Open Jaw Quebec On Location: Dominican Republic Part 2: Natural Wonders: Samana Shows Another Side Of The Dominican Republic
By Marjorie D. Lafond
Less known than Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, the Samana region of the Dominican Republic is well worth a visit for its fascinating panoramas and generous choice of outdoor activities.
Marjorie Lafond learned this firsthand on behalf of Open Jaw Quebec, as she joined Cosette Garcia, director of the Tourist Promotion Office of the Dominican Republic in Montreal, on a recent visit to Samana province in the northwest of the Dominican part of Hispaniola.
With so much attention focused on the mega-resort destination of Punta Cana, it is sometimes forgotten that the D.R. has many different areas and experiences to offer. Samana, for example, offers much smaller, more intimate resorts – as discussed inPart 1of this story – and a wide range of outdoor opportunities. Here’s a look at a few of them.
Half-Day Quad Bike Tour With Flora Tours
This memorable excursion is suitable for everyone, even those who have never driven a quad bike. It’s a beautiful adventure in the heart of real Dominican life which reveals magnificent countryside landscapes between sea and mountains. A swim on the magnificent Moron beach is part of the fun.
During this excursion, our reporter had the chance to meet a Dominican family in the heart of the mountains. They offered tastings of a delicious traditional hot chocolate, fresh coconut and the famous mamajuana – a Dominican specialty typically made with 1/4 honey, 1/4 red wine and 1/2 rum, steeped in a bottle containing a mixture of bark and herbs. Some Dominicans believe it has healing and aphrodisiac qualities.
To bring during the excursion: water shoes, especially if it rained the day before!
Whale-Watching With Kim Beddall
Between December and April, around 10,000 whales leave the Arctic zone to mate in the warm waters of Samana Bay. This is the perfect time to listen to the solitary song of the male humpback whale and watch demonstrations of jumps and pirouettes often revealing the entire body of the animal.
Kim Beddall is a Canadian scientist in the field since 1983 and an experienced specialist who will explain with great passion everything there is to know about these cetaceans in the middle of the mating season.
Las Terrenas & Its Beaches
Formerly a fishing village cut off from the rest of the country, Las Terrenas is today a small seaside resort particularly appreciated by the French-speaking community. The road in is long and chaotic, but it overflows with charm and beautiful panoramas.
Want a little dose of night life? In the evening, the Mosquito Art Bar is the most popular watering hole in the village of Las Terrenas. Temporary art exhibitions and several thematic events are held there.
Playa Coson is without doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in the region. Going along the beach to the right, you end up reaching Playa Bonita. The onsite Luis restaurant serves excellent fried fish.
Playa Bonita is a superb crescent-shaped beach. Surf lovers will be delighted, because the surf is often up. The restaurants in the village and the cottages on the edge are charming.
Samana’s Capital Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara de Samana is located on the north coast of Samana Bay. Populated in large part by the descendants of freed African-American slaves, you will find in this small town rich in history and culture, including an 18th century African Episcopal Methodist church.
Visitors can relax and enjoy the slow pace and views of the seafront promenade, lined with restaurants, shops and bars.
One of the best kept treasures in Santa Barbara de Samana is the D'Vieja Pan bakery. It is run by a family that continues the tradition it inherited: making the best English bread.
Los Haitises National Park
This crown jewel of the Dominican Republic’s National Park system park has vast expanses of mangroves along its bay, dotted with cays sheltering birds by the thousands as well as a series of caves known for their petroglyphs and pictograms. Visitors can admire the view of the Anamuya mountain range and swim in the natural pools.
Known as Bacardi Island, this is an island in Samana Bay known for its magnificent white sandy beaches. On site, there are local merchants and restaurants. A must on the spot: the delicious pina colada served in a decorated pineapple! The island is also home to the popular Bahia Principe Luxury Cayo Levantado hotel.
El Limon Waterfall
Reaching the impressive waterfall of El Limon is an adventure that takes travellers on a 2.5-kilometre journey through thick forest, on horseback or on foot over lush hilly terrain, while spotting flora and fauna along the way. It is one of the most popular excursions in the region.
With its luxuriant vegetation, thrilling scenery, vast choice of outdoor activities and charming hotels, Samana definitely offers an alternative experience that will please your customers who love nature, culture and tranquillity.