Samaná, Dominican Republic: Images of Paradise

Beaches, intact natural spaces, humpback whales, and hidden lagoons are some of the attractions of this peninsula that still resists mass tourism

If we were to imagine the ideal paradise, there are certain recurrent images: there would be no lack of key elements such as white sandy beaches, coconut trees caressing turquoise waters, clear waterfalls that fall on lagoons wrapped in exuberant vegetation, coral reefs in which multicolored fish swim etc…Well, this paradise actually exists.

Most visitors who spend their vacations in the Dominican Republic opt for places like Punta Cana or La Romana, at the eastern end of the island. Other places are reserved for travelers fleeing large resorts and luxury hotels. Samana, on the north coast, is one of those places. The reward is impressive: the best beaches in the Dominican Republic, dense forests, national parks, and an impressive coastline.

The Samaná Peninsula has a rectangular bay that has become one of the most important marine life sanctuaries in the world. Between December and April, about 3,000 humpback whales are concentrated in the place to reproduce. The show is sublime and attracts thousands of travelers. Nature in its pure state. And to the south, the National Park of the Haitises (one of the largest concentrations of karst caves in the world).

Santa Bárbara de Sanamá, the main city of the peninsula, has a curious connection with the Canary Islands. A couple of families of the Spanish Archipelago were in charge of founding the settlement in 1756. Of those first early moments, scarcely a pair of houses remain in the alleys that climb the hills. Tourism changed the face of the city that is today articulated around its spectacular seawall.

Multicolored houses

A port from which ships in search of the whales depart, and that take the tourists to Cayo Levantado; a small paradise island that has become a luxury resort. One of the most important points of interest of the city is the Museum of La Ballena (Address: Avda de la Marina sn; Tel: +1 809-538-2042; Hours: LD 9.00 – 12.00 and 14.00-17.00; : Cebse@claro.net.do), which revolves around the migratory cycle of the Humpback Whale.

Dream beaches and an amazing interior

Some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic are located on the north coast of Samaná. Las Terrenas (Access route 7), a complex of white sand beaches, are just a small sample of what the north coast of Samaná offers the traveler. Places like Playa Galera, El Fronton or El Valle respond perfectly to the ideal Caribbean beach. But the crown jewel is called Playa El Rincón, one of the best in the entire Caribbean.

The great things about this place is that it is one of the few parts of the coast that have not yet been occupied by the tourist industry. Protected by Cabo Cabrón, it also enjoys normally calm waters, which makes the place a paradise for the occasional submarine of glasses and tube; Other impressive beaches are El Fronton and La Madama; This last one, framed in an almost perfect bay, is a dreamy place full of marine life.

Inland, the peninsula is one of the best examples of tropical moist forest in the Caribbean area. Most people come in search of the spectacular Salto del Limón (Access to El Limón by public transport from Santa Barbara), an impressive waterfall that falls on a lagoon no less spectacular. This part of Samaná is becoming an active ecotourism hub based on contact with the local reality.

Surreal landscapes in Los Haitises

To the south, the Samaná Peninsula, the rest of the island is joined by Los Haitises National Park, one of the most important natural sites in the Dominican Republic, and a clear example that not even the most talented surrealist artists are capable of surpassing what nature is capable of doing.

Several aspects make this place one of the hot spots of biodiversity on a planetary scale. To start,there is the largest mangrove area in the entire Caribbean. Another sign of identity of this place is its geology – limestone. The high rainfall causes splashed caves, and interesting geological formations that also deserve a visit. A clear example is the coast dotted with cliffs covered with vegetation of the Bay of San Lorenzo.

The natural values of the place are evident with a look at the list of neighbors living on its shores and inland (in one of the most important subtropical rainforest ecosystems in the world with one of the most important orchid populations in the world). The coasts have star species such as manatees, which live in the mangrove areas. Also be sure to note the traces of the ancient Taino culture, an indigenous society that inhabited the island at the arrival of Christopher Columbu,). Many of the caves are adorned with pre-hispanic cave engravings.