This past weekend eXtreme Hotel’s Taino Organic Farm decided that we wanted to start Exploring the North Coast of the Dominican Republic on a budget. After a bit of planning and research, the crew headed out on a roadtrip adventure on the north coast of the beautiful Dominican Republic! We decided to head to Samaná to go whale watching, see the Salto de Limón Waterfalls and explore the peninsula.
Renting a car: Samaná is about 180km from Cabarete so rather than taking the usual Gua Gua transportation, we opted to rent a car and drive. To keep it low budget, we got some WWoofers from a nearby farm to join in on our trip and split the cost of renting a Honda Pilot between nine of us. The car rental was $9500 RD for two days and two nights. Including gas to and from Cabarete and Samaná, the car rental and the $1000 RD toll for taking the newer route (I highly recommend doing so as it is shorter, beautiful and not so rough on your vehicle) we ended up paying about $1500 RD each. Tip: be sure to get insurance on whatever car you rent, it’s not uncommon for things to go awry on the roads here. If you’re on a budget and blow a tire like we did, it’s helpful to have backup!
Accommodation: After a couple colmado stops for snacks and a few hours of tunes, we arrived at our first stop: our hostel in Las Terrenas. Hostels are a great alternative to a hotel room as they are usually inexpensive and accommodate low budget travelers well (most have communal kitchens and rooms with multiple beds). Our hostel was right outside the center of Las Terrenas, a little place called Fata Morgana.
Fata Morgana Las Terrenas: A beautiful place with cottage style rooms, Fata Morgana was quaint and inviting. The owner and her son were friendly and so were their many rescue animals. Between the friendly critters, the vibrant plants and a hammock in front of every cottage, it made for a relaxed atmosphere. There is some truth in “you get what you pay for”, but if you’re willing to endure a cold shower and old mattress, it’s only $500 RD per person and quite charming.
Whale Watching: From Las Terrenas we drove 45 minutes to Samaná Bay and took a boat out to try and spy some whales. Though it is recommended that you book ahead, for $1000 pesos each we were able to rent a boat for the afternoon. The captain took us out for a few hours and although the waves were too big to see any whales, we all enjoyed the view of the ocean. If you really want to see the whales, my recommendation is to:
- Book ahead and go early enough that you are sure to have enough daylight.
- Check the weather, if the swell is too big you are less likely to see the whales.
- Don’t bother stopping off at the smaller island off the coast, you can get the same souvenirs on the main island for less money and it is quite crowded.
Also keep in mind that you are likely to be soaked with water by the end so bring a waterproof bag for anything you don’t want to get wet
El Salto de Limón Waterfalls: After stopping off for a quick bite to eat in Las Terrenas and a colmado for breakfast bananas (healthy, local and inexpensive) and water, we headed back to the hostel. In the morning we headed to Casa Nega in Samaná to go to El Salto de Limón waterfalls. There are two options for getting to the waterfalls, you can either go by foot (it takes about 45 minutes to get to the falls) or pay for a horse tour. We all decided to walk as many of the horses are in poor condition and if you’re on a low the only expense this way is a 50 peso fee to see the falls. It also gives you the freedom to go without a guide so you can take your time and stay as long as you please. The waterfalls are breathtaking, it is lovely to swim in and if you are daring you can climb part of the way up and jump into the pool below.
If you’re looking for an adventurous low budget trip, Samaná is a stunning location with plenty of places to explore. Grab some friends, a rental car and a map and explore paradise!