Welcome to the Samaná Peninsula and the destinations of Las Galeras, Las Terrenas and Santa Bárbara de Samaná
The natural paradise of the Samaná Peninsula, jutting out of the northeastern Dominican Republic and basking in the sea, is as coveted today as it was in the 16th century. Pirates hid in its lush, palm-filled forests, secluded beaches and hidden caves while European and Haitian troops vied for the protected deep-water bay. Today, Samaná-often abbreviated to refer to the entire peninsula-is well connected by land and air, yet it remains the DR’s secluded, paradise escape from wild beaches, coconut plantations, and rainforests. Its gently rolling mountains and valleys form the crystal clear rivers that flow into the Atlantic as they cascade to brilliant white sand beaches that stretch for hundreds of miles around the peninsula’s rocky coastline. It’s as if the 2,500 or so humpback whales that visit Samaná Bay each year appreciate this natural splendor as much as the visitors. The giant mammals return to this special corner of the DR every year to mate, give birth and bask in this magnificent tropical landscape. Aside from seasonal whale-watching boat trips in scenic Samaná Bay, other ecotourism adventures are just a stone’s throw away: bodyboarding and kitesurfing in Las Terrenas; trekking, birdwatching, and caving in Los Haitises National Park; canyoneering or horseback riding to El Limón waterfall; and boat trips to glorious white-sand beaches at the base of 90-meter cliffs or to the offshore island of Cayo Levantado.
Samaná is also an independent traveler’s dream. Thousands of Europeans came as tourists and became residents, setting up businesses that give the region its unique cosmopolitan vibe. In Las Terrenas, French cafes and quaint inns give way to Eurochic boutiques, bistros and beachfront lounges. But the peninsula retains its diverse cultural heritage. Croissants aside, you’ll find cuisine rich in coconut flavors and seafood – an influence of early Canarian settlers and descendants of 18th-century African-American immigrants. In Las Galeras, fishing village life remains unbroken, despite the large crowds of tourists who flock here during the day to reach the famous Playa Rincón.
Wherever you choose to stay on the peninsula, whether in tree houses in El Valle, tucked away in an eco-lodge in Las Galeras, or in a beachfront suite on the magnificent golden sand beach of Cosón, prepare for days surrounded by one of the Dominican Republic’s most magnificent beaches and rainforest reserves where the echoes of merengue and bachata are never far away.
El Catey International Airport (AZS) is the gateway to the Samaná Peninsula. Cruises dock in Samaná during the winter season, near Cayo Levantado and Samaná Bay. Sailing enthusiasts will find full mooring facilities and slips of up to 150 feet LOA at Puerto Bahía Marina, at the north end of Samaná Bay. By land, modern highways connect the peninsula to major points, including the Santo Domingo-Samaná Highway, or Route 7, and the Boulevard Turístico del Atlántico toward Las Terrenas, which offers breathtaking, winding coastal views over Cosón Bay.