Las Galeras, Deposit My Ashes Here
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Las Galeras has been described as the “end of the road” or the “end of the world”, it all depends on your frame of reference. If you’re Dominican and you’ve never left the Santo Domingo, it could seem like the end of the world as you stand on the beach looking into the vastness of a seemingly endless horizon. For me, having seen a few more places, I want it to be my end of the road, as in leave my cold, silken ashes here for all eternity. Las Galeras and the surrounding beaches are filled with views of unfettered beauty. Mountains rise up, palm trees sway and lush green earth seems to be the natural magic carpet ride you’ve been waiting for. I for one, have not seen such beauty before and readily admit, I do have a few more places to travel to, however this will do for now.
Getting to Las Galeras is half the fun, we drove Route 7 to Route 5 from Santo Domingo, it’s about 3 and ½ hours. It’s a leisurely drive of varied landscapes and changing altitudes. Along the way you’ll pass through many small towns, each seemingly the same, with the exception of the town of Samana. Samana is a popular destination for whale watching excursions and boating tours. Samana is also a frothy mess of activity. An imperfect orchestration of motorized scooters, cars and pedestrians, all playing their own tune as you navigate your way through town, it is pretty though. As you drop down out of the surrounding hillside on Route 5, you’ll navigate carefully through the town, before being greeted by the lovely Samana Bay. Great place for light bites or photos, before continuing on your journey to Las Galeras. Once you begin to leave the marina area of Samana Bay, Route 5 rises into the eastern hills, leaving the bay below, shimmering in the distance.
Continuing your journey, the road winds through small towns and villages, snaking its way through the mountainous green landscape. Once the last twist and turns have ended and the final descent begins from the last of the elevated roads, you will be dropped into the small hamlet of Las Galeras. Las Galeras is sleepy and slow, and it might just be exactly what you were craving.
There are a few shops scattered about, small restaurants here and there as you pass through town. The main congregation of locals and tourists are gathered near La Playa in Las Galeras (the beach at very end of Route 5). At La Playa, boat tour operators and wandering tourists co-mingle taking in the shore line and haggle for boat trips. Popular destinations provided by the boat tour operators are Playa Fronton, Playa Madama and Playa Rincon. After a bit of confusion (street signs are lacking in Las Galeras), we located our host and subsequently, our accommodations. Our condo, via Airbnb, was Jasmine at La Playita. It was both beautifully rustic and comfortable, it also came with a resident pet that befriended us, a black cat we came to adore. We entered our condo from the rear of the property and the view from that vantage point was magical. Jasmine at La Playita is the kind of place where ashes are scattered, wedding vows whispered and deep breaths taken. To say it was stunning, is an understatement. The view of the ocean, surrounding hills, swaying palm trees, horses running free and limestone rock formations made it feel surreal. This just might be the tropical heaven of my dreams. The finer point to this, we were one of only two guest parties staying at the location, all this heaven was temporarily ours.
A short walk through the flora from Jasmine leads to you La Playita, the beach nearest to our accommodations. It is reserved, quiet and postcard worthy. The views here are picturesque, children play quietly and beach-goers take refuge in the solitude of nature’s splendor. We spent a couple of afternoons here, before deciding on a boat ride to Playa Rincon.
We made our boating arrangements at La Playa (the heart of Las Galeras), our tour guides picked us up right on the beach in La Playita (my kind of Uber), literally backing the boat to the shoreline. We waded out into the warm, calf deep water and boarded our ride to Playa Rincon.
Playa Rincon, when you arrive by boat reveals itself slowly, unfolding like a tropical dream. Horseshoe in shape, the beach is a sandy flat circular arc, with the backdrop being lush green hills. You feel like the sugary deposits at the bottom of your favorite milk soaked, savory breakfast cereal, it's just all goodness. Once on the beach at Playa Rincon, you plop down and escape from whatever was and enjoy the now. There are few beach restaurants scattered about that offer food and liquid refreshment, however the food is a bit pricey and for the most part should be used only to take the edge off of your hunger. Your thirst? Well there is always Presidente Cerveza or better yet, pack what you need. If you’re on the northern Samana Peninsula, Playa Rincon is a must visit.
Sleepy and mellow, Las Galeras is bountiful in beauty. It just might be the escape you’ve been seeking.