mustard Seed charity before we left. We are planning to go back in 2 years time with some more of our family and will definitely be using Isaira Tours again, 10/10!!!

Harvey & Karen - January 2006
We booked all of our tours through Isaira Tours - Martin Espinal. We had read nothing but good reccomendations about them on this website and other places and e-mailed the owner, Martin Espinal several months in advance about certain tours, prices, etc. We always received a prompt response to our questions. The day after we arrived, he sent a driver to pick us up and brought us to his office and met us personally. After meeting with him he is very pesonable and has a passion for his country. He was quick to show us his licenses, insurance documents, etc. and answer any questions we had. We booked 3 tours. Those being the Outback Jungle Safari , Ocean World and a Puerto Plata/Sousa city tour. All of them were excellent. The outback safari is a blast and will give you an idea what the people and countryside are like. My wife especially liked boogie boarding at Caberete. The guide Kenny and the driver Scooby, made the trip what it was, alot of fun! We went to Ocean World for a day so my wife could fulfill here lifelong dream to swim with the dolphins. She said the experience is nothing she ever dreamed of and it is hard for her to put it in words. The third tour was with Martins company where we along with another couple, hired a van, a driver and a tour guide to see the sights and sounds of Puerto Plata, Sosua, and the surrounding area. They showed us the good and the bad. It was a very eye opening experience.

Karen - January 2006
Gri Gri Lagoon
We booked this tour through Martin Espinal . I had been in contact with Martin before we left via email. On our second day at the resort he called us to make sure we arrived and invited us over to his office. He said he would pick us up but we opted to walk as it was a 5 minute walk across the highway.

The tour was excellent and though it was a cloudy day we still had a great time. We were picked up at the gate and drove to San Juan with a stop along the way at a small town. We visited two beaches, the second being Playa Grande. We swan at both beaches and had drinks. Lunch was provided at Playa Grande. This was a beautiful beach and the sound of the surf was almost overwhelming. We also visited a fruit plantation and had a tour of the Gri Gri Lagoon. We couldn’t go out to the Swallow’s Cave because of the rough water that day. This was an excellent day and we would recommend it and Martin’s company to anyone.

R. Schmidt - November 2005
A number of tour agencies specifically serve the resort and for an additional fee you have a choice of several tours. These are okay if you don’t mind a very regimented tour with lots of people. At other all-inclusive resorts we have found more relaxed and more individualized tours by going outside of the resort complex. Prior to our trip we contacted Martin Espinal , the president of Isaira Tours since we had read very positive reviews on his agency on the internet. The tours with Martin’s agency were certainly the highlight of our trip and his prices are very reasonable. Our first tour, which lasted from 8:30AM until 5:30PM took us to Sosua, a small plantation where we sampled a number of fruits, a boat ride through the mangroves and a water cave, a very secluded beach, and ultimately to Playa Grande where we swam and enjoyed a very delicious meal near the beach. The second tour, another all day affair, took us to the Brugal rum factory, an amber museum, the fort in Puerto Plata, and a wonderful jewelry store. We also stopped at a grocery store in Puerto Plata to pick up a few items. Next we went to a Haitian village and then to the towns of Sosua and Carabete where we sampled some local beverages and did some shopping along the beachfront. On our return to the hotel we visited a very poor public school where we distributed pencils, pens, notebooks, crayons, etc. to the students and teachers. We had read about this portion of the tour on the internet and actually brought a piece of luggage with us packed full of school supplies. Once emptied, we thus had an additional piece of luggage to bring home gifts. On both tours our driver was Eddie and our guide was Jose; both were outstanding and just really superb people. They were both very professional, accommodating and truly made our time with them an experience we’ll never forget. They were just terrific!! So, if you are planning a trip to Puerto Plata, by all means contact Martin at his Isaira tour agency. His email addresses are espinal30@msn.com and espinal30@hotmail.com. Martin’s agency telephone number is 809-320-1433 and his Isaira tour agency is located a short walk across the highway from the Iberostar. Simply exit the Iberostar (there will be a few taxi drivers that will attempt to get your business as you leave the Iberostar, but just say you’re not interested) and continue to the highway and cross. If you tell the taxi drivers you are going to the plaza, they may try and tell you it is to the left, but it is to the right. Be careful as the traffic on the highway can be quite busy at times. Once across the highway turn right and continue a short distance to the Plaza El Doral where Matrin’s agency, Isaira Tours, is located. Enter the front door of the restaurant and you’ll find Martin’s office is the first door on your right. The entire walk from the Iberostar to Martin’s office will take no longer than four minutes. Once we had booked our tours, Martin was even kind enough to take us to a bank where we could exchange some money (rates are much better outside of the hotel) and then drove us back to the Iberostar.

The Tucker's - September 2005
The trips. Firstly we booked our trips through Martin Espinal his e-mail address is espinal30@hotmail.com if you e-mail him before you leave he will give you a call on your arrival and take you to his office which is just across the road from the hotel. We found his trips to be much cheaper than those on offer through your travel agent he is fully insured and will show you all his insurance certificates on arrival at his office. We did the quads and the buggies which were both fantastic but beware don't wear anything new as you get really muddy. Also try to take some sweets and crayons for the children along the way.

Shelia - June 2005
We emailed before we left,got a quick response and had a meeting set up when we arrived.We were picked up by Martin Espinal[owner] and taken back to his office[across from Marien Coral]where he showed us insurance papers etc.He is very proud of his country and definitely provides the personal touch that isn't available through the hotel.Martin will customize your tour for you!!!Their prices are reasonable but remember to tip the driver and tour guide,they are worth it.We went on 2 tours,Gri-Gri Lagoon and the Puerto Plata,both were amazing.Jensen was our guide both days and his knowledge of his country was amazing for such a young man!!!I hope people won't be afraid to book with isaira tours as these 2 days were the highlight of our trip.

Ayesha - June 2005
I took a few tours and went horse back riding with my Daughter, but I must mention the Martin's(Martin Espinal)- Isaira Tours - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic- was the best for my buck. What service, the morning tha I booked the tour, Martin was right there in person to take me to his office to pay for my tours, and just make my experience with him and his staff, as hassle free as possible. What a great guy and his English is almost perfect. I can not stress enough- if you want great service and reasonable prices, and selection of places to go and things to do, go to this site and book with Martin. www.isairatours.com. The resort was charging about $35-40 more for the same trips and tours that Martin offers and without the "service with a smile". We visited the Rum factory, the amber museum, went shopping. But…………. The Monster Truck ride was it for me…. That was so…….. Much fun! My Daughter who is only 6, had a really good time and has asked if we will see Martin again to go on the Monster Truck. I have to say yes!

Kurtis and Cristina - April 2005
The second tour however is what made our trip one that we will never forget. We read a lot of reviews a head of time and we checked out a tour company that was off the resort called Isaira Tours. The owner, Martin Espinalprovided us with an experience we will never forget. We read alot about the children in the country and how poor they are and that they are in desparate need of school supplies, toys, sports equipment etc. I contacted Martin Espinal and his Tour company and we booke the Jeep Safari and a trip to the Waterfalls where we climbed up 7 beautiful waterfalls and then either jumped back down or slide down the falls. Absolutely incredible, and we highly reccomend this tour. We brought school supplies, soccer balls, baseballs, candy, toys and we asked Martin if we could donate these to a local school. Martin himself picked us up and transported us to a local school wwhere we gave our gifts to the children personally. This was the best part of our trip as we will never forget the look on the childrens faces as we presented them with our gifts. These children live in a very poor area, the school would not be allowed to operate in Canada as the conditions are border line unsafe. The one classroom was nothing more than a tent with a rocky floor. It looked as though the school was bombed and they did whatever they could to provide at least a room with desks for the children to learn. The principal of the school was very grateful to receive much needed gym equipment (soccer balls, baseballs, skipping ropes etc, and we brought chalk for the teachers and pencils and notebooks and pads of paper are also in great need. Martin Espinal's customer service was second to none. Yes, he was cheaper than the reort operators and he is 100% insured. That is one thing the resort will tell you to be aware of. I highly reccomend Martin's company as he is a local entrpreneur and is supporting his family and seven employees. Thanks to Martin, our vacation was more enjoyable.

Ashley - April 2005
We went on a couple of tours. The first one was by the tour operator and we went to see Peurto Plata City Tour and Sosoua Beach. Fabulous time, great experience. The second tour however is what made our trip one that we will never forget. We read a lot of reviews a head of time and we checked out a tour company that was off the resort called Isaira Tours. The owner, Martin Espinal provided us with an experience we will never forget. We read alot about the children in the country and how poor they are and that they are in desparate need of school supplies, toys, sports equipment etc. I contacted Martin Espinal and his Tour company and we booke the Jeep Safari and a trip to the Waterfalls where we climbed up 7 beautiful waterfalls and then either jumped back down or slide down the falls. Absolutely incredible, and we highly reccomend this tour. We brought school supplies, soccer balls, baseballs, candy, toys and we asked Martin if we could donate these to a local school. Martin himself picked us up and transported us to a local school wwhere we gave our gifts to the children personally. This was the best part of our trip as we will never forget the look on the childrens faces as we presented them with our gifts. These children live in a very poor area, the school would not be allowed to operate in Canada as the conditions are border line unsafe. The one classroom was nothing more than a tent with a rocky floor. It looked as though the school was bombed and they did whatever they could to provide at least a room with desks for the children to learn. The principal of the school was very grateful to receive much needed gym equipment (soccer balls, baseballs, skipping ropes etc, and we brought chalk for the teachers and pencils and notebooks and pads of paper are also in great need.

Martin Espinal's customer service was second to none. Yes, he was cheaper than the reort operators and he is 100% insured. That is one thing the resort will tell you to be aware of. I highly reccomend Martin's company as he is a local entrpreneur and is supporting his family and seven employees. Thanks to Martin, our vacation was more enjoyable.

March 2005
We would strongly recommend a tour operator by the name of Isaira Tours (operated by Martin Espinal) office phone # 809-3201433 or cell 809-696-3151 or email at espinal30@msn.com or espinal30@hotmail.com for any tours such as safari cascade etc. He was licensed, insured etc and his price was about the same or cheaper than thru the hotel. His office is in the yellow building across from the hotel. We emailed him and he came to the hotel and then took us back to his office to book. You can also use plastic to pay which was great for us. On the safari tour we went in a open truck (very neat) and there were 16 of us (12 from our group) and four older people. As it turned out one of the older ladies fell and cut her knee and our tour guide got on the phone and right away asked the lady if she would like to go the the private clinic for treatment at no cost. That impressed us,,so think about who you are booking with....on the tour you will go up the mountain and see the vegetation, a home and visit a school. Take candy with you as they will be expecting some. We did not have enough as the children will run out on the back roads and be calling for some.

Ashley - March 2005
I could not say enough good things about Isaira Tours. We were pre-warned not to use tour companies off the resort, and we did anyways! Martin Espinal was amazing and actually came to our resort when we first arrived to explain his tour company and how safe it was, etc. We had the time of our lives on that. Our tour guide was fantastic (Mario), he made our trip much more enjoyable! They tell you that this is unsafe, but it is mainly for competition reasons. We had excellent service, friendly faces and the tour of a life time at a fraction of the hotel’s cost. We did the Jungle Safari trip, which is where we went into the countryside to see where the fruit grows, too Dominican villages, and to the waterfall. Be cautious, because they do not warn you that this tour is full of A LOT of physical activity. There is a lot of walking and climbing up the waterfall. Other than that, we will never use another tour company while in Dominican.

February 2005
We contacted Martin by e-mail from the hotel. He drove across to meet us in reception. He lived up to all that has been written about him. He couldn’t do enough for us. A genuinely nice man who is keen for you to have a good time. He works to support himself and his family in the face of steep competition from the big tour companies so it was nice to put some business his way. We tried his jeep safari and culture day tour for 3600 pesos for 2…similar to the Monster truck (without the boogy boarding or river swim). There were 8 of us with a driver and guide and we got a real sense of seeing the real DR. A worthwhile day. We only did the one trip. Feedback from others was that the half day horse riding and quad biking were great fun. Catamaran is OK as long as you have sea legs – you are on it for a very long time.

February 2005 – Lauren
We did not do any tours through the resort. Last year we booked through Martin Espinal of Isaira Tours and without question, we went back to him this year. We did the Paradise Island snorkeling trip, which was great. We had also booked to go to Santo Domingo, but I had come down with the virus and couldn’t stray far from the room that day. We had re-scheduled, but my husband was down with the virus the second time. You would think we would have been out our $90 US, but no way. Martin had called us personally that evening to find out if we had enjoyed our tour and when we told him we had missed it due to illness, he said he would meet us the next day to give us our money back. We did tip him for his trouble, but rest assured, no other company would have been so generous. Martin and his tour company are fully certified and insured, so don’t hesitate to call him. You get a lot more ‘bang for your buck’ and he is cheaper! We had booked by Internet before leaving home and he contacted us upon arrival. Check out his website at: http//www.isairatours.com and don’t hesitate to contact him. You won’t be sorry! Rob & Shauna - January 2005
We booked all tours through Isaira Tours. They even prepaid our Ocean World tour before we left Canada, as we wanted to do it early in our trip. It's too bad that Martin is being given such a rough time from the hotels. He is very professional and I felt very safe in all dealings with him.
Puerto Plata City and Cable Car tour - Martin's team really shined here. Our tour guide Pajami (sp?) was very informative and you could tell that he had a passion for the history of the Dominican Republic.
Ocean World Adventure Park - rained the day we went, but since we were in the water with dolphins, it didn't really matter. If you go, you HAVE to do the Dolphin Swim. I can't imagine doing this tour and not getting into the water
Monster Truck Safari - went to a school, farm, house. It was very interesting to see how the people live. This tour looks better to me than the Jeep Safari, as you sit forward in the truck and get to go through rivers.
Catamaran - from Playa Dorada to Sosua. Half the boat (including me) were sick. The sea was very choppy that day. My wife made it okay, but watching all the other passengers being ill was not fun for her.

Alison
December 2004

TOURS: we booked through Martin Espinal / Isaira Tours, who have a great reputation with tourists and are fullly insured. (website: www.isairatours.com and email: espinal30@hotmail.com) Wonderful friendly people, and great prices and they are situated about 1 minute away from the resort, on the same road, in front of the Marien Coral resort. We emailed them 2 weeks before leaving and looked at their website and set up a time to meet them when we first arrived. They picked us up right at resort and took us to their office, and bought the trip. We went on the outback safari trip and loved every moment of it! Our tour guide Angel (a guy) was the most hilarious guy and he was also very informative. And even though it rained for the whole first half of the day, we all had so much fun and learned about the Real Dominican.... you go through a mountain, villages, forest, boogie boarding on a secluded beach, a boat ride through a neat river, visit a typical dominican home and a fruit plantation, see a kids school (bring toys and candies to give the c hildren) and there was pop/soda and rum served all day long on the truck. We had a blast and loved seeing what the country and people outside of the resort looked like. We highly recommend this tour if you want to see the real world there and meet some great tour guides. Angel was awesome.

Tony and Angela
October 2004

We also used Martin Espinal for our tours, he is such a nice friendly man along with his staff. We were not able to go on one of our trips as my husband was ill and had to see a doctor and Martin arranged to meet me in the reception and he gave us our money back for the trip. The trip we did go on was very well arranged and the guide was excellent, all at a lower price than the tour operates prices.

Lorraine
September 2004

We did 4 excursions. I'll try and be brief but cover everything. Your holiday rep will tell you that you aren't insured if you book excursions with anyone else but them. TOTAL RUBBISH! We booked all 4 of ours with Martin Espinal and it was top class. You get a more personalised service and he fitted us in for a dolphin swim when others were told they were fully booked! (When you see his photo on the website, look for the thinner version in person, he's lost lots of weight!)

Puerta Plata/Damajunga Waterfalls Tour - visit to the rum factory & amber museum. Rum factory was interesting (take money for very cheap excellent rum), I wasn't too keen on the Amber factory. The Damajunga waterfall tour was very very testing. I would say this is for the more active person - climbing waterfalls and sliding and jumping back down. You have to be somewhat fit and energetic for this. Take a towel and waterproof camera (and food as it isn't supplied on this tour but drinks are).

Gri Gri Lagoon tour. Highly recommend. As well as going to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen (Playa Grande) we had the best meal I have ever had (langoustines) and the best guide all holiday (Alberto). As well as being able to swim in beautiful waters and going through a lagoon, you visit a fruit plantation and the beach for a lovely free meal (langoustines small amount extra but WELL worth it!). Martin Espinal called at our hotel to check our days out and that we were happy. Excellent service and a lovely guy.

Our 3rd tour was the Monster Truck Safari. I would recommend EVERYONE to do this. As well as driving through dense forest and finding a natural lake to swim in, there was an excellent meal provided with free drink all day and the highlight is to visit the children. This was were the half ton of sweets I took came in handy. We handed them out to the kids. They will appreciate anything - clothes would be good. I gave my cap and top away - all I could. Take pens, sweets, clothes, anything you think a child would like. They have very little. What a rewarding and brilliant day. Great tour guides, and a water fight to top it off with the other monster truck! I will never forget that day.

Our last day was swimming with dolphins at Ocean World Adventure Park. Let me just tell you, some excursions are set prices (dolphins/saona island) so Martin will be the same price as holiday reps - but on other things he was cheaper. Gri Gri Lagoon and Monster Truck Safari were wonderful and good value. Take a towel and swimwear to Ocean World. When we got there, we were offered the chance to swim with sharks - but didn't have enough money on us. They don't advertise this outside the park, but if you fancy it, it was ridiculously cheap compared to the dolphins ($35 each), so go for it. We bought photos of the dolphin swim, take money for this.

Ritchie
August 2004

We went on two trips while in the DR. Both trips were booked through Martin Espinal. He picked us up the day before our tour and we paid for the excursion in cash then. Just like all the reviews say he was fantastic. We did not get to go out with him as he was on vacation, but his staff was Great!! We went out with Willis who was very friendly and knowledgeable. He made sure we knew what was going on and that we were not getting ripped off. We went on the Waterfall excursion and to Paradise Island. The waterfall excursion goes to the rum factory, the amber museum, the old fort, the waterfalls, and the cable car and cost $35 per person. The factory and museum were cool. At the rum factory you could buy huge bottles of Rum for $3-$4 and they take both American and European money!! The fort was great and provides for some amazing pictures!! The waterfalls were incredible!! Although it says you need to be a strong swimmer, you actually need to just be in shape period. You do need to be ok to swim a little but most of the workout comes from the climbing. The staff help get you up some of the waterfalls (they climb them like they are walking up stairs!!) but you definitely need to be prepared to get a workout if you go to the falls. If you don’t want to actually go in the falls there is a place to wait! Be sure to bring good shoes for climbing but remember they will get SOAKED, as you are sliding/jumping into water the entire time. I would also suggest a change in clothes if possible. The cable car was the last part of this trip and was great too. If you do the cable car try to go when it is not cloudy, usually early in morning. In the afternoon you can’t see anything from the top of the mountain, but the view on the way up is still great!! The only thing we had to pay for on this trip was the cable car ($5). We also tipped the driver and our guide at the waterfalls, but neither of them was in anyway pushy. We left our bags in the car while on the trips and had no problems, the driver never leaves the car. We had our own car and it was clean and cool, much better then the other tours who where all on big buses. We also booked the Paradise Island trip through Martin.

Marilyn & Will
August 2004

About Martin’s services: What can I say? Our driver Rigoberto Peña went above and beyond the call of duty to try to take me to my old neighborhood. We drove 4 hours both ways and unfortunately I could not find the address that I was looking for but, the experience and time we spent with Rigo was well worth it. I found it very nice of Martin to call me the night before to confirm and reaffirm that we were in charge and the driver would stop where we wanted him to as many times as we asked. I’d definitely recommend Rigo and Martin him to ANYONE!

Debbie, Georgia, USA
July 2004

The highlight of our stay was our tour with Martin (Isaira Tours). He was great! As part of the tour, we visited a Haitian village near Puerto Plata. It was an experience I will never forget. We took candy and toys for them and wished we had brought more. Martin filled us in with some current events as well as some DR history. We visited the amber museum, Mt. Isabella de Torres cable car and botanical garden, the San Felipe fort, and lighthouse. I could go on and on writing about Martin. You can't go wrong with him as your tour guide

Misty & Rob
June 2004

We went out for a day with Martin Espinal. Other tour companies do NOT recommend him. That is because he is less expensive and one of there competitors. He is the sweetest man! He and his daughter Maritza have been in contact with us for months before the trip. Wonderful people!!!! We went to the waterfalls, Amber museum, Rum factory, and to a small underprivileged village where we dispensed gifts to the children.

I would highly recommend the waterfalls, if you are in good shape and a strong swimmer. Even if you are a bit apprehensive, the tour guide that Martin sets you up with will take good care of you. It is the scariest thing we have ever done, but also the most beautiful. I would do it again in a heartbeat, just trust your guides!

Sherry
April 2004

We hired the world renowned Martin Espinal for an all day trip which included the seven waterfalls. Martin's name appears in almost every review and he sure lives up to his reputation!!! I emailed him from home and he responded the next day and then we met him at the resort a couple of days later. We were disappointed at first to hear that he would not be our driver for the trip but one of his employees instead, however come the day we were very pleased and surprised to see Martin himself standing in the lobby waiting for us!!!! He is an extremely kind, friendly wonderful man!!!!! He told us so much history and all about Puerto Plata, never rushed us when we stopped at different locations and his van is comfortable and air conditioned. Martin is a must!! The waterfalls were spectacular but be warned that is a long walk to get there and swimming to each of them and climbing them is hard and difficult but we would do it again for sure!!!

Amanda
April 2004

A customer of mine at work was so impressed by Martin Espinal's Waterfall tour that when I told her we were off to the Dominican Republic for my brother's wedding she gave me his details. We emailed before we went organising a Water Rafting trip and a day trip with Martin, he was always very helpful and gave us his contact details for once we got there. He organized for 4 members of our party to have a fantastic day out rafting, they said it was an amazing experience and the tour guides at the rafting place were great. We then arranged to go on a day tour with Martin. There were 5 of us who went on this and 3 out of 5 didn't swim so we decided against the waterfall tour and instead Martin drove us around the island, showing us the richest and the poorest parts of the island. It was an amazing tour showing us life on such an incredible Island. He even took us to his house to show us how they live. He is an amazing man who was friendly and knows and loves his country. I highly recommend going on one of Martin's tours, not only are they eye opening and fun but Martin himself is a great tour and an amazing man whom once you meet you feel will be your friend for life!!!!

Chris & Sarah - Ontario
January 2004

Some tours we did through the tour operator and others we did with Martin Espinal (he's got a link from this site I believe) the taxi driver. Enrique and Danny were our guides for the taxi tours. They were so incredible. They brought drinks along, gave us a Spanish lesson and made everything so fun. They work for Martin and I highly recommend them.

Linda & Dan --- Canada
October 2003

I found out about Martin's taxi service thru Debbie's Dominican Travel website. I contacted Martin by e-mail prior to leaving on vacation to find out what he could offered and how much it would cost. He is very prompt at responding and answering all my questions. It was a very reasonable price of only $80 US for all four of us for the day. I did not book prior to leaving on vacation as we did not know what our schedule would be like until we got to our resort in Puerto Plata. This is a huge mistake, I highly recommend that you reserve Martin prior to leaving as his available could be limited and you could be disappointed if he is already booked for the week.

Fortunately for us, Martin had contacted me at the resort to see if I was still interested in booking his services. He came to pick us up at our resort at 9:00am sharp. He has a cooler in his van and so we were able bring our own water and beverages and it kept our drinks cold for the day. His van is very clean and air conditioned. Our first impression of Martin was very good and it only got better throughout the day. We found Martin to be a very pleasant gentlemen and very friendly and helpful..

Our first stop was the Brugal Rum Factory, this was good as we got to buy bottle of Rum for only $4 US each.

Our second stop was the San Filipe Fort, this was interesting site, we took lots of beautiful scenery pictures.

Then off to the amber museum which offers coffee, cigars and of coarse various jewellery. During each of these destinations, Martin answers all our questions and explain the culture to us. He is full of valuable information which became very helpful for us to learn the Dominican culture.

We visited different villages to see some upper class homes as well as the less fortunate home, the Haiti community and up into the mountains for some breathtaking views of the city.

The best was yet to come, one of our stops was to do cascading in Damajagua falls. We picked up a tour guides on our way and went into the forest. We hiked and swam up 7 of the 27 waterfalls and then slide down or jumped down each falls into the pool of water below. This was an amazing experience.

Martin at each stop lets you go about at your own leisure. He never rushes you to move on. He would sit to read a newspaper or converses with other taxi drivers as we explore each site. There is no pressure and no stress on his part.

We stopped at a little Dominican restaurant for a bite to eat which offered a variety of food and all very good.

We travelled thru more villages and got to see the home where Martin lives and meet his family before heading back to our resort. This was such a nice way to end our day. We completed our tour at about 4:30pm.

We all agreed that Martin made our tour an unforgettable experience. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. If we had the chance, we would have booked him again another day for another tour but we had run out of time as our vacation was coming to an end.

I highly, highly recommend Martin for your next excursion in the Dominican Republic. Contact him at espinal30@msn.com and when you are traveling, bring his phone number with you, you never know if you might need it again and again.

Jill, Richard & Joseph Williams --- UK
July 2003

We can't recommend Martin highly enough - he was brilliant!! We'd flown into Puerto Plata Airport but our resort was in Juan Dolio on the South Coast, so we had a 4 hour car journey ahead, so it was important we had some reliable, especially as we had an 8 year old child with us.

We'd contacted Martin via e.mail before we came & arranged for him to collect us. He was waiting for us & was really friendly & welcoming. We had a comfortable journey down, in his very clean & air conditioned car, which has plenty of room for several people & the luggage. Martin made the journey very interesting by telling us all about the country & pointing out things of interest for us.

We'd booked Martin for 2 weeks later for our return journey & arranged for him to pick us up at around 10 am. He arrived at 9.45 am & you wouldn't have guessed he'd already driven 4 hours to collect us, as he was just as cheerful & friendly. He'd brought along his wife & youngest daughter, as Sunday is time he spends with his family & they were also lovely people, who it was a pleasure to spend time with.

Our only regret is that our resort was too far for us to use Martin, duing our holiday, as he was telling of some of the tours he does & they sounded fabulous.

Dennis --- Boston, Massachusetts - June 2003
I just wanted to let everyone know that Martin Espinal is extra special! Martin drove my wife and I around the North Shore and we had a great day. Martin is very friendly, courteous and helpful. Martin brought us to the San Felipe Fort, downtown Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete, all the while giving us loads of information on all the sites.

My wife and I brought down a lot of baseball equipment and Martin helped us disperse it to three different organizations. (Along with Junior from Iguana Mama) Everything went off without a hitch and the kids seemed to be pleased. This was all because of Martin. If you get the chance book a day with Martin do it! You won't regret it!

Eileen - April 2003
On our recent trip to Puerto Plata we decided to hire a guide to give us a tour of the area. After hearing many recommendations about Martin before we arrived, I called him once we were there. He was not available for the day we planned, however, he sent one of his drivers - Justo - to drive us around. This was probably the best tour we have ever taken. Justo was thorough and informative - taking us exactly to the areas we had interest in. He is able to communicate very well in English. Early on during the day, Martin, who takes his business seriously, met us at one of our stops-just to say hello. He is a friendly, nice man. Part of the tour is driving by Martin's home which is so helpful in understanding the culture of the Dominican people. We cannot recommend Martin's service enough. You can email him at espinal30@msn.com. He is very responsive to emails.

Rita from Newfoundland - April 2003
After reading so much about Martin Espinal I emailed him before i left for my vacation.His reply was prompt and i explained to him about travelling with a diabetic child and conditions of eating precise times and needles so on ...He didnt let me down , he offered suggestions my son loved him he was everything i read and much much more he was the highlight of our trip.A tip to all you travellers you dont have to settle for the tours recommended if theres something you want or dont want ASK .If they cant accomodate you Martin certainly can and his english is exellent .Will i return to Dominican, certainly ! Will i stay on the same resort ,not likely, will i look up Martin , definately !

Debbie, Debbie's Dominican Travel - November 2002
Pat and I used Martin's taxi service on our recent trip to the north coast. He is a very nice man, speaks English well, and I would not hesitate to recommend him. He can provide airport transfers, or custom tours, whatever you want to do.

Erica - March 2003
Trips: One word- Martin! After hearing about Martin Espinal from this site we he took us on a tour that was the highlight of our vacation. For 70$US he took us to the rum factory, the amber museum, all over town, and finally to climb waterfalls. This was an amazing life experience and I would do it again in a second. Remember to bring pens, pencils,candy, etc. for the children, when you get there and hand it out you will wish you had brought way, way more.Martin is so wonderful and respectful I would recommend him, he can be reached at espinal30@msn.com

Rich and Geneva - March 2003
We also hired a guide for the day-Martin Espinal-he was great. It was like having a wealth of info for the day. We went to the fort, the amber museum, went into a church. I had brought supplies for a school so he took us to a school to pass out the supplies. We went to his house, then to lunch in Sosua. Did some shopping in Susua, many venders there. We were back by 4. He is a very safe driver and very nice. He can be reached at espinal30@msn.com.

February 2003
Martin picked us up at 9am sharp and drove us to the Rum factory, the amber museum, the San Filippe Fort. There he introduced us to a group of students. My children saved many toys, school supplies, hats, match box cars (big hit), even laser pointers, etc. They had these in 2 big bags and handed them out to these kids (who are so poor they don't all have pencils in class). What a thrill to spread such joy...and THANKS to Martin for arranging this for us. Now our kids have a sense of how fortunate we are to live in the US.

Then Martin took us to a waterfall, well, 7 waterfalls. You hike up and along the river bed until you get to the waterfalls. Then those who wish can climb up them which was a blast. We had an enormously strong and reliable guide help us. Once up the waterfalls, you slids down and jump down into pools of water. It is hard to paint a word picture here for you...but this was God selected for my son (and I). Just a life experience we'll never forget. My wife and daughter opted the easy plan. They swam a bit, but didn't do any jumps. We then went to the tram which takes you all the way up the mountain. Beautiful photo ops. There's a National Botanical Garden at the top.

Martin allowed us to spend as little or as much time at each place as we wished. He even allowed us a few side trips in his new van (for example, to see a huge home an American built over a bluff looking out at the ocean...pretty interesting).

The best part? Martin charged us $70 (FOR THE DAY). The resorts and tour companies charged that much PER PERSON. And Martin speaks English well, he is a gentleman, and does whatever you want...not 30 other people in a huge bus.

Chris from Michigan - January 2003
In a word - "Fantastic"!

Just got back from one week in Puerto Plata. I had contacted Martin via e-mail prior to our trip. I wasn't sure what our schedule was going to be, but I knew we wanted to spend a day with him. He even tried to contact us at the hotel once we got there to help make arrangements. Unfortunately I was probably filling my plate or my drink cup and missed his call. Word of advice, talk to Martin on the weekend as that's when he is normally planning his week. I missed him and by the time I finally got back to him, his schedule was filled for the only day we had available. He was kind enough to set us up with one of his drivers and I told him we'd look for him specifically when we came back on the next trip. Well lo and behold Wednesday morning, who shows up but Martin himself!! He rearranged his schedule to accommodate us!

He took me, my wife and two kids all around Puerto Plata. Showed us sights I know we would never have found ourself, and was unbelievably patient as my wife and daughter oogled over jewelry at several stores. He took us to Sosua and Cabarete and we had a wonderful lunch on the beach. He gives you the space to wander to your heart's content and is more than willing to walk with you and tell you as much as he can about the city, culture, and people. We made several stops to see other places of interest during the day and even ended up meeting his wonderful family.

It was an absolute pleasure to spend the day with him. You can tell he truly enjoys what he does and he has his priorities in all the right places!! Truly a fantastic experience!

We definitely would recommend his services and plan on spending at least another day with him on our next trip to PP.


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