Samana, Dominican Republic Island of Hispañola
The Peninsula of Samana
Samana is a
small peninsula, some 50 kilometers or 30 miles long, off the northeastern
coast of the Dominican Republic, and can be seen clearly on any world map or globe
The Little Town of Samana
Nestled in between one of the Peninsula’s many little inlets along its southern coast, is situationed the little town of Samana’. Samana’ is a quaint little village, and in many ways not unlike life in the 18th century. Life is very simple, quiet, peaceful and non-materialistic on the Peninsula, particularly throughout the hills, small mountains, and countryside where most of the population of approximately, 60,000 persons, are said to reside.
From almost any vantage point in the town of Samana, there is a beautiful view of the sea.
Along the “Malecon” or street along the sea, often Dominicans can be seen working on, selling or displaying their crafstmanship, or “artesanias” or selling fruits, vegetables & homemade “tortas” or cakes & “empanadas” or pastries
in the town itself, for the most part, are more modern having been
constructed of cement,
but “Ranchitos”--small colorful wooden houses with tin roofs--are often nestled inbetween and around them them.
Most people in the town have running water and electricity at least some of the time. Dominicans “in the campo” or country areas do not have electricity and water and can often be seen on donkeys lugging water from springs and rivers.
The Peninsula’s beaches are among the most beautiful in the country, if not the world, and are located along Samana’s southern coast, which borders the Great Bay or “Gran Bahia. Several of the most beautiful are found on the tiny Island of Cayo Levantado, known also as “Bacardi Island”. This one mile square island is accessible by small ferries from the main dock in Samana’ and is a beautiful 15 minute ride.
Small buses and “conchos”, which are little covered wagons, are conveniently located in the little town along this Bay for transportation to these beaches. The nearest beach is a five-minute ride from town
and other outlying beaches are between 15 and 20 minutes away, the furthest, Las Galeras Beach, which is a lovely 30-minute scenic ride along the coast to the end of the Peninsula.
Further to the east and nearing the northern coast of the Peninsula is the outstandinly beautiful Rincon Beach with mountains as its backdrop. There are a number of brothers in the Samana’ congregation who are tour-guides and chauffeurs who offer tours to this beautiful beach.
During the little over one-hour scenic ride to Rincon Beach, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the sky to sky coconut trees framed by picturesque mountains and hills.
Along the way, throughout the countryside, the "campesinos" can be seen washing their clothes in rivers, or cooking their rice and beans or fish on charcoal on little homemade “grills,” in little outdoor kitchens with thatched roofs.
Since there is very little work outside of agriculture in these areas of the “campo” or country, farmers and other local people, even young children, can often be seen on donkeys lugging water or transporting coconuts and platanos to help their family. Along the way other “campesinos” can be seen harvesting coconuts, coffee bean, cacao (chocolate), bananas, mangos, pineapples, avocados bananas, plaintains and other fruits and produce.
Young children can also be seen working,catching & selling fish, filling water jugs, lugging water jugs from springs or rivers.
Samana's Cooking Celebrates the Diversity of its People
Samaná’s cooking celebrates the diversity of its people and the bounty of the sea and land. In Las Terrenas there are at least 50 good restaurants, not counting those in Las Galeras and Samaná city. Gas- tronomy is the big draw after the beaches. . In many cases, the chefs initially visited as tourists and returned to turn their passion for cooking into their lifestyle spiced by the sea.
Peninsula of Samana! / The Culinary Influence
Because of Bahía de Samaná’s fortuitous geography – its deep channel, eastward ori- entation and easy-to-defend mouth, perfect for a naval installation – the Península de Samaná has been coveted, fought over and bought several times over. At least six different countries, including Haiti, France, Spain, the US and Germany, have either occupied the Samaná area or sought to do so. Founded as a Spanish outpost in 1756, Samaná was fi rst settled by émigrés from the Canary Islands, but the political turmoil of Hispaniola – the sale of the island to the French, a Haitian revolution and two British invasions – kept Samaná town’s population growing and changing. It was deemed a prize even as early as 1807 during the brief French possession of Hispaniola. France’s commander in Santo Domingo, an ambitious leader no doubt, proposed building a city named Port Napoleon in Samaná, but France was dispossessed of the island before the plan could move forward.
After its independence from Spain, the DR was taken over by Haiti, which controlled Hispaniola from 1822 to 1844. During this period Haiti invited more than 5000 freed and escaped slaves from the US to settle on the island. About half moved to the Samaná area. Today, a community of their descendents still speaks a form of English.
During Haitian rule, France pressured its former colony to cede the Península de Sa- maná in return for a reduction in the debt Haiti owed it. Incredibly,
Haiti had been forced to pay restitution to France for land taken from French colonists in order to gain international recognition. Of course, France
Coconuts, fish, ginger, fruits
In Samaná, the saying “zero kilometers” or use of local produce has always been the norm. Samaná has the largest coconut plantation in the Caribbean. Its relative isolation until the recent opening of the Santo Domingo highway and the airport, left chefs no choice but to cook their fa-vorite recipes using local ingredients. To this day, seafood, coconut, ginger, cassava and fruits dominate Samaná’s cooking.
The peninsula is surrounded by the sea on its northern, southern and eastern coasts. The abundance of golden snapper, sea bass, tuna, marlin, kingfish, octopus,
lobsters, prawns and shrimp from Sánchez have provided inspiration.
The breads from Europe
The culinary influences have come one after another. Today you can enjoy excel-lent coconut bread made by the locals, and from Spanish, African American, Austrian, Belgian, French, Swiss, Italian, German, English and Dominican bread- making traditions. Tourists benefit from the excellent bakeries in each community.
Seafood under the stars
Fish in Coconut Sauce is Samaná’s emblematic traditional dish, holding its own among the world’s culinary treasures. At the same time, in many restaurants, European settlers have reinvented their own classic recipes with the ingredients of Samaná. Of course, the dishes taste better when grilled on the beach, on seafront terraces or under the starry sky.
Comical but Common Sights in the Dominican Republic!
Fish in Coconut Sauce is Samaná’s emblematic traditional dish, holding its own among the world’s culinary treasures. At the same time, in many restaurants, European settlers have reinvented their own classic recipes with the ingredients of Samana
Samana and Rincon Bays (Dominican Republic)
"The Samana Bay and Rincon have been admitted to the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, making them the first in the Caribbean region to obtain this recognition. The information was disclosed yesterday during a meeting of the club's steering committee in this city. The Samana and Rincon Bays officially enter this club and are the first from the Caribbean following the Bay of Saintes (Guadaloupe) to be recognized as one of the most beautiful in the world, making them part of the club.
"The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club unites some 30 bays throughout the world, in over 20 different countries and is sponsored by UNESCO. Created in 1997, with its headquarters in France, it pursues objectives of preservation, enhancement and promotion of the natural, cultural and economic holding bays, with the participation of the Communities. The Executive Board that met in the palace of La Magdalena in Santander, Friday, November 6, 2009 formalized the admission of the bay of Yeosu (South Korea) and the bays of Rincon and Samana (Dominican Republic)."
National Geographic calls Samana one of the world's most scenic drives!
In its June edition, 2012, National Geographic includes Samana's roads among the most scenic drives in the world. The magazine's cover story mentions the route that travels round Samana's Cordillera.
"Just west of town you'll see the junction for El Limon. Head that way, snaking uphill and back and you take in the first fine views of the trip. Los Haitises National Park will appear to be afloat on the hazy horizon, and the coast tantalizes.
"Be on guard for potholes as you head down toward El Limon, where you head north on a dirt road to Playa Moron, an orange-sand beach. Head back to El Limon on your way to Playa Punta Popy, a magnet for kiteboarders. Playa Las Ballenas is the next stunning beach on the route. Park your vehicle, don a snorkel and hit the surf. Stop for grilled seafood at Playa Bonita.
"The final stretch of the trip is a southwest drive that takes you around switchbacks... and over potholes. At Vivero Las Colinas a plant nursery clings to the mountainside. The landscape beyond the village of Los Puentes includes isolated, rounded hills called mogotes. It is downhill - steeply in sections - from here to Sanchez"
10 November 2009
Newspaper : La Republica - 11/8/2009
The Samana Bay and Rincon have been admitted to the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, making them the first in the Caribbean region to obtain this recognition. The information was disclosed yesterday during a meeting of the club's steering committee in this city. The Samana and Rincon Bays officially enter this club and are the first from the Caribbean, following the Bay of Saintes (Guadeloupe), to be recognized as one of the most beautiful in the world, making them part of the club. The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, unites some 30 bays throughout the world, in over 20 different countries and is sponsored by UNESCO. Created in 1997, with its headquarter in France, it pursues objectives of preservation, enhancement and promotion of the natural, cultural and economic holding bays, with the participation of the Communities. The Executive Board that met in the palace of La Magdalena in Santander, Friday, November 6, 2009 formalized the admission of the bay of Yeosu (South Korea) and the bays of Rincon and Samana (Dominican Republic).
Updated January 2016