Samaná, Dominican Republic - A Hidden Gem

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Advisor - Heather Budd
Curated By

Heather Budd

  • Dominican Republic

  • Beaches

  • Nature Escapes

  • Relaxation

  • Romantic

  • Insta-Worthy

Samaná, Dominican Republic - A Hidden Gem
Curator’s statement

Seeking a more authentic and immersive experience in the Dominican Republic, away from the mega resorts of Punta Cana? Samaná, Dominican Republic, feels a world away from the busy tourist zones. It boasts some of the most picture-perfect beaches in the world, natural wonders including the best whale watching in the Caribbean, and some truly unique and beautiful boutique accommodations. We had an amazing adventure exploring this beautiful corner of Hispaniola.

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Where to stay

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Half of all visitors to the Dominican Republic stay in Punta Cana, usually in one of the many all-inclusive resorts there on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic. They are missing out on something special if they don't venture out at least once to the Samaná Peninsula on the north coast.

Here, they will find the kind of breathtaking beaches you only ever see on TV or in films: pristine white sand beaches and tall palm trees towering, leaning over calm turquoise water. There’s also lush rainforest to explore, and lively towns and villages.

Whale Watching:

Eco-tourism thrives in this region, drawing attention to a prominent attraction—the annual arrival of humpback whales, as thousands of these majestic creatures gather in the bay for the birthing of their calves. Visit from January to March for the best chance to see them. As you’d expect, this is a popular time to visit – so book early. There are some great options for boat trips to get out on the water and see this natural spectacle up close.


We opted for a private boat tour because some of the best beaches on the Samaná Peninsula are difficult to reach by car. It was well worth the price as we got to spend the day relaxing and being whisked from one incredible spot to the next and included a delicious fresh seafood lunch right on the beach and transfer to and from our hotel in Las Terrenas. Some of the beaches we visited were:

Playa Rincon - This is considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world, wins all the awards for its undeveloped 1.5 mile stretch of white sand. The west end of the beach has a handful of restaurants and rows of loungers, so walk east for the empty stretches and smaller food vendors. We visited the beach by boat from Las Galeras, but you can also visit on horseback if you fancy it!

Playa Frontón - This beach is only reachable by boat and is surrounded by a coral reef. This is considered one of the best snorkeling spots and we had a great time swimming with the fish and relaxing in the shade. Playa Fronton enjoys a stunning setting, nestled at the foot of dramatic cliffs. It’s dotted with palm trees that lean down so close to the beach that you can’t resist stretching out on one for the perfect photo opportunity!

Playa Madama - While you can hike to this beach, it is easiest to arrive by boat. It is a smaller but stunning beach with clear blue waters, a reef to snorkel, and caves to explore. It felt more secluded than some of other beaches we visited.

• La Playita Beach - The beachside restaurants offer freshly caught seafood and chilled beers. We loved sitting and having lunch with our toes in the sand and taking in the incredible views.

Dining in the Samaná Region

We really enjoyed the food while traveling in the Samaná region. You can always find fresh tropical fruit and the seafood was fresh and simply prepared (usually grilled). Some of the dishes we got tried were completely new to us! For example, mofongo, a traditional dish made by mashing fried plantain, garlic and pork rind into a dough that is then shaped into small balls, and served in a bowl and often paired with avocado or shrimp.

Empanadas y más
Las Terrenas
Down a back street a few steps away from the beach, this tiny, family-run establishment serves delicious empanadas... and more! Made on demand by a Chilean chef, many visitors say these are the best empanadas they've ever eaten, and with good reason.

Casa Azul Pizzeria
Las Terrenas

Also is Las Terranas is this reasonably-priced pizzeria with an excellent oceanfront view: you are literally on the beach!

Restaurant Luis

Just steps from Playa Coson, the is a rustic experience with white plastic chairs scattered around wobbly tables, coconut trees serving as makeshift columns, and a menu displayed in a cooler featuring the day's catch—snapper, lobsters, and more.

Day Trip:

For a day trip out of Samaná , why not take a refreshing dip in one of the magnificent cenotes dotted across the country? These are deep sinkholes with a natural pools at the bottom, and provide stunning locations to swim or just appreciate the natural beauty. Most famous is the Hoyo Azul near Punta Cana, but closer to Samaná are Lago Azul and Laguna Dudu on the north coast, near Playa Arroyo Salado.

Need to Know

Getting there:
Samaná has a very small airport, with limited direct flights. Visit the Samaná Airport website here to check options. Most people fly to Punta Cana or Puerto Plata and rent a car or take a taxi from the airport.

Driving in the Dominican Republic can be intense, and the quality of some of the roads can be very poor in places. My advice is to give yourself lots of time to get where you are going. Hiring a driver and taking tours is a great option if you are not keen on driving.

Taxis in the Dominican Republic are not metered, so it's advisable to negotiate the fare before entering the vehicle. Avoid unmarked taxis for your safety.

It is not recommended to drink the local water. Stick with bottled water and you will be fine.

The Dominican Republic experiences a tropical climate year-round, with temperatures ranging between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to the Dominican Republic. In need of further inspiration? Check out Lindsay Vaughn-Hintz's guide, Sun-kissed Serenity & Dominican Delights: Your Sunscape Puerto Plata Escape.

Advisor - Heather Budd

Travel Advisor

Heather Budd

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