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Las Galeras, Dominican Republic

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Situated near the tip of the Samana peninsula, Las Galeras might be the best vacation spot in the entire Dominican Republic. An isolated fishing village just 25 years ago, Las Galeras remains out of the reach of the package tourism industry that dominates much of the island’s best shoreline. The town has been discovered by rich Dominicans and European expats, but it retains a sleepy, off-the-beaten track appeal, while offering just enough entertainment and accommodation to please the modern traveler.

Las Galeras is a small town, with just a single main road containing almost every one of the towns businesses. The road ends at the Las Galeras beach, a town beach with a veranda featuring local food and drink vendors and small harbor. From here you can take boats to other local beaches, including the beautiful Playa Rincon and Playa Fronton. Low key 4WD buggies, diving, and snorkeling excursions also explore local beaches and waters.

Lodging/Hotels in Las Galeras

Las Galeras is a small town, but it has several options for comfortable lodging. Try the friendly French-owned Juan y Lolo for one of their beautiful houses on Calle Jimi Hendrix, just a block from the Las Galeras beach (prices start at about $45 US). Just a little more expensive are the beachfront El Marinique cottages and apartments. The Villa Serena is perhaps the nicest of the Las Galeras hotels, with a large terrace overlooking the ocean and 21 good-sized rooms (from $65 US). For a rare all-inclusive option in the sleepy town, try the Grand Paradise Samana (also known as the Casa Marina Bay).

Bars/Restaurants in Las Galeras

There are a number of pleasant restaurants in Las Galeras, mostly low-key affairs owned by ex-pats from France and elsewhere in Europe. The Press is a good bar/resto with pleasant American staff. Down the main road away from the beach there is a quality Italian pizza place with some good specialty pizza. The beach area has some small restaurants selling fish and chicken of a good quality. The sit-down restaurants at Rincon beach are of a surprisingly excellent standard, considering their hard-to-reach location (try the fresh fish). For a authentically Dominican breakfast, stop by the small diner on the left of the road as you go leave town, the fried cheese and mashed plantains are truly superb.

Nightlife in Las Galeras is unsurprisingly laid-back, with several ex-pat bars serving as the go-to places for visitors and long-term residents alike. For a more "real" Dominican feel, visit the dance halls along the main road. You can't miss them: follow the pumping music.

Things to do in Las Galeras

Numerous tours leave from Las Galeras beach. Most popular are the boat trips to Playa Rincon and the other local beaches. The boat companies should offer a standard rate (about $10 a person), but it is worth negotiating, although the riders are not in competition, so this can be tricky. Near the beach the private visitor center offers diving and snorkeling and horse and 4WD tours around the area and to nearby beaches: a more expensive but fun way to make the journey. Further afield, Samana has some of the Caribbean's best whale watching excursions.

After a long day on the beach or on an adventure tour, there's nothing better than a soothing massage at the Swiss-owned therapy parlor just off Calle Jimi Hendrix. Follow signs or ask for Maya's massage.

Getting to Las Galeras

The town is located at the tip of the beautiful Samana Peninsula in the northwest of the country, about 75 minutes from the nearest airport (El Catey International), and 30 minutes from the major town of the province, the city of Samana. A new toll road connects Santo Domingo and Boca Chica to the Peninsula, but the roads from Sanchez to Samana are local and the road from Samana to Las Galeras are poorly kept (though better than the unpaved path of a couple decades ago). Buses run from the capital to Samana, and there are taxis ($15+) and local buses ($2) from here. Hotels and cruise ships throughout the island can also connect you to transportation here. The local bus (minibuses) leave every 20 minutes from the Samana market and pick up and drop off passengers all the way to the terminus at the Las Galeras Beach.

OVERVIEW for your visit to the Dominican Republic:

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