The Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic today is one of the wildest and most untouched places and at the same time the most actively developing resort in the country. In my personal ranking – Samana is on the list number 1. There are:
- the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean
- huge forests (although this is not a forest, but a jungle)
- secluded villas on mountain tops overlooking the ocean
- relatively few tourists
- humpback whales
- one of the highest waterfalls in the country
From this article you will get a general idea about this place. And for complete information about hotels, types of recreation on Samana, read the articles on the links that will be right there.
Table of contents:
- A Brief History of the Samana Peninsula
- General facts about this place
- How to get there
- Cities of Samana: brief information about what to choose for your vacation
- Attractions of the peninsula Samana
- The most popular excursions in Samana
- The best hotels of the peninsula
Good to know:The most popular time for tourists to visit Samana is January-March.
Samana Peninsula: A Brief History
At such moments, I really do not like to rewrite type long Wikipedia articles. Therefore, briefly about the history, so that you get a general impression of this place.
- Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492-93 discovered America – the island of Hispanola. And this is the modern Dominican Republic and the Samana Peninsula. Follow the link: where is the Dominican Republic on the world map.
- The first expedition of Columbus took place along the route: Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic. And if he discovered the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. This date is considered the day of the discovery of America. Then he sailed to the Dominican Republic only in January 1493.
- The two remaining ships (the third one sank) moored to the shores of Samana approximately on January 14-15. And after that, they already embarked on the return course to Spain.
- The next 300 years – Samana was considered an almost uninhabited land. And the population of the peninsula was zero.
- The island of Haiti (Hispanola), discovered by Columbus, was under the control of the Spaniards. But for the first 300 years, the French made attempts to seize part of the territories. And with some frequency they succeeded. In particular: they were able to capture the Western part of the island, the modern Republic of Haiti.
- Therefore: Dominicans today speak Spanish, and Haitians speak French.
- To make it easier to protect the Samana Peninsula, the rulers came up with an excellent solution: to populate it. All the same, when there is someone to defend, there are fewer people who want to attack.
- The first settlement appeared on the peninsula in 1756 and was named Santa Barbara de Samana, and today it is the largest city and capital of the Samana Peninsula.
- Over the next 250 years, there were several attempts to sell the peninsula to the United States, as some once sold Alaska, or give it a long-term lease for a military base. But, perhaps, fortunately, each time the parties could not reach a consensus.
And today Samana is a pearl not only of the Dominican Republic, but all of the Caribbean.
General facts about the Peninsula Samana
The capital of the peninsula is the city of Santa Barbara de Samana, with a population of about 100 thousand people. From the north, the peninsula is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and in the south by the Samana Bay.
On the territory of the peninsula, summer is all year round. The temperature ranges from 25 to 32 degrees. And the water temperature does not fall below 26 degrees. Also, I want to note that in the summer months on the peninsula, there is quite heavy rainfall and the rainy season.
Due to its climate: comfortable temperature and high humidity, it is one of the greenest regions in the country. The slow development of the territory by man also played a important role in this. There are actually 3 roads on the peninsula. And all settlements are located along them.
Samana Peninsula: how to get there?
Today, the Samana Peninsula is connected to all the main provinces of the Dominican Republic by good roads. And relatively recently, about 6 years ago, a toll highway was opened, which reduced the travel time from Santo Domingo twice.
You can get to the peninsula by the following transport:
- Auto. The link is all about car rental. This is the most convenient and comfortable option.
- Taxi: The most expensive option. From the capital of the Dominican Republic will cost about 200 USD.
- Bus. There are several bus companies. The most popular, which has 5-6 routes daily: Caribe Tour. A standard ticket from Santo Domingo to Santa Barbara de Samana costs 450 pesos or about $8.
Below will be the travel time by car and bus from different resorts and cities of the country.
It is important to know:The travel time will be indicated to the city of Sanchez. And this is the first city, right at the entrance to the peninsula. If you plan to go to Las Galeras, add 60-90 minutes. And in Las Terrenas only half an hour and $ 10 for a toll road.
- Punta Cana – Sanchez: bus 6 hours / car 3.5 hours. With a stopover in Santo Domingo.
- Santo Domingo – Sanchez: bus 4 hours / car 2 hours.
- Puerto Plata – Sanchez: bus 4.5 hours / car 3 hours
Another important point:The fare on the toll road on the Santo Domingo – Sanchez section for a car will be about $ 10. Another $10 from Sanchez to Las Terrenas.
Cities of the Samana Peninsula: how to choose a resort
There are not so many cities on the peninsula. The entire population of Samana is only 180 thousand people. And the population of the Dominican Republic is 10.5 million.
- Samana is the capital of the Samana Peninsula. The full name is Santa Barbara de Samana.
- The population is 100 thousand people. More than 50% of the inhabitants of the peninsula live here.
- It is located on the south coast in Samana Bay.
- There are no beaches and beach holidays.
- This city is popular only with tourists who go on humpback whales watching tour. But more on that below.
Total: the city of Samana is not intended for your beach holiday. It makes sense to come here for half a day to walk along the embankment and the longest pedestrian bridge of the peninsula.
- Las Terrenas is the second largest city on the peninsula.
- The population is about 32 thousand people.
- It is one of the two tourist resorts of the peninsula.
- Located on the north coast of the Atlantic.
- The advantage of this town will be:
- Close to El Limon waterfall
- Endless beaches in any direction from the city
- Koson Beach is one of the best beaches in all the Antilles.
- There is all the necessary infrastructure: large shops, a good road, a bus station, kite surfing schools and endless beaches with palm trees.
Total: Las Terrenas is an ideal place for those who need endless beaches, but at the same time wants to have all the necessary infrastructure very close.
- Sanchez. Not a tourist town. But the third largest – 18 thousand people.
- It is often mentioned, as almost all the tourists of the peninsula pass through it.
- Sanchez is located at the very beginning of the peninsula.
- There are no hotels, beaches, and, in general, it makes no sense for a tourist to waste time on this town.
Perhaps there are no more cities here. But there is another small town that is popular with travelers, especially independent ones. Especially those who love secluded relaxation and hiking.
- Las Galeras. A very small town in the very east of the Samana Peninsula.
- The population is about 5000 people.
- It is located on the northern coast and is washed by the Atlantics.
- There are only two small shops and a dozen restaurants. There is a bank and a hairdresser.
- But at the same time, there is: Madama Beach, Fronton Beach, Rincon Beach, a cool eco-lounge with crazy ocean views and hummingbirds in the garden. All three beaches are among the ten most beautiful in the Dominican Republic.
Total: those who want a secluded vacation, palm trees, deserted beaches, a lot of hiking – you need to go to Las Galeras. Read all about this town in the article at the link.
Attractions in Samana Peninsula
Below I will list the top 5 coolest places or excursions in Samana. Try to visit them all – you won’t regret it.
It is important to know:This is where the article should have started. SamanA – emphasis on the last A. It is correct to pronounce it that way.
El Limon waterfall
- El Lemon waterfall. One of the coolest places in the country. 55 meter waterfall in the jungle. The pros:
- You can swim
- Views as from the picture
- Easy to reach
- Details about an independent visit to El Limon in the article at the link.
- Author’s recommendation: 5 out of 5. from Punta Cana, 5-6 hours one way to go just for the sake of the waterfall is not necessary. But if you pass through Samana or even live here, then El Limon is a must-see.
Wild beaches of Madama and Fronton
- Madama Beach and Fronton.
- Very cool beaches from the TOP 10 most beautiful beaches.
- Can be reached both on foot and by boat. There are questions about hiking, but everything is real.
- Photos speak for themselves.
- Details on how to get to these two beaches follow the link.
- Author’s recommendation 5 out of 5. On a boat for money – this is also a small sea trip. Walking through the jungle: trekking of medium difficulty.
Humpback Whales: Samana Peninsula
- Whales in Samana.
- Only a couple of months of the year
- Of the cons, it is very seasick in the sea
- From the pros: you will see real humpback whales in their natural habitat 10 meters away.
- Details about our personal experience, and step-by-step instructions on how to see the whales this link: humpback whales in Samana.
- Author rating: 5 out of 5. Just a must-see if you are in the Dominican Republic from January to March.
Interesting to know:You can read about Bacardi Island at the link about the whales watching tour. This paradise island can be visited with this excursion.
Rincon Beach: Samana Peninsula
- Rincon beach. Near Las Galeras.
- In all guidebooks it is marked as one of the most beautiful beach of the Dominican Republic.
- Personally, I’m not satisfied.
- Yes, it is beautiful, but like all the beaches of Las Galeras, of which there are about a dozen more.
- Fronton Beach, for example, is 5 times better and more picturesque.
- Of the advantages of Rincon, it is easy to get to, which means there are people here. And for some, this is a disadvantage.
- Author rating 3 out of 5: yes, it’s cool, but it’s like that everywhere.
- The long Coson beach is 5 km from Las Terrenas.
- The beach is located a little away from the city of Las Terrenas.
- The beach is practically undeveloped and deserted
- The sand is gold, not white like everywhere else
- Located by the Atlantic Ocean
- Coson is beautiful for its solitude, a large number of palm trees.
- Author rating 5 out of 5: you need to come here to walk along the beach along the ocean. Just walk, not lie down.
This is not the most complete list of all the places in Samana, but definitely the coolest. There is also Bacardi Island, about which I wrote little, but wrote where to read more. Boca el Diablo (devil’s mouth), pedestrian long bridge in the city of Santa Barbara da Samana, an endless number of beaches and palm trees. The Samana Peninsula is a real paradise in the Dominican Republic.
Top Samana Tours
This list partly repeats the TOP 5 attractions, since it is not surprising that the coolest places can be visited both independently and as part of an excursion. Therefore, in some moments I will be brief. Most importantly, you should find out where to just buy an excursion, and which place is better to plan on your own.
Links to good resources with tours of the Dominican Republic at the end of the article.
Whales watching + Bacardi beach + El Limon
- The most popular excursion is: Whales whatching + Bacardi Island + El Limon Falls and all this in 1 full day.
- This tour will be useful for those who have very limited time and do not have a car.
- If time on the peninsula allows, then I recommend a separate excursion for the Whales and Bacardi Island in one day. And an excursion only to El Limon in another.
- The cost of such an excursion is about 100-150 USD, depending on distance from Samana. Those who travel from Punta Cana, the price is logically higher.
- Look for the largest selection of excursions whales watching and Bacardi Island on this site. All travel agencies of the peninsula are represented there.
- By boat to Madama beach and Fronton. Excursion for 4-5 hours.
- Boats leave from the beaches of Las Galeras.
- The price is negotiable and depends on many factors.
- Number of people on the boat
- Boat owner’s greed
- The whiter you are, the higher the price.
- On average, the entire boat tour will cost from 20 to 40 USD per person.
- Walking, of course, is free.
- You will be brought first to Madama Beach, and there will be about 1 hour of free time. But the beach itself is very small. And then they will be transported to the Fronton and there are still three hours of free time.
It is important to know:There are no excursions to Rincon and Coson beaches. Plan your visit to these places yourself. It takes a long time to walk to Coson beach, a taxi or rental car is a great option.
- Another of the most popular excursions: a single-engine plane flight over the peninsula.
- The beauties from the air are amazing
- The flight itself lasts 20-30 minutes
- Standart price, about 200-250 USD per person
There is a very cool full day excursion by plane from Punta Cana to Samana to all the main attractions.
The best hotels of the Samana Peninsula
Samana peninsula today lags behind in hotel development, for example, from Punta Cana by 20-25 years. This is probably why the peninsula is considered quiet, secluded and without crowds of tourists. There are plenty of options for villas and apartments. How and where to find them, see the links at the end of the article.
Might be interesting:Pay attention to the cool eco-villa where we lived, overlooking the ocean and the jungle. Hummingbirds were flying on the terrace. A huge advantage of this house is that it is located right at the start of the path to Fronton and Madama beach.
Below is an excellent rating of hotels in the Samana Peninsula. You can see reviews and current prices. The list is dynamic, you can click on it and you will be redirected to the hotel website.
Las Galeras Hotels
Best hotels and villas in Las Terrenas
Santa Barbara de Samana Hotels
In conclusion: it doesn’t matter where you come for vacations in the Dominican Republic and for how many days. But one day on the Samana Peninsula is simply necessary to allocate. And it’s better to rent here a hotel or a villa for 5 days and drive through the all peninsula. Whales, Fronton, El Limon, Coson – after visiting these places, you will never forget about it.
Have an unforgettable holiday on the Samana Peninsula!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental in Dominican (cheaper – only by bus):
- Discovery Cars – a largest international resource
- Hotels and apartments all over the country: Booking
- Vacation packages:
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- GYG – more than 150 tours (whales tours)
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Dominican
- Taxi and transfers from Dominican airports: Intui.Travel