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Luperon Bay. Photo by Joao Gomes
Luperon Bay. Photo by Joao Gomes

Luperon & Other Treasures of the Dominican Republic

At the beginning of our life on board we spent several months in Luperon, Dominican Republic—a country that we learned to love and to hate. The island, called La Hispaniola, comprises two countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The north coast of the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean gateway for many boats sailing south from the Bahamas. However, in recent years, due to problems with lack of security and difficulties in navigating these waters, many have avoided these shores. This is unfortunate because Luperon Bay is known by sailors as the best place in the Caribbean to spend the hurricane season.

The history of the New World started close to Luperon. The first steps in the new land were in La Isabela, a lovely bay of white sand and emerald sea. The first Mass in the new World, the first European settlement, the first Catholic Church in the Americas—all happened here.

Dominican culture is a mixture of European and native, which resulted in ‘mestizos’ (people of mixed race). The Dominican Republic has a population of about 10 million people. Spanish is the official language but English is widely spoken in touristic areas. The countries main exports are rice, bananas and chickens, with Haiti being the main destination of these products. The United States and Venezuela are the second main export destinations.

The DR is a country of breathtaking scenery; the fields are so green that even the breeze smells green. Banana trees grow everywhere and bananas are a staple in the Dominicans’ daily diet.  Bananas, in all their varieties, and beans …

The people in the DR are very helpful and always ready to point you in the right direction. At first we thought they wanted to take advantage of us but after a few weeks of living among the locals, we learn that they are genuinely good people.

While the government promotes the tourist industry, it also does its best to protect the environment. An example of this is a law to protect the country’s mangrove trees. Everyone in Luperon Bay is aware of the pollution problems and the authorities make it very clear that it is strictly prohibited to dump garbage or other pollutants into the water.

In terms of security, Luperon is improving with yachtsmen reporting they feel safer now than ever before.

The northern part of the Dominican Republic faces the Atlantic Ocean in all its weather and moods. The south coast is more protected, it hugs the Caribbean Sea and is more pleasant to sail.

For yachts sailing the north coast, the luxurious Ocean World Marina, in Puerto Plata (with its high prices), and Luperon are the only places that offer real sanctuary.  There are areas where you can anchor out of the trade winds but all lack support structures when it comes to cruising yachts.

There is a haulout facility at Luperon’s Marina Tropical (which we don’t recommend), and mooring pontoons at Puerto Blanco Marina and Marina Luperon.

While planning our route from Luperon to Puerto Rico, we had several chats with our friend Bruce Van Sant and followed the advice in his book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South (Thornless Path to Windward) to motor-sail overnight and stop in the more sheltered areas during the day to avoid the trade winds.

We made three stops on our way to the Mona Passage; the last one in Puerto Escondido. This is a hidden treasure on this desolate, rocky coast and for us this small cove remains one of the most beautiful places we have stopped to date.

We arrived early in the morning with a beautiful sunrise and set anchor in 20-feet of ripple free, lake-clear water. We could see everything on the seabed and had the anchorage to ourselves. With the stress of sailing our new boat, little experience, technical problems and a baby and dog on board, perhaps we didn’t enjoy the anchorage as much as we should. The waters of Puerto Escondido deserved more of our time to snorkel and dive. We hope to return one day and advise everyone to stop in this beautiful anchorage even if just for a swim.

The author and his wife are a Portuguese/Thai sailing family, with a two-year-old baby and five-year-old French Bulldog onboard, trying to make their away around the world. For more of their adventures, visit: www.sailingdee.com

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