Wednesday, March 21, 2012


There are some places that stay with you long after you visit them, the Samana Peninsula located in the northeast part of the Dominican Republic is one of those places.  I first visited Samana in 2006 and have been daydreaming of returning ever since.  Traveling to Samana used to be a difficult and arduous trip, but a small airport and a new road have made the area much more accessible in the past few years.
We have been waiting for a weekend to escape and revisit one of our favorite spots, so once we starting talking with our good friends Matt & Danelle about a non all-inclusive trip to the island, we knew exactly where to bring them.  Samana is definitely a place for adventure and nature lovers, although it is not for all tourists as the area is still relatively undeveloped and not all amenities are available.  After some research, we decided to stay in Las Galeras at the tip of the penisula at Casa Dorado.
Las Galeras was a perfect location for the adventures we had planned for our long weekend.  There are many options for excursions in Samana - diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, hiking, whale watching, boat trips to secluded beaches, etc.  With our 18-month-old in tow we decided to visit beaches, snorkel, hike a waterfall, shop, and eat every chance we could.  For a sleepy little town, we found the food in Las Galeras to be amazing.  Roberto and Catherine (owners of Casa Dorado) were great at recommending places to eat in town.  We ate at Le Tainos, L'Aventura de John, and El Pescador and enjoyed all of the meals.  The best meal by far was at a beach shack on La Playita - although I would recommend ordering your food before you are hungry (it took over an hour), the whole dorado they grilled for us was fantastic.
We started our beach tour at La Playita which is a 10-15 minute walk from Casa Dorado.  The beach is in a little cove and has a dive shop, restaurant, and chairs you can rent for the day.  The beach was very quiet and we were there on a Saturday.  There is a lot of coral reef in the bay which keeps the water calm and shallow which was perfect for Olivia and for a little snorkeling.
Traveling with a toddler can sometimes be a challenge, but luckily our daughter naps well in the car so we try to put Olivia in the car for a little bit if she has missed all of her naps during the day.  Normally this works, but sometimes we end up with her wanting to go to sleep for the night at 6pm instead of 8pm because she is so spent.  We did end up visiting Playa Las Galeras for sunset since we needed her to rest a little bit before dinner downtown and the view did not disappoint.  We drove down the beach road to the tip and found a very tranquil spot to watch the sunset.
Since we only went to Samana for a long weekend, we decided to hike El Limon waterfall and visit Playa Rincon on the same day.  It was definitely an ambitious agenda for the day, but so worth it.  El Limon waterfall is an impressive 100ft waterfall that is accessed on horseback or on foot through local farms.  We decided to hike the waterfall and take turns riding 1 horse up the trail.  The trail itself was beautiful and we passed a smaller waterfall on the way to El Limon.  After about 45 minutes of hiking we reached a spectacular waterfall that was well worth the hike in the hot midday sun.
We ended the day with a stop by one of the most amazing beaches I've ever visited - Playa Rincon.  We stopped by late on a slightly overcast day and found the road to still be in terrible shape, which made me happy because I knew it meant nobody had developed this treasure.  I am sure this place will one day be home to some fancy hotel or resort, but for now it is quiet, unspoiled, and beautiful.

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