Updated 7 months ago

The Samaná Peninsula is situated at the very north east of the Dominican Republic. Famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and the visit of the humpback whales each year, it is the latest hotspot for expats moving to the Dominican Republic.

Description

Samaná is an amazing peninsula. It has mountains which run along its centre with Las Terrenas on the Atlantic Ocean to the north, boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. On the south of the peninsula is Samana itself, which borders the bay of Samana and right on the very eastern tip is the sleepy village of Las Galeras. Samaná is the largest town or to give it its full name, Santa Bárbara de Samaná, which is the departure point for whale-watching from mid-January to late March and also the starting point for an excursion to Los Haitises National Park across the bay.

Las Terrenas is the place where most expats settle and has an amazing European feel, with the first arrivals being the French in the early 1980s. There are superb shops, supermarkets, and French bakeries as well as lovely beaches including Playa Bonita, west of Las Terrenas, and Playa Ballenas and Playa Popy to the East which are rather quieter and ideal for relaxation. The other beach is Playa Coson which offers breathtaking scenery.

Las Galeras is a small fishing community 28 kilometres northeast of Samaná and it is truly a jewel, drawing a combination of European and North American visitors as well as being a haven for independent travelers.

What about expats?

Las Terrenas was founded fairly recently, in 1946, when then-President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo ordered the rural inhabitants of Santo Domingo to move north to the town as farmers and fishermen, which was then a small fishing village totally isolated from the rest of the country due to the lack of roads. Even as recently as 1975, Las Terrenas was a small village of farmers and fishermen with no stores, no gasoline station, no electricity, no telephones, no cars, no motorcycles, no post office, no newspapers, and no tourists.

Now it has a population of over 58,000 with over 6,000 Expats from over 20 different countries, most being from France, Italy, United Kingdom, and Germany but with a reversal in buying trends recently with the North Americans and Canadians moving in and totalling over 30% of current property sales. Las Terrenas is now the most sought-after location for expats in the Dominican Republic.

Samaná has an intriguing expat history; in the 1820s thousands of escaping American slaves relocated to Samaná, keeping their American customs and speaking English. Samana in the mid-1950s was an English-speaking Protestant outpost of a Spanish-speaking Catholic country until the dictator Rafael Trujillo introduced the Spanish language into Samaná and forced the people to speak it. Even today, however, most people in Samaná are bilingual and it is home to many expats.

Las Galeras also has several expats who own guest houses and run excursions but it is significantly quieter than the other parts of the peninsula.

Accommodation types

There is a wide range of accommodation available in the peninsula, probably more than anywhere else on the island. From small to large, old to ultra-modern, condos to gated communities, there is literally something for everyone and prices are very reasonable, even for beach-front properties. Many expats also live in the hills, with spectacular views of the sea.

There is also a whole range of properties for rent, either via real estate agencies and or on Airbnb, and it is advisable to rent first before deciding on where to buy property.

Cost of living

An average weekly trip to the grocery store will cost around US$100, and fresh fruits and fresh fish – which are always available – can be bought separately. There are two excellent supermarkets in Las Terrenas, one is the Dominican chain Super Pola, and the other a French supermarket with a superb selection of wine.

Electricity used to be run by a private company but has now joined the national grid, and like the rest of the country is subject to outages. The average electricity bill for a two-bedroom apartment without air conditioning is around US$50 a month, and cooking gas and hot water around US$40 a month.

Leisure activities

There is a plethora of leisure activities throughout the Samaná peninsula ranging from golfing, water sports especially scuba diving, and hiking.

The El Limon Waterfalls is a must, and involves a hike on foot or on a horse or even going to the waterfalls by canoe. It takes around three hours.

The Los Haitises National park is another not-to-be-missed excursion as it is a nature wonderland with exotic birds and abundant vegetation as well as home to several Taino Indian caves and archaeological sites.

One of the most famous activities in the whole country is watching the humpback whales in Samaná Bay when they arrive to give birth and mate from the end of January to the end of March.

There is also zip lining on the peninsula and deep sea fishing opportunities, and so many quiet and undisturbed beaches to explore. It really is a beach and nature lover’s paradise.

Restaurants

One is totally spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out in the Samaná peninsula. There is a wide range of choice from Dominican, French, German, Mexican and many others. You can choose your own fish and lobster and eat on the beach or treat yourself to a high-end French restaurant.

Given that the peninsula is surrounded by the ocean, fish and seafood are plentiful as is fresh fruit and vegetables, especially coconuts. In fact, fish in coconut sauce is a native dish to Samaná.

Restaurant prices are a little higher in Las Terrenas than in the rest of the country, especially in what is known as Fisherman’s Village, a row of brightly coloured wooden bars and restaurants just at the end of the main street and facing the beach.

However, there are several “secret” places that cater to expats and local residents, and their prices are much more reasonable.

Transport

There is an international airport in Samaná called El Catey International Airport, and it offers flights from Europe and Canada.

There is also a cruise terminal in Samaná which attracts cruise ships during the winter Caribbean cruising season.

A new highway was opened a few years ago linking the Samaná peninsula with Santo Domingo which has cut the journey down from several hours to now only two hours, and the new Atlantic Boulevard, as it is known, means that there is no need to cross the mountain from the south to the north of the peninsula either.

There are long-distance coaches and buses to Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata, and around town, there are motorcycle taxis and normal taxis as well as guaguas to other towns in the peninsula. Las Terrenas is also home to several four-wheeled ATVs which are often rented by visitors and locals to get around town.

 Useful links:

Dominican Tourist Board
Las Terrenas Go
Beach Town Property
Whale Samana

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