Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Samaná
Whether it’s hiking up the rugged terrain of Dominican Republic’s tallest falls on foot or riding horseback through the steep mountain passes, a trip to the El Limón Waterfall (Cascada El Limón) is a quintessential Dominican Republic experience. Crested mountaintops stretch some 2,100 feet into the sky, and tropical plants, like coffee and cocoa, line trails that lead to the impressive cascade. And if picturesque Caribbean landscape isn't enough, a crystal-clear natural pool at the foot of the falls offers tired travelers the perfect place to cool off after a hot mountain hike.
Samaná Bay is the heart of the Samana region in the far northeast of the Dominica Republic. Along its shores, you’ll find the famed Los Haitises National Park, protected tropical forest where you can explore caverns adorned with native Taino petroglyphs, spectacular tree covered islets, and idyllic mangrove lagoons. The bay itself is also a popular attraction for divers and snorkelers, and during the winter months it becomes a gathering point for migrating humpback whales, which come here from cooler climes to mate and birth their calves. During this time, whale watching tours practically guarantee sightings of these massive marine mammals as the jump and play at the water’s surface.
Travelers looking for a true piece of paradise will love the remote tropical island of Cayo Levantado (Bacardi Island). Home to a beautiful luxury hotel, white sandy beaches, lush rainforest and incredible snorkeling and diving, Cayo Levantado is a true Caribbean experience.
Sip tall tropical drinks beachside or dance the night away to one of the energetic local salsa bands. Wander the hillsides for epic views of the surrounding ocean, then comb through local gift shops for interesting finds to commemorate a trip to one of Dominican Republic’s most
incredible islands. Later, relax in one of the handmade hammocks while the ocean breeze lulls you to sleep.
While the island is a perfect escape from the hustle of the Dominican Republic’s more urban cities, there’s still plenty to do, see and experience. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak, snorkel, rent pedal
boats and even get up close with friendly sea lions.
There’s a reason this pristine stretch of white sand has been rated one of the top beaches in the world by magazines, travel guides and globetrotters alike. The scenic shores of Rincon Beach are some of the country’s most idyllic, and visitors say it’s not uncommon to have the crystal blue waters and open expanse of ocean all to yourself.
Enjoy an afternoon of horseback riding, or a relaxing snorkeling excursion into the pristine sea, where colorful fish and unique aquatic life abound. Dozens of lively watering holes provide travelers with the perfect spot to cool off over icy brews and frozen fruity drinks, and freshly boiled lobster proves a popular choice for hungry travelers to tuck into during a beachside lunch.
Somewhere near the edge of Playa Rincon—which is easily one of the best beaches in Dominican Republic—lies the Río Caño Frío. This cooling stream feeds into a quiet pool that’s perfect for relaxing in along the sheltered shores of Samana. Travelers love to escape the heat by taking a quiet dip in this secluded destination, and while the Río Caño Frío’s chilly pool is a favorite spot among visitors, the world-class snorkeling at the other end of Playa Rincon is an equally popular stop.
Cabo Cabrón National Park (Parque Nacional Cabo Cabrón) offers visitors a taste of old Dominican Republic—a place and time before resorts, tourists and development touched down on this tropical island. With uninhabited coastlines, rocky cliffs and rugged trails, this protected forest is one of the most remote locations in Samana.
Visitors can hike the challenging trails of this national park, which wind through thick tropical vegetation and snake up difficult passes. Guides are available to help experienced travelers navigate Cabo Cabron, where maps are rarely of any use. While the national park may not be home to any of the island’s famous beaches, a trek to the secluded volcanic area tucked into the hillside of this national treasure boasts a refreshing natural water source that’s perfect for cooling off after a long—but beautiful—hike.
This incredible boardwalk winds along the Samana Bay, where tourists, locals, artists and musicians gather to relax near the shoreline and take in epic views of Dominican Republic’s striking blue horizon. Lively outdoor cafes serving strong brews and local cuisine, as well as interesting shops selling handmade items, line this strip that’s a popular destination for travelers to Samana.
Whether it’s taking a morning seaside stroll along sandy palm-lined beaches, stopping by the iconic Cayenas del Mar Beach Club for an afternoon drink, fishing the pier or touring the famous La Churcha of Samana, a trip to Maleon offers more than just a chance to check out the bay.
The historic fishing village of Las Galeras is stationed along the east coast in Santa Barbara on the Samana Peninsula. Travelers venture to this quiet town for its idyllic palm-lined beaches and easy access to Rincon Beach via the Las Galeras jetty. The village is within close proximity to Playa Fronton, another popular beach that’s home to some of Dominican Republic’s best snorkeling. Travelers also love the Doca del Diabla (which means “mouth of the devil”) located about four miles (7 km) south of town. Cool ocean waters rush through this natural rock formation and spring into the air, causing a serious sky-high splash.
Each year between the months of January and March, some 4,000 humpback whales descend on the cool turquoise waters of Samana Bay. The Whale Museum and Nature Center (Museo de la Ballena), which is part of one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries, celebrates these ocean giants and offer travelers uninterrupted views for winter whale watching.
A 40-foot humpback skeleton greets travelers arriving at this informative museum, and although most of the descriptions here are written in Spanish, non-fluent visitors can hire a guide or request information in other languages at the museum’s main entrance. The museum serves as a perfect accompaniment to a day spent searching for whales on a ship out at sea, but a stroll through Samana’s Whale Museum and Nature Center requires only about an hour to really see it all.
Some 1,500 years ago, the Taino Indians, the indigenous people of Dominican Republic, inhabited this tropical island. But arrival of the famed explorer Christopher Columbus sent locals into a tailspin and forced them to defend their land, their tribe and their traditions against colonizers. Today, 25 unique life-size figures stationed in Taino Park depict the peaceful life and bloody battle of the Taino people, with ornate costumes fashioned by European designers. Visitors can bear witness to their troubling past and explore their ancient culture and historic traditions.
Additional exhibits include bone fragments, clay pots and stone carvings excavated from the site. Travelers can explore the grounds alone, or spring for a personal audio guide, which is available in a number of languages, for more historical context.
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