Las Galeras is a small village at the far end of the Samaná Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. It's famous for its world class lonely beaches, e.g. Playa Fronton or Playa Rincon. Compared to Las Terrenas, the other major beach destination on the Samaná Peninsula, Las Galeras is a much smaller town, and geared towards a much more low-key kind of tourism. That means it's quieter and more relaxed, but also has fewer services available (in particular, see "Buy" below for important info on getting cash).
Getting there and away without your own vehicle is the difficult part. Public transport is limited, and the road is starting to get a little bumpy again after being paved a few years back. Caribetours  offers transport from Santo Domingo to Santa Barbara De Samana and back six times daily. You can get in at the various stops in between. 4 of the 6 buses take the new highway and bring travel time down to 3 hours. From Samana you will have to take a guagua, a local minibus, which takes another 1 hour. The minibuses leave from the morning to the afternoon (6PM). The easier way to get there is by renting a car in one of the bigger cities in the country. Hereby you can avoid the fairly expensive transport fairs (15 US) later on, when you are planning to spend the day at one of the fabulous but hardly accessible beaches.
By car or motorbike
The road from Samaná town to Las Galeras is easy to follow, with no major junctions that you could think are the main route. Though it's now paved, the last stretch is starting to have a lot of potholes again (September 2020), so be careful, especially if you're on two wheels.
Signs by the beach in Las Galeras seem to suggest there are sometimes small ferry or water taxi services from the town to other places along the coast, but we weren't able to look further into it. Maybe do some of your own research.
The motoconchos, the local motorbikedrivers, will take you about anywhere you want. Locals are also offering taxi service with their private cars. Check prices before you hop on. Most places in town, including the two main beaches, are within easy walking distance of each other (about 20 or 30 minutes at most), but Playa Rincón is much too far to walk, and other outer beaches may be a long hike away from town.
Mainly beaches. The main town beach is called Playa Grande ("big beach"), a long, open beach with fishing boats in the sand and vendors nearby. The town's other beach, known as La Playita or Playa Pequeña ("the little beach") is accessible down a back street on the west side of town, is tucked up against the forest and has a more cute and cozy feel. There are also vendors here, and it's a popular place to hang out on the beach for the afternoon.
There are many other beaches farther from town. One of the most famous is Playa Rincón, an impressive wide expanse of sand and palm trees, accessible by vehicle on an out-of-town road (about 40-50 minutes). Don't miss the freshwater swimming hole at the far left (west) end, with cool and calm water that's very refreshing on a hot day (this is also where the local tourists and limited vendors congregate).
The main thing to do here is hang out at the various beaches. For the more sporty orientated, there are a few possibilities. There is a dive school in town and now a new one has opened which is owned by a British couple who also speak Danish, Spanish, French, Italian and German. Various excursions can be organized by the local travel agencies. Mountain biking is another option as is horse riding, quad excursions and some excellent snorkelling (on a boat tour). From mid-January to the end of March you can also go whale-watching. At Playa Fronton you will find one of the best climbing spots in the Dominican Republic with over 13 climbing routes of various levels.
There are some nice walks to do around the outside of Las Galeras, like the hike to the hidden cove of Playa Madama (get a motor taxi or directions to the trailhead several kilometers east of town, and expect to walk another 40 minutes each way on a trail that follows the edge of an orchard then passes through a forest).
There is also a trail from the righthand end of La Playita that goes out to the rocky point and may continue around to the left end of Playa Grande.
There are some nice divesites near Las Galeras around Cabó Cabron and Cabó Sámana. Aside of coral gardens there are cave, wreck, wall dives. All divesites can be reached by boat. The dominant coral species in the area are the common sea fans and sea rods. Around the caves and caverns it is a good chance to see moray eels, in the sandy parts stingrays and sometimes bluespotted eagle rays.
Divesites around Cabó Cabron: Puerto Malo Tibisi I Tibisi II La Laguna Piedra Bonita Cueva de Chopa La Herradura
Around Las Galeras: Barco Hundido Coral Garden Playita
Around Cabó Sámana: Piedra Solitaria Los Hoyones Fronton Los Carriles I Los Carriles II
You can probably arrange a boat tour to somewhere with good snorkeling with one of the tour operators in town. Las Galeras is generally not good for snorkeling from the shore, since the seafloor at the beaches is mostly covered with sand and seagrass, with no coral reefs. If you're not picky at all, you can find some fish to look at in the rubble bottom on the left side of La Playita (if the waves aren't too big). Playa Rincón is mostly boring sandy bottom, but the Caña Frío ("cold channel") freshwater swimming hole at the left end of the beach has some interesting mangrove life to look at, including freshwater damselfish.
Plan ahead for money before arriving in Las Galeras: There is only one ATM in town, at the big bank, and many foreign cards aren't accepted. Some businesses likely take credit cards, but many don't, including some of the hotels. If you don't bring enough cash, your main options are (1) make a trip back to Samaná town to use an ATM there, (2) send money online to the Western Union shop in town (may close at 1pm), (3) have money wired to the bank, or (4) find a friend who can give you cash in exchange for a PayPal or other online transfer. Better to just bring cash. The Western Union shop is also a money changer, if you come with US dollars or euros (probably one or two other currencies too, but we didn't get to check).
- El Cabito, La Caleta, Las Galeras (between Gran Paradise Samana and Playa Madama), ☏ . 10am-10pm. Nice restaurant perched on 15m high cliff with view over the Rincon bay and beautiful sunsets. International cuisine specialized in seafood and fish. 5-20 US$.
- Comedor Yobani Sazon (Corner of Calle La Playita and Calle Chalet Tropical, across the street from Hotel Playita). Charming local-style outdoor eatery offering Dominican lunch and pica pollo (fried chicken). Just a bit off the main drag, on the way to La Playita. Set lunch (plato del día) 150 pesos.
There are various hotels and guesthouses in Las Galeras. Due to the reputation of its world class beaches you will find anything from an all inclusive resort to a cheap bed and breakfast accommodation. Most hotels are located within the village, a few blocks from the beach rather than right across the beach like in Las Terrenas. If you don't plan to get there in the middle of the high season (December and Easter holidays) you won't have to book in advance.
- Gri Gri Hotel, located at the main intersection; fair sized clean rooms with up to three beds for around 30US
- La Rancheta, 20 min walk out of town, nice rooms, double for about 17US
- El Cabito, located 3 km away from the main intersection; two cabins for 30US and camping, hangmats and treehouse for 7,50US
- CasaPorqueNo, at the intersection, small hotel owned by a very friendly French Canadian couple offer rooms with breakfast.
- Il Triangolo. One of the cheaper options right in town. Has a barn-like dorm building with twin-bed "rooms" separated by thin walls that don't reach the ceiling, as well as nicer apartment-style rooms in a separate building. The dorm-style rooms can be uncomfortable in hot weather, and you're likely to need the provided mosquito nets, but they'll get the job done for flexible backpackers. Very pleasantly-decorated and well furnished outdoor common area that doubles as a bar in high season, though mosquitoes can be out of control there sometimes. All guests have access to the kitchen as well as hot showers, a rare luxury for lower-end accommodations in these parts. Unusually good WiFi. From about US$15 for a double in the dorm-like building.
Las Galeras is basically the end of the road, near the tip of the Samaná Peninsula. Other than natural destinations outside of town (covered in this article), the only place to go afterwards is back towards Samaná town (unless you're headed somewhere else by boat).