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Las Terrenas

Las Terrenas is a reasonably small beach town on the northern cost of the Samaná peninsula. It is a great spot to relax, and enjoy a slower paced lifestyle for a few days.

Despite my grand plans of seeing loads of things on/near the Samaná peninsula, on arrival I just decided that I wanted to relax and take it super slow. So I ticked one item off my list and otherwise enjoyed the beach, some cocktails and great company with my new hostel friends.

Places I wanted to see but didn’t include: a day trip to Los Haitses, Las Galeras, Samaná and Caya Levantado.

Las Terrenas Beaches

As it is on the coast, Las Terrenas has beach after beach after beach. On the main strip the recommendation is to walk West and spend time at the quieter area of Playa de las Ballenas.

If you are interested in surfing, then taking a motoconcho to Playa Bonita would be the recommended option.

Eating fresh mango on the beach, Playa de las Ballenas

Salto El Limón

Salto El Limón is a gorgeous waterfall in the hills behind Las Terrenas. From La Bodega in Las Terrenas it’s a short DOP$50 peso ride to a central stop and then an additional DOP$25 GuaGua ride to a park entrance.

Salto El LimonEntrance costs DOP$50 and it is only a short 40 minute hike in the tropical jungle to the waterfall. Be sure to bring water because it is crazy hot and humid.

Many people pay for a horse ride to the falls, I am not sure of the cost. There will also be many locals offering their services as a guide, but in my opinion a guide is not necessary.

There are numerous entrances into the park, we entered through one and exited through another.

Despite initial problems finding the trail in, the walk was very peaceful and pleasant as it was just our group of friends amongst the trees and rivers. The exit trail had been well trodden and pooped on by horses, while the scenery was beautiful the actual trail was horrid, for this trail you really need gumboots!

The waterfall itself is 52metres high and has a nice pool at the base for swimming. You will see people climbing the rock walls and jumping into the pool below. As there were large rock is random places beneath the waters obscure surface, I personally chose not to do any jumping.

Jumping or no jumping, the waterfall was beautiful to see and the swim was wonderfully refreshing!

Getting Around

Around Las Terrenas I would recommend walking, but transport is required if you want to go further afield.

When travelling to places like El Limón, Las Galeras or Samaná then a GuaGua is the most economical option.

For zipping around locally to places such as Playa Bonito or the main GuaGua station, then a Motochoncho is a bit more pricey, but the best option.

Getting There

Friendly bus driversMy original plan to visit Samaná had been to take a two day excursion with ATA Excursiones (the two day tour costs DOP$3,400). Unfortunately Hurricane Matthew swung by the weekend of the tour and for safety reasons it was cancelled. They didn’t offer anything else on dates that would work for me, so I undertook the adventure independently. While renting a car would have been ideal, the road tolls would have cost more than the car rental and this was simply money I did not have. So I opted for public transport.

Bus Schedule from Santo DomingoBuses go direct from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas six times per day. The bus station is behind Plaza Lama Duarte in a reasonably sketchy looking area, however the bus costs DOP$350 one way and the bus company is reliable with friendly and helpful staff. On arrival in Las Terrenas I took a Motoconcho to my hostel for DOP$50

Accommodation

Marc helping cook the hostel BBQI found a brilliant family run hostel in Las Terrenas on booking.com, Dan and Manty’s Guesthouse.

It was absolutely a home away from home; cosy, welcoming and comfortable. Dan was super helpful for helping me plan my stay and gave information on how to get places and what to expect to pay.

Due to the low season I had a dorm room and bathroom all to myself. The provided breakfast and purchased dinner was amazing, I hadn’t eaten so well in months!!

Las Terrenas

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A caribbean island adventure to Isla Saona

Isla Saona Main BeachIsla Saona is the stereotypical Caribbean island you picture when someone talks about Caribbean islands; white sand, clear blue water and palm trees. Whether there is truth in it or not, I have heard people say that it is one of the islands that has featured in at least one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Because it sounds better, I’m going to roll with it and say I visited one of the islands from the movies!

Isla Saona is off Southern Coast of the Dominican Republic, in the Far East of the country accessible by boat from Bayahibe. I would consider it a Must-See activity for any visit to the Dominican Republic.

Sea stars in the Caribbean SeaTo access the island we took a speed boat ride. We made a brief mid-way stop at a remote beach for a quick dip in the water to cool down. We had some time to enjoy a rum punches, before all jumping back in the boat to continue through to Isla Saona.

With the spectacular views of tropical white sand beaches whizzing past it wasn’t long before we reached our destination.

On arrival, I selected my deck chair in the shade of a palm tree and ordered myself a rum and coke. I spent a couple of hours alternating between relaxing on the chair and relaxing in the water and sunshine. I enjoyed a delicious typical Dominican lunch, and enjoyed a few rum and cokes in true Dominican style.

As the day came to an end we all boarded a luxury catamaran, The crew played Dominican dance music and danced the afternoon away. For me it was a magical finish to a brilliant day, to lay on the nets of the catamaran with the water flowing past underneath me as I listened to the dance music, and enjoyed the warmth of the afternoon in the shade of the sail as we sailed through the Caribbean.

Isla Saona Day Tour

Drinking rum and coke in the Caribbean SeaIn order to undertake this adventure I signed up for a tour with the local tour company, ATA Excursiones. They offer a variety of tours and have something on every day. Their office can be found in Calle El Conde near the corner of Calle Santome in Zona Colonial. They are contactable via Facebook or Whatsapp. One or two people in the office speak a very limited amount of English, but if you have any Spanish and an adventurous spirit then I would highly recommend travelling with them.

The tour cost DOP$1900 (approx US$40), this is the standard price but sometimes they have discounted departures on weekdays.

The price includes transport from Santo Domingo to Bayahibe. You then use a speedboat and catamaran to visit the island.

Drinks and lunch are also included, this means that if you really want to immerse yourself in the Dominican culture, you may enjoy a steady flow of rum punch all day long.

Note: Bayahibe itself is a popular beach that is worth a visit. There are many tour operators offering snorkelling and diving trips as well as trips out to Saona.

Isla Saona

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