Santa Bárbara de Samaná also referred to as Samaná city, is the official name for the capital of the Samaná province. The Malecón of Samaná with its lovely port, brightly painted houses, shops, restaurants, outdoor terraces and lively bars make Samaná an excellent departure point for excursions to world class beaches, like Playa Rincón, one of the most celebrated beaches in the Dominican Republic if not the Caribbean, small quaint villages and breathtaking mountain landscapes. The town enjoys influences from various cultures, most notably those of the freed American slaves in the early part of the 19th century and the European immigrants who discovered the virtues of the town during the 1980’s. Despite all these foreign influences, Samaná city retains a distinct Dominican atmosphere. more...
The majority of tourists who visit the city of Samaná, located on the northeast peninsula of the Dominican Republic, do so in order to go on a for-profit whale-watching excursion. This takes place between between Jan.15th and March 15th. My dislike regarding the exploration and unnecessary interference with daily life of these gracious animals is not something I keep as a secret. Naturally everyone has to make up his or her own mind on the issue, but no way you will see me on a commercial ship, especially since you can spot the humpback whales from the shore. Instead I take a 15-minute boat ride that takes me to Cayo Levantando, a marvelous small island in the Samaná Bay with one luxury all-inclusive resort. Cayo Levantando is not the only beach nearby Samaná that is truly spectacular. Playa Las Flechas (Arrow Beach) is the location where, according to many historians, Columbus encountered, for the first time, significant armed resistance from the native inhabitants of the Dominican Republic. About an hour drive towards the northeast you will
It will not be too hard to come by a Samaná resident with the English sounding surname Jones or Williams. These people are descendants of the freed American slaves who settled here around 1820 and helped to erect La Churcha, a bare bones church that had been shipped over by the English Methodist Church in support of this African American community of about 3000 people. La Churcha survived the fury of dictator Trujillo who ordered to set Samaná city on fire in 1946 in an attempt to discourage the passing of African American culture, including the English language that is still spoken here. La Churca is the location where every year the last celebrations of the African American harvest festival is being held. (Friday nights from the end of August until the end of October)
The road to El Limón and the Cascada el El Limón, a 52-meter high waterfall with a natural swimming pool filled with freezing cold water, offers breathtaking views and is therefore one of my favorite excursions. I can also recommend a trip to Los Haitises National Park, a protected area that has the most important rainforests and mangrove reserves in the entire Caribbean and can only be visited with a guide.
On a final note I like to mention that I am glad I brought enough cash with me because in the Samaná peninsula I did not find a lot of ATM’s and places that accept credit cards. Traveler’s checks are great in case you don’t like to travel with a lot of cash in your pocket.
How to get there
Reaching Samaná city involves a bit more travelling compared to arriving at other coastal regions of the Dominican Republic. Only a limited number of airlines are flying directly to Samaná International Airport at El Catey. It is more likely that you will arrive at Santo Domingo, Santiago or Puerto Plata airports. From here there are various domestic commuter flights available to Samaná. Otherwise you have the choice between taking a bus, taxi or to rent a car.
- Dominican Republic International and Domestic Flights
Depending the city of arrival you have the choice of bus services by Metro Bus (tel: (809) 544-4580) or Caribe Tours
Tour and Excursions
Santa Bárbara de Samaná is just one of the many great towns to discover on the Samaná Peninsula that will appeal to anyone who loves nature and activities like hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling and diving. Los Haitises National Park, El Limón waterfall and numerous beaches like Playa Rincón are a feast to all senses and explain why there are still no adventure theme parks in the region.