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Old 15-03-2008, 18:55   #1
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Info on Dominican Republic: Luperon and Puerto Plata

Just wondering if anyone has any advice/info on the Dominican Republic (north coast). We are heading there from Turks & Caicos in a couple of weeks.

What should we see & do? Where's the best place to buy groceries? Will I see any whales?
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Old 16-03-2008, 02:13   #2
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Noonsite profile for Dominican Republic:
Noonsite: Dominican Republic

Including (but not limited to):

Luperon: Noonsite: Luperon
and
Puerto Plata: Noonsite: Puerto Plata
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Old 16-03-2008, 19:49   #3
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It has been 3 yrs. since I was there but we found Luperon to be filthy. There are small stores there for provisioning and some restaurants but I would not buy any fresh meat as sanitary conditions are non existent. The main real big grocery store is in Puerto Plata which is a good sized city and an expensive cab ride away.
Fortunately, Puerto Plata now has a first rate marina
Caribbean Yachting Destination, Ocean World Marina & Casino - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
and one no longer has to stay in Luperon. The beer (Presidente) is cheap and good in both places...and I know some people like Luperon...but we were stuck there for 30 days and I would never go back.
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Old 16-03-2008, 20:28   #4
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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
It has been 3 yrs. since I was there but we found Luperon to be filthy. There are small stores there for provisioning and some restaurants but I would not buy any fresh meat as sanitary conditions are non existent. The main real big grocery store is in Puerto Plata which is a good sized city and an expensive cab ride away.
Fortunately, Puerto Plata now has a first rate marina
Caribbean Yachting Destination, Ocean World Marina & Casino - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
and one no longer has to stay in Luperon. The beer (Presidente) is cheap and good in both places...and I know some people like Luperon...but we were stuck there for 30 days and I would never go back.
we spent 3 weeks in Luperon and had only planned on staying a day or two. Our reason for staying was because we thoroughly enjoyed it as did the other 50 some cruisers anchored in the harbor. Yes this is a third world country and not by US Standards, but neither is many places we visit. as cruisers it is not our intentions to only visit the destinations with first class marinas and filled with tourist hotels and resorts. If that was our cruising goals we would stay in Miami. we never experienced any ill health or effects from buying from the local merchants or from the local restaurants. the cruising guide writer and our friend Bruce Van Sant built his home in Luperon overlooking the harbor. I guess one mans sewer is another paradise.
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Old 29-03-2008, 19:01   #5
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We spent 6 weeks in the DR, anchored in Luperon. The DR is a beautiful country with kind people. It is definately not Miami! The "full-time" boaters & Ex Pats in Luperon are a good group of people, very helpful and displayed much kindness. We met some wonderful people..Getting around by bus is relatively easy. I would highly recommend a trip to Santo Domingo for a few days, the history is there to be experienced.
Just so you know: several people we know got severe intestinal desease while there. Your bottom will need scrubbed before you leave the harbor. The officals WILL scam you.
If you ask me would I go back, I might if I could find a reasonable alternative to Luperon. It was worth doing & seeing and experiencing, but not neccesarily worth repeating.
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Old 06-12-2009, 03:46   #6
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Turks to DR to Puerto Rico

We are planning to go from the Turks and Caicos to DR and then on to Puerto Rico this winter and would appreciate any advise on routes, as well as personal experiences on the weather/sea states/time frames etc that anyone has encountered first hand traveling to there and back during the springtime. I had once read an advise piece on a route that is less tedious then what is normally taken, but cannot locate the article. Many thanks.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:44   #7
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I would venture to say that Bruce van Sants guide is still the bible for traveling the "Thorny Path", read it several times. Pay particular attention to arrival times and the timing with regards to Catabatic winds, as the S coast of PR is work. There is a free virtual cruising guide to the DR now being offerred that can be accessed through Noonsite:
www.noonsite.com/Countries/DominicanrRepublic It appears that in the last year or so the DR is getting easier for cruisers. The Samana Pennisula is developing and more services are becoming available. We skipped a few of Bruce's "stops" and just ran some longer over-nighters. That in itself will cut several days from the hop.
Watch the weather and pay attention to the Mona passage. Our crossing was a delight.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:57   #8
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This is from a SSCA Discussion Board thread and posted by the author of the new DR guide that's on-line:
"The CRUISING GUIDE TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS FREE, and now has an INTERACTIVE INTERNET SITE: www.dominicanrepubliccruisingguide.com
You can download the entire guide at the site in English and in Spanish at no charge. The internet site also contains articles and useful information for those that want to cruise the Dominican Republic."

There are also several threads there that discuss cruising in the DR that would be worth reading. You'll find the SSCA DB at SSCA Discussion Board • Index page

Luperon is clearly an acquired taste - as the variety of remarks here suggest. The local Commandante has never to my knowledge followed the national laws on clearance charges and the locals have tried to institute anchoring charges several times (tho' perhaps still without universal success?). It is clearly a place that has benefited by its location (near T&C) and absence of alternatives until the new Puerto Plata marina was opened, and also tried to take advantage of them. (We sailed into PP well before the marina was built and found the harbor to be foul but the city much preferred over little Luperon...but again, personal tastes vary).

Totally agree on the value of visiting Santo Domingo, which is easy to do by bus from Lupe or PP, altho' a better alternative is to take the boat to Boca Chica, only 20 mins by bus from SD and, like all of the DR's south coast, a much more pleasant place to anchor. But of course, DR's S coast isn't easily reached from T&C.<s>

We've met yachties who loved visiting Luperon. We've met others who detest the place. During our stay, one of the locals who was selling bottled water to the yachts at anchor was thrown in jail (he was in competition with another fellow related to the officials), the public school teachers were fired because a new national political party had won the election, $8K was stolen off one of the visiting boats (yes, he really did have that much cash on the boat) and the local guide who enjoyed the privilege of stepping aboard each new arrival and 'explaining the rules and charges' was finally arrested and jailed for stealing from the boats. All in all, quite an active place. <g>

If leaving from T&C, you might consider taking the freighter route out of the SW side of the Banks (near Frenchman's Cay) and stopping first at Manzanillo for your 'rural DR' visit. I'd recommend a stop at the PP marina not because we're high rollers and think marinas are 'it' but because all the reports about that stop are positive (about the facilities & behavior of the authorities; last first hand report we got was from GEMINI who spent several weeks there this year) and the city is worth some sightseeing. And while you're at it, consider Samana (the village name is Santa Barbara, as I recall) as another stop if the local Commandante's reputation is a good one. The national park across Bahia de Samana is a wonderful stop but you must get a permiso from the Commandante to visit there.

Jack
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Old 06-12-2009, 13:18   #9
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I'll chime in with agreeing with euro.
last time i was down there was great time. Manzanillo was a trip! nosed into the beach right in front of the bar.(54 ft longline boat) me and deckhand left for town only to come back to find a soriety had takening over the boat, why oh why on this trip i brought the wife. very small clean town.
lupron not so much.
Puerto plata was very commercial, we fit right in with the locals there
however we were right by the rum factory, and a long ride to aa
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Old 06-12-2009, 14:23   #10
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We are in Luperon right now. It is a great place to hang out. People are friendly and
it is "safe". The country side is beautiful. You can hire a MiniVan with driver for $45 /day and split it with 8 people and buy groceries in one of the big supermarkets in Puerto Plata. I would not suguest to stay in the Ocean World Marina. It is rolly and expensive and therefore there are only a few motor boats in the marina.
I would give it a try and check out Luperon. You will be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 06-12-2009, 15:17   #11
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Well hi there Jack...By your location report it appears you are back from Europe...Glad to have your participation and input in all things cruising...I think you guys have covered some ground with regards to the DR. A few years back I had decided to skip all the Thorney Path stuff & head out to route 65...Well weather and prudence dictated a right hand turn in to the Bahamas...A few months later we were making our way from island to island... We truly enjoyed the experience. The DR was an eye-opening reality check. I also read about Christopher Columbus's ( re: "Admiral of the Ocean Seas") adventures during our travels, and it truly did add an additional dimension to our travels.
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Old 06-12-2009, 19:05   #12
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Dominican Republic...a wonderful country....

Hello,

My wife, Gina and I lived on the Dominican mini-continent for two years. Having sold a software company, and explored several latin nations on two continents, we chose the DR over Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and others. Loved the experience, but it IS a third world country...(My opinion is that everyone should be required to live in a third world country for at least a year...the "why" of that idea, should be self-evident), so don't expect Miami Beach (which we do NOT like), or US type services. The Dominicans live on a different pace than we do, and quite successfully... It really depends on what you are looking for, but the fact that we spent so much time traveling the island, buying real estate, landing in Punta Cana, and opening a cafe, we can provide much detail if you desire.

It is a mini continent.... 6 mountain peaks over 10K feet with a Napa Valley between, tropical rain forests, the desert southwest, beaches that rival anything anywhere on the east coast...it is truly incredible. No worries about the people, not there or in most of Nothern Haiti. They are wonderful, helpful, and in most cases if you don't speak the language, its ok (I am fluent, Gina, not so much...lol). And yes, if you are there in the Jan-Feb-March timeframe near Puerta Plata, you may very well see whales breaching, and playing...

If you want explore, feel free to contact us at Boomerang_Cal39(at) yahoo.com....

All the Best,

Charles and Gina
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:17   #13
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Any discussion of the Dominican Republic is akin to talking about religion and politics - there are very heated opinions about the place that span all the way from "love it" to "hate/detest it." If you stay more than a week you will probably end up in one group or the other.
- - First off, the D.R. is probably the first experience North Americans will have with a real 3rd world type country which is magnified by it Spanish colonial heritage. There are rich people and there are very poor people and not much in between except in some of the major cities like Santo Domingo and Santiago. However, it is a very agricultural island and good food is available for pennies so nobody is without. On the food it is probably the healthiest food on this side of the Atlantic. They cannot afford petrochemical fertilizers, hormone treatments, and pesticides so the food is really "organic" by necessity.
- - Since the country by North American standards is very poor (there is a whole other discussion of why it is, as it does not have to be) wages are extremely low but adequate for all the basics of an organic life. But definitely not adequate for the modern "frills" and extras everybody wants to have after any time spent looking at TV.
- - Supposedly the national sport is baseball, with many very famous big league ball players from the D.R. However, personally I think the national sport is separating "Gringoes (anybody who is not from the D.R.)" from their money. I call it a sport because the people are inherently honest and do not steal. As anywhere in the world there is a small percentage who having been "hooked" on drugs or the drugs of modern consumer goods and things, will resort to overt stealing in order to get money to buy the "frill" stuff. But these are a very few people and are quickly dealt with by the other locals who do not want the Gringos to stop coming. Anyway, they will engage in the "sport" of separating you from your money by conning, conniving, and some very ingenious techniques. If you are naive about the world you will quickly end up with an empty wallet. If you are savvy about the ways of the world, you will not be a target. And in both incidences the D.R. folks are smiling and friendly.
- - Depending upon how "flexible" your mentality is to "non-North American" lifestyles you will either be in the "love it" camp or the "hate it" camp.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:50   #14
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Next - - Fact of life for down island cruising - the main route for the bulk of cruisers is the Bahamas to Turks and Caicos to Great Sand Cay (or Long Cay) in order to get the most easting you can before entering the main "Trade Winds" of the Tropical Atlantic.
- - Trying to proceed eastward from the lower Bahamas is not really possible unless you have powerful motor yacht or motor sailor. The "I-65" route to the Virgins is viable from north of the mid Bahamas around Nassau/Eleuthera/Abacos all the way up to the Chesapeake Bay. Below that you are slogging and dodging weather fronts and the Trade Winds.
- - The main attraction of the "Thorny Path" is the ability to stop every day and rest up before slogging on. Not to mention some rather beautiful places to "hole up" until the next break in the weather.
- - The objective is to get to the Virgin Islands and beyond. The passages you will experience between the T&C and the Virgins will include your first really consistently nasty water and winds with rare exceptions. In early to mid November, the trade winds are "reversed" by weather fronts and blow from the north or even west sometimes. But these disappear in December and replaced by the Christmas Winds of extra strong trades. February on, the trade drop back to their normal 20-25 kts from the east. However, the "Tricks of the Trades" (also the name of Bruce Van Sant's little book) can make the slog eastward less "horrible."
- - One of the tricks is to stop at the Dominican Republic and take advantage of the "night winds" off the mountains that can significantly reduce the normal daytime trade winds and subsequently the associated waves.To do this you get as far east as possible then head south southeast from Great Sand Cay (or Long Cay) 75 nm to Luperon. As navigational markers and such things are nice but not necessary for the locals don't count on seeing any until you get to Puerto Rico. This means entry to the Luperon Bay or elsewhere must be in daylight and preferably with 3 to 4 hours after sunrise. The average passage from Great Sand Cay to Luperon is beam on winds of 20 to 30 kts and 8 foot seas (well spaced rollers unless the winds are higher). And being done in the dark makes it a very exciting romp.
- - DO NOT enter Luperon in the dark or before dawn. Two reasons, there are reefs on both sides you will not see in the dark and, the local fishermen have been known to string nets across the entrance to catch fish during the night. They take them up at dawn each day. There are plenty of boats in the harbor and a call on VHF68 will get you advice and or assistance entering. At low water there is about 6 or 7 feet before touching sand and at high water I have seen 9 foot draft boats enter.
- - Disregarding the "love it/hate it" aspects - the reason to stop is to regroup and get ready for the next weather window east. As the Cold Fronts roll off North America about once a week (+/-) you will get some time "in front" of the Cold Front when the Trades are depressed. The length of time is variable with about every 5th front being strong enough to seriously suppress the trades. Depending upon how strong a motoring ability your boat is you can expect to stay a few days or a few months. Mother Nature is not known to be consistent about the weather patterns.
- - The next "normal" stop eastward is Samana Bay and Samana about 140 nm upwind. In rare occasions a really good window opens and you can go all the way to Mayaguez/Boqueron, Puerto Rico - about 250nm. Two days for Samana and 3 days to Puerto Rico. The average/normal technique is to leave just before sunset from Luperon and take advantage of the "night lee" effect hugging the D.R. coastline as far east as possible which is normally Cabo Francis Viejo. From there it is a grit your teeth and bash to Cabo Cabron/Samana or drop south to hug the huge bay of Bahia Escocesa which will add significant hours to the trip but the winds/waves may be less. If you can maintain 6 kts over the ground in 15-20 kts of headwind you can get to Samana in about 24 hours or a little less.
- - If you have the infrequent really great weather window you make the decision at Cabo Samana to duck into Samana Bay and wait for the next window or head southeast to a wpt at N18-40.0 W067-55.0 to avoid the Hourglass Shoals then direct to Mayaguez/Boqueron. This is about 42-46 hours at 6 kts over the ground from Luperon.
- - The south coast of Puerto Rico is also a nasty place with normal Trades of 20-25 during the day and 6-8 foot seas. But there are little ports and places to stop every 25 nm or so from Boqueron. So again, the normal technique is to leave each place at first light and duck into the next by mid to late morning. In rare weather conditions you can skip several stops and get further east. But all the stops are great places to see and explore.
- - Finally you round Punta Tuna on the southeast end of Puerto Rico and enter the "paradise" of the Virgin islands. I joke with folks that if you make it all the way to Punta Tuna you get a mythical badge that now you are a qualified serious cruiser by having endured the worst and kept on truck'in. From there on down island it is a "piece of cake."
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:29   #15
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"Any discussion of the Dominican Republic is akin to talking about religion and politics - there are very heated opinions about the place..."

Seems to me there's no heat here but rather lots of info being exchanged.

Jack
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