El Portillo – the snorkelling capital of the Carribean

Everybody loves Punta Cana and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, but this isolated 5* resort in the Samana peninsula may be the gem you were looking for.


When we booked the Grand Bahia El Portillo vacation, all we wanted was a quiet week away from the ferocious Canadian winter: reading a Hemingway by the pool, strolling on the beach. We wanted to get bored, really, as long as the torridity is provided.

It wasn’t meant to be boring! A spectaculous drive, a surprisingly snorkelling-friendly beach and splendid isolation were bonus treats.

The 40-minute drive from the airport is a scenic ride along a steep and narrow road in the Dominican highlands. There are few villages in between and splendid properties perched atop the rocks breaking out of the jungle.

While the pools (including a truly quiet one) are excellent, the main attraction was the beach. With a superb range of mountains as a background to the East, it features huge chunks of coral the size of a backyard, reminice of a dramatic volcanic past. 
One doesn’t have to swim away from the shore to enjoy snorkelling: the coral is a few steps in. No wonder then that everybody, from 90-day to 90-year olds is with their head in the water, some standing, some sitting, some swimming, all enjoying the colorful fish.

Finally, the isolation makes the walks on the beach special. There is no other hotel in the area, and its boundaries are beautiful condo developments where we rarely saw any movement. The whole Samana peninsula is home to 3,000 people only, most of them working in the six isolated resorts peppered along the luscious landscapes.

But this is bound to change in the next few years, as development will bring more resorts, closer to the 3-flight a day international airport.

If you want to know more about ‘the little port’, send me your thoughts using the contact form on the top menu.


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