Whale Watching in the Dominican Republic
You don’t have to go to Samana to see the whales!
Every year between January and March, three to five thousand humpback whales return to the warm Caribbean waters to give birth and mate for the following year. The Dominican Republic is blessed to have one of three breeding grounds in the North Atlantic, located near the Samana Peninsula. The 2nd breeding ground is located 90 miles off the North Coast, at Silver Banks. The frolicsome males not only attract the attention of the females but our eyes too as you can see them breaching and playing from our back yard. A sight to behold, these whales have had a long journey from the polar regions of the North Atlantic where they feed before making their way up to the safety of the Caribbean waters which provides a perfect nursery for the calves. The humpback whale’s visits are so appreciated, they are now a national treasure and are fully protected by the Dominican government. There are laws and guidelines now in place to protect and preserve them.
Since the whales pass by so closely, we don’t have to travel far to observe them. You can get a first class view while kitesurfing or paddle boarding out by the reef or at Encuentro while surfing. However, if you don’t see them out on the water, listening to them is just as magnificent. Snorkel out to the reef and sink below the surface in silence and you will be able to hear the beautiful whale songs of the males and calves as it amplifies off of the reef.
If you are willing to travel a little further, there are a choice of excursions that guarantee a close-up Whale viewing experience. Samana Peninsula is one of the best places to view the Humpback Whales and is a stunning 3-hour drive from Cabarete. Whale Samana offers a 3-4 hour excursion watching the whale displays with a marine mammal specialist on board to answer any questions for $59/person. Alternatively, Iguana Mama, a local Cabarete tour company, offers a similar package including transportation for $140/person.
Another incredible location is the Silver Banks, located 90 miles off of the coast of Puerto Plata. Named the top snorkeling destination by CNN, the Silver Banks are shallow and off-limits to ships, offering a haven for the whales. Aggressor Fleet departs every week in comfortable boats so you can swim and snorkel with these gentle giants. We are more than happy to help book any of these excursions, just pop down and see us at our reception desk.
To impress all of your friends and family, and learn a little more about these incredible mammals, here are a few fun facts about humpback whales that you might not have known:
- Adults range in length from 12-16m (39-52ft) and weigh roughly 36,000kg! The females are larger than the males and their tale can be up to 18ft wide!
- They have quite the appetite too and eat 1.5 tons of krill and small fish a day.
- With lungs the size of a small automobile, humpback whales have two blowholes, one for each lung. However, unlike us, they have to think about breathing, so while sleeping they can only shut off half of their brain at a time.
- These blowholes do more than you think. With no vocal chords, the singing comes from them forcing air through the blowholes and can be heard up to 20 miles away. The males produce songs that last 10 to 20 minutes which they repeat for hours at a time.
- Similar to humans, whales have fingerprints too! Each whale has a different set of white markings on its underbelly making them more easily recognizable.
Humpback whales are such a treasure to the Dominican Republic, and we want to help protect and preserve them for generations to come. With whale numbers partially recovering after being hunted to the brink of extinction, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships and noise pollution continue to impact the population of 80,000. Help us keep our ocean clean and ensure all rubbish goes into the bin or is recycled if possible.