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shirley 15-03-2008 17:55

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?

GordMay 16-03-2008 01:13

1 Attachment(s)
Noonsite profile for Dominican Republic:
Noonsite: Dominican Republic

Including (but not limited to):

Luperon: Noonsite: Luperon
Puerto Plata: Noonsite: Puerto Plata

camaraderie 16-03-2008 18:49

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.

AnchorageGuy 16-03-2008 19:28


Originally Posted by camaraderie (Post 143743)
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.

Lone Star 29-03-2008 18:01

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.

waterworldly 06-12-2009 03:46

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.

Lone Star 06-12-2009 05:44

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: 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.

Euro Cruiser 06-12-2009 11:57

This is from a SSCA Discussion Board thread and posted by the author of the new DR guide that's on-line:
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.


keyspc 06-12-2009 13:18

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

KatKokomo 06-12-2009 14:23

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.

Lone Star 06-12-2009 15:17

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.

Boomerang! 06-12-2009 19:05

Dominican Republic...a wonderful country....

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 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 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)

All the Best,

Charles and Gina
1980 Cal 39, Mark II
St Michaels, MD

osirissail 07-12-2009 08:17

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.

osirissail 07-12-2009 08:50

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."

Euro Cruiser 07-12-2009 10:29

"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.


Valletta 13-12-2009 13:56

Luperon is a good source of information.

robw_fl 14-12-2009 07:44

I know it's not necessarily the cruising destination that so many are looking for, but 2 cents on the Ocean World Marina near Puerto Plata - it is a first-rate facility. Safe, clean, and yes, if you're towards the entrance at all, a little rolly possibly (but most of the smaller slips, are further from the entrance and protected by the quite significant seawall. And, most importantly, as there has been talk of less than lawful treatment of cruisers when clearing in at other locations in the DR (and so many other countries) - the folks at Ocean World were first class all the way. Not even a HINT of any kind of mordita or bribe or anything akin to that.

Like i said, I know it's not the out of the way crusing destination etc., but as a stop along the way, it's safe, clean, right next to Puerto Plata, and the folks are incredibly helpful. On the downside, it's really like an out of place vegas, and ain't all that cheap.


moonchaser 26-01-2010 14:43

Luperon, Dominican Republic

Originally Posted by camaraderie (Post 143743)
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.

i'm afraid your misguided comments on luperon only provide evidence that you should remain in the states. you are in for a great deal of discomfort throughout your travels in third world counties. yankee go home!!!!
oh, and ocean world sucks!

Boomerang! 26-01-2010 18:56

I'd have to unequivocally agree. Third World Countries, are Third World Countries...if you are expecting South Beach Miami (which in my not so humble opinion IS a third world country) than you are bound for disappointment. I lived in teh DR for several years....and found the meats, hanging outside it markets to be fresh and clean. Just don't drink the'l be fine. Not every country has an FDA, and in case you hadn't noticed, the FDA is not exactly a upstanding agency with its pontifications.

Americans (and I am one) are so out of touch with reality, especially today. It has been my not so humble opinion for years, that it should be required that ALL Americans live in a third world country for a minimum of 1 would do wonders for most...and perhaps they would grow up.

The DR is fabulous...again, in my not so humble opinion. My parents were very wealthy...and I was exposed to the best of the best...but they also exposed me to other cultures and countries. That is the reason that I can make these not so humble and very well educated opinions.

Reduce your expectations, just as I have of most Americans today, and you will be much less disappointed in your travels....or perhaps, just stay home....

osirissail 26-01-2010 19:43

Luperon and the D.R. is usually the first experience most Norte Americanos (gringoes) have with poor or 3rd world countries and it comes as a great psychic shock to their purified, isolationist views of the world.
- - Add in that sometimes the shock of having to deal with people who do not speak American English and expect a "tip" (I call it a "user fee") for their normal service and you can get a very bad taste for the place. Further "down island" things are more USA normal. These new cruisers forget that they are no longer in the USA and are instead in a Country which has different lifestyles and ways of relating to each other. After you have been outside the USA for a few years you will have a totally different attitude - or - you will have sailed as fast as you can back into the protective arms of the US Federal Government's bureaucrats. It's tough being responsible for yourself and family and boat without an army of bureaucrats protecting you from yourself. It is also addictive to be back "in charge" of your life.
- - As many aged wise men/women have said - happiness is 90% attitude. Being open to different ways of living makes a huge difference between a horrible experience and a good experience.
- - Also as important is that first impression. Being surrounded on your new clean boat cockpit by a half dozen very large Spanish speaking bureaucrats expecting "gifts" from rich gringoes can give you a bad attitude up front. In the last few years they have been having cruisers come to the the little trailer at the base of the government pier where (other than the extreme heat in the little trailer) the process is clean and simple and no "gifts" are expected and that normally will result in a pleasant or benign attitude. Only the Commandante and/or his rep comes out to "inspect" your boat.
- - Even further down island I hear Norte Americanos screaming on the radio for the "coast guard" to report a perceived offense by some other boater. What coast guard? These little island countries have no such thing and if they do the boats never leave the docks as there is no money for fuel and anyway all the coast guard members are at home with their families drinking beer and watching TV. You ARE on your own.
- - Also it particularly bugs me that these types of cruisers think that US Laws govern the whole world. No way, everything from radio channel use to local law enforcement is ONLY subject to the local countries' laws - not USA laws. And many of these countries have no laws about whatever your complaint is about. What is that old saying "When in Rome . . . "

Cheechako 26-01-2010 19:55

loved the DR and especially luperon. Didnt want to get in the water though! luperon reminded me of Cabo in the early 80's , rustic, a bargain and third worldly. Stayed in Luperon 5 weeks. Take a motorbike taxi to Puerto Plate for major groceries... should be cheap. There was a great thread with a DR cruising guide here a short time ago.

bobfnbw 26-01-2010 22:01

Thanks for that information on DR.
Haven't been down that way, yet, and won't be for some time, but man after reading this thread, I wish I could head out tomorrow.

These days my life revolves around work, kids, trying to stay ok with the wife, and working on the boat. Some times I forget WHY I am working on the boat....

Thanks for reminding me.


Home Plate 05-02-2010 12:08

Luperon, paradise or not
I am in Luperon now, it very thrue that this is not a pararadise, but it il continue existing. Years by Years I have seen how many commandant has been removed because they dont have the idea how to work not seen money in their way but in the moment they are cacht they move them.
Another important thins is that became a paradise depending what you come to look for, if come to look great people you will find them but if you come to contact a prostitute that the 95 % are not from Luperon, yes you will find them, like in anny other place in the world.
yes this it a poor town but they working to be better, I now for sure that they are giong to changes soon.

anny problem you visit the tousim office in Luperon

GordMay 05-02-2010 14:05


Originally Posted by Home Plate (Post 399148)
I am in Luperon now ...

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Home Plate.

Although your English is far superior to my Spanish, I had difficulty deciphering your post.
Could you repeat, and expand upon, your contribution in Spanish - en Espaņol ?

Home Plate 05-02-2010 14:27

Yes Iam Dominican My english is not good, What DO WE VALUE PERSON OR LANGUAGES.


s/v Jedi 05-02-2010 23:53

We liked Luperon very much. If there was anything we didn't like it was this self-important group of "cruisers" that try to police it. The locals are poor but happy and smiling and actually like you which is a nice change after the Bahama's.

We went to a big supermarket in Santiago and bought one of everything to try out (local products if possible). The beer, rum, coffee, long-life milk, cigars & cigarettes were the best we ever got. We made a list and took it to a little shop in Luperon (friendly woman owner) and asked for a price. A couple of days later she came back with a much better price than the big supermarket and a 1-week delivery time. During that week, her little shop started filling up with our stuff and she proudly told all her customers that this was all just for one customer.
The day of delivery she had been to the hairdresser and looked like a hot shot business woman in her new clothes. She had hired a nice/new van with driver and enough hands to carry everything onto the dinghy dock. When something fell she sent a hand to get replacement with much drama and theater. Half Luperon was watching now, it was her big day. We paid her $1,000.- US. which had filled up the dinghy dock and that included 100 cartons of cigarettes (!!) 10 gallons of the finest aged rum (extra viejo), 30 cases of beer&soda's, 30 pounds of coffee and I can't even remember how many cases with milk, canned food etc. It was ridiculously cheap. The commandante sent an armed guard to escort her to the bank and she walked back into town like if she came back with three gold Olympic medals. Priceless, love the place!

6 months later in Grenada we were the only boat with Presidente beers ;-)

I could write a couple more of these stories and you just must visit Escondido too.

About the bribes etc.: relax, show respect, smile and try to communicate. Your own government tries to squeeze every dollar out of you and you accept that so if they try to sell you that courtesy flag for $10 and you don't have one yet, just buy it because it'll be $14 in the chandlery. Accept their culture and try to adjust, just like you expect foreigners to adjust to your culture in your country. Respect, a smile and a kind word gets everything done in the D.R.


bobfnbw 06-02-2010 04:10


Originally Posted by s/v Jedi (Post 399427)
We liked Luperon very much.Accept their culture and try to adjust, just like you expect foreigners to adjust to your culture in your country. Respect, a smile and a kind word gets everything done in the D.R.


LOL.... nick. To true in anyplace I imagine.

osirissail 06-02-2010 06:27

I believe the place JEDI was talking about is "Ana's" store on the corner known as moto-honcho corner. Ana can get you really good deals on case lots of just about anything, it just takes a couple of days.
- - Living in Luperon on a cruising boat is really an experience for those no used to 3rd world life. Basically honest and friendly people willing to help without expectation, especially if you are there long enough to be recognized rather than just being "here today, gone tomorrow." Sure they have dirt floors and use sapplings for holding up their cana covered roof but they are willing to share and have fun regardless of your Dunn and Bradstreet rating.
- - Luperon has a major ex-pat community from both Europe and the USA so it you choose you do not have to ever interact with the locals except for occasional shopping. Most major provisioning is done in Santiago (3 great supermarkets and a PriceSmart) and also sometimes in Puerto Plata. Ex-pats head out once or twice a week on expeditions to shop and tagging along is not a problem. There are "names" of taxi drivers who for an embarrassing small amount of money will take a car/van load to Santiago for a whole day of shopping or tracking down some obscure part or service. And the act as a translator for you in dealing with the local shops and craftsmen.
- - The "problems" with officials seem to abate or disappear once you get to know them and are recognized as a friendly person - otherwise, they will play you for as much money as they can get.

Bill_E 09-02-2010 18:40

Just did it
Shades of Dan Quayle!! We're gringos!

Anyway, we just sailed the North Coast of the DR, left Provo on November 23 and arrived in Fajardo, PR on December 23. We loved the Dominican people but found the official rules a little frustrating. I wrote a short piece on our experiences with officialdom that is published on noonsite. I got along great with most of the officials but had a little difficulty figuring out how much to tip. I don't mind the little mordidas, it's a way of life but it takes a while to figure out how much. There was only one case where we were very strongly asked for a tip. In most places they said nothing or made a very polite reference to how hard is was to make it. Oh, I should say that I speak fluent Spanish so that may change my experience. And I've lived in third world places more than once. I think that I'd go for about a $8 to $10 tip in most places. The frustrating thing is that you have to get a despacho to leave every port and you will be boarded by the officials at almost every port. It's just a lot of time and you'd better not leave without one. I understand the Dominican concern for safety and smuggling. The comandante in Monte Cristi told us that there was a piratical attempt on a sail boat that was passing their waters the night that we were anchored there. They foiled it because they had information that the bad guys were going to try it. Having said that I felt perfectly safe in the DR. We spoke to lots of fishermen, people in small towns and officials and never got any bad vibes or heard of any other events. In our experience you will be boarded by an official from the Marina de Guerra (Coast Guard) and Inteligencia (anti-drug and smuggling) and they will have someone who speaks reasonable English with them to translate.

We crossed from Provo to Monte Cristi. Monte Cristi is not an official point of entry so they have a Comandancia de la Marina de Guerra (Kind of like a Coast Guard Post) but no Customs and Immigration. At first we were told that we could clear in Luperon or Puerto Plata, whichever we went to next. But then the Immigrations official drove from Manzanillo and cleared us in. That worked well because one of our party was taking the bus to Santo Domingo to fly back to the US. We stopped in Punta Rucia and then sailed to Ocean World in Puerto Plata. I recommend all of those places! Ocean World was really empty but the folks were wonderful and they have good services! rum and beer in a liquor store right in the marina! We then went to Rio San Juan and El Valle (Escondido). We just overnighted in El Valle and saw no officials. Escondido is really pretty, though we didn't go ashore, but the holding was awful! The Samana. Samana is a good place to provision. They have an excellent outdoor fruit and vegetable market and pretty good stores. The downside is that the harbormaster has decided to charge to anchor and the Marina de Guerra wont give you a despacho to leave until you have cleared with them. They zapped us $5 per day to anchor. You shouldn't miss the Dominican National Park at Les Haitises. It's about 10 or 12 nm sail across Samana Bay and it is very beautiful and peaceful. Well, on weekends (we were there for a Sunday and Monday) there are a number of launches that come to bring tourists to see the caves. The park rangers may come by in their panga and charge you a couple of dollars. The problem is that you have to clear out of Samana and then return to Samana to clear out again if you are going on to another place in the DR.

We decided to cross the Mona Passage on the southern route, from about Punta Cana, past Mona Island, to Boqueron. So, we left Samana in the early evening and didn't have much luck with winds so decided to put in at Punta Macao the next evening. We didn't leave the boat but were boarded by the Marina de Guerra and Inteligencia. This was the only place where we were basically told to pay a mordida or we couldn't stay there. It was the official from Inteligencia that put the arm on us. We had a voltage regulator problem not long after we left Punta Macao so decided to sail to CapCana Marina. The marina was pretty empty but again the folks were wonderful and helped with everything we needed. We were there for 4 days waiting for weather to cross the Mona Passage. The biggest problem with CapCana is that it is isolated so if you want to buy anything or see anything you'll have to rent a car. But the marina office can take care of all of the details. And when we were preparing to leave they took care of getting Customs and Immigration officials from the airport to clear us to leave for Puerto Rico.

To make this trip I strongly recommend reading Bruce Van Sant's book and Frank Virgintino's free guide. They are both full of good information but take it all with a few grains of salt.

Bottom line: I loved the DR and especially the people. I only wish that they'd give some kind of cruising permit like the Bahamas (only cheaper!!) to avoid the time spent with officialdom.


ConradG 09-02-2010 19:22

Makes me want to be there doing it!
Great info.
Soon, I hope.

s/v Jedi 09-02-2010 20:16

Hey Bill,

In 2003 we too were not so amused by the reception in Punta Macao. I also found the anchorage so-so and we had to ram through some breakers to get out (yes could have waited for better weather ;-)

But I don't understand your experience in Escondido (El Valle). We anchored close to the beach in front of the cave and had pure deep sand with perfect holding. There's a lot of sand there with a big beach all along.... or did some hurricane wash that all away??
Shame you didn't stay there, it was our favorite place in the DR.


Bill_E 10-02-2010 04:49

I assume we're talking about the same Puerto Escondido (about 19 17 N 69 19.7 W). I didn't see the cave (too worried about anchoring?). We tried anchoring along the beach on the east side with the rock cliffs to our east. It seemed like it was rocky bottom. I have a heavy Bruce anchor and it wouldn't hold. One of the fishermen stopped by and said that we should be careful, boats had wrecked anchoring in that area. Eventually I changed anchors and used my Brazilian Raya and it grabbed right away. As my notes say...the bay is pretty deep everywhere until you get pretty close to the beach. Maybe about 25 to 30 ft?? Anyway, a couple of fishermen stopped by to say Hi and the beach sure did look pretty. We didn't put the dinghy in because we behind schedule anyway.

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