To celebrate my birthday I had a holiday in Samana, Dominican Republic, during January 2011. The highlight of my Dominican Republic trip was to go humpback whale watching in Samana Peninsula.
Brief information about humpback whale watching:
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale and one of the larger rorqual species. The humpback whale can be found in oceans and seas around the world. Each year humpback whales migrate up to 25000 kilometres between polar waters and tropical or sub-tropical waters. Typically in summer humpbacks feed themselves on cold waters and in winter they migrate to warmer waters to breed and give birth.
Each winter the humpback whales return to the Dominican Republic and circulate between the several breeding areas. Because 1500 or more humpback whales may visit Samana Bay from January to late March, the World Wildlife fund considers Samana one of the the best places to watch whales.
Before I took my holiday I searched on a few websites about humpback whale watching in Samana and found a company named Whale Samana run by a Canadian, Kim Beddall. After arriving my hotel Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado I contacted her. Suggested by her I went on the morning of January 21, 2011, and it was a very special experience.
About ten oclock her boat stoped off to pick up me and other passengers from the public dock on Cayo Levantado island. When we were on board Kim started to introduce a lot of knowledge about humpback whales and their activities in Samana, and answered the questions we asked. We had a chance to touch a humpback whale model too. It was very fun until our boat went on further to the rougher waters. I actually found the rocking to be too much for me and I couldn’t stop vomiting. However I was lucky enough to see a couple of humpback whales on the sea. Other passengers even saw more as they were up in the bow of the boat or followed the boat staff introduction quickly. When we left the tour we were provided with a little information booklet and I was offered a free next trip if I want.
Although due my personal health reason I didn’t enjoy my humpback whale watching at most, I still consider whale-watching is a must if you visit Samana between January and March. It is really amazing to witness such unusual animals in their natural habitat. However I do have some suggestions for you.
First: choose a right time to come. That said from middle January till late March you have a chance to see humpback whales. However you possibily can’t see them until Febrary.
Second: choose a right company to go with. No matter you choose online, through your hotel or your travel company, or even just by going down to the harbour in Samana, bear in mind different companies may have different prices, different trip length and speak in different languages. I paid $55 USD per person plus a $3 docking fee in support of the whale sanctuary and I was provided with 3 plus hours trip. Last but not least the boat was very spacious, the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable, and they spoke English.
Third: be ready for it. Put on plenty sunblock and take a hat. If you are unsure whether you are prone to sea-sickness or not it’s better to take a dramamine pill in case. I also found putting ice cubes on your forehead helped.
If you wonder how to protect humpback whales on Samana Bay you can contact Center for the Investigation of Marine Biology(CIBIMA). It is delicated to the study and preservation of all the marine resources of Dominican Republic. Its activities include search, education, and securing protective laws and decrees.