Samana Humpback Whale Watching

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Samana Whale Watching
Season & Tours

Between 3,000 to 5,000 humpback whales migrate to the warm protected waters of  the Bay of Samana every winter to mate or give birth. The prime whale watching period in Samana Bay is from mid-January to the end of March. However, it's best to wait until mid-February when the numbers are at their peak to make a special visit here for whale watching.

Named a Marine Mammal Sanctuary by the Dominican Republic in 1966, Samana Bay is the final destination of the humpback whales which journey here all the way from the arctic to mate or give birth.  Whale watching excursions depart Samana City for as long as whales remain in the Bay.

By April, most are making the return migration to the far arctic waters of the north.  Considering the considerable size of Samana Bay --200 square miles (518 square kilometers)—finding whales is not always as easy as it might seem. The absolute best month for whale watching often is February, when the largest number of humpbacks generally are present.  

At times it’s possible even to view the whales from shore in Las Terrenas, Las Galeras and  Samana City. Those who don’t want to brave the often rough waters of Samana Bay will appreciate the country’s first Land Whale Observatory at Punta Balandra near Samana City.

Things to consider in selecting a Samana whale watching tour:

Whale watching takes place in Samana's outer bay where the sea typically is choppy if not downright rough, so the style of tour boat is critical.

The boat needs to have adequate protection from wind, waves and salt water spray, which not only are camera killers but major misery factors during the winter, even in the Dominican Republic.

The larger the vessel, the better the protection you have from the weather. Furthermore, the higher above the water you sit, the better the view.  

Since these waters are within a protected Marine Mammal Sanctuary, regulations require boats stay a certain distance from the whales, an elevated viewpoint guarantees the best views, and the best photos.

Unless you have an assigned seat, choose one on the second or third deck as close to the bow as you can in order to view the approach to the whale and begin photographing as soon as possible.

Generally the tour boat will swing around so that both sides receive the same view but the view is never always the “same.”  The whale may suddenly raise its tail and disappear (the photo  everyone wants) as the boat turns around. This is an active situation, not a static landscape.    
Samana Whale Watching Tour Operators

Kim Beddall is a former scuba diver who pioneered Samana whale watching. Internationally recognized as a leading conservationist, Kim sometimes is the naturalist speaker on her whale watching vessel, Victoria II, which can carry up to 80 passengers Even if she is not present, there always is a whale expert to announce to passengers what is going on.  Tours last 3-4 hours. Located at the Samana Marina. Her company web site is Whale Samana; 809/538-2494.

Motomarina conducts both whale watching tours and trips to Los Haitises National Park trips.  Motomarina, too, is located at the Samana Marina.  

Marivanna Tours also in Samana City offers whale watching tours for both cruise passengers and independent travelers.

In season, you will probably find other whale watching boat tours available at the Samana Marina at the Malecon.

Make your decision carefully.  You may never have another Samana whale watching trip.

To Samana Whale Watching Trip
Based on my first-hand experience

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