A corner of France in the middle of the ocean
The road which leads to the region of Samana from Santo Domingo reveals stunning panoramic views of a magical coastline. Head quickly to Las Terrenas, a former fishing village which was cut off from the world for a long time and has now been turned into a lively seaside resort. Put your cares aside in this little corner of the world, where a permanent holiday atmosphere pervades the air.
Las Terrenas, a little Gallic village, is lost amongst the coconut palms. The place is home to a large French-speaking community from France, but also from Belgium, Canada and Switzerland. During your stay, you are bound to come across these expats, whether going out to buy their bread at the bakers, sitting at a restaurant table or during your excursions with a guide. One of the first to settle in the region runs a discreetly charming beach hotel, the Atlantis, in which you spend the night.
Cooking from a top chef at the hotel Atlantis
Gérard Prystasz was formerly head chef to the French president François Mitterrand and left the south of France 20 years ago to settle in the aptly named Playa Bonita. This good-humoured man welcomes you to the tropical setting of his hotel-restaurant Atlantis, an intimate establishment where you can regain your well-being. Its white-washed buildings seem to have come straight out of a fairy tale. 18 rooms, enhanced by climbing plants, reveal a world of elegance. The terrace of your cosy nest embraces the ocean. At Atlantis, lunch can be taken wherever you wish: in the garden, or in the shade of a beach hut…
After a heavenly nap in a hammock, caressed by the warm sea breeze, you will be mesmerised by the turquoise sea. Time no longer has a hold over you. The sun drops gently over the horizon while the terrace brightens up under the light from its lamp posts.
A tasty dinner is on its way in the immaculately decorated dining room. Gérard Prystasz has trained his Dominican team and places great store on the freshness of produce. He delights his guests with French recipes with an exotic twist and perfectly cooked seafood. A glance at the menu will wake your stomach. Among the chef's specialities are: papillote of sea bream and king prawns with citrus and passion fruit, spiny lobster, crab and king prawns in puff pastry or – for meat lovers – grilled beef fillet with a Roquefort sauce.
José Francisco Peña Gómez
Las Terrenas 32000
+1 809 240 6111
An abundance of idyllic beaches
When you wake up, the sky is tinted pink and lilac. In the morning, you can walk barefoot along the beach. Coconut tree groves extend their palms over the light-coloured sand, alongside the translucent water. A powerful feeling of freedom drives you to the Playa Coson and its long white ribbon of quiet sandy beach. Alone in the middle of this unspoiled setting, you reconnect with nature. You derive intense pleasure from contact with a 28°C sea. You play in the waves like a child. Mouth-watering smells float through the air. A feast of grilled spiny lobster and tostones, fried plantains, washed down with an iced local beer awaits you at the Luis restaurant. Playa Madama, Playa Fronton, Playa Playita… Edged with coconut palms, deserted or frequented by locals and sometimes accessible by boat, the beaches nearby seem to have come straight off a postcard.
Las Terrenas 32000
+1 829 601 8772
In the heart of the village of Las Terrenas
Reinvigorated by this sun-soaked day, you decide to spend the evening at Las Terrenas. In the main street, swaying melodies escape from the multicoloured stalls overflowing with tropical fruits. A brazen trader lets you try ripe papayas and juicy mangoes.
For your dinner, you may enjoy sampling some traditional cuisine. Several people recommend the same restaurant to you, a few streets away. The staff welcome you with a smile at Cocinita Dominicana. You are torn between braised pork and grouper in coconut milk. While you are waiting for your order, you sip a piña colada, and make friends with your neighbours.
Delighted to have experienced this Dominican-style conviviality, you head for Pueblo de los Pescadores, where restaurants and music bars stand side-by-side. A party ambience reigns in la Bodega! Inside this bar famous for its wild evenings, tourists and locals get together to dance to the rhythms of the bachata, salsa and merengue. Dare to put your inhibitions aside and enjoy this good-natured atmosphere to the full.
Avenida Juan Pablo Duarte
Las Terrenas 32000
+1 829 433 8645
Las Terrenas 32000
National marine park and a spectacular waterfall
On the following day, you will meet Nicolas, a Frenchman who manages the “Flora Tours” excursion agency. With him, you set off to explore Los Haitises National Park. Nicknamed “the Halong Bay of the Caribbean” and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural site promises to be an exciting one. After a 40-minute boat ride in Samana Bay, Bird Island appears. Frigate birds wheel above this island where hundreds of fishing birds nest. After admiring this fascinating sight, you leave to visit three caves which contain engravings and drawings created by the Taino Indians, the original inhabitants of the region. Your friendly guide has a lovely surprise in store for you: an aperitif on the beach, accompanied by a fish lunch. Enthused by your day, the following morning you head off with Nicolas for another nature tour.
14 km away from Las Terranas is the El Limon waterfall. From the small village of the same name, small, docile horses transport you along a challenging route over steep and muddy terrain. The roar of the waterfall pierces the silence of the forest. This impressive 50 m waterfall emerges through the foliage of the trees. You run to cool off in its natural pools. Intrepid children swim right up to the curtain of water which falls in torrents, climb up the rocks, and then throw themselves off from a dizzying height.
If you are lucky enough to stay in the region between January and the end of March, another site will give you goose-bumps: whale watching. Every year, impressive humpback whales migrate from the north of the Atlantic Ocean and come to calve in the warm waters of the Samana Peninsula. A few metres away from your boat, you hear the powerful breathing of the cetaceans coming up to the surface. You will fall in love with the calves which frolic with their mothers and applaud the power of the males which jump out of the waves to attract the females. This magical moment will leave you with a moving memory of a still unspoiled Dominican region.
278 Calle Principal Duarte
+1 809 240 5482