Samaná is an oceanfront peninsula on the northeastern shore of the Dominican Republic. With a beautiful bay, islands, and a nature preserve nearby, there are lots of sights and activities to while away a couple weeks. Since our arrival on April 11th, we’ve found plenty of ways to have fun in Samaná.
Something about Samaná
We had read about Samaná before, in the book Pirate Hunters, a true story about divers who knew there was a hundreds years old wreck with treasure somewhere here. They spent years hunting it and… you’ll have to read the book to find out more.
That was all we knew about Samaná, and now we know so much more and have recommendations for those of you who will come here yourselves. We know how to have fun in Samana.
We have mostly anchored in our travels so far, and the marinas we have stayed in for a night or two have been acceptable. This place, though, is incredible. Besides the beautiful location, it has all the amenities and is so affordable. It’s not a bad place to wait for good weather: it’s amazing!
The marina is part of a resort, which explains why it is much nicer than any marina we’ve been to before. Included in our $1 night per foot marina fee is a stunning infinity pool, a gym, a billiards room, laundry, a market, restaurants and bars. Staying here feels like a vacation. Compared to our everyday lives, this is luxurious and we are taking advantage of the pool especially!
The marina is so welcoming, and most of our group from Luperón is staying here. We also met another couple who are going the reverse direction who we quickly incorporated into our crew.
The one negative of this marina is it is not close to anywhere and taxi rides to town are $20 each way. Brian came up with the bright idea of sharing a rental car between the group of us. With 9 people to share a car, we can’t all go anywhere together, but we got a lot more bang for the buck by splitting up for excursions and shopping trips.
Plus, it’s more fun to do those things with a group! It always seems to turn into piña coladas or beers before too long. Cruisers love a good time. These are some of the ways we’ve had fun in Samaná, Dominican Republic.
1. Downtown Samaná/El Malecón
Samaná is marked with a big whale sculpture along the main drag, or malecón. The town is a throughpoint for whales from September to March. Yes, we just missed the whale migration. During those months, whale tours and sightings are common. People come to Samaná to see the whales. I’ll let you know if we see any.
It’s a busy port town, with people mostly driving on motorcycles very quickly. Besides the whale, there’s shops and offices along the several busy streets.
We got a ride in a moto-taxi, or tuktuk as I’ve called them in the past, which was a fun spree through the malecon. Our driver was hilarious and imitated siren noises and sang as he took us for a ride.
2. Bridge to Nowhere
There was supposed to be a casino, or a restaurant, no one seems to know what, on this island off Samaná. So they built a bridge, or puente in Spanish. This nice modern bridges leads to no casino or restaurant. So it’s a bridge to nowhere, with a lot of visitors.
It’s a long walk, with some stairs up and down, and beautiful views of the harbor and the town of Samaná. At the town end there’s a bar and some guys hawking paintings and other tourist knicknacks. There’s also a beach to swim, but it’s all about walking the bridge to nowhere. It was a nice walk and there’s a geocache there too for fun in Samana.
3. El Limón
The waterfalls at El Limón are about a 20 minute drive from where we are staying. So with our shared rental car, we went in shifts. One group went Tuesday and we went with the crews from Belle Marie and 5 Knots on Wednesday.
It’s a little bit of a hike in, maybe 3k, but we had a really sweet local guide who had enough English paired with my passable Spanish so we understood each other. He pointed out everything we passed of interest: multiple varieties of fruits, birds, donkeys, and more. The time flew.
Then we got to the waterfalls. So beautiful. There wasn’t much else to see but the waterfalls so it was about 2 hours from start to finish and back to the car.
4. Las Terrenas
Beyond El Limon on the eastern end of the Samaná peninsula is the pretty beach town of Las Terrenas. We went there to visit beaches, have beach drinks and shop. We had gotten intel on a European style supermarket in this town, and it delivered beyond our expectations. The beach was beautiful too! After hours in the jungle near Limón, swimming in the calm waters near Las Terrenas relaxed and refreshed us for the shopping ahead!
5. Los Haitises
Los Haitises National Park is a gem of the Dominican Republic. Only 10 miles from Bahia Marina, it feels far away from the hustle and bustle and is a relaxing and enjoyable two day getaway.
The anchorage was one of the best we’ve visited: calm, with a nice breeze to keep us cool but not too much that we rocked, and lots of wildlife.
I saw a dolphin fin as we arrived, but nothing more. We did see multiple varieties of bird life, from pelicans dive-bombing for meals, to frigate birds and egrets and more on the rocks and islands surrounding our boat.
Cuevas in Los Haitises
We visited two caves (cuevas in Spanish) with prehistoric drawings. These large caves had multiple “rooms” and high ceilings and sometimes views of the ocean outside. One of the caves is adjacent to the ranger station for the park. We stopped there to pay the $100 peso per person entrance cost ($2) and were given an impromptu tour from the friendly young guide. He only spoke Spanish, so we may have missed a couple things but he used his flashlight to show us the key artworks which was a great benefit to us.
Up the River in Los Haitises
We spent an afternoon taking the dinghy up a beautiful river along layers and layers of mangrove trees, the dense foliage home to many beautiful birds.
Gliding through on a warm day, we got up close to many birds who continued with their grooming and eating and barely paid us any mind. The ultimate goal was an eco-resort with natural pools, which was a fun place to visit, but the journey through the mangroves was rewarding on its own.
On Wednesday, we plan to set sail for Puerto Rico. We had so much fun in Samana and the memories of the 2 weeks spent in this lovely region will remain with us for a long time.