Getting there & around
Península de Samaná is now more easily accessible by air because of the new Aeropuerto Internacional El Catey, on the highway between Nagua and Sánchez. It receives international flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico (American Eagle) and various cities in Europe (Air Comet, Condor, LTU, CanJet, Corsair, Skyservice, Neos, Sunwing and Air Transat). Tourism on the peninsula is likely to be transformed by this airport.
Two other airports – ‘international’ by name only – serve the peninsula. Several small domestic airlines have regularly scheduled flights to Aeropuerto Internacional El Portillo, several kilometers west of Las Terrenas, and during the height of whale-watching season less frequently to the otherwise charter-only Aeropuerto Internacional Arroyo Barril near Samaná.
Other than arriving by cruise ship, the only sea option is the regular ferry service between Samaná and Sabana de la Mar in the southeast. Cars are not allowed, the boats themselves vary from rickety and untrustworthy to serviceable, and the schedule is subject to the weather.
A new highway, said to cut the travel time from Santo Domingo to Samaná to a mere two hours, was scheduled to open in early 2008 but financing and construction hiccups have meant delays. As is their wont in the DR, some drivers have already begun to use portions of the new blacktop even though other parts are impassable. From Santo Domingo, it will pass through Los Merenas, Malta Moreno, Boya, Los Mapolos, Las Coles, Rincón Molinillos and finally Cruce de Rincón, which is almost 20km west of Sánchez; once the highway is operational, expect heavy traffic. Until then, it’s a four- to five-hour drive from Santo Domingo. Take Hwy Duarte north to San Francisco de Macorís, Castillo, Nagua, Sánchez and finally Samaná. From Puerto Plata, it’s a three- to four-hour drive east along Hwy 5.