When most people think of the Dominican Republic, they think of the resorts in Punta Cana with their beautiful white sand beaches and lots and lots of tourists. While those places are beautiful in their own right, we decided we were looking for something more… off the beaten path. And we found it in the Samana Peninsula! The Samana Peninsula is a nature lovers dream, with lush vegetation, beautiful waterfalls, and pristine beaches. We stayed at the Dominican Tree House Village where, yes, we literally stayed in a tree house! Falling asleep with the noises of the open jungle was an experience we will treasure forever. We spent a week there disconnecting from the real world and connecting with nature. We have checked the Samana Peninsula off our bucket list (though we do plan to return again), here are a few reasons why it should be on your list!
Reason #1- Playa Rincon
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and possibly the world, Playa Rincon is a gem not to be missed. We arrived by our guide from the Dominican Tree House and I guarantee we would not have made it ourselves! But that is what keeps the beach so pristine, it’s not easy to get to! The water is crystal clear with beautiful shades of blue. Bring your snorkel gear as there is a beautiful reef with tons of fish! There are no hotels in the area and you may only encounter a handful of other people to share the beach.
Reason #2- Cascada El Limon
Tucked away in the forest of the Samana Peninsula is the beautiful 52 foot waterfall- El Limon. Start your journey in the town of El Limon and be sure to hire yourself a guide and a horse or donkey, the path can be treacherous. We had arrived in the Dominican Republic just as the drought broke so we experienced a torrential downpour on the way to the falls, we were happy to be on the back of a donkey as the path turned into a river! The journey is about 30-45 mins by donkey before you arrive at the beautiful Cascada El Limon. The water is chilly but the thrill of jumping off the cliffs into pristine waters is worth it!
Reason #3- Playa El Valle
Playa El Valle is situated on the northern portion of the Samana Peninsula. Several colorful boats line the coastline as the beach is a hub for the nearby fishing town. There is a small restaurant that cooks up fresh fish and the famous tostones- fried plantains. We spent most of our day relaxing here, swimming and enjoying the peace and quiet. There was hardly anyone around! If you can make room in your luggage for a floatie, we highly recommend it to maximize your relaxation!
Reason #4- Caya Levantado
Just a short boat ride from the mainland sits Caya Levantado, a pristine island in the middle of the Samana Bay. While half of the island is reserved for guests staying at the Grand Bahia Principe, the other half is open for day visitors. There is a restaurant and bar on the island with typical Dominican fare and plenty of rum (Cuba Libres-rum and coke- are a staple)! We highly recommend bringing your snorkel gear as you can spend hours floating and exploring with all the beautiful fish!
Los Haitises is do not miss UNESCO World Heritage site. We departed from the town of Samana by boat. There are several islets/keys along the way. One of them- fittingly nicknamed Bird Island- had hundreds of birds nesting, it was truly a site to see. On the southern shore of the Samana Bay sits Los Haitises. There are several caverns with pictographs and pteroglyphs from the Taino Indians. Many of the caves sit back among the Mangroves which makes for a beautiful boat ride. If you visit in the winter you may encounter whales! Our visit was in the summer and while we weren’t promised whales, we did have dolphins racing by our boat!
Reason #6- Samana Zipline, El Valle
One of our favorite excursions, the Samana Zipline is pure adrenaline. At the top you get a stunning view of the vegetation of the Samana Valley. From there you go across twelve ziplines reaching up to 40 miles per hour. Don’t forget to bring a camera but make sure you secure it well! If you are travelling with a buddy, ask to go tandem on one of the ziplines, it’s fairly easy to clip in together and it’s a blast to share the experience!
Reason #7- Dudu Lagoon
Located in Cabrera, Dudu Lagoon is a park with two beautiful freshwater swimming holes and a freshwater cave system. The larger swimming hole has a zipline with a ten meter drop to satisfy your thrill seeker side! Highly recommend even if you are hesitant, just make sure to point your toes and keep your arms tucked at your sides! The freshwater cave system has absolutely beautiful views. The water is chilly but undeniably refreshing. There is a restaurant on the grounds serving typical Dominican fare.
If you are looking to spend time in the Dominican Republic but don’t want the typical tourist experience, the Samana Peninsula is the place for you! Be sure to hit up all of these attractions. And if you are looking for a place to stay, we cannot recommend The Dominican Tree House Village highly enough, they will make sure you get your fix of Cuba Libres and adventure! Don’t forget to subscribe to our email list so you never miss a blog post! The link is at the bottom of our website.
Until our next travels!
-The Wandering Michiganders