We had a great calm motor-sail from Luperon to Samana Bay. Brian of course did an excellent job picking the perfect weather window for us and we had a comfortable ride. We left around sunset, sailed through the night and arrived at the tip of the Samana Bay around noon the next day.
The views as we sailed along the coast were incredible! Around every corner there were more oohhs and aahhs from us as we saw giant cliffs filled with caves and mountains that lined the shores.
Samana is located on the North-East coast of the DR. It’s much different here than in Luperon, it’s is a busy tourist town! When we arrived we waited in the harbor for the officials to come to and greet us. We were ready for them with our despacho in hand.
Getting a despacho when leaving one country for another is common but for anyone that has not been here before let us explain why we had to get one when we did not plan on leaving the DR. When leaving any port in the D.R., it requires getting a despacho from the port captain, which means you have clear out of one port and then go through the clear-in process again at the next port, even though you never leave the country! So, it’s not like you can just sail from port to port whenever you want, like in the US, Bahamas, Guatemala, Turks and Caicos or lots of other countries, with one cruising permit for the whole country but instead you have to check in and out every time you sail anywhere. Most sailors consider this a royal pain in the you know what! We would have liked to have seen more of this beautiful country by water but this rule limited the places that we could anchor. Multiple anchorages would not only mean getting and paying for despachos to each location but also other “fees” and “propinas” or tips for the officials at each location too…this can add up quickly! Because it’s such a big deal to move from port to port most sailors sit out hurricane season in one location and then head out of the country. We decided to go against the grain and make one additional stop in Samana.
We’re really glad that we did! Samana is a beautiful town and the malecon here is the center of all the action. It’s lined with local vendors selling fresh fish, all kinds of local foods (some unidentifiable) and of course cerveza fria! We even found a stand that sells pizza by the slice and I have been in heaven! The best time to visit the malecon is at night. Once the sun goes down this place becomes alive with action. Loud music from every corner and people everywhere. Families with children, people working out, volleyball games, people riding bikes, skating or just strolling around the park….you get the idea. It’s the place to be!
There is lots to do here on the water, there is Cayo Leventado an island resort close by, lots of boat excursions to beaches around the bay and diving too. The main attraction for this area is whale watching. Unfortunately for us we are going to miss seeing them. They migrate here from Mid January through March to mate and give birth. That would have been really cool to see! We’re sad to be missing out on seeing them but we don’t want to hang around here for that long! One other attraction for this area is Los Haitises (the main reason that we came here). We did get to see this famous park and will share the photos and talk more about this in our next post.
We’ve been here for a little over a week and we have been the only cruisers anchored in the harbor. It’s easy to see why though…it is a very…very rolly anchorage. The surge here make us feel like we are underway even though we are anchored. Not fun! Over the last couple of days though we found a place that we can tuck up into during the day that is nice and calm. The only problem is that we can’t stay here at night because of security reasons (it’s about a boats length off of a beach that some locals camp on at night) and it’s too far from town if we want to go in and enjoy the malecoln. Of course we want to go to the malecon! Thankfully it’s calmer at night in the harbor so it’s not as bad when we move back over by town.
Well, I thought that I would make this mostly a photo post but as usual I rambled on. Hope you enjoyed. More to come about our adventure to Los Haitises and yes the hairy night we had a sea on our first attempt to make it to PR. I’ll work on that post soon, take care for now.
Jennifer and Brian