Getting there & away
Transporte Maritimo (809-538-2556; Av Malecón) provides the only ferry service – passengers only, no vehicles – across the Bahía de Samaná to Sabana de la Mar (US$4.25, one hour plus, daily at 7am, 9am, 11am and 3pm). From there, it’s possible to catch gua-guas to several destinations in the southeast and then on to Santo Domingo, though the road network in this part of the country is rough and public transportation is not so comfortable.
Facing the pier, Caribe Tours (809-538-2229; Av Malecón) offers services to Santo Domingo at 7am, 8:30am, 10am, 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm (US$8.50, 4½ hours, daily). The same bus stops along the way at Sánchez (US$2, 30 minutes), Nagua (US$2.15, one hour) and San Francisco de Macorís (US$3, 1½ hours). A block west, Metro (809-538-2851; cnr Av Malecón & Calle Rubio y Peñaranda) offers a similar service (US$8, 4½ hours, twice daily at 7:30am and 3:30pm). Like its competitor, it stops at Sánchez (US$2.30, 30 minutes), Nagua (US$2.30, one hour) and San Francisco de Macorís (US$3.50, 1½ hours). Tickets are sold in the small Western Union office next door to Caribe Tours.
For direct service to Puerto Plata 210km to the west, there are two options. El Canario (809-291-5594; Av Malecón) buses (US$7, 3½ to four hours) leave at 10am beside the Banco Popular. Papagayo (809-970-2991) (ask for Salvador) has a service at 1:30pm from under the mango tree on the eastern side of the little park next to Banco Popular on the Malecón. Locals say the latter is a safer though slightly slower ride. Arrive 30 to 45 minutes early to reserve a seat.
For service to towns nearby, head to the gua-gua terminal (Av Malecón) at the mercado municipal, 200m west of the Politur station, near Angel Mesina. From here, trucks and minivans head to Las Galeras (US$2, 45 minutes to one hour, every 15 minutes from 6am to 6pm), El Limón (US$3, 30 minutes, every 15 minutes from 6am to 6pm) and Sánchez (US$1.75, 45 minutes, every 15 minutes from 6am to 4:30pm). You can also hail gua-guas on the main drag, but more often than not they’re packed with passengers, boxes and chickens, so you’ll either have to hang off the side or sit on one cheek to catch this ride.
The nearest airport in regular operation is Aeropuerto Internacional El Portillo (EPS; 809-248-2289), just outside of Las Terrenas. The new Aeropuerto Internacional El Catey (AZS; 809-338-0094), 40km west of Samaná, receives international flights. The closest airstrip to Samaná, Aeropuerto Internacional Arroyo Barril, receives mostly charter flights only.