Hugging a breathtaking bay dotted with sailboats and flanked by verdant bluffs, the town of Santa Bárbara de Samaná is the capital of the Samaná Peninsula. This small waterfront hub retains its fishing traditions, but it’s also an eco-tourism destination thanks to the yearly visit of 1,500 humpback whales in its bay. History and culture are also reflected in the diverse population, cuisine, and architecture of Samaná. Made up in good part of descendants of African American freed slaves, you’ll find restaurants serving coconut-based dishes and ginger beer, and an 18th century African Methodist Episcopal Church. The town is also the most popular jump off point for boat excursions into Los Haitises National Park–the nature jewel of the peninsula. To relax, enjoy the slow pace and views on the waterfront boulevard, lined with restaurants, shops, and bars.