Destination: The Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic in the last few years has more than doubled its number of full-service marinas. These marinas welcome sailors, power boaters, sport fishers and super-yachtsmen alike

It’s been called the ‘Thorny Path’. That is, the route from the Eastern U.S. to Puerto Rico via the Bahamas. The biggest barb on this track is plowing into the prevailing tradewinds off the east coast of the Dominican Republic. While nothing can change this natural phenomenon, the Dominican Republic in the last few years has more than doubled its number of full-service marinas. These marinas welcome sailors, power boaters, sport fishers and super-yachtsmen alike. These havens aren’t the only reason to take a break from the Thorny Path and visit the second largest Greater Antillean island. There’s much more.

“Dominican Republic ranks among the most diverse Caribbean countries in geography, nature, and people,” says Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism (DRMT), headquartered in the capital of Santo Domingo. “It’s landscape ranges from the highest peak in the region, Pico Duarte, to the lowest body of water, Lago Enriquillo. Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the country overflows with fascinating history, museums and exciting cultural experiences like music, art and festivals, plus uniquely Dominican specialties such as cigars, rum, chocolate, coffee, merengue, amber and larimar.”

Marina Casa de Campo
Marina Casa de Campo

MARINA FACILITIES & MUST-SEE SITES

There are over 16 public and private marinas throughout Dominican Republic, from the north coast of Puerto Plata, to the Samana Peninsula, the Punta Cana shoreline and La Romana to the east and Santo Domingo to the south. What’s more, these are easy access to both beautiful beaches, charming towns and in-land roads to explore the country.

NORTH COAST & SAMANA PENINSULA

On the north coast, Club Nautico de Montecristi, located 18 miles east from the Haitian border, is a marine naturalist’s dream. Here, is the country’s largest coral reef at 160-plus square miles and the Dominican Republic’s largest booty of submerged treasures with over 260 galleons sunk offshore. East along the Atlantic Coast, Puerto Blanco Marina in Luperón is popular for its Dominican-themed food and dancing nights, while Puerto Plata’s Ocean World Marina livens up with a casino and weekly dance show. Further east is the Samana Peninsula and Puerto Bahia Marina, which are close to popular attractions like Cayo Levantado and Los Haitises National Park. Cayo Levantado is a small picturesque island 3-miles from Samana Bay, where it’s fun to swim, sun, kayak, paddleboard and eat fresh fish. Los Haitises National Park’s main draw is the magnificent series of nearly 100-foot high rock formations that jut out of the water. The park also boasts extensive mangroves along its bay, cays that are home to multiple bird colonies, and a series of caves known for their petroglyphs and pictographs. From mid-January to March, nearly 2,000 whales migrate through Samana Bay and there’s an observatory in Punta Balandra.

Cayo Levantado
Cayo Levantado

EAST BY SOUTHEAST

World-class marina facilities in Punta Cana and Cap Cana such as the Marina Cap Cana and Marina Puntacana Resort & Club present a world of entertainment, from waterfront fine dining to shopping, fishing to diving excursions, plus movie theaters and bars. 

“Punta Cana, La Romana and Bayahíbe, a village founded by fishermen in the 19th century, are recognized sports fishing destinations. These, plus Puerto Plata and Samaná to the north, all offer the possibility of hooking marlin, barracuda, and dorado or mahi mahi, among others. Fishing tournaments are popular here too, with beachside music and plenty of fresh catch cooked on site,” says the DRMT’s Toribio.

Casa de Campo in La Romana is home to the most prestigious of the country’s marinas. Marina Casa de Campo, which offers an incredible view along the mouth of the Chavón River where it meets the Caribbean Sea, is notable for its dockside restaurants and shopping plazas. 

“The winter season, from late November to April, is the most popular time to visit,” says Vilma Nunez, marketing manager for Marina Casa de Campo. “Our marina is one of the most complete in the Caribbean as a whole, plus we have resort facilities available for our visitors. Inside the marina is a supermarket and marine store, as well as our new event facility, the Marina Riverside Center.”

This area of the Dominican Republic is also a destination for repairs. For example, IBC Shipyard, located within the Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, offers more than 25 services. These include electronics repair, hull painting, interior and bottom work and marine carpentry. IBC recently acquired a new lift, and can now hoist boats up to 300 tons, with a 36-foot beam and 14-foot draft. 

“Once work is complete,” says Giacomo Moriconi, chief executive officer of the shipyard, “our engineering department provides clients with a visual quality report no matter where in the world they are in at the time. It’s our way of being proactive and enhancing our customer support.”

Marina Cap Cana
Marina Cap Cana

SOUTH COAST & SANTO DOMINGO

Marina Zar Par is in the beach town of Boca Chica. Twelve miles to the east is Marina Bartolomé Colón, in Santo Domingo. Part of the Sansoucí Santo Domingo Port, this small marina, located at the mouth of the Ozama River, boasts panoramic views of the Colonial City and offers dockage for up to 29 boats and 33 moorings. It’s a great spot to explore this historic site and its museums, landmarks, restaurants and cafes. Major marine businesses also base out of the island’s capital. One of these is Nautimar.

Nautimar is the dealer in the Dominican Republic for Boston Whaler, Fjord, Fountaine Pajot (sail and motor yacht catamarans), Jeanneau (sail and powerboats), Prestige, Sea Ray and Worldcat. The main advantage of buying and selling a vessel in the DR is that we have perfect weather year long and diversity of areas for boating,” says president, Jose Luis Prida.

Those looking for something smaller need only cruise 16 miles west to San Cristobal. Here Denis Cartier and his team at Abordage craft exquisite model ships in minute detail.

“We build modern and classic models, powerboats or sailing yachts,” says Cartier, who started the business when he was asked to build replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ 500th anniversary of arriving to the New World.

From the north, east or south, the Dominican Republic has become a key yachting destination in the Caribbean. 

“The bonus element that keeps sailors, fishermen and yachtsmen coming back is the captivating culture, entertainment and beauty which extends from the marinas inland,” says the DRMT’s Toribio.

Carol_Bareuther
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.