30 August 2007


August 30, 2007

We just got back yesterday from a wonderful trip to Samana on our moto. We left last Saturday with our friends Renee and Michael from "Jacumba." Instead of boring everyone with a long written account here are a bunch of pictures from the trip. As you can tell from the pictures, Samana is a gorgeous part of the Dominican Republic. It was very humid with rain every day and the land was lush and fertile. Huge mountains, beautiful beaches, small villages.

Baseball: the national past time of the DR. These kids were playing on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Cabrera.

Our hotel in Cabrera. We treated ourselves to a night at a gorgeous hotel on a hill overlooking the ocean. The breakfast was fabulous!

Two happy motorcyclists!

A rice field.

Two local girls hanging out on the beach.

The view from the road on the north coast.

Motorcyle is the most popular form of transportation in the DR and Dominicans find ingenious ways to carry almost anything on their bikes. This guy is on his way to sell shoes; Hans say one guy transporting a queen size mattress! We have friends who claim to have seen a live donkey strapped to the back of a motorcycle and other friends who have seen a full-size fridge!

Cayo Levantado, the original Bacardi Rum island from their first advertisements in 1971. The beach is gorgeous, unfortunately the island has been bought by an all-inclusive resort ($155 pp/night!) and they allocate a spot of sand for the public to be used between 9am and 5pm daily. The atmosphere is like an amusement park with designated eating, drinking and dancing areas. Rather disappointing.

Most tourists and locals arrive to the island by boat and crowd the dock at 5pm when a hotel worker blows a whistle to herd the lower-classes off the island.

Other people prefer to travel via helicopter.

We prefer a powerboat. It's much calmer and you can feel the breeze through your hair and the familiar smell of 2-stroke oil wafting through the air. The bargaining was pretty intense, starting at $2600 pesos for 4 (approx. $80), but we eventually got a roundtrip fare for $1000 for 4.

Norwegian Cruise Lines now visit Samana and have built a "port" for their guests. It stands out like a wart on baby Jesus (has anyone seen Talladega nights?). Unfortunately, the cruise ship passengers disembark at Samana, go straight to the fake village and ignore the rest of the town, thus not providing any income to the local economy. Norwegian Cruise Lines could at least provide some trash removal service.

Playa Rincon is located at the very eastern end of the peninsula, accesible only via dirt roads. We had fun traversing the mountains and driving through puddles which at times were like small lakes.

Playa Rincon...well worth the long, dirty, bumpy motorcyle ride. We were the only tourists there and had the entire 7km beach to ourselves.

Rio Frio, a freshwater river, empties at the northern end of the beach, perfect for rinsing the saltwater off.

Three girls whose parents own small fish shacks near the river. They had fun showing off their jumping skills.

The fish shacks, where we had a great fish, rice & avocado lunch.

The center of a small village in the mountains.

On the way to Playa del Valle, we stopped to hike up the mountains to a waterfall.




On the hike up to the waterfall, Natalie, our 12 year old guide, showed us some of the fruits and vegetables growing in her backyard.

The three pictures above are of Playa del Valle, another remote beach on the Samana peninsula. Again, we were almost the only tourists there and there were some fish shacks to get lunch.

oink oink

Las Terrenas, a tourist town on the north coast of the peninsula. The beach was endless and lined with tall coconut palms. It's a great town for an independent beach vacation. There are a few biggish resorts but there are mainly small hotels, apartments and bungalows and a plethora of restaurants and bars. We pigged out at the fabulous french bakery.

Our hotel (tan building in the background) in Las Terrenas; another affordable find, clean and comfortable. The development in Las Terrenas is non-stop and is starting to push locals to the outskirts of town, except for this "house" which appears determined to keep its beachfront view.

Kristen is becoming a motorcyle-driving pro.

A beachfront village on the north coast of the DR.

The road to Luperon, we're almost home and avoiding some nasty thunderstorms.

Cleaning off moto after the trip...it took over an hour to get all the red mud off! Moto was a real champ, no problems except the exhaust is noticeably louder now, a real Dominican moto!