5 Best Sights in Santa Barbara de Samana, Samana Peninsula

Los Haitises National Park

Fodor's choice
Los Haitises National Park
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A highlight of any visit to the Samaná Peninsula is Los Haitises National Park (pronounced high-TEE-sis), which is across Samaná Bay. The park is famous for its karst limestone formations, caves, and grottoes filled with pictographs and petroglyphs left by the indigenous Taínos. The park is accessible only by boat, and a professionally guided kayak tour is highly recommended (a licensed guide from a tour company or the government is mandatory for any visitor). You'll paddle around dozens of dramatic rock islands and spectacular cliff faces, while beautiful coastal birds—magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, brown booby, egrets, and herons—swirl around overhead. A good tour will also include the caverns, where your flashlight will illuminate Taíno petroglyphs. It's a continual sensory experience, and you'll feel tiny, like a human speck surrounded by geological grandeur. Dominican Shuttles can arrange a park tour and a stay at the adjacent and rustic Paraíso Caño Hondo Ecolodge, which has authentic Creole cuisine and multiple waterfalls.

Samaná, 32000, Dominican Republic
809-720--6035-Booking Adventure Tours
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Rate Includes: $4, not including mandatory use of licensed guide

Cayo Levantado

Cayo Levantado
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There are no public beaches in Samaná town, but you can hire a boat to take you to Cayo Levantado, which has a wonderful white-sand beach on an island in Samaná Bay. Today the small island has largely been turned into a commercial enterprise to accommodate the 1,500 cruise-ship passengers who anchor here; it has dining facilities, bars, restrooms, and lounge chairs. It can be extremely crowded and boisterous when there's a ship in port. The beach, however, is undeniably beautiful. The Bahía Príncipe Cayo Levantado an upscale, all-inclusive resort with its own launch, sells adults-only day passes.

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Samaná, 32000, Dominican Republic
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Public beach free

Dominican Evangelical Church

The historic Dominican Evangelical Church is the oldest original building left in Samaná. Back in 1824, a sailing vessel called the Turtle Dove, carrying several hundred enslaved people who had escaped from Philadelphia, was blown ashore in Samaná. The structure actually came across the ocean from England in 1881 in a hundred pieces and was reassembled here, serving the spiritual needs of the African-American freedmen. In 1946 a citywide fire wiped out most of Samaná's wooden buildings and Victorian architecture; this church was miraculously saved. 

Calle Theodore Chaseurox, 32000, Dominican Republic
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Rate Includes: Donations appreciated

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Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is the beach at the Grand Bahía Príncipe Cayacoa, and day visitors can enjoy the sands if they buy a day pass at the resort. Availability and price depends on the season, hotel occupancy, etc. Though crowded with guests, the beach offers great views of the bay, plenty of drinks and lunch options, chaises, nonmotorized water sports, and the best strand on the south side of the peninsula. Amenities are available if you partake of the resort's facilities. Amenities: food and drink; parking; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Samaná, 32000, Dominican Republic
809-552–1444-Grand Bahía Príncipe Cayacoa

Whale Museum & Nature Center

This tiny museum is dedicated to the mighty mammals of the sea. Samaná Bay is part of one of the largest marine mammal sanctuaries in the world and is a center for whale-watching during the winter migration of humpback whales. The Center for Conservation and Ecodevelopment of Samaná Bay and its Environment (CEBSE) manages this facility, which features a 40-foot female humpback skeleton. Information in English is available at the entrance.

Av. La Marina, 32000, Dominican Republic
809-538–2042
Sights Details
Rate Includes: RD$150, Closed Sat. and Sun. except for reservations of 8 or more