Travel Guide: A weekend in Las Galeras
If you’re familiar with the Dominican Republic, you’re likely familiar with Punta Cana, or perhaps even Puerto Plata. But have you ever heard of Las Galeras? Chances are slim. However, we’re here to tell you that if you haven’t heard of it, it’s time to look into it. This tiny fishing village on the far tip of the Samana peninsula is a gem waiting to be discovered. While lodging is limited, some of the beach beaches on the island can be found surrounding this town. If you’re thinking about heading to this area, here’s our guide to everything you need to know.
Accessing Las Galeras
Las Galeras is about an hour and a half off the main highway when you first turn onto the peninsula. Once you’re on Highway 5, you literally take it to the end. Much of the road is in incredible condition, with a few trickier parts along the way (think massive potholes or dirt roads.
The larger town of Samana is the closest, about 40 minutes away from Las Galeras. The town of Las Galeras itself is very small, just about 3 blocks by 3 blocks, so pretty hard to miss.
Las Galeras is outside the main tourist zones, so you won’t find any 5 star restaurants of walmarts out here. You’ll find a few small, local cafes and pizza restaurants and a couple of shops. Street vendors sell fresh fish or fried foods and the small shops sell clothing, trinkets and other “touristy” goods.
Hotel TODOBLANCO will be the highest end property, located right on the beachfront of Las Galeras, with low-key rooms and an authentic vibes.
Villa Serena is a similar style property, with colonial-like structures and an authentic vibe. Their restaurant is the highest end in town with nice views over the bay.
Grand Paradise Samana is an all-inclusive property, which may be the right move for you depending on your needs. While it is not a particularly luxury hotel, they do check the boxes when it comes to clean rooms, 3-star food and great access to the beach. We stayed at this property and felt it was the right choice at the time because many restaurants were closed due to COVID-19 and we did not want to get stuck without a decent meal for our weekend. Mind you, we were here back in the spring and many things have reopened since.
Accessing the beaches
Playa Rincon, Playa Madama and Playa Fronton are the three beaches most boats will take you on for a day tour. We did a private tour for about $65 per person, which was quite pricey. We booked through the hotel, though, we could have wandered down to any of the boats in town to do the same trip for less. However, they picked us up right outside the hotel and it was super convenient.
Playa Fronton is the farthest beach from Las Galeras and on rough sea days can be a bit intense. However, the beach itself is stunning, with so much coral and sea life. In the winter months, you can see whales right off the beach since this beach is right on the edge of the country. We saw two whales and they spent a long time swimming around right off shore. It was truly very beautiful.
Playa Madama was the next stop: a small bay protected from wind and rough seas. Of the three beaches, this was our least favorite and we’d recommend a quick stop here before spending most of the day at Playa Rincon (our personal favorite).
Playa Rincon is spectacular. The water is strikingly blue and the sand is bright white. It’s accessible by boat, but it’s also the only other beach accessible by car. There are a couple of restaurants on Playa Rincon as well that serve fresh fish, chicken and cocktails and we could have spent a whole weekend just on this beach.
We loved our weekend getaway to Las Galeras. It feels like a completely different vibe from the rest of the Dominican Republic and offers a glimpse of what it was like to be on the island 20-30 years ago. Next time we return, we’ll 100% we checking out some of the boutique properties and spending the majority of the time on the beautiful Playa Rincon.