Monday, 1 April 2019

Magnificent creatures

I'd come to the Dominican Republic to watch whales, so first I went online and booked several trips with Whale Samana, who seemed to be a professional company run by an American marine biologist. The area to watch whales was Samana bay, which is in the North-East of the country, well away from tourist areas. An online hotel search showed a number of rough-looking places in Samana town, with one luxury resort located 8km outside town but they were offering ridiculously low rates so I booked there, I needed a car anyway. On arrival at Santo Domingo airport I collected my rent-a-wreck (and this one really was!) and drove around to Samana, a five hour journey that went OK apart from collecting a speeding ticket and roadside fine from a couple of policemen who were determined to fleece this gringo.

When I arrived at the hotel they gave me a little apartment with a balcony overlooking the bay, and as has happened so often on this trip, I seemed to be the only guest! I don't know how these places manage to keep going, especially when they were charging me less than a run-down hostel in town.
View from hotel balcony
Bright and early next morning I was at the marina for my first boat trip. I climbed to the upper deck of the boat and found a seat up front near the captain. Sitting next to me was a young lady, holding a camera with the longest lens I have ever seen! I got out my battered Nikon coolpix and she started laughing. So Eva and I came to an agreement that I would just watch whales, and she'd let me have any nice photos; the next few photos are therefore courtesy of Eva. Within ten minutes or so from leaving the harbour, we came upon a pair of humpback whales, a mother and young baby. The baby was in a frisky mood, it kept coming near to us & the other two boats in the vicinity, jumping out of the water (breaching), slapping its tail and generally having a good time.
That looks pretty big!

Baby whale 'breaching'

Baby whale tail slap
 We were treated to this exciting, wonderful spectacle for about 15 minutes, the mother whale just gently swimming close to the baby, virtually submerged, when, after a particularly boisterous show, the mother decided to join in.
Bloody Hell thats huge!
 Thats when we realised how big she was!! She breached right beside the boat; the captain estimated she was around 40 feet long, and by the splash, must have been 20 tons or more! I have never had such an exciting experience!
Mother starting to breach

... higher

.... higher

 Just a fabulous sight to see first hand - right then I was happy that I'd made the journey. I'd actually booked two weeks in the hotel, so I had two more days when I had a trip out in the bay with Whale Samana, then on two other occasions I went out in one of those tiny fishing boats (much cheaper but pretty hairy!). Unfortunately the weather was a bit unsettled, so there were days I couldn't go out on the water, however, each time I did, we managed to see more of these magnificent creatures. I never saw Eva again though, so no more photos.
Yeah, another deserted beach!
 In between boat trips I occupied myself driving around the peninsular, finding some lovely deserted white-sand beaches, plus searching for elusive vegan restaurants (there were none!) although I did find a Falafal place in Las Terrenas, a sort of 'gringo' town that had a French supermarket where I bought supplies.

The rest of the time I just hung around the hotel - there was a nice pool and a private beach, and I was the only person there!

My own private beach!
Eventually it was time to leave - I'd left England on the 6th December with a return flight via Miami on 21st March - long enough time away, I reckon.

My only regret was that I'd felt ill for much of the trip, nothing specific, just 'under the weather'. When I finally arrived home I decided to visit a doctor; seemed I needed an immediate operation 'down there' so Wednesday 27th I was in hospital. I'm home now, feeling pretty uncomfortable but glad to be able to share these photos with you. 'Ciao'


  1. Spectacular pics. I fondly remember my first whale watching experience. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. Mighty creatures.

    Hope you're feeling better soon in your down there area. Take care and make the best of it, John.

  2. Thanks Sonja - it was one of the best experiences of my life.
    I’m hoping to pull through and be back on the bike sometime this year. A bit difficult managing on my own right now, but I’m sure it’ll get better.

  3. You do manage to find those lovely places where no one else is staying. You are lucky that way. And Eva did a wonderful job with the whale photos.

    I am glad you are home and are recovering. Hopefully you will feel better soon.

  4. Trobairitz, I’m not sure if I’m lucky, or it’s just the time of year. But it was nice having a luxury resort to myself ;)

    I’m doing OK thanks, concentrating on getting better

  5. Thank you Eva for bringing along that monsterous lense and sharing the photos, very fortuitous. Glad you made it home and were able to share them El D. So glad you did. I wish you a speedy and complete recovery. Here's to being back to riding soon!

  6. V star lady, nice to hear from you, glad you’re back in the blogosphere! I’m hoping to be back on the bike soon, missing that freedom feeling!!