The best of beaches, waterfalls, views and roadtrips

jahjahwarrior

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During the winter there are humpback whales in Samana, and this year we took a weekend to go see them.

The best views on AirBNB are in Las Terrenas and Las Galeras, but those are both about 45 minutes away from the port, so if you aren't an early riser I recommend staying in Samana.

I used Whale Samana, for a few reasons. They have the biggest boat, which has a lot of shade. They have real certified boat drivers, and they announce things in English, Spanish, and Russian. The Spanish is understandable, but the lady sounds like a gringo, worse than me! :) The boat has tons of room to move around, two decks, and they let you stand or sit on the bow as well.

The only downside is the boat is kind of slow. But when you are out there, and you see the boats half the size, with everyone crammed on board like sardines, you will appreciate paying a little extra to be on this big slow boat.

I can almost not say enough good things about the boat, it was just like I would expect safetywise in the US, and we had a hell of a good day. We were out there looking at whales for more than 4 hours. The staff on the boat was equipped with good cameras, and they were all experts, they leave in summer to follow the whales up the coast, it was awesome to see their dedication. They also took photos of the fishing boats fishing illegally, and the helicopters circling illegally.

We only saw one whale breach, and it was several kilometers away so you just saw a big splash. With a 105mm camera lens, I was happy. The boat would stay with a pair of whales for about 40 minutes, and the whales would be up again about every 5-10 minutes, then you have about 3 opportunities to take a photo before they dive again.

The ocean was relatively calm, basically flat seas, 1-2 feet. I was shocked at how many people on the boat were seasick. I was glad to be standing on the front of the boat so I couldn't hear them, but a lot of people were throwing up in plastic colmado bags. The only thing I wondered was why the boat crew didn't tell people the standard advise: Look at the horizon. All of the sick people were sitting there, staring at their feet in between heaves. I think if they had just looked at the horizon, they would have felt a lot better. Every dive boat in the US tells you that all the time, but on this boat I didn't hear a single announcement. The boat staff had millions of bags, and they were diligent in swapping them out for people. They also provided free snacks and sodas.

Cannot wait to go back again next year! I want a photo of a breaching humpback...






See how cramped the other boats are???
 

william webster

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You need go no further than El Faro....
we watch them breach all the time from our house and hear their thunderous crash back into the water....


they're never alone... if you see one... keep watching
 

reilleyp

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This year I saw quite a few whales.  Many times I saw them from the road around Punta Balandra, The Cove and El Frances, so if someone is not fond of boats or gets sea sick easily, you can just take a driving tour with binoculars and a camera.  
 

Auryn

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Apr 22, 2012
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This thread is fantastic. I'm most interested in the waterfalls, just stunning. What kind of drone do you use? Great job, I've subscribed :)
 

jahjahwarrior

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I use a dji Mavic pro. I've taken it all over the world and I love the small size, incredible distance, and ease of use.

Samana island

I have been wondering for a long time, more about the story of this island. Now atleast I have explored the entire thing.

To get there, in the main samana traffic circle, go right. The paved road ends and there are double dirt roads, go down them and then park at the end, across from the beached tugboat. You will be almost underneath one of the bridge spans. Walk towards it, under it, and you will see people selling paintings on the left, and a private resort beach in front of you, and the stairs on your right.

Poor beach resort people, taking an elevator to get down to a tiny beach... oh well. Climb the stairs and stay right at the sign that says resort on the left. Then you can start to walk across the bridges to the island. There are stairs you have to climb, it's not at all handicap accessible. They are doing some work on things and there are some guards, but they don't even talk to you.

On the other side of the island, there are some nice, but overgrown, paths, and some buildings. You can see some of the designs, like where bathrooms should be. The bridge is clearly not enough for a car, but I suppose if you had a house there, you could use a hoverboard thing or a golf cart, to go back and forth. They have electricity and water, and the view from the building there, would be an amazing house. Would also be cool to camp there.

Takes about an hour to walk across and explore and get back. Good exercise and a nice walk, I would go back again.





 
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jahjahwarrior

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Question -are my photos gone for you or can you still see photos from previous posts??

Been busy lately but time for some more adventures.

I have heard a lot about Buen Hombre. It's in the north west corner
close to Monte Cristi, in a part of the country that seems much dryer,
closer to the sun, and off the beaten path.

The drive takes you through Mao and until you get to Mao the going is
pretty slow because of small streets, trucks, and policia acostada. I
was beginning to lose my mind before the road opens up and I could go
a decent speed again, and just enjoy the skinned goats, most cut in
half, hanging outside at shops along the way. I have yet to understand
how they manage their inventory, or how long a dead goat can hang
outside in the flies and still be safe to eat later... Spoiler alert:
we ate chivo for dinner and it was a letdown.

After the turn off for Buen Hombre (use your GPS, there is not a good
sign) the road begins a beautiful twisting and turning pattern. Go
slow if anyone is prone to motion sickness.
And even better, you reach a certain point where the road drops at a
very nice and consistent angle, through the town of Buen Hombre to the
beach.

I think it goes without saying: get gas before Mao, because there
isn't any gas or gasoline in Buen Hombre. Also no cajero, so take
efectivo. There is a good colmado at the turn to Buen Hombre from the
road to Monte Cristi, with ice. I did have 3G service with Altice the
entire time.

In Buen Hombre, I think you have 2 options: turn right at the fork to
go to Playa Los Cocos, or turn left at the fork to go to Buen Hombre.
I will go back for Los Cocos soon.

When you turn left, the road turns to sand and you are driving on the
beach, between shack restaurants and trees. Park where you want to. If
you drive all the way to the point--the trees stop, and the beach
takes a 90 degree turn to the left, so it's pretty obvious--you can
park there but the best swimming is behind you.

At the point, and to the west/left of the point, the water seems very
shallow for a long ways. Shallow like 6 inches to 2 feet. Beginning at
the point, there is about a 200 foot long stretch of beach where there
is some deep water, but you walk out 50 feet and it gets shallow
again, and the shallow parts are full of rocks and shells and things
that make it uncomfortable.

So don't be an idiot, walk a little further east until the water gets
deep enough to swim. It's about 4-6 feet deep. On a saturday, there
were about 20 other people in the water, so not crowded, but 2 typical
guys with stereos made it so we had nice music all afternoon.

There is a small powerboat that comes in and out a few times a day,
offering you a tour of buen hombre mangrove trees, just keep an eye
out for him while you are swimming, but they seemed to be conscious of
the swimmers.

The snorkeling here is ok. The water was beautifully clear and it was
easy to swim for a long ways. The shallow water reef causes waves to
break pretty far off shore, making the beach like a swimming pool. I
found a lot of "beaugregory" which are like a yellow belly damsel.
They are nice to find even if they are super common in the caribbean.
Lots of sea grass.

We ended up staying all afternoon as our friend's 6 year old was
having the time of his life in the water, which was warm enough that
we only left to have a sandwhich and get more to drink.

I know the beach is popular with kite surfers and I wanted to see how
it was as I might return to finish my kite surfing classes here, but
the wind was not enough to fill the water up that afternoon. Only saw
one person but he was having a good time.







 

bob saunders

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Went to Playa Moron near Las Terrenas last week. Very rough road from Limon but beautiful beach with almost nobody there. Very soft sand, clean water, and no seaweed or garbage.
 

jahjahwarrior

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Los Haitises was very confusing to me at first, because it has Haiti
in the name, I thought it was an area on the north coast next to Monte
Cristi. I assumed it was on the haiti side and somehow only accessible
by boat.

Imagine my surprise when I took a closer look at the map and realized
it's in the armpit of Samana! So one weekend we decided to go.

It looks like gringos normally pay $75 or more for an excursion. Of
course, groups like RoadTripMakers go there, but normally as part of a
weekend trip and we just had the one day free, plus RTM trips have
been filling up really fast recently. A friend who goes on a lot of
RTM trips advised us to just show up in Samana and ask around the
port, but I felt more comfortable saving a spot in advance. If I had
free time, then I'd go with the just-ask-around method, but for the
first time, we booked a spot for $40 each, or $50, I don't remember.

Once we arrived it did become clear that the guy we booked with was
just a reseller, and so we probably could do better or the same just
by showing up. But we did ok, at the very most the other dominicans on
the boat paid $30, so I was happy with our rate.

The boat was big, held maybe 60 people. In pretty good shape, two
engines, plenty to drink. Some americans on board drank a ton of
Presidente, and they kept asking for more. Three or four times during
the trip the hosts brought everyone a drink of coke and brugal anejo.

The boat ride to los haitises takes a long time, about an hour. Once
you arrive, the boat goes around a few cool rocks, like outcroppings.
They also drive you into a small mangrove spot. Pretty cool, really
wish I could have flown the drone here! That part takes about 30-40
minutes, then you go to a cave.

At the cave are some staff for the park, official types in jackets.
Everyone gets a wrist band. The cave has a few big rooms, and the tour
guide gives some boring speech, during which I snuck off to go look
around because I wasn't sure how much we would be allowed to see and I
wanted to see it all. I really like caves... I think we spent atleast
an hour there. Some of the rooms are absolutely huge, 50-80 feet tall
caverns. In one spot, you can see through to the ocean if you kneel
down. Very, very cool. The guide was talking about some ancient cave
drawings but to me they didn't look that interesting or old, I prefer
Cueva las Maravillas for cave drawings.

Then you get back on the boat and take an hour ride to Cayo Levantado.
On the way we passed what looked like a restaurant on a beach inside
of los haitises. There was one big boat anchored there, and some
smaller ones on shore, and I cannot find the name of the place in
google. Would really love to go back and just enjoy the day on that
beach inside of Los Haitises instead of CL. After 4 visits, I've had
enough cayo levantado for a while. It's nice when the water is clear
but the past 2 visits the water was murky.

If you go to read reviews and you read about a big boat with a tour
guide who spoke 4 languages, that's the boat we used. Nice guy.

The gringos that were drinking all day were sleeping as we came back
from CL... The food they had prepared for us was ok, and we had 2
hours to relax and enjoy the beach. One annoying thing: one person in
the group forgot about the 4pm exit time, and the boat stayed waiting
for her for 40 minutes...so 50 people were stuck sitting on a boat in
the hot sun for 40 minutes because one tourist can't listen. I think
they should have left her and let her pay extra to take some other
boat back...





 

reilleyp

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Dec 12, 2006
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Then you get back on the boat and take an hour ride to Cayo Levantado.
On the way we passed what looked like a restaurant on a beach inside
of los haitises. There was one big boat anchored there, and some
smaller ones on shore, and I cannot find the name of the place in
google. Would really love to go back and just enjoy the day on that
beach inside of Los Haitises instead of CL. After 4 visits, I've had
enough cayo levantado for a while. It's nice when the water is clear
but the past 2 visits the water was murky.


You are referring to Cuerva de la Arena. I am not sure why they did not stop. It is usually part of the itinerary. It is worth stopping next time. The old agricultural port is also interesting. The posts remain there from the Trujillo era where they had a lot of forced labor and shipped a lot of agricultural products from the region. Now it is just a great place to birdwatch.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/domini...dventure/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d2768197
 

Dov1984

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I want to Thank all of you for your posts & pictures. Hopefully I will remember this thread next time when I go down. I will have a lot more time on my hands to go on these adventures. I am retiring and I am leaving for Cabarete a few days after Christmas this year, I will be staying at least 90 days possibly more. I know that is a whole different discussion. This is absolutely my favorite thread on here.
Then you get back on the boat and take an hour ride to Cayo Levantado.
On the way we passed what looked like a restaurant on a beach inside
of los haitises. There was one big boat anchored there, and some
smaller ones on shore, and I cannot find the name of the place in
google. Would really love to go back and just enjoy the day on that
beach inside of Los Haitises instead of CL. After 4 visits, I've had
enough cayo levantado for a while. It's nice when the water is clear
but the past 2 visits the water was murky.


You are referring to Cuerva de la Arena. I am not sure why they did not stop. It is usually part of the itinerary. It is worth stopping next time. The old agricultural port is also interesting. The posts remain there from the Trujillo era where they had a lot of forced labor and shipped a lot of agricultural products from the region. Now it is just a great place to birdwatch.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/domini...dventure/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d2768197

Sent from my SM-T550 using Tapatalk
 

jahjahwarrior

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Good morning from Playa Rincon!

Solo campers out here last night. Not only were we not robbed or accosted or anything bad, but when our car got stuck in unexpectedly soft sand, several locals didn't hesitate to dig us out and only one, the guy with the truck who pulled us out, asked for some pesos. He drove from the town after one person went looking for a truck, so I didn't mind. Less than a tow fee by a long long shot.

Just your usual reminder that if you get out of the f-ing cities, this country is f-ing awesome


Now can someone bring me a coffee? [emoji23][emoji23][emoji23]
 
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bob saunders

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Just went to Miches with 24 of our teachers and took a catamaran tour to playa Esmeralda and snorkled a sandy reef about a mile of shore. Had a great time and the boat crew thoufh our staff were Venezulanos so the girls had fun with that. Playa Esmeralda is very nice and isolated.photos to follow.
 

RDKNIGHT

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Mar 13, 2017
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I rate Playa Esmeralda the best beach in DR .... just suits me to a t.............there is also a nice fresh water hole in Bavaro right next to pearl beach.......I also rate Steve Bar with the hottest ladies of the night,
 

jahjahwarrior

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Esmeralda is nice and if I was in Punta Cana I might go more often but it's far from Santiago. But it doesn't hold a candle to bahia las águilas!

Esmeralda:
 

reilleyp

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Dec 12, 2006
546
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Good morning from Playa Rincon!

Solo campers out here last night. Not only were we not robbed or accosted or anything bad, but when our car got stuck in unexpectedly soft sand, several locals didn't hesitate to dig us out and only one, the guy with the truck who pulled us out, asked for some pesos. He drove from the town after one person went looking for a truck, so I didn't mind. Less than a tow fee by a long long shot.

Just your usual reminder that if you get out of the f-ing cities, this country is f-ing awesome


Now can someone bring me a coffee? [emoji23][emoji23][emoji23]

Only one photo?

Yes, when you go to Rincon, stay on the well traveled path because it is tempting to drive closer to the water, but many people get stuck. I would like to camp overnight at Fronton someday, under the shade of the rock cliff.