Navigating with Columbus in Santo Domingo | Budget Adventure Travel

| March 18, 2024

[Comments/Responses from readers greatly appreciated]

August 28th, 2011

In August 2011, we set forth on a week-long all-inclusive vacation in Samana, Dominican Republic from Calgary. These are the stories from this trip.

Majestic Samana Bay seen on our ride to hotel

The following images are of the wonderful suite we got. Very clean, warm water always, and top quality room service.

Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo

Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo

Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo

Sunset on Samana Bay, Dominican Republic

Our buddy Sam who stuck along with us for the beach tour

We took a day trip from Samana to Santo Domingo, which is the capital of Dominican Republic. It is the first and oldest colonial city in the western hemisphere. This is also the place where Christopher Columbus reportedly landed thinking it to be India. Thus we had to venture out to explore this City despite the 3 hour commute by bus, each way.

Cueva de los Tres Ojos/Three Eyes Cave in Santo Domingo

Cueva de los Tres Ojos/Three Eyes Cave in Santo Domingo

El Faro a Colón (The Columbus Memorial Lighthouse), Santo Domingo

Photograph of Columbus on a statue in front of the Catedral Primada de las Américas

Colonial Santo Domingo

Colonial Santo Domingo

Alcázar de Colón – Columbus’ house, Santo Domingo

Alcázar de Colón – Columbus’ house, Santo Domingo

Public Transit!

Saw these bizarre looking trees on road back from Santo Domingo to Samana

We returned to our resort in Samana the same evening around 8:00 PM. This was one long day and hectic schedule, but totally worth the trip to experience a piece of history. Forget the natural forest reserve tours the local promoters will try to sell to you. How much trees and shrubs do you want to see! Instead go see the local culture and piece of world heritage in Santo Domingo!!!

The next section of images is from our resort in Samana. It is the Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo resort, which is actually not located in Samana but just little outside of there, in the town of El Portillo.

We had a wonderful stay here. The facilities were excellent and the staff well-trained and professional. The entertainment facilities were quite good as well, and each night they offered a fun delight of theatre and music and comedy. The beach activities were plenty as you will see.

The only caution I will express is that the beach is not extensively monitored by lifeguards, who are also public employees and not employees of the resort. The currents can be strong at times, and if drifted too far, you are unlikely to be rescued. Therefore, exercise high degree of caution when venturing out to the ocean, and notify beach security or a family member to be on look out.

Majestic shot captured at night of Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo

Resort Residences


Main Lobby

Anyone wanna join this Beach Party??

This is how they chill out in DR

Our residence suite

Nightly entertainment

Tell me this view isn’t worth the trip

This trip was purchased from Itravel2000 in Canada. This was the second trip purchased from them. Their service is very good and their sales reps have good knowledge of the resorts and most have traveled personally to one or more resorts so remember to ask them which resorts they have been to personally, and their recommendation among a couple of resorts.


This all-inclusive trip to a Caribbean resort was our second one. I have to admit to my readers that after concluding this trip I somehow felt a bit of emptiness inside post trip. It was all fun and great overall but somehow it did not feel it accomplished much for me in a vacation. By no means was this a fault of this great country or the host resort we stayed at.

It had more to do with the nature of an all-inclusive format vacation. It seemed so sterilized. So detached from reality and experience of the host country. I could sense a curtain wall separating reality from the experience. And most importantly most resorts are foreign-owned thus majority of the profits are repatriated back to the sponsor country. There is a good side to this of course as resorts employ a vast number of locals and gives them avenues for growth and aspirations that they normally might not have had otherwise. Most resort jobs in these nations tend to be one of the most coveted ones.

Nevertheless, this journey was significant in my life as it was a pivotal moment that led to the eventual formation of my namesake comany, Larkycanuck Productions – focusing on Adventure Travel that is affordable and feasible within the realms of a typical North American lifestyle.

You can read about my inaugural adventure trip here.

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Category: Budget Adventure Travel, Dominican Republic Travel

About the Author ()

Larkycanuck is the pseudonym for the spirited, spontaneous and zestful Canadian. The Blog is focused on showcasing budget adventure travels for working families. Larkycanuck has traveled to over 15 countries, 38 cities in 10 years. He has never quit a job to do this. He travels with his wife and on some trips with the house rabbit (Pepper).

Comments (2)

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  1. Spencer says:

    Great pictures! You capture the spirit, character and history of the Dominican Republic well in them.