School’s officially out for summer, which means local vacation spots will be swarming. In search of a more serene get-away? Head south — way south — to the beautiful beaches of the Dominican Republic. The cities of Punta Cana and Puerta Plata have long been the country’s top tourist destinations, but popularity comes with a price: crowds. On Hispaniola’s Atlantic coast, far away from the hustle and bustle, the Samana peninsula offers visitors miles of untouched beaches and a true taste of island culture.
Just a 20-minute drive from El Catay airport, The Sublime Samana Resort and Residences is nestled quietly between the mountains and the coastline, providing a spectacular view in all directions. The province is one of the most unspoiled natural habitats of the Caribbean. The brochure pictures of endless palm trees and empty shores along the Samana are legit. Sink into a sunny lounge chair on the private six-mile beach and dip yourself in crystal clear turquoise waters, sharing your swim only with the occasional fish or a school of dolphin.
For those who prefer slightly calmer seas, two large pools book-end the property. Or, camp out in a private palapa, soak up some Dominican sun and simply slip into one of the adjacent plunge pools, gracefully interwoven through the center of the resort just a few steps from your front door.
A short stroll through soft white sand leads guests to a rustic spa, which offers visitors a variety of treatments in open-air cabins, surrounded by the scents and sounds of Atlantic waves crashing on the shore. After a relaxing ritual, refuel alfresco at the Beachside Grill, open for breakfast and lunch.
The collection of 20 suites and villas feature a variety of rooms sized for two, four or more. Each is appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows, full dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens and private balconies, many with hot tubs. Large groups can take up residence in one of the four casitas, two- or three-bedroom villas complete with a garden or ocean view. Need something? Ask On-Site Manager Paula. From restaurant recommendations to fresh towels, she can get anything and everything. Mention casually that your flip-flops didn’t make into your luggage and a pair will suddenly materialize in your closet.
But don’t get so comfy that you miss the chance to explore the treasures that the area has to offer off-site.
Accompany Executive Chef Christian Matias Baez on a trip to the local fish market (read: the beach where fishing boats come ashore). Select your favorite seafood — you’ll never find fresher. Back on the property, assist the chef in preparing your meal, all while learning about local ingredients and techniques for getting the most flavor from your food. Then, of course, enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Hike or horseback through the Dominican rain forest that surrounds the Sierra Samana mountain range to Salto de Limon waterfalls. See a variety of local flora and fauna that grow abundantly unfettered before reaching the falls that cascade down 180 feet into a fresh water pool, perfect for cooling after the trek.
In winter months, the Samana Bay is a spawning ground for humpback whales. Watch these wondrous animals as they sing love songs and make flying leaps through the air in attempts to woo their partners, then escort their newborn calves into the deep blue sea.