Despite the huge burst of tourism during the whale-watching season, accommodation choices within the town of Samaná  remain surprisingly limited, no doubt in part due to the fact that most people visiting the area do so only to take part in a whale-watching cruise for a few hours. If you don’t need all the frills of the all-inclusives, there are a few pensiones in town that offer relatively good deals for a satisfying night’s sleep directly in town.
Ask for a balcony at Hotel Bahía View (Av. Circunvalación 4, near the middle traffic circle along Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, tel. 809/538-2186, US$27 d with a/c, US$24 d without a/c). Even though all 10 rooms have ceiling fans and hot water and are kept clean (there’s no TV), the rooms with a balcony are more comfortable, if only for that extra little bit of space. The restaurant below is good, but not included in the rate. This hotel is a good value, but keep in mind that the strict check-out time is at 11 a.m. or they charge you for another day. It is a great value and a long-time favorite.
Just a few blocks from the seafront, in a quiet part of town, is Hotel Docia (Teodoro Chasereaux at Rosa Duarte, tel. 809/538-2041, fax 809/538-2458, US$17 d), perfect for the backpacker who doesn’t expect bells and whistles. You do get a very clean room with a private bathroom and free coffee in the morning. With the town center just a short walk away, there are plenty of options for food, but there is a small kitchen in the hotel available for guests to do light cooking.
These three guesthouses are all in a row on Calle Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and cost roughly the same amount (RD$1,000–1,500) per room: Casa de Huespedes Angelito (33, tel. 809/538-3338) is a suitable establishment for one night, but be prepared for power outages. It has incredibly basic rooms with TV, somewhat shaky ceiling fans, and private baths. Casa de Huespedes Leidy (50, tel. 809/538-3315) is another inexpensive option. There are nine rooms and one “suite”; air-conditioning is an option. Perhaps the best option of the three is Casa de Huespedes Mildania (41, tel. 809/538-2151). It is clean and offers air-conditioning and TV, and has a lovely seating area in the front of the building where you can watch the foot traffic go by and enjoy the night air. In all of these options, ask for a room away from the front of the building. The street can be quite noisy.
Hotel & Restaurant Chino (Calle San Juan 1, tel. 809/538-2215, RD$1,600 d), high up on the hill, is the restaurant with the fantastic views and now a hotel! Unfortunately, although the rooms are remarkably clean and new, and have air-conditioning, hot water, and great views, you had better make sure to request a room with a window or balcony. If you don’t, you will be paying a high price for a dark, albeit clean room that is not within walking distance to the beach. Rooms 7 and 8 have balconies with breathtaking views all the way down to the Bahía de Samaná for RD$2,000 per night.
Gran Bahía Principe Cayacoa (Loma Puerto Escondido, tel. 809/538-3131, www.bahia-principe.com , US$140) rests, like a jewel on a crown, shining over Santa Bárbara de Samaná  and the bay. It is the result of a glamorous remake of a hotel that has ushered in a new era of class to the tourism industry in Samaná. This Caribbean-style all-inclusive offers 209 standard rooms and 86 junior suites. From the hotel at the top of the cliff, where the pool is located, you can take one of two panoramic elevators down to the beach area and enjoy the day by the sea. Pueblo Principe was built as the entertainment provider for this resort since resort nightlife here is rather quiet. Pueblo Principe has the discos and bars and is located in the town of Samaná, to which you must take a shuttle. Some may find that (and the elevator to the beach) a hassle. Still, this is a good midrange all-inclusive option.
The beach on Cayo Levantado  is pristine and Gran Bahía Principe Cayo Levantado (Cayo Levantado, tel. 809/538-3232, www.bahia-principe.com , US$200) will give you that paradise vacation you’ve been wanting. But beware; being on an island off the coast of an island might give those who like nightlife the feeling of being trapped. You are at the mercy of Bahía Principe’s boat service to get you to Samaná if you want to experience life outside the hotel. Then again, if you’re looking for a spot for isolation and relaxation, you’ve found it. The rooms are large and attractive.
Rivaling the Cayacoa’s views is the Gran Bahía Principe (Carretera Samaná–Las Galeras, tel. 809/538-34343, www.bahia-principe.com , US$330 d). This Victorian-style all-inclusive is situated on a point overlooking the Bahía de Samaná and Cayo Levantado and was recently remodeled and reopened in a new and striking way. It has 110 rooms with one buffet and two specialty restaurants, two smallish swimming pools, A solarium with hammocks, tennis courts, and a gym. The rooms are new with a plantation-style update and complete with all the proper all-inclusive trimmings, like satellite TV, Jacuzzi tubs, air-conditioning, minibars, and safety boxes (at extra cost). There is a spa on-site as well as a beauty salon. The hotel’s private beach is down the dramatic staircase, but you can also take a golf cart ride to the beach from the front desk. It is the kind of place where even the staff is well-dressed. Your all-inclusive rate will cover some fun things like water sports, tennis court fees, on-site scuba lessons, and dance lessons. A free daily shuttle will take you to Samaná . Take note: Activities for kids are rather limited.