Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic (published September 2017)
Nestled on the north side of Samana Bay, on the eastern end of the Dominican Republic (DR) with a back drop of thousands upon thousands of native palm trees is a cruiser’s dream come true, The Puerto Bahia Marina. This gem in the Caribbean is located on the southern coast of the Samana Peninsula in eastern Dominican Republic. The Samana Peninsula is widely known as the top cruising ground of the Dominican Republic. With its numerous secluded safe harbors, intimate caves, bountiful fishing grounds, great stretches of sandy beaches and other alluring destinations, it invites exploration and offers memorable days of pure pleasure. If you are running up from the islands east and south of Puerto Rico or if you are running down from Turks and Caicos headed southeast to the islands, this is your place to stop and refresh your crew, replenish your supplies and recharge your batteries (yours not the vessels!). Puerto Bahia Marina is the only full service marina (no haul out) on the Samana Peninsula. One of the first things that struck me as special about this place is that as we were coming through the final set of markers to enter the marina proper, two employees wearing their issued polos and caps with the marina logo proudly displayed on them came out in a dinghy to greet us and to escort us to our slip where there were four dockhands waiting to take our lines and help secure the vessel. It was a very fine welcome indeed after a rough eight hour journey across the top end of the peninsula and around Punta El Pasquero de Francisco and Punta La Palometa to enter Samana Bay.
For dockage they can accommodate 107 vessels from 20 to 150 feet LOA with depths of ten feet on wide concrete docks. 30 & 50 AMP shore power are available, good clean fresh water is abundant and 24/7 security is provided. The rates per foot are some of, if not the best, that I have seen while out cruising this year. They start at 1.00 per foot USD and the longer you stay the more cost effective it becomes with reductions of 25 percent, 50 percent and up to 75 percent per foot depending on your length of stay. They offer both diesel and gasoline which are readily available from their very conveniently located fuel dock. The entire marina is protected by a well thought out and well built breakwall which protects you and your vessel from the prevailing easterlies. The marina is an official Customs, Immigration clearing facility and the Commandant is one of the nicest gentlemen you will meet on the island. A true professional with a strong hand shake and warming smile.
They also have excellent free Wi-Fi, a gym, two pools, one infinity pool water level and one on the second floor of the facility which offers a wonderful view of the bay, two restaurants, one waterside with indoor and outdoor seating and one attached to the facility, three bars, a boaters lounge with a big screen TV and a pool table. Nice, clean, hot showers and a convenient self service laundry room (they work on the honor system for payment) are there for your usage. Trash bins are located on every dock and collected daily. They also have a very well stocked and fairly priced mini market where you can get everything from ice cream to fine wines, from cold beer to cold cuts and all points in between. If you are in need of additional supplies i.e. fresh fruits, vegetables, food stuffs, hardware items etc… and as the marina is set back somewhat from the main road into the town of Samana, the marina has a shuttle service which will take you to the main road (an all uphill climb). From there you can take a Gua Gua (local shuttle van @ 50 pesos) or even a moto taxi (300 pesos) into town and have all of that and more available to you. If you are in need of any work on your vessel such as cleaning, waxing, bottom cleaning, bright work polishing etc.. there are a host of very respectful, industrious locals who are there to accommodate you. They are not marina employees so you get to negotiate your price with them and with the exchange rate being in your favor (currently about 45 DR Pesos to 1 USD) your dollars go a long, long way.
One of the other beautiful things about this location is its close proximity to some of the natural wonders that the Dominican Republic boasts.
MAGICAL MOMENTS IN THE DR
1) Cayo Laventado: this is a pristine island that is located in the middle of the entrance to Samana Bay. You actually pass it on your way in when sailing here. The island is less than a half mile square and contains two separate parts, on the windward or eastern side is a high end all inclusive resort. On the leeward or western side is a beautiful white sand beach which curves around the circumference of the island. It is this side you visit and enjoy the beauty. There are two ways to get here, take your own vessel and anchor out, then dinghy to shore or take the daily shuttle from the marina. ($15). We have done both and much prefer sailing over there ourselves. Whichever way you choose, once there you can relax on the beautiful white sand beach, snorkel, enjoy a fantastic meal either from your lounge chair or under the many shade trees and tents. You can also enjoy cold beverages of your choice, shop for local crafts and goods all in a sun drenched tropical surrounding. Or you can do nothing but hang out and relax.
2) El Limon Falls: El Limon Waterfalls is considered the most beautiful waterfall in the Dominican Republic and by many, in the Caribbean. Standing at 131 feet tall, once you are in its presence, it’ll take your breath away. The journey to get there begins with a light horseback ride at the edges of the Limon river, through “La Ruta del Café” nature trail. During the ride you will see various smaller falls and the tropical rainforest vegetation which surrounds this beautiful path. Once you reach the El Limon Waterfall you can take a dip in it’s refreshing waters, take in the scenery, have a refreshing beverage and some snacks, hike some additional trails and just enjoy a truly unforgettable day.
3) Los Haitises National Park: There is only one way to get there and that is by water, again either your own vessel or through a tour. The National Park of Los Haitises is located at the western end of Samana Bay on the south shore across from Sanchez. This park features mangrove swamps with giant mangrove trees forming a lush, green canopy above the watery trails that wind through the swamps. Taino caves where the island’s first inhabitants lived are another popular attraction of the park. Tours leave from Samana, Sanchez and Sabana de la Mar at the park’s eastern edge across the bay from Samana. There are important mangroves in Los Haitises National Park and two major life zones: the wet forest and the subtropical rainforest. Cedar, ceiba, mahogany, and other tropical American trees are common here. A large variety of birds can be found here, including parrots, owls and gannets, as well as the mammal, the rare solenodon. There are pictographs and petroglyphs in some caverns.
With your tours and adventures completed each day you can now head back to the marina, which by the way is connected to the Bannister Hotel, a five star hotel noted for its excellent service, beautifully appointed rooms and luxurious ambiance. In the hotel lobby is a comfortable and spacious sitting area all there for your convenience and usage. Adjacent to that is the lobby lounge bar which is excellent for relaxing, reading or getting in touch with your loved ones via the free Wi-Fi. Or, you can enjoy some sundowners from one of the two infinity pools previously mentioned. Marina Puerto Bahia is a must stop location if you are cruising in this region of the Caribbean. We have met dozens of cruisers here during our stay and everyone of them has agreed, they were glad they stopped!