One of the major reasons the town of Samaná  is on the tourism map is because it is one of the best places in the world to observe dozens of humpback whales in their natural environment. This awe-inspiring activity will take you near Cayo Levantado  on the turquoise waters of the Bahía de Samaná, where the giant, white-finned humpbacks practice their mating rituals. Every year, thousands of these huge mammals come from the faraway waters of Greenland and Iceland to the Bahía de Samaná.
Victoria Marine (Calle Mella at Av. La Marina, tel. 809/538-2494, www.whalesamana.com , US$55/adult, US$30/ages 5–10, free age 4 and under) tours leave at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Canadian marine mammal specialist Kim Beddall was the first to offer whale-watching tours in Samaná back in 1985, and through the years she has been sharing her considerable knowledge with a vast majority of the tourists that come to Samaná. Experience and respect for the whales results in a highly recommendable tour group.
Victoria Marine adheres strictly to the whale-watching regulations set in place to minimize the impact on the whales, such as the number of boats observing the whales at one time, distance to the whales, time limits, and speeds in the bay and around the animals. Kim keeps a record of the whales that pass through the bay and asks that anyone who snaps a photo of the tail markings, which are like a whale fingerprint, to email them to her.
Free refreshments are provided on the boat, and information about the whales is given over a speaker. Tours are given in French, English, German, and Spanish. Be sure to ask about the optional stop at Cayo Levantado  after observing the whales. This option gives you a couple of hours to swim at the beach and then enjoy a catamaran ride back to Samaná .
Also offering whale-watching excursions is the Samaná Tourist Service (Av. La Marina 6, tel. 809/538-2848, samanatour [at] codetel [dot] net [dot] do, US$65, tours 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2:30–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Sat.).
Moto Marina Club (Av. Malecón 3, tel. 809/538-2302, motomarina [at] yahoo [dot] com, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.) has whale-watching coupled with a visit to Cayo Levantado excursion. Reserve two days in advance to make sure there is space available. When whale season is over, there are other excursions offered.
Amilka Tours (Calle Colón, Sánchez, tel. 809/552-7664, www.amilkatoursdominican.com , US$50) out of the town of Sánchez, offers whale excursions among their many other choices.