The Samaná Peninsula is in the far northeast of the country, geologically the oldest part of the island, a finger of land which used to be a separate island. In the 19th century the bay started to silt up to such an extent that the two parts became stuck together and the resulting land is now used to grow rice. Previously the narrow channel between the two was used as a handy escape route by pirates evading larger ships. A ridge of hills runs along the peninsula, green with fields and forests. There are several beautiful beaches, which have not been overdeveloped or ‘improved’, fringed with palm trees and interspersed with looming cliffs. They have become popular with Europeans, many of whom were so attracted by the laid-back lifestyle they set up home here, running small hotels and restaurants. Whale watching is a big attraction, January-March, when the humpbacks come to the Bahía de Samaná to breed. This is one of the best places in the world to get close to the whales and a well-organized network of boats takes out visitors to see them.
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