10 April, 2013, Samana Bay, Dominican Republic
Now this is exactly what Vanish (pronounced "Banish" in Espanol) is all about. Getting away from it all - heading over the horizon, banishing the BS (Bad Stuff), leaving the hustle and bustle behind and spending some serious down-time in a gorgeous spot. We keep pinching ourselves on how lucky we are. There is so much to see and do here in Samana Bay. There are numerous caves surrounding the Bay and one of our favourites is the above, named Cavo San Gabriel. A column is formed when a stalagtite and stalagmite join up and just inside the small cave entrance the above column is at least 20 feet high and about 5 feet across at the top making it very old indeed. We only found the cave after one of us spotted a landing dock in one of the dozens of inlets etched into the steep foreshore. Once inside the cave we found a number of chambers with ceiling heights of at least 50 feet. Samana Bay sits on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic and is approximately 26 miles long and 8 miles wide and is shaped like a large rectangle. In January and February, 80% of the world's humpback whales come here to calve so it must be a spectacular sight to see.
The predominant wind is from the east meaning it blows straight into the Bay every day starting around 9 to 10 a.m. and lasts until just after sundown. At night, the wind dies down to 10 - 15 knots in the Bay. Due to the shallows across the 8 mile entrance, the waves don't seem to get much higher than about 3 feet even though the wind is in the 20 knot range. On the southern side of the bay, there are a number of fabulous anchorages where one can hide from the wind and waves in dead flat conditions close to shore. Paddling the kayaks is easy or we can zoom around in the dinghy to the dozens of cave sites hidden amongst the forested karst hills which drop down into the sea. We found an eco-resort at the far end of Bahia de San Lorenzo, another perfect sheltered bay, after navigating our way down a narrow mangrove lined waterway within Samana Bay
which brought us to a landing place for our dinghy and one of the spots where tourists arrive to visit the Parque Nacional los Haitises.
We then walked along a dirt road for less than 10 minutes past rice paddies and paddocks with grazing horses and cattle until we came to the resort and restaurant named El Kayuko where we enjoyed lunch
and a refreshing swim in the cascading water pools fed by a stream above the resort. The restaurant had no windows and was open to all the smells, sights and sounds of the forest, the heavy occasional downpours and even a tame crow named Wingo
which had a habit of flying into the kitchen for his favourite food of rice, bread or cheese. The climate, topography, clouds and lushness of the area reminds us so much of home.
Our Spanish is improving as we were able to find out little bits of information from the staff about their lives and where to go from here. We were the only paying guests at the resort and in fact, we had a problem when we purchased and drank a couple of drinks as we only had a 1000 peso note, equivalent to $US25, and they had no change whatsoever so we ended up trading a small bottle of rum for the soda water and a bottled water. Dumb and dumber! We've still only seen 7 yachts, 4 were locals and the other 3 were from Sweden, Texas and France but no one stays long. We can't imagine a more exotic, beautiful, isolated, quiet, safe and interesting piece of coastline.