The experience of seeing humpback whales in Samaná is an unforgettable experience, you must be prepared and know all the details of the excursion so that things go as well as possible, The Humpback Whale Sanctuary is a marine paradise in which every year between December and March these impressive mammals are sheltered.
The whales can be seen since December, but the natives say it is very unlikely to see them before January 15, with February being the most frequent month of whale sightings,
When you arrive at the airport in the plane before boarding the bus for the excursion they will give you a pill that you should take to avoid dizziness, I remind you that this excursion is done open water and the movement of the boat can be constant depending on the conditions of the sea.
The normal is that the sea is calm but it could also be very moved, the sightings in Samaná do not take place in the open sea since Samaná is a huge bay.
When you arrive at the port and get on the boat they will give you a vest, a raincoat too. Along the way, they will explain everything about humpback whales, and you should also keep in mind that you cannot guarantee 100% that you can see the whales and that the most spectacular thing would be to see them jump.
But that they would do everything possible so that the sighting is possible. But it happens that sometimes they do not see each other but it has nothing to do with the end of January or February, it is pure luck,
whale watching is an event of nature, excursion organizers are only guides, however, the chances of sightings are very high.
It is advisable to bring a good waterproof camera to take spectacular photos of the whales, especially when the whales jump.
Why are there whales in Samaná?
In the peninsula of Samana, the crystalline waters of the bank are protected from strong waves and wind by a strong reef – rather a set of coral mounds that extend from the ground to the surface, although dangerous for navigation, create an ideal environment for reproduction and breeding of humpback whales.
Most of the humpback whales of the northwest Atlantic Ocean make a long migration each year to these Dominican waters and other places in the Caribbean.
They come from Greenland, Iceland, and North America. The Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic is an area of great importance for the reproduction of this species, and it is perhaps the area with the highest concentration of humpback whales in the world and one of the largest whale sanctuaries in the northern hemisphere.
Are whale watching tours bad for whales in Samaná?
There are different ways of doing ecological tourism in Samana, respecting the environment where the whales are located, for this you need to have awareness and knowledge of the appropriate spaces to see the whales without causing them discomfort.
It is not recommended to make excursions illegally, to make that excursion you need a permit, those who sell illegal excursions from the streets and beaches, it is very sure that they do not have permission to do them, do not respect the rules of the Environment and scare the whales because they chase them until they bother them.
The only boats allowed to make these excursions are those that carry a yellow flag of the Ministry of Tourism.
It is important to contribute to the excursions with boats and captains allowed and prepared, since these do respect the perimeters, and the times allowed around the whales, and do not disturb the whale mothers breastfeeding their young.
Many fishermen in the area leave their main activity from January to March to engage in illegal excursions with tourists. Although lately this activity has been quite regulated by the Ministry of Environment, if you buy an illegal excursion, even if it is a little cheaper, you are at risk of losing your money, and you would be promoting the deterioration of ecological tourism.
It is advised not to make the excursion from a little boat, but that they do it from a large boat or with appropriate dimensions, the reason is that from a very small boat you are very down to see in the distance. And from a large ship, you have a much better vision to be higher.
The best place for whale watching in the Dominican Republic
Many people believe that whales are only seen in Samaná and this is not the case, although Samaná is the most appropriate place for tourists to see whales, it is not the place where these mammals gather most, the best place for whales is called the Banco de la Plata (the silver bank) a whale sanctuary located very close to the north coast of the Dominican Republic, only that the sea in this area is very dangerous and not all boats can enter.
The silver bank on an underwater platform of coral origin, which is located 80 nautical miles (140km) from Puerto Plata, and at a depth of only 20 meters. But it is an area that is dangerous for navigation and is not very frequented by boats. That is the reason why they do not do excursions with tourists.
In these waters of the Banco de la Plata, humpback whales find a suitable environment to reproduce and take care of their young during the winter season. When this period ends, the whales return with their young to the cold waters of the North Atlantic. It is estimated that during the months of November to April between 2,000 and 3,000 Humpback Whales visit Banco de la Plata, which constitutes 80% of the total population of these whales in the North Atlantic.