The beautiful Bay of Samana, on the country’s northeast region, is preparing to receive the humpback whales that from January through March make the warm waters off the north coast of the Dominican Republic their home.
During their stay in the region they mate and give birth to their young. Visitors can observe the whales in this natural habitat by visiting the country’s Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
Up to three thousand 40-ton humpback whales travel from the North Atlantic at an average speed of six kilometers per hour to reach the warm, crystalline waters of Samana Bay. They arrive during the month of January to deliver their offspring, after a gestation period that lasts from eleven to twelve months.
February is the best month for observing the whales in the Marine Mammal Sanctuary until their departure in late March. The protected area allows these mythical creatures to give birth and mate in a safe environment.
The sanctuary, one of the largest humpback whale observatories in the world, is a must visit for national and international tourists.
The Bay of Samana is the only place in the Caribbean where the humpback whales can be observed in a completely natural environment.
Each year more and more visitors travel to the country’s north coast to observe the whales. Another perfect observation spot is the Whale Terrestrial Observation Center, in Punta Balandra.
The Center has encouraged the region’s economic development and raised awareness on the need for all to respect and protect these huge marine mammals.
Due to the strict regulations that protect the whales, the authorities only allow guided tours to the Whale Sanctuary.
For this reason, only three ferries per group of whales are allowed. The ferries must maintain a minimum distance of 50 meters, and 80 meters if it is a mother and her calf. There is a 30-minute time limit per observation tour.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, some 50,000 tourists per year are visiting the Sanctuary. At the same time, some 100 direct jobs have been created around the whale-watching tours, as well as many micro and medium-size businesses.
Tour rates do vary, but most tour companies charge an average of US$50 per person, including lunch.
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