9 Best Things to Do in Samana, Dominican Republic

Things to Do in Samana Dominican Republic Pin

Samana, Dominican Republic is the last secret pearl of the Caribbean.

But mass tourism is taking over quickly. It’s hard to find hidden spots where crowds of tourists won’t disturb you.

Lucky for you, I’ve explored all the best places in this remote region of the Dominican Republic. And in this article, I’ll show you the 9 best things to do in Samana.

I’ll also share my top tips, recommendations, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Ready to explore Samana?

Let’s dive right in!

Short on time? Book my recommended accommodations in Samana here:

Hotel Villa Serena, Las Galeras

Aligio Hotel & Spa, Las Terrenas

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate linksIf you purchase something through one of them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping me create free content on this website!

9 Best Things to Do in Samana, Dominican Republic

Playa Rincon And Cano Frio
Visiting Playa Rincon is one of the coolest things to do in Samana, Dominican Republic

Samana is home to the most secluded and prettiest beaches in the Dominican Republic. It also hosts vibrant beach towns, authentic little villages, stunning nature, tasty delicacies, and friendly Dominicans. Let’s explore the top things to do in Samana, Dominican Republic, shall we?

1. Watch Humpback Whales in Santa Barbara de Samana

Humpback Whale Samana Dominican Republic
Humpback whale watching is the best thing to do in Samana, Dominican Republic

Between January and March, Santa Barbara de Samana becomes the backdrop of a fantastic spectacle.

Samaná, for short, is the most populated town on the peninsula. It’s a port for cruise ship passengers and is the most touristy place on the Samana Peninsula. Most buildings in the city are modern and have little architectural or historical value. The only truly gorgeous place is the seaside promenade.

Despite the lack of charm, the town’s location at the shores of the Bay of Samaná is what makes Santa Bárbara de Samaná so special. Here, between January and March, huge crowds gather to observe one of nature’s greatest spectacles.

Thousands of humpback whales meet in the warm waters of the bay to mate and give birth to their offspring. While trying to impress and compete for the attention of the opposite sex, the giant mammals perform mind-boggling acrobatic jumps that define the laws of gravity.

Unfortunately, the magnificent show can’t be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year. But if you visit in the winter months, you can enjoy one of the best things to do in Samana.

2. Explore the Postcard-Perfect Cayo Levantado, aka Bacardi Island

Cayo Levantado - Dominican Republic
Visiting the gorgeous Cayo Levantado is one of the top things to do in Samana, Dominican Republic

Unlike whale watching, the attractions around Samana await your visit regardless of the season.

The best things to do in Samana include crossing the Bridge to Nowhere, connecting the town with the islands Cayo Linares and Cayo Vigia, and day trips to the postcard-perfect Cayo Levantado.

The latter is also known as Bacardi Island. It featured in the ad for the famous but overrated rum brand. For this reason, the long, gorgeous public-access beach on the island is probably the most crowded on the peninsula.

✔️ Tip: If it’s not whale watching season, I recommend you skip Santa Bárbara altogether and explore the rest of the peninsula which is much more authentic and fun and offers a ton of activities.

3. Bathe in Cascada El Limón, the Most Famous Waterfall in the Caribbean

Cascadа El Limon Samana
Cascadа El Limon, probably the best-known attraction in the Dominican Republic

The 52-m / 170-ft. high Cascada El Limon is so famous that Lonely Planet put it on the cover of its Dominican Republic travel guide. Oh, and Spielberg featured it in his first and greatest Jurassic Park movie.

But that’s also the waterfall’s curse. It is so popular that tourists come to see it on a day trip from every corner of the island and each all-inclusive resort in the country, despite its location amidst the dense jungle.

In order to escape the crowds and enjoy one of the best things to do in Samana, go as early as possible!

Admire the clear waters caressing the mossy rocks on their way down and take your photos of the cascades. After you’re done, skip going into the pool beneath.

Waterfall In Samana
The lesser-known little brother of the famous El Limon waterfall has a larger and much more appealing pool

Why, you might wonder?

Sure, you’ll want to dip your tired, sweaty body into the refreshing waters.

But trust me, you don’t want to do it in Cascada El Limón. Walk past the other tourists and you’ll find a second waterfall.

It’s far from the grandeur of the main attraction but you’ll be probably alone in the cool, energizing waters!

✔️ Tip: Instead of riding a horse, hike the path. It is actually faster and more enjoyable!

4. Learn to Kitesurf in Las Terrenas, the Former Fishermen Village

Sunset At Las Terrenas
Once you’ve relaxed in the hammocks at the Las Terrenas beach, you’ll understand its appeal

Until the 1980s, Las Terrenas was a quiet fishermen’s village. Then, European and US expats discovered its sublime beaches, brought their culture, and created a unique vibe.

Las Terrenas is home to some of the best Dominican Republic beaches. The nearby Playa Punta Popy and Playa Bonita, as well as the town’s own beach, boast numerous wind- and kitesurfing schools. It’s a great place to learn how to tame the wind and practice a few jumps over the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

After exploring the area around Las Terrenas or testing the winds, enjoy a beautiful sunset at the beach, sipping a cocktail and listening to chilling music. The town is also well-known for its dining and nightlife scene. Exploring it is among the top things to do in Samana.

I bet once you’ve felt the relaxed atmosphere and the vibrant social scene of Las Terrenas, you’ll understand why so many expats considered it their new home in paradise.

5. Discover the Best Secluded Beaches near Las Galeras

Cano Frio, Playa Rincon - Dominican Republic Beaches
Despite Playa Rincon’s fame, most visitors at the beach are local kids

For many travelers, Las Galeras is the real definition of tropical heaven.

It’s situated near the northeastern end of Hispaniola Island, where the road simply ends into the beach. It feels like your travels have reached their culmination and you’ve arrived at your final destination.

The sleepy town is surrounded by the best and most secluded Dominican Republic beaches. In its proximity, you can explore the famous Playa Rincón, the secret Playa Madame, and the extreme Playa Fronton.

The access to Playa Rincón is via a bumpy road. It’s easiest to reach Playa Madame and Playa Fronton by boat.

You can also go diving around Cabo Cabrón where an impressive coral tower is home to shy trevallies, huge hawksbill turtles, and colorful creole wrasse fish.

✔️ Tip: Between January and March, you can also watch the whales’ migration from the top of the cliffs near Las Galeras or from a boat near its shores. Here, the giants swim as close as 100 m / 330 ft. to the land!

6. Explore Nature and Indigenous Art at Los Haitises National Park

Los Haitises Samana Dominican Republic
Visiting Los Haitises National Park is one of the most unique things to do in Samana

On the side of the Samaná Bay opposite of Santa Bárbara de Samaná, the lush mangroves, the rocky islands, the caves, and the tropical forests have been declared a national park.

Ferries and boats will take you to Los Haitises National Park for a day of exploration.

You’ll pass through the mangroves and rub your eyes in disbelief at the sight of the mogotes. The karst cliffs in odd formations rise high above the water. Despite all odds, trees have grown on them and completely covered them.

After moving slowly through the mangroves, marveling at the biological diversity in the park, you’ll head to the caves.

500 years ago in hollows, as huge as Gothic cathedrals, lived the Taíno Indians. The indigenous population of Isla Hispaniola left incredible wall paintings, which you can still admire.

7. Admire Mesmerizing Views from the Velvety Hills of Cordillera Samana

Cordillera Samana
The velvet hills of Cordillera Samana roll into the Atlantic Ocean

Although not as magnificent as the Cordillera Central, the Cordillera Samaná hides enough thrills for an adventure-seeking traveler like yourself.

Ride at the back of one of the scooter taxis, rent an ATV or a 4WD, and go explore the vibrant Dominican countryside.

Pass through villages and observe authentic everyday-life scenes.

Watch the Dominicans fully immerse into their passions – baseball, cockfights, and dances.

Taste fresh local fruits, cacao, and coffee, and discover the taste of mamajuana, the Dominican “Viagra”.

And above all, enjoy the fantastic views from the tops of the lush hills, revealing the unobscured beauty of Samana, Dominican Republic.

8. Observe the Vibrant Everyday Life of the Dominicans

Sunday Afternoon At A Dominican Cockfight Ring
One of the best things to do in Samana is driving through the small villages and observing the Dominican lifestyle

One of the coolest things to do in Samana is drive through the countryside and observe the everyday life of the Dominicans.

Pass through villages and witness authentic everyday-life scenes. Experience the locals fully immerse into their passions: baseball, cockfights, and dances. Stop at the side of the road and chat with the visitors of the local bar to learn about their lives and passions.

One of the most interesting facts about the Dominican Republic is that its population is as diverse as its nature. The nation is also relatively young, with a median age of around 27 years.

Sample fresh produce or seafood cooked on open fires. Share your travel stories with the people you meet and forge new friendships. That’s one of the best travel experiences you can have in Samana.

9. Taste Delectable Seafood and Fresh Dominican Drinks

Dominican Lunch
Tasting fresh seafood at the beach is one of my favorite things to do in Samana

There’s nothing better to taste while visiting Samana, Dominican Republic than the beach BBQ food. You can find the most scrumptious seafood, chicken, or beef in Las Terrenas and at Playa Rincon.

Don’t miss a side dish of fried plantain, which goes extremely well with your lobster. Nothing tastes better than the combination of a freshly grilled lobster with deep-fried plantains from a simple beach hut.

Wash down your food with a tropical cocktail. A piña colada served directly in a carved pineapple or a fresh coconut will make your tastebuds orgasm.

For desert, taste the fresh local fruits, cacao, and coffee, and don’t miss to sip on some rum and mamajuana.

FAQs About Samana, Dominican Republic

Bridge To Nowhere, Samana
The Bridge to Nowhere connects Santa Barbara with the islands in Samana Bay

What is Samaná known for?

Samana, Dominican Republic is known for the humpback whales migration, the Haitises National Park, the El Limon waterfall, and its gorgeous beaches. Samana is also famous for the excellent kite- and windsurfing conditions, delectable seafood, and relaxed vibe in its beach towns, Las Galeras and Las Terrenas.

Why visit Samana?

You should visit Samana for the humpback whales, the incredible secluded beaches, the breathtaking Cascada El Limon, and the laid-back beach towns. You should also go to Samana to explore the Haitises National Park and for the rock climbing, snorkeling, and diving opportunities.

When and where can I do whale watching in Samana?

Playa Fronton - Dominican Republic Beaches
The remote Playa Fronton attracts humpback whales which come extremely close to the shore

From January to March, several thousand humpback whales – basically the whole North Atlantic whale population – gather in the warm, hurricane-safe waters of the Samana Bay and around the Samaná Peninsula to mate and give birth to their giant babies.

The 40-ton-huge mammals perform incredible acrobatics and put on a show you’ll never forget. It’s the busiest time to visit the peninsula, though.

To beat the crowds, instead of watching the incredible spectacle from Samana, reach the end of the road at Las Galeras and enjoy the magnificent sight from the cliffs or a boat near the seashores.

When is the best time to visit Samana, Dominican Republic?

From January to March is the busiest time to visit Samana, Dominican Republic because of the whale watchers. December is the driest month but try to come before the holidays to have as many places of the paradise to yourself as possible.

The rest of the year is calm and if you avoid visiting the main attractions – Cayo Levantado and La Cascada Limon – during the peak hours around noon, you might even feel like a stranded adventurer far away from civilization.

Can I do extreme sports in Samana?

Jungle Trek To Playa Fronton
You can trek through the Samaná jungles to reach the secluded Playa Fronton beach

You can do rock climbing, ziplining, jungle trekking, or rent an ATV in Samana.

Rock climbers can enjoy the 200-m / 660-ft. high cliffs surrounding one of the most famous beaches on the island, Playa Fronton. For ziplining over the lush jungle, head to El Valle and fly from one treetop to the next like Tarzan.

If you wish to go jungle trekking, you can do so on the way to Cascada El Limon or to Playa Fronton. You can reach both places in about an hour trekking through the verdant tropical jungles of Samana, Dominican Republic.

Where can I surf in Samana, Dominican Republic?

The best spot in Samana for surfing is Las Terrenas. The winds, which caress the Samana Peninsula, are perfect for kite- and windsurfing. The surf schools in Las Terrenas rent gear and offer lessons to adventurous travelers.

Can I do boat tours in Samana?

Yes, boat tours are a popular activity in Samana, Dominican Republic. Whether you want to visit one of the best, secluded beaches in the Caribbean, go snorkeling, or just enjoy a lazy day in the sun, boat tours are a perfect way to spend the day when visiting Samana, Dominican Republic.

There are also sportfishing, snorkeling, and diving tours. The waters around the Samana Peninsula are considered one of the world’s supreme sportfishing venues. Tuna, marlin, and wahoo will bite like crazy on your hook all day long.

And the coral reefs surrounding Samana are excellent diving and snorkeling spots. You can observe the diverse, colorful underwater world all-year long.

How far is Samana from the rest of the country?

Road Tripping Dominican Republic
Take the road through the Samana Peninsula and you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views and amazing experiences

If you’re coming to Samana, Dominican Republic from another part of the island, here are the distances from the main tourist areas in the country:

  • From Santo Domingo to Santa Bárbara de Samaná: 180 km / 112 mi.
  • From Puerto Plata to Santa Bárbara de Samaná: 215 km / 134 mi.
  • From Punta Cana to Santa Bárbara de Samaná: 308 km / 191 mi (overland) or 155 km / 96 mi (overland + ferry).

Don’t be fooled by the relatively short distances. The roads are often in bad condition and high-speed driving is out of the question. However, the exciting scenery in all directions won’t let you get bored during the long hours.

To make the most of your Samana adventure, check out my Dominican Republic travel tips, too.

Now You Know What to Do in Samaná, the Secret Caribbean Pearl

Samana Dominican Republic Header
Now you know what to do in Samana, Dominican Republic

There you have it – the 9 best things to do in Samana, Dominican Republic.

The last secret pearl of the Caribbean is still relatively unexplored and untouched by mass tourism. But if you want to discover its authenticity, you better visit as soon as possible.

From the lush jungles to the secluded beaches, and from the delectable seafood to the friendly locals, Samana will steal your heart.

Now, tell me:

What activities in Samana will you join first?

Let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments

  1. Enfoque Samaná says:

    Samana is the most beautiful place in the dominican republic. Love it!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *