HATO MAYOR DE REY.

This province on the southern shore of Samaná Bay is home to one of the most beautiful and unusual national parks in the country, Los Haitises, which is most easily accessible by boat.

The park is composed of thousands of limestone outcroppings and humped-back islands, lush with tropical greenery and rife with caves where Guanahatabey Indians (also called Ciboney) once lived (they came to the island before the Taínos, circa 5,000-4,000 B.C.) and left behind remnants of their art and huge piles of shells.

Some of the caves of this province have subterranean rivers, like the famous Fun Fun cave—in addition to Fun Fun, the caves of Doña Ana, Ferrocaril, and Angel all have Taíno art--and there are popular river swimming holes along the Yabón, Iguamo, Paso Cibao, and Maguá rivers.

Sabana de la Mar, where the Río Yubón empties into the Samaná Bay, has nice saltwater beaches. The folk festivals and “atabales” drummers throughout the province, especially in the southern part, are very colorful. Try to come when the region is celebrating the feast day of their patroness, the Virgin de Las Mercedes, on September 24.