Cruising in the
Dominican Republic.
             Please send any comments to me.

This page updated: May 2009
      




Free cruising guide (PDF file) on Noonsite's DR page
Free cruising guide
luperoncruising.com
Dominican Republic News and Travel Information Service
Excite about Dominican Republic
Lonely Planet - Dominican Republic
DR map from World Atlas
maps from Caribbean-On-Line
Some Spanish phrases for cruisers

Charts: Wavey Line Publishing charts, or NIMA charts, or chartbook from Bellingham Chart Printers ($80; no chart of Luperon).
I looked at someone's Garmin GPS-plotter once, and although it had "coverage" of the DR, it showed only a grey blob when you tried to zoom-in on Luperon harbor. Check yours ahead of time.

Guidebooks: "Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" by Bruce Van Sant (on Amazon) (lots of good harbor and town sketches), and "Turks and Caicos Guide" by Stephen Pavlidis (on Amazon) (has about 10 pages on the DR).

Dominican Republic courtesy flag

Spanish.
Currency: approximately US$1 = 32 Dominican Republic Pesos (sometimes written "RD$" or just "$") in late 2005.
Relatively cheap prices if you speak Spanish, bargain, and shop outside of Luperon. Van Sant's book says DR is good place to provision, but he assumes you take your boat to Puerto Plata, which few people do.

From "Destiny Calls": "The Dominican Republic is not the cheapest place in the Caribbean, just one of the poorest".

Risk of malaria in Haiti and rural areas of DR bordering Haiti.
Hepatitis B is highly prevalent in the DR and Haiti.
Hepatitis A is found in rural areas.

When leaving, and exchanging pesos for US dollars, you're allowed to exchange only 30% of amount originally exchanged into pesos. In other words, you're forced to spend 70% of what you exchange into pesos. Keep receipts from all dollar-to-peso exchanges.

Tap water may not be safe to drink for visitors. Bottled water sold near dock for 40 pesos for 5 gallons.

A very common refrain from cruisers who have been to the DR and Puerto Rico:
skip the DR entirely and go straight to Puerto Rico (because of theft and greedy officials in the DR, and because PR is so nice).

Winter-league baseball: late October through January.
Carnival in Santiago: February and August.
Carnival: first Sunday after Feb 27.
Carnaval: best in town of La Vega, in February (on weekends, with parades on Sundays, largest at end of month).
Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo in late July and early August.
Smaller Merengue Festival in Puerto Plata in October.
Santa Domingo: many museums and old churches; Colonial Zone; Alcazar de Colon (castle and museum); La Ataranza / Royal Mooring Docks; Catedral Santa Maria la Meno; Columbus Lighthouse complex (museums, zoo-park); Museum of Fine Arts; Museum of Natural History.

There are two rainy seasons: October to May along the northern coast, and May to October in the south.

Great beaches. Reefs and fishing are substandard.
Good deserted beach: Playa Bavaro at Bavaro.

Winter breeding grounds for humpback whales: "Silver Banks" off NE corner of DR.

International airports: Las Americas (20 miles east of Santo Domingo), and La Union (25 miles east of Puerto Plata).

Ports of entry on north coast: Puerto Plata, Manzanillo Bay, Samana, Luperon.

From Luperon article by James Baldwin in 2/2003 issue of Cruising World magazine:

From "Mattkoray": when coming west from Puerto Rico and checking in at Punta Cana, the officials refused to give any receipts. This caused problems later with Immigration fees in Luperon.

From "Turks and Caicos Guide" by Stephen Pavlidis (on Amazon):

From Dave in Marathon 11/2004 (just spent 4 years in DR):

Entering Luperon harbor: call for Mike on "Seacomber" on VHF 68, and he might come out in his dinghy to guide you in. [In 6/2005, he came out without any radio call; he checked every morning for arrivals. I probably could have made it in okay anyway, but it was nice to have a guide.
10/2006, I'm told he's no longer in Luperon.]

From Noonsite:

From Lee Haefele on The Live-Aboard List:
Entry to DR will cost about $130, per port. They seem to allow you to stay at ports that are not entry points without fees while waiting weather. Luperon is WONDERFUL, but you do land-based stuff there, busses and taxis and food cost near nothing in US$$.

From Windom log file [2001]:

From "Delirious": Escondido is a beautiful anchorage, with a huge cliff coming down into the water, and a beautiful beach.

From Osiris Sailing on Latitudes and Attitudes Cruisers Forum 3/2005:
Luperon: There is a new marina / yacht club in the bay - Marina Luperon Yacht Club which is located on the north side of the main anchorage. It is open to every cruiser as the "yacht club" in the name is only there to differientate it from another facility under construction on the south shore. Facilities available include dockage, clubhouse, good food, internet access, a spectacular view of the whole harbor and 59 stairs to good heart health.

To enter Luperon Harbor always try to arrive at or just after dawn, and call on VHF 68 before trying to enter the harbor. Somebody will come out and help you navigate the channel into the bay. All the facilities and cruisers monitor VHF 68 day and night.

From Gord May on Latitudes and Attitudes Cruisers Forum 3/2005:
Don't recall where I got this, but it's useful information on LUPERON:

... Luperon (Puerto Blanco) is an extraordinary hurricane hole, made secure by surrounding hills and holding ground of anchor-swallowing gelatinous muck. Thievery happens, but is rare. Many cruisers wait out hurricane season in Luperon because of its shelter, but also because hurricanes avoid this part of the North Coast, tending instead to track through the Bahamas, or pass to the south on the other side of the Septentrional Mountains.

... For eastbound cruisers, Luperon is the place to hunker down and await a weather window. In these waters, that means a period of diminished trade winds and seas; otherwise you face a head-on bash to Puerto Rico with only one port to break up the trip: Samana, a nest of outboard motor thieves.

...

For local knowledge, put out a call on Channel 68, which is monitored by every cruiser in the harbor. Channel 16, while not restricted to Dominican military use, is nearly useless because no one but the Navy listens to it.

Entry procedures: Anchor anywhere with Q flag hoisted and wait for Dominican entry officials in a skiff; it is customary to offer them a cold soft drink. If they don't show, dinghy to the government dock and walk into town. At the outskirts, to the left is a path leading to a small bridge and the hilltop naval outpost. The commandante will record your presence, giving you legal permission to wander about on land. The immigration officer will catch up with you later. Fees are $10 U.S. for the boat, $10 for each passport, a $5 harbor fee and $5 garbage and water fee at the government dock. ...

Charts: Incredible as it may seem, no large-scale government chart of Luperon exists. Hispaniola 017 by Wavey Line Publishing, available at major chart providers, depicts a small-scale view of the Turks and Caicos, the north coast of the Dominican Republic and western Puerto Rico with several harbor charts on the backside. It's an excellent chart, which includes waypoints, but again, Luperon is inexplicably omitted.

...
From Paco PWD on Latitudes and Attitudes Cruisers Forum 3/2005:
Gord, the whole article is "A Hurricane Hole And an Adventure Of A Lifetime" by Peter Swanson, a very nice read. I spent one week in Luperon January 05 with intent to check out the cruising community there (and it's large) there were approx. 100 boats there. The bay is indeed a Hurricane Hole, during the last one that went directly over, only 2 or 3 boats got loose and only that they were unattended and not prepared.

FYI, the Marina Luperon is still a hole in the ground with only the sales office and bar open and nothing else. The construction is on hold as someone owns a tract of land in the middle and is holding out for big $$$, I'm told.

... Mike Donovan, the de facto harbour master ...

The water does NOT move much, it's BROWN, so swimming off the boat is out of the question and no public beaches around. ...

... there are virtually NO boat facilities available, NO parts NO nothing for serious repairs. Some guy was waiting 4 weeks for an alternator from U.S., as stuff only comes to Santo Domingo and you have to arrange a cab delivery to Luperon $$$$$$$$$.

From OSIRIS on SSCA discussion boards 2/2005:
There is a new marina / yacht club in Luperon, Dominican Republic. The name is Marina Luperon Yacht Club and is located along the north side of the main anchorage. The club house is up on the hill with a fantastic view of the whole harbor. They have limited dockage available now and a brand new easily accessed dinghy dock. The facilities are open to everybody - the "Yacht Club" in the name is only to differentiate it from another Luperon Marina facility across the bay that has been under construction for several years and will not be open for several more years. Internet access, good food, gigantic satellite TV, and 59 stairs to better health are among the benefits available to visiting cruisers.

From someone on SSCA discussion boards:
Re: Is Luperon a good Hurricane Hole?

Luperon is protected from the sea nearly 360 degrees, as the entrance to the harbor is a dogleg and the harbor is long and fairly narrow. The main protective feature is massive high mountains rising around the area on 3 sides which destroy or deflect hurricanes that try to come across. The holding is good in very soft mud but you must be set for several days before you can rely on the hook being really dug in due to the deep slime and reversing current (tidal). There are also lots of mangroves around to tie to. Local lore states that they've never had hurricane force winds in the harbor.

As a place to hide from a hurricane it is great. As a place to STAY during hurricane season it leaves a lot to be desired IMHO ... but some live and love it there for years.
From someone on SSCA discussion boards:
We spent last hurricane season in Luperon on our CSY 44. Hurricane Jeanne went directly overhead and there was no wind greater than 35. We also loved being there. The locals are wonderful and there is much to see and do.

From BigGB on SSCA discussion boards:
[Someone asked: Luperon versus Rio Dulce for hurricane protection:]

Well ... I can give you my thoughts on Luperon:

On the plus side:
1. Excellent hurricane protection and good holding once you find the right spot and get the hook well dug in.
2. Friendly cruising community and good know-how to fix stuff.
3. Cheap beer and restaurants.
4. Beautiful countryside if you go on tours.

On the downside:
1. Dirty ... sanitation a problem.
2. Fresh clean meat, dairy difficult to find.
3. Real poverty and squalor ... but friendly people.
4. You really need a bit of Spanish to get along.
5. No haulout facilities for major repairs, or marinas that support a plugged-in lifestyle.

As you can see ... it is a mix and it all depends on your personal preferences. Personally, I was glad to leave after a month and would look for something on the south shore of Puerto Rico if faced with your situation ... but many seem to spend years happily in Luperon.

About Luperon DR, from Lee Church, 2003:
I am thinking it's a good place to stay for the season ... learn Spanish and then head further south in november/december, or north ... or west ... or ...

It's definitely a candidate for culture shock if one were to stay here ... serious culture shock.

It's not for everyone and hardly for most cruiser's tastes though ...

...

Diesel is a bit cheaper than the USA ... but as inflation is over 100% for the year everything is a moving target. As for quality, I would use the Baja filter before putting it in the tank although I have not had to buy any here yet. You can also get diesel delivered to the dock ... but at a higher cost of course.

In the scope of beeronomy things are cheaper, yet not as cheap as commonly believed. For one thing just getting cash costs much more than in the USA ... some places take 10% off the top for ATM card use. It's like anywhere ... you have to beware, shop around and understand what is a good value and what is not ... really tough to answer within an email such a complex topic. The economy here has different motivating factors than the USA, and a different value structure that overlaps what we are used to dealing with.

...

I would use the Pavlidis charts for the DR north shore where you will arrive (the electronic ones are pretty good for Luperon, and print them out of course as backup).

We are getting ready to say "adios" to the DR (though it's a great country).

I would spend as much time as you can in the Bahamas. Get there early, and take your time coming on down. It's a bit tricky waiting for weather, but once you get the hang of it, it's not so hard. Also, when you get to the DR, if you didn't take your time in the Bahamas, you will regret missing the blue waters and fishing, etc. Turks and Caicos is a bit pricey, so try to anchor, check through and wait for weather. I would be wary of an extended stay there.

...

Entry fees: $10 per person for immigration, $35 for the boat port authority?, $25 for boat agriculture thing ... and maybe something else for $10, don't remember exactly ... it may depend on how big the boat is ... And of course you don´t have to pay the commandante (the guy with the gun who takes you aside and asks for money without a receipt). Of course you can pay him, but then you have to live with being an easy target in the future as well, the dock guys will try for money ... well, everyone will try for money ... but that's the way things work i suppose. I know people who have paid more than I did, but not less ...

...

[November 2004, asked about drinking water:]

We have rigged a tarp to collect rainwater. We use that water for drinking and cooking, and occasionally the hot shower. We only put rain water in our tanks and add a touch of chlorine every few cycles. Excess chlorine is bad for me and the tank. We have found we really don't need any chlorine, but add a very small amount anyway, just to be safe.

Yesterday and today we collected about 50 gallons of water with the tarp setup, and I have not purchased bottled water (available in the 5-gallon bottles for 30 pesos) since last september (2003).

We use jerry cans for dinghy dock water, which is a mix of well water and town water, for showers and cleaning. We use a solar shower attached to the main mast with a tube that runs through the head dorade box and to a valve and shower head so we can shower below with hot/warm water and still have some semblance of modesty.

Entering rainy season I expect that water collection while in Luperon and Samana will not be a big problem. A watermaker would be a great toy to have aboard east of the DR and am considering it.

I have a propeller lost in DHL customs transit hell (since March) ...

From The Aldebaran Travel Log:
"Luperon: The people are very friendly and helpful. Our refrigerator compressor broke and the local hardware store guy has made arrangements to get a new one for us from the big city of Santo Domingo. Everything from beer to diesel to phone calls is much cheaper here."

Luperon, from letter from Dick and Mary Hein in 10/2002 issue of Seven Seas Cruising Association bulletin:

Good hurricane holes: Manzanilla, Luperon, Samana.

From Lee Haefele on The Live-Aboard List:
Luperon, DR was great. The current exchange rate of 45-50 pesos to 1 dollar is somehow wrong, in our favor. Everything is so cheap, that you do it all. This coupled with the cheerful people and interesting tropical landscape and mountains is a paradise.

From the beginning: Arriving by boat you must arrive before 9 am, as the trade winds commonly make the harbor impassable later. A VHF call on 16 or 68 will bring one of the long-term cruisers out in a dinghy to guide you in. The harbor entrance is curvy and uncharted, the guide is essential.

5-7 armed officials will come aboard and charge about $110US total, giving receipts. Fees will likely be repeated at other DR ports. After this, obtain Pesos from the money machine, do not part with your US$$, there is no way to get any later for your return trip.

The harbor is well sheltered with reasonable holding in mud. Unfortunately, the water is filthy, you learn to wash after handling dinghy lines.

Luperon is a small, safe town. There are no real full-service marinas yet. Puerto Blanco Marina has dockage for about 5 boats, electric and water, restaurant and bar, but no repairs or fuel. These services are handled by a combination of locals and several long-term cruisers who do various repairs.

There are about 6 English-speaking restaurants plus many local food stands. A full dinner is 90-180 pesos ($2-$4). Double-size (650 ml) Presidente beers are $1 at a bar. Jose's tours are great, full-day tours are usually $20-$25/person. Taxis can be had for 1200 pesos/day for trips to other cities. Bus service is very good, 130 pesos to Santo Domingo. Propane refill was 130 pesos plus 50 for the 3 mile motochoncho ride. Gas was about $2 us/gal, I did not buy Diesel, it is arranged by boat boys to be delivered in local skiffs. Telephone calls to US are $.15/min.

Anyway, for minimum dollars, you can visit here and have a wonderful, active time. There were 100-150 boats there with us and there were lots of cruiser-arranged get-togethers. We traveled to Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Imbert, Caberete.

Luperon is sort of 3rd world, people live in small houses, but are usually well-dressed and clean. Haitian laborers seem very poor, farmers don't use machinery, just Haitians. The same with construction, cement is mixed all by hand by Haitians. The electric and water only work about 1/2 the time. Dinner out is often by candlelight. The country was out of propane for about a week. Don't drink the local water or accept any ice except the round machine-made cubes; lots of cruisers did get short-lasting stomach problems.

I rate Luperon as the best port visited. I have also heard good reports about Samana, but not Puerto Plata. Tradewinds can make travel to Luperon a waiting game, we waited 11 days at South Caicos while winds blew 25-35 daily.

For guide books, see Bruce Van Sant's "Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" (on Amazon) (he lives in Luperon) and Stephen Pavlidis' "Turks and Caicos Guide" (on Amazon).

From Lee Haefele on The Live-Aboard List:
Hispaniola / Dominican Republic charts:

This was quite a trial of Job finding useful paper charts for this area. Below is a report on what I found. Bluewater books has everything in stock, most of the salespeople had sailed or motored to the DR. One salesman sold me some stuff that was of no use at all.

Wavey Line charts: Supposedly these have been corrected using WAAS GPS.

HIS 017 Good routing chart of Hispaniola, with a few harbor charts, Harbors: Puerto Plata, Monte Christi/Manzanillo Bay, interior only of Bahia Samana, with no chart of entrance. Other harbor charts on south and east coasts. Very useful.

HIS 020 Harbor charts of south shore DR, and west shore of Haiti, many harbor charts. Nothing of any use on north shore.

TC001 Great routing chart of Turks and Caicos.

TC002 Providenciales, very detailed, color.

TC003 Turks Islands, very detailed with dive sites (not color).

British Admiralty #463, 6 harbor charts of north shore, including entrance to Samana and Puerto Plata that are missing from HIS 017, but does not include any chart showing coastline. Seems to deviate from Wavey Line charts as to most GPS positions by about 1/4 mile.

Ocean Grafix "Charts on demand" 25673 of Mayaguez PR. Bluewater salesman stated that Maptech chartbook #10 (that I just bought from them) was woefully out of date for this area and I needed this. There was NO difference, they are the same chart.

ISS Waterproof chart #16, good routing chart from FL to PR, not much detail, except reverse side is detailed Mona Passage.

None of above have Luperon )-; . There is a good Luperon Harbor sketch in Van Sant's Gentleman's Guide to Passages South (on Amazon), Pg 194. (Best, very complete book for DR info.) There is also reported to be one in Pavlidis' T+C guide (on Amazon).

From article by M. Rorke Miller in 3/2002 issue of Blue Water Sailing magazine:
Especially in Samana:

From someone in Warderick Wells 4/2005:

From MelissaK on Cruising World message board:
Re: Land travel:

DON'T rent a car ! The driving there is horrendous. You'd be much better off with locals driving you around, and it'd cost probably the same as a rental.

I can't describe, really, but the driving and drivers is/are just different, and dangerous.

It's a physically beautiful, but depressing country. I was there for five months, in Luperon Bay, on the north coast. The average educational level is fourth grade. Lots of people live in dirt-floored homes. Elections had folks voting for the "white" or the "purple" ticket. They don't much watch TV, or CNN.

Yet there are a lot of plusses. I've never seen a society that shares like they do. A household of twelve, and only one person working and paying for everything.

I'd travel really light, and just rent a taxi to go from town to town. Ask the taxi driver to find you a place to stay, I've done that and stayed with families.

Do not wear nice jewelry or fancy clothes, you know that! There's almost no English spoken.
From Van on Cruising World message board:
Re: Land travel:

Santo Domingo: you can see the oldest church and University in the Americas. Originally Colon's (Columbus, for the gringos) land base, then his son's. Get a driver and car, just as cheap or cheaper than renting a car, and you do not want the legal complications were you to get involved in an accident there. Just ask at the taxi stand at the airport. Take a few days here, lots to see.

For the modern development, drive east to La Romana and see the resorts such as Casa de Campo, up to the restored Altos de Chabon tourist village.

A few more miles NE you get to the SW border of Samana nature preserve. Get a boat here and cruise around, even go to Samana harbor: touristy, overpriced, aimed at the powerboaters from PR. East to Punta Cana will give you the rest of the tourist traps.

Now it gets interesting, north from SD, head up to Santiago, the center of tobbacco and coffee production. This is an old city still deeply connected to its past and although developed, not at all corrupted by tourism, yet. For some recent history, see the german yewish colony east of Puerto Plata. Trujillo granted asylum to a boatload of refugees from Europe and they prospered there. Now most of the tourists there are europeans and they resent the Americans, perhaps remembering how the "ship of fools" was not allowed to disembarc. Not to worry, you will be tolerated.

To find poverty and underdevelopment, drive west and then SW from SD, to Barahona, nearer the Haitian border, very poor and mostly survival farming and fishing villages. People are friendly and will give you the shirt off their backs, literally. Great fishing and snorkelling.

From seaplane pilot in Dry Tortugas: El Portillo: French heritage, wonderful food.

From "Insider's Guide to the Caribbean" by Jonathan Runge:
Puerto Plata very touristy. Sosua is nice. Cabarete is windsurfing capital. San Pedro de Macoris is baseball capital.

From Jack Tyler on SSCA discussion boards:
[Re: anchorages on the south coast?]

Yes, the south coast is absent much discussion - everyone seems to use the T+C/DR/PR highway.

If you have a CD of SSCA Bulletins, search under WHOOSH and you'll find a write-up we did for our run across the Central Caribbean, including a few spots along the S coast of both the DR and Haiti. (If you don't have the CD, consider buying it. It's a great resource, easily searched using Adobe Reader, and only $20 for 8 years of monthly cruiser tips - quite a value).

I've recommended to others that they consider picking up an old copy of the Caribbean Cruising Guide (or a title similar to that) by Wallace Stone. In the less travelled parts of the Caribbean, we found its info not much dated and very helpful. Also, the discussion about weather systems, currents and such is well done and timeless.

If going a bit further, consider getting a copy of Lethbridge's Jamaica Cruising Guide. It's also dated (last published in the late 80's, as I recall, reprinted in the mid-90's) but again, not as much changes on that coast as other places. His sketch charts are excellent, as was his pilotage and weather advice. Port Antonio and Ocho Rios have seen significant changes, but the harbor and buoyage info is little changed.

After sailing along the DR's north coast, part of which was used for filming a portion of Jurassic Park, we found the S coast very different. Low-lying in places and with a very 'Caribbean' feel. I think they have not been as polluted by North American cruisers, too. The officials are unaccustomed to seeing much yacht traffic, were always formal but fair in our experiences, and in some cases far more curious and therefore eager to have us stay rather than behaving overly rule-bound.

Plane flights out of DR to USA: can fly out of Puerto Plata, but also could take a bus to Santo Domingo, stay overnight in a hotel, and fly out of there the next morning. Prices RT to Philadelphia in mid-2005: $450 from Santa Domingo, $720 from Puerto Plata (but I think flights to other airports didn't differ as much). Someone mentioned cheap flights out of Santiago on JetBlue.

From Scott and Minh on "Lynx" in Georgetown 5/2005:

Idea: if staying in Luperon for months during hurricane season, consider renting a house up in the hills an hour or two away (probably need a car, too). Shouldn't be too expensive, and will get you out of the worst of the heat.

From a boat I chatted with in Mayaguana 5/2005:
They got boarded in the middle of the night in Samana and robbed; they never heard a thing. They suspect someone related to the officials who boarded them earlier that day; some of them were eyeing their valuables then. They say theft is rarely a problem in Luperon, but elsewhere, sleep with hatches locked. They also said Puerto Rico is better than the DR; they loved Puerto Rico.

From "Breath": lock down or remove everything from deck; guys will come right on board, grab something, and leave, without saying a word.

From "Reeds Almanac - Caribbean": Santo Domingo harbor is a commercial harbor; boaters may be better off 18 miles to the east at Boca Chica / Andres.

From Gordon Endler: anchorage on SE side of DR: "very good shelter at Rio Chavon; it is a very deep river in the bottom of a high valley running North South. It is very safe place; they have paddle wheel boats running up and down so not tight for room."









My experience in the DR during hurricane season 2005:

Callipygia's "Hurricane Preparedness" (with some specifics about Luperon).

From Roberto: the best way to learn Spanish is to get a Dominican girlfriend.

Heading E from DR to Puerto Rico:
See tips on luperoncruising.com

Expect to be boarded or at least looked-over by the USCG when crossing the Mona Passage. Stopping at Mona Island makes this less likely (according to Bruce Van Sant).

See my Caribbean page for more info about the Mona Passage.

What I ended up actually doing:




A letter I sent to Caribbean Compass magazine in 4/2007, in response to a Luperon article:
I spent the 2005 hurricane season in Luperon, and talked to people from the 2006 season, so I don't claim to know everything about Luperon.

Good:
- A very protected harbor, best-protected in the NE Caribbean.
- A very beautiful country, with green mountains and lakes.
- Generally nice people.
- A very Spanish-intensive experience.

Bad:
- Can't day-sail out of Luperon harbor and along the coast; the officials won't let you. You're only allowed to check out and go to another major port; no coastal cruising.
- The harbor is polluted, so no swimming. Probably shouldn't fish or run a watermaker also.
- No cruising boatyards anywhere on the north coast. Maybe in an emergency you could rent a crane for a large amount of money.
- Extremely hard to ship parts into the country; they get lost or delayed for months or you have to take a 2-day trip to the capital to ransom them out of Customs.
- No marine store in Luperon (there used to be one, but they couldn't get parts into the country).
- Official fees are no longer cheap: for a singlehander in 2005, it cost $240 for entry/exit and 4.5 months in harbor. Cruisers are starting to vote with their feet: I've heard the number of boats staying there is declining. The officials are nice these days, but fees are high.
- Food and drink are no longer extremely cheap, as apparently they were 5 or 10 years ago. Prices are moderate.
- Some theft, mostly of anchors: every season, someone comes through the harbor and cuts rope rodes on second anchors to steal the rode and anchor.
- The transient cruisers are fine, but some of the permanently "stuck" boaters have formed cliques and developed grudges with each other.

The bottom line: most people (myself included) come out of Luperon thinking of it as an interesting once-in-a-lifetime visit, but are glad to get out.

From Frank Virgintino 6/2008:
Re: Fees:

Things have become more uniform since 2008 and Luperon is the worst offender of all of the harbors. The fee for immigration is $15 US for 60 days, and $15 for every additional 60 days. That is the case at this time.

In 2005 and even currently Luperon has been known to extort beyond the normal fees. I am sure given the growth of the marine industry in the DR and the fact that the current administration is supportive of cruising yachtsmen, that all harbors either have or will come into conformity with listed charges.

I've heard of at least a couple of long-stay boats who "solved" the fee problem by leaving without checking out (illegal). Saved a lot of money.

From Doug on "Exuma Grouper" 9/2008:
Re: Boats in Luperon for hurricane season 2008:

There are only about 40 boats with people on them. More just leave the boats and split. The crowd is way different from before when you were here [2005 hurricane season]. There are a greater percentage of deadbeats and nutbars than anything we have seen before so much so that I couldn't in all honesty recommend coming here to new boats. There is a real clique atmosphere here too.

Oh well, I guess nowhere is perfect.

...

[10/2008:] Last night Paula and I figured out that 12 boats have been boarded and items stolen ... that we know about and that has nothing to do with thefts from dinghies either. This is all in the past 15 months since we returned from Puerto Rico. Although we are still high into hurricane season, several boats are planning on leaving here next week as there is supposed to be a window for going east. I wonder how many new boats will bother coming back again next year.

...

[1/2009:] We just had an eye-opener in the harbor, the U.S. Homeland Security requested the D. R. Commandante to make a list of all Americans, checking and noting their documents. It seems they are tracking all of their citizens out of State. Another occurrence was the Commandante has announced that no one is allowed to move their boat in the harbour unless he is notified and there will be a fine of $100 if done.

...

[5/2009:] Luperon is about almost a month behind us now. We feel we escaped from a prison ... I can't believe how we saw the place degrade over the past four years.

In 11/2011, message on Sailnet says there is a new marina in Luperon and they have some kind of haul-out facility.

From Deana Jones on the Coconut Telegraph group on Facebook 9/2012:
There are many cruisers who spend hurricane season in the protected harbor of Luperon in the Dominican Republic. There are also many ex-pats and cruisers who swallowed the hook and now call Luperon home. We are one of the many cruisers that love it here and have spent two hurricane seasons. We love the country and feel that it is an inexpensive, well protected place to spend the summer. For the most part the people are very friendly and helpful. Of course, there is always the exception to the rule and the cruisers and other gringos here have noticed an increase in theft over the last several years and are urging the authorities to do something about it. I do not wish to discourage anyone from coming here, but the cruisers feel that the only way to get the attention of the authorities is to let them know that they need to take action to get more security for the harbor and to put a stop to the robberies. The following open letter was composed by those people so that we might get the attention of those authorities:

To Whom it may concern:

In the year 2007, there were approximately 200 boats in Luperon Harbour. People enjoyed the safe environment and there was no need to lock their boats to go to shore to any of the Marinas or for shopping etc. ... Currently, September 2012, there are only 30 live aboard boats in the Harbour, ... Why ? because of the reoccurring robberies in the Harbour. Between November 2009 and present date, September 2012, there have been 33 recorded robberies ...

33 Robberies over 35 months time. These are just the ones that were reported to us, several boats have left, therefore we are not sure if there are more unrecorded.

Out of the 33 robberies, only 1 arrest has been made, only 1 item was returned to the owner, even though photos of the thieves, during the robbery were given to the Authorities here and they admitted they knew who the robbers were. When robberies are reported to local Authorities, the victims are sent from local authoritative office to another, with no-one taking responsibility or seeking justice. No follow-up is ever done, no arrests ever made, no stolen items ever returned to the rightful owners. Most of the intruded vessels have now left Luperon, never to return. Every boating community they enter after leaving Luperon, they report how unsafe Luperon Harbour is and how the local Authorities do nothing to seek justice. They write on their cruising blogs, report to newspapers, magazines publishers, travel agencies and announce on SSB Radio, to warn cruisers to bypass the Dominican Republic all together.

Boaters in Luperon Harbour currently pay US$20 per month for Harbour Fees. There is no patrol boat, no guards stopping locals from entering vessels, and no help for return of stolen items. Just where does this monthly money go and to whom ?

Luperon Harbour is clearing out fast, and soon Luperon town will only have the local economy to survive on.







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